Written by John Antonik
Long associated with West Virginia University, Gene Corum was a dedicated coach and administrator who was proud to be a Mountaineer.
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Born May 29, 1921, in Huntington, W.Va., Corum was an all-state guard at Huntington High School before accepting a scholarship from Bill Kern to play at the University in 1940. An undersized lineman, Corum immediately displayed an intense desire to play the game and became a starter in just his sophomore season.
Interrupting his college career to participate in the war effort, Corum, who barely weighed 185 pounds, rejoined the Mountaineers in 1947 and was nominated team captain. Playing a key role in the Mountaineers memorable 17-2 upset of Pitt, Corum blocked a punt and returned the ball for what he thought was a touchdown. However, the field was covered with snow and he pounced on the ball at the 10 yard line thinking he was at the goal line. Since he could have run with the ball, he was denied his only opportunity to score a touchdown.
Earning a bachelor's degree in 1948, Corum went on to finish work on a master's degree that same year. After receiving his degree, he was hired as the football coach at Point Marion High School where he led the team to a 9-1 record in his first season, including a win over rival Masontown High School.
Coaching one more year with Point Marion, Corum rejoined the Mountaineers as the freshman coach in 1950 under Art "Pappy" Lewis. After a year of guiding the plebes, the freshman rule was abolished and Corum was moved up to the varsity where he coached the ends.
He soon developed into one of Lewis' top assistants, helping the Mountaineers reach the 1954 Sugar Bowl. He remained on the Mountaineer staff until Lewis resigned in 1960. In the spring of that year, he was appointed by the West Virginia University Athletic Council as the University's 26th football coach.
Taking the job right before spring football practice, Corum endured a difficult first year as coach of the Mountaineers. Things picked up in 1961 and in just his third season, Corum guided the Mountaineers to an 8-2 record, his best as a Mountaineer coach. His greatest season came in 1964, however, when he guided the Mountaineers to a 7-3 regular season record and a berth in the 1964 Liberty Bowl, the first bowl game played indoors.
Corum coached one more year before handing over the coaching chores to Jim Carlen. During his last year as a head coach, Corum defeated Pitt 63-48 in what is considered one of the greatest offensive shows in West Virginia history.
A long-time instructor in the School of Physical Education, Corum also served a stint on the Morgantown city council. Inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1984, Gene Corum was certainly a standout athlete, teacher and coach.
Corum died January 2, 2010 in Frederick, Md.