We all know that West Virginia is a small state. We have a small population base, but that has not stopped us from significantly impacting the world of football.
It’s everywhere in the college game. For example:
n Last weekend, one of the biggest national games was Alabama at Texas A&M. You know the coaching story. Nick Saban of the Crimson Tide is from Marion County. The Aggies’ Jimbo Fisher is from Harrison County. Both have won national championships as head coaches. They also won a national title together, in 2003, when Saban was at LSU and Fisher was his offensive coordinator.
n Our state also has a significant local tie to the most visible player in the NFL. Every week, the national media and the NFL community marvels at the accomplishments of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Before the NFL, Brady showed great leadership ability and accuracy at Michigan. His QB coach there from 1996-99 was former Marshall head coach Stan Parrish.
n Former WVU head coach Bobby Bowden is certainly one of the best coaches in the history of college football. Bowden has made, and continues to make, an incredible impact in our state. He will turn 90 years old on Nov. 8. Bowden was friendly, charming, funny and charismatic. He has always been approachable, kind and considerate.
Bowden was more than just a nice man. He could also coach. The coaching job he did at Florida State might be the best in the history of the game. The Seminoles program was at rock bottom, winning only 19 games in five years, when he arrived in Tallahassee prior to the 1976 season. There was even some talk in Tallahassee about dropping or de-emphasizing football. A documentary, “The Bowden Dynasty,” has been airing on ESPN and the ACC Network.
n In Los Angeles, the most talked about story in college football is the job security of USC head coach Clay Helton. It is apparent that the Trojans are still looking for the next John McKay. McKay coached at USC from 1960-75, putting eight teams in Rose Bowls and winning four national championships (1962, 1967, 1972 and 1974).
Like several outstanding Hall of Fame college coaches, McKay has West Virginia roots. He was a 1941 graduate of Shinnston High School near Clarksburg. He also served as a tail-gunner on B-29 aircrafts and fought in the Pacific Theatre in WWII.
After USC, he was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs in the NFL from 1976-84. His state ties continued there. One of his assistants was future Marshall head football coach George Chaump. Chaump coached Marshall to the I-AA championship game in 1987.
n Finally, one baseball note. There will also be a Kanawha Valley tie in the 2019 World Series. One of the outfielders for the Washington National is Michael A. Taylor. His dad, Tony Taylor, is from Rand and is a 1966 graduate of DuPont High School.