Joe Black Hayes, who was Cumberland University’s football coach when the program was disbanded in the late 1940s, died Monday at 98.
The Murfreesboro native graduated from the University of Tennessee, where he served as captain of the Vols as a senior in 1937 under legendary coach Robert Neyland, and spent time at UT-Martin before taking over the Bulldog football program.
During his three years at Cumberland, his Bulldogs defeated a fledgling Florida State team 6-0 at the original Kirk Field on the CU campus in 1947. It was just FSU’s second game after the school had been an all-women’s institution. A week later, Florida State became known as the Seminoles during a loss to Tennessee Tech.
Cumberland disbanded football following the 1949 season and the program wasn’t revived until 1990. Mr. Hayes was inducted into the CU Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.
Mr. Hayes returned to his hometown where he joined the coaching staff at what was then known as Middle Tennessee State College. He served as a longtime right-hand man to legendary Blue Raider football coach Charles ‘Bubber’ Murphy [for whom Murphy Center is named]. He also established the school’s wrestling and track programs during the 1950s.
He was inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 1997.
Visitation for Coach Hayes will be this Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Woodfin Memorial Chapel in Murfreesboro. The funeral is set for Friday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro.