Frank Gilliam Obituary, Death – Frank Gilliam, an All-American football player and coach at the University of Iowa who later played for several seasons in the Canadian Football League, died on April 1st at the age of 89. Bud Grant, a future Vikings Hall of Famer, coached him in Winnipeg. Gilliam was a member of the University of Iowa’s all-time football team.
Frank Gilliam, a sophomore right end, helped Iowa to a successful season in 1953. Iowa’s final game that season was against #1 Notre Dame in South Bend. With 2:06 remaining in the game, Gilliam made a diving catch in the end zone to give Iowa a 14-7 lead. However, Notre Dame broke a 14-14 tie with a touchdown pass with six seconds remaining, thanks in part to an injury timeout granted when two Notre Dame players collided. Ireland lost first place in the final AP Poll as a result of the tie, dropping them to second place. Iowa jumped to ninth in the AP polls after receiving six first-place votes. Iowa ranked first for the first time since 1939.
Iowa finished the 1954 season with a record of 5-4. Gilliam broke his leg before his senior year in 1955, forcing him to miss a year. In 1955, Jones and Vincent both had outstanding senior seasons, with Cal Jones winning the Outland Trophy. In Gilliam’s senior year of 1956, Iowa went 9-1, winning the Big Ten and making the Rose Bowl for the first time in school history. Frank Gilliam was named a second-team All-American after the season. The joyous occasion, however, was marred by the news that Gilliam’s close friend, Cal Jones, had died in a plane crash in western Canada’s mountains during a fierce windstorm. Frank Gilliam’s final game with the Hawkeyes was a 35-19 Rose Bowl victory over Oregon State.
Frank Gilliam was a member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League from 1957 to 1959. After retiring from professional football, he taught for a few years before becoming Jerry Burns’ assistant coach at the University of Iowa from 1966 to 1970. Gilliam then spent 36 years as a scout and personnel man for the Minnesota Vikings.
During Iowa football’s 100th anniversary celebration in 1989, Iowa fans selected an all-time University of Iowa football team, with Frank Gilliam as the starting end.