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Beano, Madden, trivia

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Beano says Notre Dame, Auburn will play for national title

Monday, August 14, 2006

Huntsville Times

Monday potpourri: For what it's worth ... Beano Cook, the ESPN old-timer who loves college football above all other amusements foreign or domestic, predicted in a Sunday radio interview that Notre Dame and Auburn would play for the national championship this season.

Yes, ol' Beano is also the same guy who once said Ron Powlus would win the Heisman Trophy several times. But he's also the same guy this time a year ago who picked Texas to beat Southern California in the BCS national championship game.

Ever wonder where former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden, the acclaimed NFL TV commentator and an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, acquired his well known fear of flying? While researching the 1970 Marshall University plane crash for Sunday's story on Sparkman High counselor Roger Hillis, we ran across the answer.

Madden, who played football at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1957-58 after a brief stay at Oregon, was a graduate assistant at Cal Poly in 1960.

On the last weekend in October the varsity team flew across the country for an intersectional game against Bowling Green of Ohio. Madden stayed at home to coach the JV team in a game at Allan Hancock College.

That Saturday night, after a 50-6 loss just down the road at Bowling Green, the plane carrying the Cal Poly team took off in heavy fog from the Toledo airport. It barely got off the ground when the left engine failed. The crippled craft plunged into an orchard and broke in two, killing 22 of the 48 passengers - including 18 Cal Poly players.

And that's why John Madden travels by car, bus or train, all these years later.

Incidentally, one of the survivors of the crash was Cal Poly quarterback Ted Tollner, now the offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions, who play just up the interstate from Toledo.

The late George Peoples, once an Auburn running back for Doug Barfield and later Pat Dye, has a son who's a sophomore linebacker at the University of Hawaii.

Khevin Peoples, a 5-11, 198-pound linebacker from Tampa, Fla., will play against Alabama when the Warriors travel to Tuscaloosa in the Sept. 2 opener for both teams.

He appeared in six games last year as a redshirt freshman, mostly on special teams.

On a related subject: Hawaii may have the smallest wide receiver in NCAA Division I-A football. He's Marquez Jackson, a 5-foot-7, 144-pound redshirt freshman from Snellville, Ga. Jackson, who caught 52 passes for 848 yards and five touchdowns as a high school senior, was also the starting point guard on East Hall High's nationally ranked basketball team, which won two state championships.

An addendum to Sunday's column: Red Dawson, the Marshall assistant coach who recruited Roger Hillis of Hazel Green and Reggie Oliver of Tuscaloosa to play at Marshall following the tragic 1970 plane crash, knew something about football, having played in the old AFL for the Boston Patriots. In college at Florida State, Dawson was the "other end'' in a lineup that featured future Hall of Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff.

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