State native John McKay had some memorable quotes

By Kyle Lovern

May 4, 2014

The late John McKay, a West Virginia native, who was a football coach at USC and later the expansion Tampa Buccaneers in the NFL, was well known for some of his quotes to the media.

After researching McKay, I found some of his more memorable quips. I thought I would share some of them with you. You just might get a chuckle or two.

•Following a Tampa Bay Buccaneers loss in their early seasons, McKay was asked what he thought of his team’s “execution.” He replied, “I’m all for it.”

•After receiving harsh criticism from the media about McKay’s coaching skills in the NFL, McKay replies “You guys don’t know the difference between a football and a bunch of bananas.” In the next interview, members of the media left bananas for McKay. He then replied, “You guys don’t know the difference between a football and a Mercedes Benz.”

•Following the 51–0 loss to Notre Dame in 1966, “I told my team it doesn’t matter. There are 750 million people in China who don’t even know this game was played. The next day, a guy called me from China and asked, ‘What happened, Coach?’”

•Following a game in 1967 in which O. J. Simpson received over 30 hand offs, McKay was asked “Why are you giving the ball to Simpson so often?” He replied, “Why not? It’s not heavy, and he doesn’t belong to a union.”

•On recruiting his son, J.K., to play football at USC: “I had a rather distinct advantage. I slept with his mother.”

•After a series of questionable calls helped Notre Dame tie top-ranked USC in 1968, McKay was asked about the officiating. He answered “I’m not surprised. The referee is a fine Catholic fellow by the name of Patrick Murphy.”

•After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first unofficial game, he responded to a question, “Well, we didn’t block, but we made up for it by not tackling.”

•Following a Tampa Bay Buccaneer loss, McKay was asked, “What’s it like in the professional ranks, coach? Anything special?” He replied, “No I was beat 51–0 in the college ranks. It’s the same thing.”

•Standing on the sidelines during a game, McKay said, “Can’t stop a pass, or a run…otherwise we’re in great shape.”

  • · On the play of Joe Namath in the Jets 34-0 victory over Tampa Bay, “Namath is still Namath, but I must say that our guys were nice to him. I noticed when they knocked him down, they helped him to his feet. That was gentlemanly. I thought one stood around long enough to get his autograph.”
  • · “Kickers are like horse manure. They’re all over the place.”

Here is some information on McKay’s life.

McKay was born in West Virginia in the now-defunct town of Everettville in Monongalia County, where he was raised as a Roman Catholic. He was the third of five children born to Scots-Irish parents John and Gertrude McKay. His father was a coal mine superintendent who died when John was 13 years old. He grew up in Shinnston, and graduated from Shinnston High School in 1941. Offered a football scholarship to Wake Forest, McKay was on campus enrolling when his widowed mother became ill. He returned home to West Virginia and worked as an electrician’s assistant in a coal mine for a year, then enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in 1942. McKay served as a tail-gunner aboard B-29s and saw action in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.

After the war, he entered college at Purdue University in 1946 at the age of 23, then he transferred to the University of Oregon in 1947. He played football at both schools.

USC won four national championships in 1962, 1967, 1972, and 1974 during McKay’s tenure as head coach, and the 1972 squad is regarded as one of the best teams in college football history. That team went 12–0, and defeated five teams ranked 18th or higher by an average of 22 points. They never trailed in the second half of any game and their closest game was a nine-point win over Stanford. Players from that team included, Pat Haden, Sam Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Lynn Swann, Charles Young and Charles Phillips. Two of his players, Mike Garrett (1965) and O. J. Simpson (1968), won the Heisman Trophy. McKay popularized the I formation, and emphasized a power running game with such plays as “Student Body Left” and “Student Body Right.”

He remains the winningest head football coach in school history.

After turning down several offers from NFL teams, including the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, McKay was lured to Tampa Bay in 1976 to become the Bucs’ first head coach.

McKay died at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, from complications due to diabetes on June 10, 2001. His ashes were spread on the field of the Los Angeles Coliseum.

(Information from this article came from Wikipedia.)

(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at klovern@civtasmedia.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)