Some Coaches Better Teachers Than Players
By Bo Carter
College Correspondent, sportsandoutdoors.guru
There was an interesting story by Yahoo Sports online recently about the backgrounds of all 128 NCAA FBS head coaches and whether they played college football or stopped at high school and some great trivia items.
After all, if you are too smart to bet on college and professional football games, you can impress your friends with trivial pursuit…
It is well known in the area that former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach (now at Washington State) played college rugby at Brigham Young and had a daughter who was an outstanding college softball pitcher.
Interestingly, Georgia Tech head Paul Johnson, known as one of the nation’s innovators of the current triple option offenses at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech did not play organized football after his senior year in high school, either.
Among some of the other trivia items that wise college fans (or those wishing to win a bet for a cup of coffee at their favorite breakfast watering hole may want to know is:
Head coach Carl Torbush, who was a defensive coordinator at Texas A&M in the 1990s, is in charge of the rejuvenated NCAA FCS program at East Tennessee State starting with the 2015 season and was a NAIA Academic All-America performer as a baseball catcher at Carson-Newman (Tenn.). Torbush also was noted as one of the top players in an over-30 summer amateur baseball league for several years in the Bryan-College Station area as he caught for sportswriter and former Sam Houston State lefthanded pitcher Brent Zwerneman.
Retired head coach Bobby Bowden coached on some level from high school to college football for 57 years after starring at Howard (Ala.) College, now Samford, as an undergraduate and just celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary with wife win. Bowden and sons Terry and Tommy (now a television analyst) have combined for a NCAA-family-record 613 composite coaching victories, and that one may not be broken for a long time.
Speaking of Samford, there are few times where a visiting coach has a Friday banquet and on-field honors before he takes his team against a heavily-favored opponent on a Saturday. Last weekend, Samford head coach Pat Sullivan and members of the 1994 TCU quint-championship Southwest Conference squad were honored at a reunion banquet for the 20th anniversary Friday, then saluted before Saturday night’s TCU-SU clash Saturday night in Fort Worth.
The 1994 TCU edition was the third of Sullivan’s eight teams after he replaced the legendary coach Jim Wacker (known for his byword “unbelievable”) after the 1991 season. The ‘94 Frogs tied with Baylor, Rice, Texas, and Texas Tech for the SWC crown, and Tech advanced to the 1995 Cotton Bowl (its first visit there since 1939) by a “last appearance” rule. That was also TCU’s first bowl team since 1983 and ended with a 7-5 mark for the Frogs and Sullivan, the 1971 Heisman Trophy winner as quarterback at Auburn.
Retired Texas head coach Mack Brown actually played two seasons of college football at Vanderbilt. With some the “talent well” running dry and less opportunities for running backs out of the Vandy Wishbone offense in the early 1970s under former Arkansas offensive coordinator and then-VU head coach, Brown decided to transfer to Florida State. Oddly, he just missed playing for (the former UT mentor suffered from injuries at FSU) Bobby Bowden, who came to FSU as head coach in 1987.
Bo Carter is former sports information director of the Southwest Conference and Big 12. In addition to his duties here, he currently serves as secretary of the National College Baseball Writers. Follow Bo on Twitter at #bcarter52 and Facebook at Bo Carter (Carrollton, Texas).