The son of an Oklahoma oil field worker, Claude Gilbert graduated in 1950 from
Bakersfield High School where he played football and baseball. From 1951 to 1955, he
served in the United States Air Force. In 1955, he resumed his education by attending
Bakersfield College, and then he moved on to San Jose State University, graduating with
his Master’s degree in Physical Education in 1963. His first contract teaching/coaching
assignment was at Tulare High School from 1959 to 1960 where he served as an assistant
football, wrestling and track coach. The football team won the Central Yosemite League
Championship with an 8-1 record. So began an illustrious coaching career.
From 1960 to 1963, Coach Gilbert was the head football coach and J.V. baseball coach at Shafter High School. His first football team (1960) came in second place in the South Sequoia League with a 7-2 record. In 1961, they were league champions (8-1) and they
repeated as league champions in 1962, posting a perfect 9-0 record. His record while he was at Shafter High School is an amazing 24-3 over three seasons! From 1963 to 1965, he served as assistant football coach and assistant baseball coach at Bakersfield College, winning the Metro Conference Championship in 1963 (9-1) and 1964 (8-1) and earning second place in 1965 with a 7-2 record.
Claude Gilbert was hired as Southwestern College’s Head Football Coach in 1966, and the Apaches posted a 5-3 record to become Co-Champions of the South Coast Conference. Coach Gilbert left Southwestern College in 1967 when he joined the staff at San Diego State University as Offensive Line Coach for Don Coryell. From 1968 to 1973, he was Defensive Coordinator and in 1973, when Coryell left SDSU for the NFL,
he became the Head Football Coach at SDSU--a position he held until 1980. As Head
Coach, Claude Gilbert became the second winningest coach in Aztec history, behind only
Coryell, with an amazing record of 61-26-2.
From 1981 to 1984, Coach Gilbert accepted the Defensive Coordinator position at San
Jose State University (his alma mater) under Head Coach Jack Elway. During these years,
the Spartans posted a 22-12 record, including a 7-4 mark against Pacific-10 Conference
member universities. The 1981 team was the Pacific Coast Athletic Association
Champion. From 1981 to 1983, the Spartans yielded on average fewer than 21 points per
game and averaged more than 50 quarterback sacks a season.
In 1984, after Jack Elway was named Head Coach at Stanford University,
Claude Gilbert became Head Coach at SJSU. His 38 Spartan head coaching wins
are second most among San Jose State football coaches. The 1986 and 1987
Spartans won 10 games each season, were conference champions, set a record for
consecutive wins in league play, were nationally ranked during in-season
competition, and averaged 33.9 points per game.
Coach Gilbert, who estimates he has coached approximately 2,500 players
during his career, coached in the World League of American Football (WLAF) for
the Frankfurt team in 1991 and 1992, and then returned to San Diego State for
his second time as an assistant coach from 1995 through 1999.
At San Diego State, and then San Jose State, his combined win-loss record as Head Coach was 99-56-3 for a .636 winning percentage and this includes four 10-win seasons. Three times (1974, l986 and 1987), he was selected conference “Coach of the Year” and his 1974 and 1975 SDSU teams and his 1986 and 1987 SJSU teams were conference champions. His players received first-team all-conference recognition 92 times. National Football League teams drafted 53players that he either recruited or coached at the two universities. Claude Gilbert’s dedication, passion, experience and success as a football
coach are the reasons he has been selected as a member of the Hall of Fame at San Jose State University San Diego State University, Bakersfield College and Bakersfield High School.
Regarding this honor, Coach Gilbert says, “I’ve been fortunate enough to be included in...(these) Halls of Fame. They’re all very special. It’s very special to be recognized by your school with this particular honor. I’m delighted.” Coach Gilbert lives in Grass Valley, CA. with his charming wife Mary Lou. They are parents of son Michael Gilbert and daughter, Patricia Fay.
Southwestern College is extremely proud to induct Claude Gilbert, a consummate
football coach, into the 2014 Southwestern Athletic Hall of Fame -- thus completing the
circle of his induction into the Hall of Fame at all educational institutions at which he has
coached. Welcome, Claude Gilbert