Saturday, January 14, 2012

NFL legend never got call about coaching vacancy

        In the months following the plane crash, there was some uncertainty as to who would take over as the new head coach for Marshall University’s depleted football program.     
Sam Huff
       Bob Phillips, an assistant at Penn State was the school’s No. 1 pick, but he declined the job offer. Next came Dick Bestwick, who was the freshman coach at Georgia Tech. Initially, Bestwick accepted the job, but reneged on his promise two days later and returned to Atlanta.
       In the meantime, Sam Huff made it known publicly that he was very interested in the position. As an NFL Hall of Fame legend and native West Virginian, Huff had the aura and name recognition to help the Thundering Herd attract and sign its share of blue-chip athletes. Considering that the program was virtually starting from scratch, having Sam Huff as head coach would give Marshall a significant advantage in the recruiting wars for the nation’s top football talent.
       As things turned out, visions of Huff pacing the sidelines for the Herd proved to be nothing but fantasy. It really was too good to be true. Huff, an All-America during his college days at WVU, was never granted a job interview.
       One can only speculate as to why Marshall never gave Huff a call. We’ll never know what might have happened if athletics director Joe McMullen had hired Huff. One might assume that great things would have happened in a relatively short period of time. But on the other hand, the opposite could have transpired.
        That was the case for Sonny Randle, who played ten pro seasons (1959-68) and still ranks 12th on the NFL’s all-time list for touchdown receptions per game. Randle coached at Marshall from ’79-’83 and never had a winning season (39-69-1).

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