** CORRECTS DATE TO JAN. 8, 1989, NOT JAN. 9, 1989 ** FILE ** Cincinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche stabs the air as he is carried from the field on the shoulders of his players after their 21-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills for the AFC Championship game in Cincinnati , Ohio, in this Jan. 8, 1989 photo. A healthier, happy Sam Wyche is still in the game _ even if his to-do list at Pickens High includes things he never would have thought about in the NFL. Sweep out the locker rooms? You bet. Simplify his vast playbook for the high school game? Easily done. Watch his starting quarterback take a few days away from camp to play baseball? Not a problem. (AP Photo/Rob Burns)
Photo: ROB BURNS
Photo: ROB BURNS

Former Bengals coach Sam Wyche awaiting heart transplant

Sam Wyche, who led the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl in 1988 and coached the team to its last playoff win in 1990, is in a Charlotte, N.C., hospital  awaiting a heart transplant.

Wyche, who played quarterback for the Bengals during the 60s and 70s, was on the short list for a transplant if a heart becomes available, according to WYFF in Charlotte. The former Bengals coach told the station if a heart wasn't found in the next few days, he would be fitted with an artificial heart pump.

Wyche played college football at Furman, where he was a standout quarterback. He signed with the Bengals in 1968, the first year of the franchise, after he played two years in the Continental Football League. He played three games as a rookie for the Bengals, and later for the Washington Redskins. He was on the bench for the team during its appearance in Super Bowl VII.

Wyche was an assistant coach for the University of South Carolina while he earned his MBA. He was hired by Bill Walsh in 1979 to join the San Francisco 49ers, where he was an assistant coach and passing game coordinator when the team beat the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI. After one season coaching Indiana, Wyche was hired by the Bengals to replace Forrest Gregg in 1984.

The Bengals finished second in their division three consecutive seasons under Wyche before going 4-11 in the strike-shorened 1987 season. The Bengals won the AFC title in 1988, beating  the Buffalo Bills at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, then lost Super Bowl XXIII to San Francisco in one of the most memorable Super Bowls in NFL history. Wyche was coach when the team won its last playoff game in 1990, beating the Houston Oilers 40-20.

Wyche was controversial for  his innovations on offense. Wyche started using the no-huddle during regular game situations, which the NFL banned during the 1988 AFC Championship game.  He also used various trick plays and several types of huddles and quick counts to gain advanages on offense. An emotional coach, Wyche collided with other coaches, most notably Houston Oilers coach Jerry Glanville, who he had a feud with for years. He drew the ire of Cleveland fans during a game agains the Seattle Seahawks in 1989. Fans angry with a late game call by the refs began throwing snowballs onto the field. Wyche took the Riverfront Stadium microphone and delivered the infamous line,"Wlll the next person who sees anybody throwing anthing onto this field, point them out, get them out of here. You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati."

After winning the division in 1990, the team finished last and won only three games in 1991. Original owner and hall of fame coach Paul Brown had died in 1990, leaving conrol of the franchise to his son Mike. Wyche and Mike Brown got into an argument during a meeting after the season in which Brown said Wyche had quit, while Wyche claimed he was fired. Many speculated Brown said Wyche quit so they wouldn't have to pay him the remainder  of his contract.

Wyche coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four years during the mid 1990s. He spent time as a color commentator and studio analyst and was quarterback coach with the Buffalo Bills in 2004-05. He volunteered as an offensive coordinator for a local high school team, was a substitute teacher  and also ran for Ccounty Council in South Carolina in 2008.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.

X