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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Rauch departs

   July 20, 1971 -- It seemed like a good idea at the time.

   The Bills hired John Rauch to be their coach starting with the 1969 season. Rauch came over from the Oakland Raiders; he had guided that team to the Super Bowl in Jan. 1968, losing to Green Bay in Vince Lombardi's last game with the Packers.

   It's fair to say Rauch didn't work out that well in Buffalo. He is best remember for a quote that he'd use O.J. Simpson as a decoy as often as possible. Most people thought giving Simpson the ball as often as possible was a much better idea.

   What's more, Rauch resigned as coach of the team on this date -- in July, no less. Rauch was rather frank about some observations about some veterans during a television interview. He and owner Ralph Wilson then had an argument about the contributions of veterans Ron McDole and Paul Maguire, and Rauch split. By the way, Rauch had through that McDole didn't have much left and sent him to Washington in a trade; McDole merely played through the 1978 season, finishing his final year at the age of 39. 

   Rauch's departure left the Bills scrambling for a coach on the eve of training camp, putting the
organization in chaos. Wilson had few options at that late, so he hired Harvey Johnson to return as coach on an interim basis. Johnson had coached the team in 1968 in a similar situation. Rauch never was a head coach in the NFL again. Johnson led the Bills to a 1-13 record in 1971.

--- Budd Bailey


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.