Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In two years time, my life changed dramatically

       Looking back on my days as a college jock at Marshall University, I realize just how dramatically life can change. I can still remember the first time I flew into Tri-State Airport at Huntington, West Virginia. The year was ’68 and I was full of hope, determination and optimism about playing college football and earning a scholarship to pay for my schooling.
       But a little over two years after my first flight to West Virginia, life took on an ominous bleakness when the football team’s plane crashed on its return trip from a road game against East Carolina University. Even more devastating was the horrible reality that none of the seventy-five passengers survived.
       The tragedy represented a huge swing in fortunes for a football program that was in dire need of a turnaround for the better. The freshman class of ’68 had some studs. This was the team that went undefeated and routinely whipped the Thundering Herd varsity in weekly scrimmage games.
       More talent came the following year and by 1970, everything seemed to be in place for the Herd to bring some thunder to the gridiron on a regular basis. The ’70 team, which included several players from the ’68 freshman team, had at least five players who I believe would have made a living playing on Sundays in the NFL.
       All of that changed on a chilly and dreary night in November over forty-one years ago. With the demise of such a huge number of players (37), Marshall’s once-deep pool of football talent was reduced to almost zilch.
       In one night, the Herd went from being a program full of promise for the future, to being a devastated program that was forced to rebuild from ground zero.
       I spoke about some of those memories during a radio interview that aired on one of Marshall’s pre-game shows last football season. In the memoir I’ve written – November Ever After – you’ll learn all about different aspects of the crash that until now, have never been addressed. You can listen to the interview by clicking below on the mp3 file entitled “Steve Cotton and author Craig Greenlee.”

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