George Perles
George Perles.jpg
Perles in recent photo
Sport(s) Football
Biographical details
Born July 16 1934 (1934-07-16) (age 83)
Place of birth Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Playing career
1954–1956 Michigan State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Michigan State (DL)
Pittsburgh Steelers (DL)
Pittsburgh Steelers (DC)
Pittsburgh Steelers (AHC)
Philadelphia Stars
Michigan State
Head coaching record
Overall 68–67–4
Bowls 3–4
College Football Data Warehouse
Accomplishments and honors
2 Big Ten (1987, 1990)

George Perles (born July 16, 1934) is a former American football player and coach. He was a defensive line coach, defensive coordinator, and assistant head coach for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers from 1972–1981 and the head coach at Michigan State University from 1983–1994. Perles was elected to the MSU Board of Trustees in 2006.

Early yearsEdit

Perles was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 16, 1934. The only child of Julius and Nellie Perles, George grew up in Detroit and attended Western High School. Upon graduating, Perles and 17 of his high school friends jointly enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Michigan StateEdit

After returning from active duty, Perles returned to Michigan where he enrolled at Michigan State University and played football under legendary coach Duffy Daugherty. Perles played the 1958 season before his playing career was cut short by a knee injury. Perles then started his football coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State before moving on to the high school ranks in Chicago and Detroit, where his St. Ambrose High School team won their first Detroit City League Championship in 1961. Perles returned to Michigan State as defensive line coach under his mentor, Daugherty.

Pittsburgh SteelersEdit

In 1972, Chuck Noll, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, reviewed dozens of resumes and interviewed numerous candidates before deciding to offer Perles the position of defensive line coach. In Perles’ first season, the Steelers made the NFL playoffs for the second time in franchise history, the first since 1947, losing to the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game.

In 1974, the Steelers won the first of six consecutive AFC Central division championships and also their first Super Bowl. Perles became the defensive coordinator for the Steelers in 1978 and then assistant head coach under Noll in 1979. During Perles' ten years with Pittsburgh (1972–1981), the Steelers won a then-unprecedented four Super Bowls and became known as the team of the decade for the 1970s, largely on the back of their "Stunt 4-3" defense designed by Perles.


In 1982, Perles was hired as the head coach of the Philadelphia Stars of the fledgling United States Football League (USFL). Perles worked for one year with the Stars during the development and formation of the league and the team, but broke his contract with the team prior to the start of the first season when he was offered the Michigan State head football coaching position. The Stars sued MSU for interfering with Perles's contract the case was settled out of court.

Return to Michigan StateEdit

Perles returned to Michigan State University on December 3, 1982. In 12 years, he led the Spartans to two Big Ten Conference titles and seven bowl games. His best team was the 1987 unit, which won Michigan State's last outright conference title to date and defeated USC in the 1988 Rose Bowl.

NCAA sanctionsEdit

During 1994–1995, an extensive external investigation conducted by the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC. uncovered various infractions including grade tampering by an athletic department administrator. MSU president M. Peter McPherson fired Perles before the end of the 1994 season, and ordered the Spartans to forfeit their five wins for that season, resulting in Michigan State's second official winless season of the modern era. If not for the forfeited games, Perles would be the second-winningest coach in MSU history behind only his former boss, Daugherty.

In 1996, the NCAA accepted MSU's self imposed sanctions and added additional penalties, including the loss of six football scholarships for 1996. While the NCAA found there was "lack of institutional control" within the football program during Perles' tenure, it cleared him of wrongdoing.[1]

After coachingEdit

Motor City BowlEdit

In 1995, Perles and former Michigan State University Sports Information Director, Ken Hoffman, founded and initiated the Motor City Bowl, a collegiate football bowl game in Detroit. In 2007, the Motor City Bowl enjoyed a record crowd of more than 63,000 people in its 11th game with Perles as chief executive officer and Hoffman as executive director.

MSU Board of TrusteesEdit

In November 2006, Perles was elected as a Democrat to the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University. He began serving an eight-year term beginning January 1, 2007.

In May 2007, the MSU Board of Trustees voted to name the plaza adjacent to the Duffy Daugherty Football Building the George J. Perles and Sally A. Perles Plaza in honor of the couple’s $500,000 donation.

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Michigan State Spartans (Big Ten Conference) (1983–1994)
1983 Michigan State 4–6–1 2–6–1 7th
1984 Michigan State 6–6 5–4 T–6th L Cherry
1985 Michigan State 7–5 5–3 T–4th L Hall of Fame Classic
1986 Michigan State 6–5 4–4 5th
1987 Michigan State 9–2–1 7–0–1 1st W Rose 8 8
1988 Michigan State 6–5–1 6–1–1 2nd L Gator
1989 Michigan State 8–4 6–2 T–3rd W Aloha 16 16
1990 Michigan State 8–3–1 6–2 T–1st W John Hancock 14 16
1991 Michigan State 3–8 3–5 T–6th
1992 Michigan State 5–6 5–3 3rd
1993 Michigan State 6–6 4–4 7th L Liberty
1994 Michigan State 0–11* 0–8* 11th
Michigan State: 68–67–4** 53–42–2**
Total: 68–67–4*
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

*Michigan State forfeited its entire schedule after an academic scandal; record was 5-6 (4-4 Big Ten).
**Record at Michigan State is 73-62-4 (58-37-2 Big Ten) without forfeited games.


External linksEdit

External LinksEdit

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