OBSERVATIONS: John McVay dies at 91, got his start at UD

By HAL McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after the Cleveland Browns showed the Cincinnati Bengals all tricks and gave them no treats on Halloween Night.

UD LEGACY: John McVay is known as an executive for the San Francisco 49ers, a guy who helped put together five Super Bowl winners in a 14-year span.

McVay, though, got his start in football as the University of Dayton’s head coach from 1965 through 1972, when the Flyers were Division I and played at Baujan Field on campus.

McVay, 91, passed away Tuesday and remains one of my all-time favorite coaches. I covered the Flyers from 1967 through 1972 and never had a better time.

McVay trusted me implicitly. He permitted me watch every practice and even let me throw the football around with his guys and kick field goals. And he invited me to the team’s post-practice meals where I got an ear full of strategy and game plans that helped me cover games.

Dayton’s top rival at the time was Xavier, a heated one to say the least. In 1968, UD led, 25-20, late in the game and Xavier was deep inside UD territory.. The Musketeers scored a touchdown and McVay went berserk. Xavier had 12 men on the field and the officials missed it.

Xavier coach Ed Biles, who later coached the NFL’s Houston Oilers, swore it wasn’t true. But a Dayton Daily News photographer snapped a shot from the press box as Xavier lined up. It showed 12 men on the field and the paper ran the photo on the front page of the sports section.

I became friends with Biles after he retired and I often brought up the play. He always denied that he did it on purpose. . .then he always laughed.

—MORE GHOSTS: While MLB is getting rid of the shift (hoo-ray) next season, commissioner Rob Manfraud says the ghost runner — putting a runner on second base to start all extra innings — is likely to return (boo).

He says club executives, managers, players and fans like it, which makes one wonder to whom he is talking.

If it is so good, why don’t they used it in the post-season? That makes it two different games from the regular season to the post-season.

And how exciting was Cleveland’s 1-0 15-inning win over Tampa Bay in the American League Wild Card Series and Houston’s 1-0 18-inning win over Seattle in the American League Division Series?

Instead of watching extra-inning games with the ghost runner, I’d rather read Karen Pirie’s book, ‘The Ghost Runner.’

—QUOTE: Something Pete Rose often said to me: “I’m lucky to be playing baseball and you’re lucky to be writing about it.” (Rose would have loved to be the ghost runner so he could bowl over a catcher, but that’s not allowed now.)

—TIPPING THE TABLES: The Phillies hit five home runs off Houston starter Lance McCullers, Jr., in Game 3 of the World Series to grab an early 5-0 lead. After he left, no more homers.

There were hints that McCullers was tipping off his pitches. After Bryce Harper homered, he was spotted in the dugout whispering to Alex Bohm. Bohm walked to the plate and homered on the first pitch.

During a post-game interview, Bohm was asked what Harper said to him and he said, “Nothing.” Then he was asked if it helped him and he said, “Maybe.”

Hey, Alex. We thought you said Harper said “nothing” to you, hmmmm?

PLATE PEFECTION: Umpire Pat Hoberg got ‘em all right in Game 2 of the World Series. That’s what @UmpsScorecard said.

Hoberg made 129 balls and strikes calls and was correct on all 129 according to the grading system, the first perfect score since they began tracking calls in 2015.

—QUOTE: From former major league manager Jimmy Dykes: “My favorite umpire is a dead one.” (Now that is a bit harsh. . .in most cases.)

—QUOTE: From former Reds pitcher/author Jim Brosnan: “Umpires are most vigorous when defending their missed calls.” (No wonder Joe West was the vigorous king.)

—PERSPECTIVE: Depending upon whether you are a Cleveland Browns fan or a Cincinnati Bengals fans, you look at what happened Monday night with a different view.

^It’s the Browns beat the Bengals, 32-13. Or. The Bengals lost to the Brownsl 32-13.

^It’s the Browns haven’t lost to the Bengals in Cleveland since Boomer Esiason was Cincinnati’s quarterback. Or. The Bengals haven’t beaten the Browns in Cleveland since Boomer Esiason was Cincinnati’s quarterback.

^It’s the Browns are 4-0 against Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Or. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is 0-4 against the Browns.

^The Browns sacked Joe Burrow five times. Or. The Bengals permitted Joe Burrow to be sacked five times.

^The Browns scored three touchdowns on their first three second-half possessions and the Bengals hadn’t permitted an offensive touchdown in the second half all season. Or. The Bengals hadn’t permitted a second-half offensive touchdown all season and the defense permitted the Browns to score three on their first three second-half possessions.

—EXHIBIT THIS: College basketball exhibitions are for big-time schools to show off for the home fans against small-school teams, like Dayton’s 80-42 turkey trot past Division III Capital.

Don’t tell that to Louisville’s Kenny Payne, coaching his first game, an exhibition against Division II Lenoir-Rhyne. Final score: Lenoir-Rhyne 57, Louisville 47,

Said Payne, most likely in a lot of pain, “We needed this whooping. . .because there is something that happened to this program before I got here that hasn’t been healed yet. And I’m trying to get them to get out of it, to fight through it, to get better.”

That is a direct hit on fired coach Chris Mack. He was in the fourth year of a seven-year contract and was 6-and-8 when he was removed last season. His overall record was 63-36 for the Cardinals.

—FIGHT PRELUDE: There is absolutely no excuse for the skirmish in the tunnel after the Michigan State-Michigan game during which several Spartans ganged up on a couple of Wolverines and pounded them and stomped them.

Again, no excuse. But why did Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh permit his team to run a reverse-pass, trying for a long touchdown, when his team led, 29-7, with 2:38 left in the game?

That’s called rubbing it in and running it up. Fortunately, the pass fell incomplete. But Michigan tried two long passes after that. And there was some pushing and shoving on the field after the game ended, before both teams entered the same tunnel to their lockerrooms.

—SPORTS SMORGASBORD: It is early November and the sports scene is glutted. Fans have more choices than what’s on a Thanksgiving table.

MLB is still playing (the World Series). The NFL is in its seventh week. The NBA season and the NHL season is underway. There is college football and college basketball. There is NASCAR and the PGA.

And, OK, there is beach volleyball if you are interested in sets, spikes and skimpiness.

—NUMBERS GAME: In our last episode, I committed a major faux pas when I presented a long list of athletes who wore number 44.

I forgot my own family. Both my sons, Brian and Brent, set basketball scoring records at West Carrollton and both wore 44. In addition, Brent’s coach, Dan Gerhard, wore ’44’ at Chaminade and at Ohio State.

And a University of Kentucky fan said I should have had Dan Issel in my ’44’ list. Jim Brown wore ’32’ as a Cleveland Browns running back. But, like Floyd Little and Ernie Davis, he wore ’44’ at Syracuse.

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