Sam Wyche was one of the greatest innovators the NFL has ever seen. He is largely responsible for the fast-paced offenses and high scores we’ve seen in the league in recent decades.
Along with Bill Walsh, he helped pioneer the West coast offense. Wyche also invented the no huddle and sugar huddle offenses that turned around a 4-11 squad in 1987 and got Cincinnati into the Super Bowl the very next year. He was a fiery leader who respected and got the most out of his players.
Sadly, Wyche passed away from complications from melanoma in January of 2020. His brilliant mind and even bigger heart continue to be remembered fondly by both fans and media members.
Geoff Hobson joined our show and shared his memories about Wyche. He called his time covering the coach “a treat” and “fun days.” He shared that the coach was so interesting that one reporter was not enough. “You needed two guys to cover Sam: one guy to go in and cover him in the postgame, because it was a good chance it was going to blow up into a national story that would be on CNN; and then you had to have somebody else in there to cover the football game,” said Hobson.
Bengals.com’s senior writer described Wyche as: “a great guy, very engaging, smart... very, very cunning, very sarcastic, but a funny guy.” The coach was so smart that he was able to manipulate the media to protect his team. “He used the media as a prop, really,” said Hobson. “He was one of the great distractors. If his team was in trouble he did a great job of making himself the issue,” he said before laughing as he added that, “and of course we were willing props.” It is only fitting, then, that Wyche was also an amateur magician.
Of course, Wyche’s best trait was that he had “a big heart.” Hobson recalled the coach’s support of the homeless in Cincinnati and then in Pickens, South Carolina, where he went to retire, volunteer at a local high school, and, eventually spend his final days.
In the offseason that followed the Bengals’ contest against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII, Wyche made twenty speeches and donated the proceeds to the homeless. He also helped generate about $100,000 in corporate donations and discounted supplies for shelters. Wyche even turned his office in Riverfront Stadium into a collection point for private contributions. The coach was motivated to act after noticing large numbers of homeless people gathered on the streets of Cincinnati as he drove to Riverfront Stadium early Sunday mornings.
Wyche is a Bengals legend, a coach who should be inducted into the Ring of Honor one day. He is dearly missed.
You can watch the entire interview with Hobson below:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: