Coach Marty Schottenheimer of the Cleveland Browns said an embarrassing incident during his collegiate football career has helped him develop his professional coaching philosophy.
Schottenheimer, 44, was a linebacker at the University of Pittsburgh, but when a teammate became ill, he took on a new role.
"Our long snapper was sick," Schottenheimer said. "The coach asked me to give it a try. I did. I snapped the ball at least 20 feet over the head of our punter, Jack Traficant."
Traficant, now a congressman representing the Youngstown, Ohio, area, had more than a few choice words for Schottenheimer after chasing down the ball.
"Jack probably called me every name in the book, and I certainly deserved it," Schottenheimer said. "The incident bothered me a great deal but I learned something.
"Every role a player assumes on a football team is important, whether that player is the starting quarterback or a lineman on special-teams coverage. A football team cannot win unless every player understands and executes his role."
Add Schottenheimer: He has a 35-28 record since succeeding Sam Rutigliano, who was a favorite with the press because of his quick wit. Schottenheimer is a bit different. During the NFL players' strike, he was asked if the situation was bizarre. The English major in him answered: "To say something is bizarre is to say it is outside of reality. This situation definitely is reality. These games count."
Syracuse football Coach Dick MacPherson still doesn't agree with Auburn's decision to settle for a 16-16 tie in the Sugar Bowl, but at least he can joke about it.
"I hope you folks like my tie tonight," MacPherson said during a speech to the Montgomery, Ala., Quarterback Club. "Pat Dye (Auburn's coach) gave me this tie."
Add MacPherson: He was in anything but a joking mood after the game, angrily slapping at Dye's hand when the coaches met at midfield.
"I'm not ashamed of anything I did, except I probably could have been a little more gracious," MacPherson said. "I should have stopped, shook his hand, and wished him good luck."
Last add MacPherson: Despite criticism of the current bowl system, MacPherson said he also opposes a playoff format to decide the Division I champion.
"One of the great joys in college football is the bowls," he said. "I know the networks are pushing for it because they would make a lot of money. They don't give a damn about the football, and they don't give a damn about the kids."
How time flies: Before O.J. Simpson and Earl McCullouch went on to professional football, they ran legs on USC's world record-setting 440-yard relay team in 1968.
Now their sons, Tony McCullouch of Long Beach Poly and Jason Simpson of the Army-Navy School in Carlsbad, are following in their footsteps, running in the high school portion of the Sunkist Invitational track meet Jan. 22 at the Sports Arena.