Former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, his daughter Lynn said Friday.

“We’ve known for a while,” she told The Dispatch, “but we’re seeing a change, a little bit more progression. He’s starting to not remember certain dates and things like that.”

Bruce, 86, had a stroke two years ago, which affected his speech. On Saturday, he fell at his home and sustained a small gash on his head, requiring a trip to the hospital, his daughter said.

Bruce is now at a skilled nursing facility. The goal is for him to return home after he completes physical therapy, Lynn said.

“He’s doing pretty good, considering everything,” she said.

Earle Bruce has long been active in raising money and awareness of Alzheimer’s, which was the cause of death for his father and two sisters and afflicts his brother.

A decade ago, Bruce and his late wife established the Earle and Jean Bruce Alzheimer’s Research Fund at Ohio State. According to the Wexner Medical Center website, the fund has raised more than $1 million for Alzheimer’s research.

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Bruce succeeded Woody Hayes as the Buckeyes’ coach in 1979 and served for nine years in a long career that earned him induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.

Bruce had a record of 81-26-1 at Ohio State. He also coached at the University of Tampa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Colorado State. He was an assistant on the Buckeyes’ 1968 national championship team.

His protégés include current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who coached under him at Colorado State.

“Other than my father, that was the most influential man in my life,” Meyer told The Dispatch in 2016. “Every significant decision I’ve made growing up in this profession was with him involved in it. His wife (Jean) and he were the role models for Shelley and me.”

Lynn Bruce said she appreciates the outpouring of support she and her family have gotten.

“He still likes to watch the games and talk football and is still the vibrant, feisty guy he’s always been,” she said. “It’s just you can see the beginnings (of Alzheimer’s). We need to make sure he’s safe. Hopefully, we can do that.”


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