MOBILE — Kurt Crain, a South Alabama assistant coach and former Auburn All-American linebacker, was found dead in his Spanish Fort home Tuesday afternoon from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Baldwin County coroner Stan Vinson, the Mobile Press-Register reported Tuesday night.
“We’ve lost a great man, coach and mentor at the University of South Alabama,” said South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones in a statement. “In my opinion, Kurt was one of the best overall coaches I’ve ever seen. He cared about the players, they respected him greatly, and he was a tremendous football coach and motivator. I think about what a great man and what a great teacher he was for these young men.
“All Kurt would ever talk about was his family and how much he loved his wife and kids. That’s the kind of man he was.”
According to South Alabama, no further details are available at this time.
Crain, 47, most recently coached the Jaguars inside linebackers and was also the associate head coach. He joined South Alabama in July of 2008 as one of the first coaches Jones hired for the start-up program’s initial staff.
Under Crain, South Alabama’s defense ranked in the top 20 nationally in the FCS in both pass defense and total yards allowed per game in 2011.
Crain, who lived in Opelika for a time prior to moving to Mobile after taking the USA job, was named an Associated Press All-American in 1987 while playing for Pat Dye.
As a team captain his senior year at Auburn, Crain recorded a team-high 168 tackles — still the second-highest, single-season total in program history. He also had five interceptions that year and was tabbed a First-Team All-SEC player.
During his junior season on the Plains in 1986, Crain was named First-Team All-Conference. His 156 tackles led the team that year. That total is fifth all-time in a season.
Crain finished his Auburn career with 324 tackles, four sacks and seven interceptions. He still holds school records with 19 solo stops and 26 total tackles in a 1986 contest against Georgia.
“The entire Auburn family is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Kurt Crain, who was a great man, husband, father, coach and friend,” Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said in a statement. “Kurt was a fierce competitor who loved the game of football as much as he loved Auburn. He was a tremendous player and an outstanding leader who was an integral part of the success that Auburn football achieved during his career. More importantly, Kurt was an incredible individual who I was blessed to be friends with for over 25 years.
“He will be deeply missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with Kurt’s wife, Susan, and their three children, Jake, Blain and Shelby.”
Following his career on the Plains, Crain was drafted by the Houston Oilers. He played two seasons in the NFL, spending time with both the Oilers and the Green Bay Packers.
He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Auburn in the early 1990s, going on to work at Troy University and Texas Christian University before joining the USA staff.