View Full Version : Former Bills, Raider coach John Rauch dies

06-12-2008, 11:21 PM
In retrospect, trying to convince Al Davis that he's wrong and using OJ Simpson as a decoy in the backfield may not have been the best career decisions for John Rauch.


John Rauch got off to a bad start as head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 1969, using rookie running back O. J. Simpson as a decoy on offense.
Things went downhill from there.

Rauch succeeded Raiders owner Al Davis as Oakland’s coach from 1966-68.

“Anytime you follow Mr. Davis as head coach, everybody will have all eyes on you watching what you can do,” said Raiders defensive backs coach Willie Brown, who played for Rauch in 1967-68.

“John did quite well, no question about it,” Brown said. “He had learned from Mr. Davis the necessary things to be a coach. Mr. Davis was pleased with it, I was pleased with it. He took us to the Super Bowl. All the players loved him. We all stood behind him and played hard for him.”
Rauch, who had John Madden and Bill Walsh as assistant coaches, led the Raiders to a 13-1 record in 1967 and a berth in the Super Bowl, where they lost to Green Bay.

“Our hearts go out to his family who we knew well,” Davis said. “John Rauch gave us several great years as an assistant and head coach for the Oakland Raiders and he took us to our first Super Bowl in 1967. They were memorable years for the Raiders and they will never be forgotten and they should not be forgotten.”

Rauch, a walk-on at Georgia, became a four-year starting quarterback from 1945-48 and was the first player in college football history to start four consecutive bowl games. He set the NCAA record with 4,044 career yards passing while leading Georgia to a 36-8-1 record and two Southeastern Conference championships.

He led the Raiders to a 12-2 record in 1968 but tensions with Davis were the apparent reason he left to coach the Bills in 1969.

Simpson was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft that year, but that did not impress Rauch, who said the Heisman Trophy winner from Southern California “doesn’t walk on water.” Simpson ran for just 697 yards his rookie season and 488 yards in 1970.

Rauch cut center Al Bemiller, and traded defensive end Ron McDole to Washington, where he became a star player. Rauch bad-mouthed McDole and retired punter Paul Maguire. Bills owner Ralph Wilson didn’t appreciate Rauch’s comments about the players and he fired the coach on the first day of training camp in 1971. His Bills teams went 7-20-1.

Rauch was the second pick in the 1949 NFL draft, but the Detroit Lions traded him to the New York Bulldogs for running back Doak Walker, the No. 3 pick from Southern Methodist. Rauch played four years before becoming an assistant coach at four schools.