By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky football coach Fran Curci had open heart surgery this morning in Tampa, Fla., to repair an aneurysm on his aorta.
“I keep in touch with him and his children. They found aneurysm on his aorta. It grew quickly, but doctors said it was a miracle they found it,” said family friend Jennifer Parks, a former UK cheerleader. “He is strong and in good spirits. He’s a fighter and always has been.
“Angela, one of his daughters contacted me today to say ‘his surgery is over and everything went great! He’s a new man! Thank you for all the prayers.’”
Many of Curci’s former players remain in contact with the coach, who turns 80 on June 11.
“He knows we all love him but we can still remind him,” Parks said. “Continue to pray for a speedy recovery. I will probably talk to him later in the week. Want to give him a few days to get his strength back and recover more.”
Curci was an all-American quarterback at Miami and head coach at Tampa and Miami before coming to Kentucky where he went 47-51-2. His 1976 team finished 9-3 (5-1in SEC play) and beat North Carolina in the Peach Bowl to finish 18th in the final AP rankings.
Kentucky was hit with a two-year probation and banned from bowl games and live TV in 1977 when the team went 10-1 with its only loss at Baylor. Kentucky won at No. 4 Penn State and went unbeaten in SEC play to finish the season ranked sixth nationally. It was one of only two 10-win seasons in school history.
Because of the probation and scholarship reductions, Curci then had four straight losing seasons and his final game was a 21-10 victory over Tennessee in 1981.