|Intro||American football player and coach|
|A.K.A.||Samuel David Wyche, Samuel David "Sam" Wyche|
|Was||American football player Athlete Football player Association football player|
|From||United States of America|
|Birth||5 January 1945, Atlanta, USA|
|Death||2 January 2020 (aged 75 years)|
Samuel David Wyche (/hwaɪʃ/ wysh; 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).
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.
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.
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.
From 1966 through 1967, Wyche played for the Wheeling Ironmen of the semi-professional Continental Football League. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1988, Wyche was inducted into the American Football Association's Semi Pro Football Hall of Fame.
University of South Carolina
In 1967, while at the University of South Carolina working on his MBA degree, Wyche was an assistant coach for the Gamecocks.
San Francisco 49ers
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.
In 1983, Wyche was the head coach of the Indiana University Hoosiers, who finished 3–8. Future NFL head coach Cam Cameron was a quarterback on that team.
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.
Wyche was known as the "Always Innovative Sam Wyche" by Norman Chad, as well as the nickname, "Wicky Wacky Wyche" 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. His Bengals were also the first to use the no-huddle/hurry-up offense as a base offense.
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:
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!
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. 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.
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.
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. His 61–66 record was the best of any Bengals' coach until 2011.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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. Wyche was dismissed at the conclusion of the 1995 season, having accumulated a 23–41 record over four straight losing seasons.
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.
From 2004 to 2005, Wyche was the quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills.
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. 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.
Head coaching record
|Indiana Hoosiers (Big Ten Conference)|
|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||-||-||-||-|
|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||-||-||-||-|
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.
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.
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.
Wyche's brother, Bubba, was a quarterback at Tennessee and in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and World Football League (WFL).
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. Three days later, a heart was found, and on September 13, Wyche underwent a 4.5-hour transplant operation.
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.
On November 4, 2008, Wyche secured a seat on the County Council for Pickens County, South Carolina. 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.