Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | John Rauch

On the gridiron or sidelines, John Rauch was always a winner

OLDSMAR — All John Rauch did was win. The most prolific college quarterback of his era, he became one of the best coaches in the pros. Mr. Rauch died at his Oldsmar home on Tuesday of unknown causes. He was 80.

His was a success that almost wasn't. As age 14, Mr. Rauch was told to stop playing football because of a heart murmur. He ignored the doctors.

He became a three-sport star at Yeadon High School in Philadelphia, where he won the heart of at cheerleader named Jane. A walk-on at the University of Georgia, he won a spot in the starting lineup. Jane cheered from the bleachers every game.

He led the Bulldogs to a 20-10 victory in the 1946 Sugar Bowl, capping an undefeated season. After throwing for 4,044 yards, a collegiate record, Mr. Rauch won a $10,000 signing bonus to play for the Detroit Lions. The Lions then traded him to the New York Bulldogs for running back Doak Walker, who led the Lions to two straight championships.

"He calls that the world's worst trade of all time," said John Rauch, 56, Mr. Rauch's son.

Mr. Rauch was head coach for the Oakland Raiders, whom he led to Super Bowl II, and the Buffalo Bills before coming to the fledgeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He clashed with head coach John McKay, who insisted on running the I formation used in college. Mr. Rauch coached the offense for five winless games before quitting in frustration.

"He was my mentor," said Steve Spurrier, the Buccaneers' first quarterback, who hired Mr. Rauch for his own coaching debut with the Tampa Bay Bandits of the United States Football League. A coach so disciplined he used O.J. Simpson as a decoy, Mr. Rauch used to shake his head at Spurrier's plays.

"He used to say, 'Where'd you get this stuff?' " Spurrier said. "I'd say, 'I made up most of it.' "

Coaching in the NFL had a drawback: Mr. Rauch's son, John, a receiver at East Tennessee State, also played his games on weekends. "That was one of the sad points in my life," said Rauch, who became a career Navy pilot.

He didn't know that his father was watching the game films every week, sent by the coach.

"He seldom said anything about my play," Rauch said. "I guess he didn't want to put pressure on me."

Had Mr. Rauch stayed on with the Oakland Raiders instead of resigning in 1969, he might have tasted coaching immortality. Subsequent teams were not as talent-laden. He scouted for the NFL, read sports autobiographies and turned his study into a shrine to the Georgia Bulldogs.

His career coaching record is 40 wins, 28 losses and two ties. That was his style, going out a winner.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at or (813) 661-2431.


John Rauch

Born: Aug. 20, 1927.

Died: June 10, 2008.

Survivors: wife, Jane; daughter, Nancy; son, John; brother, George; nephews and grandchildren.

Service: 2 p.m. Monday, East Lake Methodist Church, 2801 E Lake Road, Palm Harbor.

On the gridiron or sidelines, John Rauch was always a winner 06/12/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 13, 2008 12:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays appear close to landing Marlins shortstop Hechavarria


    Hechavarria is a two-time Gold Glove finalist who could help settle the Rays sometimes leaky infield defense.

    Adeiny Hechavarria is a two-time Gold Glove finalist who could help settle the Rays sometimes leaky infield defense.
  2. What to watch this week: Catch these titles before they leave Netflix in July


    It's been less than a week since summer officially started, and I don't know about you, but I'm more than ready for cooler weather to get here. It's too hot outside to function (looking at you, 116 degree Arizona), but Netflix has us covered with a boatload of new TV shows and movies coming in July. Unfortunately, that …

    Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight in 1989's Batman.
  3. Do you need to vote in city elections to run for mayor of St. Pete? Jesse Nevel says no


    Jesse Nevel is running for mayor. But, voting records show, he has never cast a ballot in a St. Petersburg city election.

    Jesse Nevel is running for mayor, but has never voted in a city election
  4. St. Petersburg man arrested for breaking into 12 homes being tented for termites


    ST. PETERSBURG — A 36-year-old former pest control worker was arrested for burglarizing 12 homes over the last five weeks, according to St. Petersburg police.

    David Cooper, 26, was arrested for breaking into 12 homes tented for termites over five weeks, according to St. Petersburg Police. [Photo courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Video: Gator snaps at photographer who got too close at Paynes Prairie


    Perhaps this guy should have just used a zoom lens.

    A video that was posted June 17 on Facebook by Ben Boukari Jr. shows the gator lurching at the photographer, causing him to stumble behind some shrubbery as it chomped at a tripod and rested near his backpack before staring him down. [Facebook]