One of the Bengals’ original quarterbacks during the team’s inaugural season in 1968, Mr. Wyche was known for his offensive innovations as a coach. He led the Bengals to a 12-4 record in 1988 by using a no-huddle offense that forced the league to change its substitution rules. Cincinnati reached the Super Bowl, only to lose in the game’s final minute to the San Francisco 49ers, 20-16. The Bengals have not played in the Super Bowl since.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Wyche was an assistant coach for the 49ers and, for one season, the head coach at Indiana University. The Bengals hired him as head coach in 1984.
He was considered a nonconformist in a strait-laced league. He refused to comply with the NFL’s locker room policy for media, ran up the score to settle personal grudges and belittled the city of Cleveland during his eight seasons in Cincinnati.
When fans were throwing snowballs on the field during a Bengals home game against the Seattle Seahawks in 1989, Mr. Wyche grabbed the public address announcer’s microphone and admonished the fans in this way to encourage them to stop: “You don’t live in Cleveland; you live in Cincinnati.”
After that game, which the Bengals lost, 24-17, Mr. Wyche violated league policy by barring reporters from the locker room and clamping a gag order on his players, which resulted in a $3,000 fine from the league. A year later, he defied then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue by not allowing female reporters into the locker room, leading to a national uproar. He was unrepentant despite being fined $27,941, then the largest fine in NFL history.
“I will not allow women to walk in on 50 naked men,” he said at the time.
In Cincinnati, Mr. Wyche designed an offense that was built around quarterback Boomer Esiason. He developed what he called a “sugar huddle,” a no-huddle offense in which the team stayed near the line of scrimmage while making a quick substitution.
If the defensive team tried to match the substitution, the Bengals would snap the ball and have their opponents penalized for having too many players on the field. The NFL later adopted a rule allowing a defense to match an offense’s substitution before the ball is snapped.
During his 12 years as a head coach, including four with Tampa Bay, Mr. Wyche had an 84-107 record. He was 61-66 in Cincinnati, with two playoff appearances. He was the quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005 and also served as a television analyst.
Samuel David Wyche was born Jan. 5, 1945, in Atlanta. He started as a quarterback at Furman University in Greenville, S.C., graduating in 1966. He later received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina. He was named to the Furman and South Carolina athletic halls of fame.
After playing with a minor-league football team, Mr. Wyche joined the Bengals in 1968 and started nine games during his three years in Cincinnati. He threw for 12 touchdowns.
He was a backup quarterback with the Washington Redskins from 1971 to 1973 but did not throw a pass in a game. He finished his career with the Detroit Lions and the old St. Louis Cardinals.
He had a sporting goods store in South Carolina before becoming an assistant coach with the 49ers in 1979. In later years, he helped coach a high school team near his home in Pickens and served as a broadcast analyst for Furman football games through the 2019 season.
After receiving a heart transplant, Mr. Wyche became an advocate for organ donation and rode on the Donate Life float during the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
Survivors include his wife of more than 50 years, the former Jane Underwood; two children; and six grandchildren.
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