Sam Wyche

Samuel David Wyche (/w/[1]; January 5, 1945 – January 2, 2020) was an American professional football player and coach. He was a player and head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals and a quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers. As head coach, he led the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII, which they lost to the 49ers 20–16, relinquishing the lead on a last-minute touchdown. He was also known for introducing the use of the no-huddle offense as a standard offense (as opposed to use at the end of the half).

Sam Wyche
Sam Wyche 1969.jpg
No. 15, 14, 17
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born:(1945-01-05)January 5, 1945
Atlanta, Georgia
Died:January 2, 2020(2020-01-02) (aged 74)
Pickens, South Carolina
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:218 lb (99 kg)
Career information
High school:North Fulton
(Atlanta, Georgia)
College:Furman
Undrafted:1968
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
As assistant coach
Career NFL statistics
Passing attempts:222
Passing completions:116
Percentage:52.3
TDINT:12–9
Passing yards:1,748
QB rating:79.6
Player stats at NFL.com
Head coaching record
Regular season:84–107 (.440)
Postseason:3–2 (.600)
Career:87–109 (.444)
Player stats at PFR

Wyche coached Cincinnati from 1984 to 1991, and his 64 wins with the Bengals were the most by a coach in franchise history until he was surpassed by Marvin Lewis in 2011.[2]

Wyche also played for the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, and St. Louis Cardinals. He also coached at the University of South Carolina and Indiana University, and for the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Buffalo Bills.

Playing careerEdit

CollegeEdit

From 1963 to 1965, Wyche played college football at Furman University as a quarterback. He was also an initiated member of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Furman University and his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Carolina.[3]

ProfessionalEdit

From 1966 through 1967, Wyche played for the Wheeling Ironmen of the semi-professional Continental Football League.[4] He signed with the American Football League expansion Cincinnati Bengals for the 1968 season, when he started three games and also served as backup to John Stofa and Dewey Warren. In his rookie season, he completed 35 passes in 55 attempts (63.6 percent) for 494 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 12 times for 74 yards (a 6.2 average) and caught one pass for five yards.[5]

In Wyche's second season, 1969, he played in seven games, again starting three, as Bengals rookie Greg Cook eventually assumed the starting role. For the season, Wyche completed 54 passes in 108 attempts (50.0 percent) for 838 yards and seven touchdowns. He rushed 12 times for 109 yards (an 8.9 average) and one touchdown.[5]

Wyche continued to play for the Bengals as they entered the National Football League in 1970 as part of the NFL–AFL merger. He played in all 14 games, once again starting three, with 26 completions in 57 attempts (45.6 percent) for 411 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed 19 times for 118 yards (a 6.2 average) with two touchdowns.[5]

From 1971 to 1973, Wyche played for the Washington Redskins, who appeared in Super Bowl VII. Although playing in eight games during those two seasons, he did not attempt a pass.[5]

In 1974, Wyche played for the Detroit Lions, with only one pass attempted. In 1976, he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, completing one pass in one attempt.[5]

In 1988, Wyche was inducted into the American Football Association's Semi Pro Football Hall of Fame.[6]

Coaching careerEdit

University of South CarolinaEdit

In 1967, while at the University of South Carolina working on his MBA degree, Wyche was an assistant coach for the Gamecocks.[7]

San Francisco 49ersEdit

Wyche was an assistant coach and directed the passing game for the San Francisco 49ers from 1979 to 1982. He was on the coaching staff of the 1981 team that won Super Bowl XVI.[4]

Indiana UniversityEdit

In 1983, Wyche was the head coach of the Indiana University Hoosiers,[4] who finished 3–8.[8] Future NFL head coach Cam Cameron was a quarterback on that team.

Cincinnati BengalsEdit

Wyche was hired as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1984. In his first three seasons, his teams finished second each time before the team fell to 4–11 in 1987. The next year, he led the Bengals to their second Super Bowl appearance, where they lost 20–16 to the San Francisco 49ers, who rallied to win with a touchdown pass with 34 seconds remaining in the contest.[4]

Wyche was known as the "Always Innovative Sam Wyche" by Norman Chad, as well as the nickname, "Wicky Wacky Wyche"[9] for his unconventional play-calling. Wyche introduced the concept of having 12 or more players huddle on the field, then having a few leave the field. He called it the "sugar huddle"; it was meant to confuse the defense as to the personnel grouping. If defenses tried to adapt with their own substitutions, the Bengals snapped the ball, often leading to the defense being penalized for having too many players on the field. The NFL responded by changing the rules so that defenses could match the offensive substitutions before a snap was allowed.[8] His Bengals were also the first to use the no-huddle/hurry-up offense as a base offense.[4]

On December 10, 1989, during a game versus the Seattle Seahawks, Bengals fans began to throw snowballs onto the field in protest of what they believed to be a bad call by the officials. The Seahawks, who were at their own 4-yard line and an easy target from the bleachers, refused to continue until the snowball-throwing stopped, and play was halted by the officials. In order to stop the onslaught, Wyche was given a house microphone to try to calm the crowd. Wyche chided the fans who were doing the throwing, and alluded to the reputation of their in-state rivals, the Cleveland Browns:[10]

Will the next person that sees anybody throw anything onto this field, point 'em out, and get 'em out of here. You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati![10]

After the Bengals lost that game he refused to allow the media into the locker room, a violation of NFL policy for which he was fined $3,000, an increase from a 1986 fine he was assessed for pushing a microphone out of a reporter's hand.[11] A year after the Seahawks game, he refused to allow a female reporter from USA Today in the locker room after a game, saying he did not want his players to be naked in front of her. The NFL fined him $27,000, the largest fine ever assessed against a coach. He complained that Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was more interested in fining him than finding a solution that worked.[4]

During his Bengals' tenure, Wyche also had an acrimonious relationship with division rival Houston Oilers' coach Jerry Glanville, whom he called a "phony"; the teams played each other twice each season. In one contest, after the Bengals had scored to extend their lead over the Oilers to 45–0, Wyche ordered his team to make an onside kick, potentially allowing them to retain possession, a move teams usually make only when the score is close late in the game. After defeating the Oilers 61–7 in 1989, Wyche waved derisively at Glanville as the teams left the field.[8]

On December 24, 1991, just three years after the Bengals' Super Bowl appearance, Wyche was fired by owner Mike Brown, who had taken over the team upon the death of his father, club founder Paul Brown, four months earlier. Controversy erupted when the Bengals claimed Wyche had resigned, relieving the team of any future payments, but Wyche stated he was fired.[8] His 61–66 record was the best of any Bengals' coach until 2011.[7]

Tampa Bay BuccaneersEdit

Wyche was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as head coach in 1992. He spent the next four years as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he drafted Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, and John Lynch, players who would be key members of the successful Bucs teams under his successors, Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden.[12] Wyche was dismissed at the conclusion of the 1995 season,[7] having accumulated a 23–41 record over four straight losing seasons.[12]

Near the end of his tenure with the Bucs, Wyche participated in a lighthearted pregame promotional piece for NFL Films. At the time, Jimmy Johnson, then the recently dismissed coach of the Dallas Cowboys, was rumored to be heading to Tampa Bay to displace Wyche. During the promo, Wyche was about to address his team when personnel assistant John Idzik ducked his head into the room. He beckoned Wyche out of the room, and instructed him to "bring your playbook." Wyche disappeared, and in walked Johnson wearing a Buccaneers jacket, who then addressed "his" new team, to everyone's surprise.[13]

Buffalo BillsEdit

From 2004 to 2005, Wyche was the quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills.[7]

High schoolEdit

In 2002, 2003 and from 2006–2008, Wyche volunteered as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Pickens High School Blue Flame in Pickens, South Carolina.[7] He helped the Blue Flame get to the second round of the playoffs in 2006. Wyche was a registered substitute teacher in Pickens County schools.[14]

Head coaching recordEdit

CollegeEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Indiana Hoosiers (Big Ten Conference) (1983)
1983 Indiana 3–8 2–7 T–8th
Indiana: 3–8 2–7
Total: 3–8

NFLEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CIN 1984 8 8 0 .500 2nd in AFC Central - - - -
CIN 1985 7 9 0 .438 2nd in AFC Central - - - -
CIN 1986 10 6 0 .625 2nd in AFC Central - - - -
CIN 1987 4 11 0 .267 4th in AFC Central - - - -
CIN 1988 12 4 0 .750 1st in AFC Central 2 1 .667 Lost to San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII
CIN 1989 8 8 0 .500 4th in AFC Central - - - -
CIN 1990 9 7 0 .688 1st in AFC Central 1 1 .500 Lost to Los Angeles Raiders in AFC Divisional Round
CIN 1991 3 13 0 .188 4th in AFC Central - - - -
CIN Total 61 66 0 .480 3 2 .600
TB 1992 5 11 0 .313 3rd in NFC Central - - - -
TB 1993 5 11 0 .313 5th in NFC Central - - - -
TB 1994 6 10 0 .375 5th in NFC Central - - - -
TB 1995 7 9 0 .438 5th in NFC Central - - - -
TB Total 23 41 0 .359
Total 84 107 0 .440 3 2 .600

[15]

Broadcasting careerEdit

In 1996, Wyche worked as a sports analyst with Marv Albert on a weekly NFL game for NBC. In 1997, he was promoted to the studio on NBC's weekly pre-game and half-time shows. He worked as an analyst for CBS with Kevin Harlan on the weekly NFL games from 1998 until week 2 in 2000 when his voice gave part way through a game between Miami and Minnesota. Beesley Reece came up from sideline reporting to do color commentary for the rest of that game. He returned to CBS in 2001 where he did the first two games of the NFL season with Gus Johnson, and Brent Jones. In 2006, he was a commentator on Westwood One's NFL Thursday night coverage, with Dick Enberg. Also in 2006, he began working with Tom Werme broadcasting Southern Conference Football for Fox Sports South.[7][16]

Personal lifeEdit

Wyche and his wife, Jane, had two children, Zak and Kerry, and six grandchildren. He was a private pilot for many years. He also enjoyed golf, tennis, jogging and riding his Harley.[3]

Wyche underwent a biopsy on lymph nodes in his chest in 2000. His left vocal cord was severed during the procedure, leaving his voice consistently hoarse and scratchy. From 2004 to 2006, he was a volunteer at Pickens High School in South Carolina as a public speaker. He was an amateur magician.[17]

Wyche's brother, Bubba, was a quarterback at Tennessee and in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and World Football League (WFL).[18]

On September 9, 2016, Wyche was admitted to the Carolinas Medical Center's Dickson Heart Unit in Charlotte, North Carolina, awaiting a heart transplant due to congestive heart failure.[19] Three days later, a heart was found, and on September 13, Wyche underwent a 4.5-hour transplant operation.[20]

Wyche was diagnosed with melanoma in 2019 and died at his home in Pickens, South Carolina, on January 2, 2020, three days short of his 75th birthday.[21]

Political careerEdit

On November 4, 2008, Wyche secured a seat on the County Council for Pickens County, South Carolina.[22] Running as a member of the Republican Party, Wyche defeated Democrat Wesley Burbage for the Pickens seat, by a margin of 6,478 votes to 1,639.[22]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Sam Wyche :60". Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  2. ^ Morrison, Jay (August 7, 2017). "The historic Marvin Lewis era with the Bengals: Most playoff games, 0 playoff wins". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Alumnus and Former NFL Coach, Sam Wyche to speak at NLI". Kappa Alpha Order. November 9, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Belson, Ken (January 3, 2020). "Sam Wyche, Who Led Cincinnati to the Super Bowl, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Sam Wyche". ProFootballReference.com.
  6. ^ "Minor League/Semi-Pro Hall of Fame". American Football Association. 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Keepfer, Scott; Osby, Liv (January 2, 2020). "Former Furman quarterback and NFL coach Sam Wyche dead at 74". The Greenville News. Greenville, South Carolina. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d Kay, Joe (January 2, 2020). "Sam Wyche, boundary-pushing coach of Bengals, IU, dead at 74". The Journal Gazette. Fort Wayne, Indiana. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Heisler, Mark (January 18, 1989). "WYCHE: For All His Effort, He Is Still Known as Wicky Wacky". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ a b Sam Wyche 'You don't live in Cleveland' speech on YouTube
  11. ^ Thomas, Robert Jr. (October 6, 1990). "Wyche Fined by N.F.L. For Barring Female Writer". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Stroud, Rick (January 2, 2020). "Sam Wyche was the right coach at the wrong time for the Bucs". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  13. ^ Williams, Charean (September 7, 1995). "Bucs Get New Coach – Not". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  14. ^ "Game Plan for Wyche Is a Shift to Politics". The Associated Press. June 8, 2008. Retrieved January 5, 2020 – via The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Sam Wyche Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  16. ^ Hartsell, Jeff (January 2, 2020). "Sam Wyche, former Furman player and NFL coach, dies at 74". The Post and Courier. Charleston, South Carolina. Retrieved January 5, 2020.
  17. ^ Pierson, Don (September 4, 1992). "Alacazam! Can Sam Work Magic?". Chicago Tribune.
  18. ^ Asher, Gene (August 2005). "Magic Men". Georgia Trend.
  19. ^ Terrell, Katherine (September 9, 2016). "Sam Wyche awaiting heart transplant". ESPN.
  20. ^ Keeler, Scott (September 13, 2016). "Furman Hall of Famer Wyche in recovery after transplant". The Greenville News.
  21. ^ Former Cincinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche dies at 74
  22. ^ a b "Stone, Saitta re-elected". The Pickens Sentinel. November 4, 2008.[permanent dead link]