Jesse Branch

Branch to Enter Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

October 11, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Former Missouri State head football coach Jesse Branch (1986-94) will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame as part of its annual football luncheon on Monday, Oct. 16 in Springfield.

Branch will enter the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame as part of a class that includes former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith, former Waynesville High School head coach Rick Vernon and two Springfield area state championship squads in the 1981 Greenwood Blue Jays and the 1997 Springfield Catholic Fighting Irish. The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center.

Branch, led the Bears to 55 victories and a pair of Gateway Football Conference titles (1989 and 1990) during his nine-year tenure at Missouri State, marking the Bears' last two NCAA postseason appearances. He guided MSU to a 27-3 home mark from 1988-93, a stretch that saw the Bears post five winning seasons and a 43-24-1 overall record. Branch became the first MSU football coach to lead the Bears to five-straight winning seasons (1989-93), equaling the longest consecutive stretches of winning seasons in program history, along with previous strings from 1947-51 and 1962-66.

With his 55-44-1 overall record as MSU's mentor, Branch ranks third among the Bears' 20 head football coaches in victories and fourth in total games coached. His 1989 squad advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division I FCS (then I-AA) playoffs in the first-ever postseason appearance in MSU football history with a 10-3 campaign that matched the school's season high for victories. The Bears hosted and won a first-round game against Maine before dropping its quarterfinal contest at Stephen F. Austin.

The Bears followed with another Gateway title in 1990, going 9-3 with a second-straight playoff appearance. MSU also posted runner-up finishes in the conference in 1988, 1992 and 1993. 

At the time of his resignation to accept an associate director of athletics post at Arkansas, Branch was tied with then-UNI head coach and future Bears boss Terry Allen for the most coaching victories in Gateway Conference history. To this day--nearly 23 years later--he still ranks among the league's all-time top 10 coaches for wins, currently tied with former Southern Illinois coach Jerry Kill for the No. 9 spot on the list.

Branch came to Missouri State in 1986 after 11 seasons on the coaching staff at Arkansas under three different Razorback head coaches. He was a two-year letterwinner under Hall of Fame UA coach Frank Broyles during his collegiate playing career, earning AFCA All-America and All-Southwest Conference honors.

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