Former Northern Michigan University football coach Bill Rademacher dies at 75

Former President Gerald Ford presents an autographed football to Northern Michigan University football coach Bill Rademacher during a visit to Marquette in 1978. (Photo courtesy of NMU Central U.P. archives)

MARQUETTE — Bill Rademacher, who played in the NFL before becoming head coach at Northern Michigan University and later an assistant at Michigan State, died on Monday, the New York Jets announced Tuesday. He was 75.

Rademacher was head coach at NMU for five seasons, from 1978-82, posting a record of 37-16-1.

His final three teams all made the NCAA Division II playoffs.

He was an assistant coach at Northern for four years before that, including when it went to the NCAA Division II national championship in 1975, turning around a team that was 0-10 in 1974 to one that went 13-1 a year later.

Iron Mountain native and later NFL head coach Steve Mariucci quarterbacked those national champions Wildcats.

He left NMU to coach at Michigan State, where he worked with linebackers under new coach George Perles from 1983 until retiring after the 1991 season.

His first coaching stop was as an assistant at Xavier, until it cut the program.

In his playing career, Rademacher, 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, was a wide receiver and defensive back, first at Menominee High School, then at Northern, and finally professionally with the New York Jets and Boston Patriots.

He was a member of the Super Bowl III-winning Jets. He came to the AFL’s Jets as an undrafted free agent.

Rademacher played seven seasons professionally, the first five with the Jets and the last two with the Boston Patriots.

He played in 58 games, catching 24 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He also had one interception and a fumble recovery.

Rademacher was inducted into the Northern Michigan University Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Upper Peninsula Hall of Fame in 1983.