Mike White, a three-sport letterman at Cal who served as the Golden Bears’ head football coach from 1972-77 and later earned induction into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame, has been chosen as the recipient of the 2013 Glenn T. Seaborg Award.
The award, named after the former University of California chancellor and 1951 Nobel Prize-winning scientist, is presented annually to a former Cal football player for his career accomplishments who represents the honored Cal principles and traditions of excellence in academics, athletics, leadership and attitude. While will be recognized for the honor during a ceremony during the Cal-Washington State football game on Oct. 5.
“Mike White is a wonderful Californian and an outstanding person to receive the Glenn Seaborg Award and honor,” said Jack Hart, chair of the Seaborg Award Board of Directors. “Dr. Seaborg would be pleased. Mike achieved success at the highest level in his coaching experiences, both college and the NFL, and you could make a strong case he coached maybe the best team in Cal’s famed football history.”
White lettered in football, rugby and track & field at Cal from 1955-58. Playing as member of the football team under coaches Pappy Waldorf and Pete Elliott, he was a wide receiver for the Bears and served as team captain as a senior. On the track, he once won three different events in the Big Meet vs. Stanford, while he was team captain of the rugby team his final year. White received the Circle C Athlete of the Year honor in 1955-56. He earned his degree in business administration and was the baccalaureate speaker at graduation ceremonies in 1958.
“I am humbled and extremely proud to receive this honor, especially to represent a great person like Glenn Seaborg, who I knew as a student-athlete and when I first started coaching at Cal,” White said. “Some of the past winners are some unbelievably famous people in the history of Cal football. I don’t deserve that status, but am honored to have been acknowledged and hope that I live up to the past winners.”
After finishing his studies in Berkeley, White immediately entered the coaching profession, first serving as head freshman coach at Cal in 1958, then as an assistant coach for the varsity from 1959-64. White moved over to Stanford as an assistant coach under John Ralston (1997 Seaborg Award recipient) from 1964-71, helping the Cardinal to a pair of Pac-8 championships.
White returned to his alma mater as head coach in 1972 and compiled a 35-30-1 record over six seasons. His 1975 squad, led by running back Chuck Muncie and quarterback Joe Roth, tied for the Pac-8 title with an 8-3 mark, and White was named Pac-8 Coach of the Year. The squad led the nation in total offense and was ranked 14th in the final Associated Press poll.
From 1978-79, White was an assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers under Bill Walsh, and he returned to the collegiate ranks as head coach at Illinois from 1980-87, taking the Illini to a Big Ten title in 1983. White was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year twice and National Coach of the Year by multiple publications in ’83.
White concluded his coaching career in the NFL with the Raiders (assistant coach 1990-94; head coach 1995-96), Rams (assistant head coach 1997-99) and Chiefs (assistant head coach 2001-05). The 1999 St. Louis Rams team won the Super Bowl with a victory over Tennessee.
White continues to have strong ties with Cal and is finishing his eighth summer managing the Blue Camp at the Lair of the Bear. He and his wife, Marilyn, have three children and five grandchildren.
Established in 1995, the Seaborg Award has been presented to 18 recipients. Past winners are:
1995 - Rod Franz
1996 - John Najarian, M.D.
1997 - John Ralston
1998 - Les Richter
1999 - Vic Bottari
2000 - Pete Schabarum
2001 - Ed Bartlett
2002 - Ray Willsey
2003 - Jack Hart
2004 - Bob Karpe
2005 - Harry Agler
2006 - Chris Markey
2007 - George Stathakis
2008 - Nick Veliotes
2009 - John Garamendi
2010 - Pete Domoto
2011 - Dick Erickson
2012 – Thelton Henderson