Sam Wy­che, bound­ary-push­ing coach of Ben­gals, dead at 74

Antelope Valley Press - - Weather | Obituaries - By JOE KAY AP Sports Writer

Sam Wy­che, who pushed the bound­aries as an of­fen­sive in­no­va­tor with the Cincin­nati Ben­gals and chal­lenged the NFL’s pro­to­cols along the way, has died. He was 74.

Wy­che, who had a his­tory of blood clots in his lungs and had a heart trans­plant in 2016 in Char­lotte, North Carolina, died Thurs­day of melanoma, of­fi­cials with the Ben­gals con­firmed.

“Sam was a won­der­ful guy. We got to know him as both a player and a coach,” Ben­gals pres­i­dent Mike Brown said. “As our coach, he had great suc­cess and took us to the Su­per Bowl. He was friends with ev­ery­one here, both dur­ing his ten­ure as head coach and af­ter­wards. We not only liked him, we ad­mired him as a man. He had a great gen­eros­ity of spirit and lived his life try­ing to help others. We ex­press our con­do­lences to Jane and his chil­dren Zak and Kerry.”

One of the Ben­gals’ orig­i­nal quar­ter­backs, Wy­che was known for his of­fen­sive in­no­va­tions as a coach. He led the Ben­gals to their sec­ond Su­per Bowl dur­ing the 1988 sea­son by us­ing a no-hud­dle of­fense that forced the league to change its sub­sti­tu­tion rules.

And that wasn’t the only way he made waves through­out the NFL. A non­con­formist in a but­ton-down league,

Wy­che re­fused to com­ply with the NFL’s locker room pol­icy for me­dia, ran up the score to set­tle a per­sonal grudge, and be­lit­tled the city of ri­val Cleve­land dur­ing his eight sea­sons in Cincin­nati. He later coached Tampa Bay for four sea­sons.

Wy­che was signed by the Ben­gals for their in­au­gu­ral sea­son. He got No. 14 — later worn by Ken An­der­son and Andy Dal­ton — and played three sea­sons with Cincin­nati, throw­ing for 12 touch­downs with eight in­ter­cep­tions. He later spent two years in Wash­ing­ton as a backup and a year each in Detroit and St. Louis.

It’s as a coach that he made his mark on of­fense. The Ben­gals hired him as head coach in 1984, and he soon showed a knack for go­ing against the grain. Dur­ing a game against San Fran­cisco in 1987, he chose to try to run out the clock on fourth down rather than punt or take a safety — the safe choices. When the play failed, Joe Mon­tana got a chance to throw a win­ning touch­down pass to Jerry

Rice, an end­ing that’s still re­mem­bered among the league’s most im­prob­a­ble fin­ishes.

He put his fin­ger­prints on NFL of­fense with Boomer Esi­a­son as the quar­ter­back. He de­vel­oped what he called a “sugar hud­dle” that had his team group near the line after a sub­sti­tu­tion. If the de­fense tried to match the sub­sti­tu­tion, he’d have the of­fense snap the ball and catch it with too many play­ers on the field. The NFL even­tu­ally adopted a rule al­low­ing de­fenses to match an of­fense’s sub­sti­tu­tion be­fore the ball is snapped.

Cincin­nati reached the Su­per Bowl in the 1988 sea­son and lost to the 49ers again on Mon­tana’s touch­down pass with 34 sec­onds to go.

SAM WY­CHE

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