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Sonny Randle, Pro Bowl Wide Receiver November 1, 1965

He wanted to be Bear Bryant, Woody Hayes and Joe Paterno rolled
into one. After coaching lowly East Carolina to two Southern
Conference championships, Sonny Randle jumped to his alma mater
in 1973 with dreams of taking it to a national title. "I wanted
to do things at Virginia that had never been done before," says
Randle of a Cavaliers program that had had one winning season in
its previous 21. "I was going to hang the moon."

The moon proved out of reach. The obsessive Randle forced his
players to schedule classes around football practice and
recruited badly while his undersized Cavaliers were getting
waxed. Soon the student paper was leading a campaign for his
dismissal. "I just wasn't ready for that type of job," says
Randle, who was fired after two years. "I was in too much of a
hurry to succeed."

Randle, a four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver for the Chicago and
St. Louis Cardinals from 1959 to '68, had always planned to coach
once his playing days were over. He honed his teaching skills in
the off-season at the Sonny Randle Sports Camp for boys ages 12
to 18 in his hometown, Fork Union, Va. (A pioneer in the practice
of inviting pro athletes to summer camps, he persuaded stars like
Sam Huff, Sonny Jurgensen and Joe Theismann to stop by.) Kids
weren't the only ones he taught. In '61 Bing Devine, general
manager of baseball's St. Louis Cardinals, asked Randle--who had
run 100 yards in 9.6 at Virginia--to work with the Redbirds on
running techniques. A few years later Randle's deft instruction
made a strong impression on a newly acquired outfielder. "He
always gave me more credit than I deserved," says Randle of Hall
of Famer Lou Brock, who stole 938 bases in his 19-year big league

Randle coached Marshall from 1979 to '83, but was fired after
going 12-42-1. Following an '84 divorce that also separated him
from his four adolescent children, he took a job as a printing
salesman. Eight years ago he started S-R Sports, a syndicated
radio network that produces sports talk shows which are broadcast
in Virginia. Now 63, Randle also is in his eighth year as a TV
color analyst for Marshall football games. Most important, he has
worked out an arrangement with his ex-wife, Judy, to get the
family--which now includes eight grandchildren--together every
holiday season. Says Randle, "I always thought coaching was what
I wanted, but I'm really happy with my life now."

--John O'Keefe



Randle's running instruction made a strong impression on future
Hall of Fame outfielder Lou Brock.