|QB/WR Bob Harris|
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Marshall plane crash story has so many ironies
The story of the tragic Marshall University plane crash is loaded with ironies. For today, I’ll just focus on one example.
The 1970 edition of the Thundering Herd had three players – Bob Harris, Jack Repasy and Mark Andrews – who were teammates at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. When Marshall went on a road trip to play East Carolina, the parents of these three players drove south from Ohio to watch their sons play.
The Cincinnati trio played reasonably well in a gut-wrenching 17-14 loss. Andrews was a key performer for MU as a defensive lineman. Harris split time between playing quarterback and wide receiver. Repasy was a proven commodity at receiver, who rarely dropped any ball thrown in his direction.
After the game, Bob Harris Sr. and his wife asked the three players to ride back with them to Huntington, West Virginia. According to the senior Harris, the three players were reluctant to approach Thundering Herd head coach Ricky Tolley about it.
As things turned out, it would be the last time these parents would see their sons. Harris, Repasy and Andrews were among the 75 passengers on the DC-9 jet that crashed into the side of a mountain and yielded no survivors.
“They were afraid because the coach was enraged because they had lost the game,” said Harris Sr. during an interview on the ESPN Classic documentary Remembering Marshall (2000). “They just didn’t want to ask him.
“And that haunts me to this day that I didn’t persist in getting them to ride back with us instead of going on the plane.”
Right after making his comments, tears start to well up in the eyes of the elder Harris. It’s plain for everyone to see that the events from that horrific November night weighed heavily on his mind.