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Football Was Bugel's Passion Early On


Joe Bugel may have been one of the great proponents of recycling, well before it became fashionable.

Consider the 1960s. While others tuned in, turned on and dropped out, Bugel and his roommate at Western Kentucky University made it their personal goal to recycle pizza boxes.

They used them to draw up plays. Xs and Os where pepperoni and sausage had previously nestled.

One offensive mind. One defensive mind. Sometimes only one pencil. Heck, there was only one comfortable place to sleep in the cabin they shared.

"He got the bed. I got the floor. We flipped a coin. He was luckier than me," Jerry Glanville says by phone from Orlando, Fla., where he's attending a coaches convention and looking for his next great adventure.

Bugel was offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at WKU from 1964-68, Glanville the defensive coordinator in 1967. This was the dues-paying portion of their careers.

"I slept on the floor on the newspapers. Joe used to say he could roll me over and read the funnies on my back," Glanville says. "We had no heat in the cabin and it could pretty cold. My mom got me an electric blanket. Joe got me an extension cord."

Plenty of 'za came in. Plenty of plays emanated from the fertile brains of Bugel and Glanville.

"I would draw up a blitz and say, 'Can you pick this up?' And he would draw up how we would do that and I would draw up something else. Our entire offensive and defensive game plan would be on the pizza box," Glanville says.

Bugel would gain his greatest acclaim coaching the Redskins offensive line from 1981-89 while also becoming the head coach of two other franchises (the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders).

Glanville, likewise, would coach in numerous venues in the NFL, including stints as the head coach of the Houston Oilers and then the Atlanta Falcons.

Glanville, 68, stepped down from his most recent post, as coach at Portland State University, in November. Bugel, 69, announced his retirement Wednesday at Redskins Park.

Two years into a first go at retirement after leaving the San Diego Chargers, Bugel heard that siren call of Joe Gibbs and could not resist the urge. Who can, when they are putting the band back together?

Bugel was a key part of two Redskins' Super Bowl victories in the 1980s, building, tending and nurturing an offensive line that he nicknamed "The Hogs."

That, of course, made him "Boss Hog." George Starke, Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Jeff Bostic, Rick 'Doc' Walker (he was a blocking tight end, which qualified him for Hog status, all remain part of team legend and lore due to their association with Boss Hog.

A fierce advocate for his players, Bugel could also be their toughest critic. He found astounding combinations of Anglo-Saxon epithets to fire them up and brought the same spirited emotion to basic drills as he did to the biggest games.

Walker calls Bugel "one of the best communicators I have ever been involved with in sports" and can enumerate the reasons.

"He gave you tough love. He genuinely cared about you improving as a player. Some emotional coaches yell at players, but they don't teach players. He created an environment, a positive environment, within his unit. A lot of coaches just scream and holler. He taught fundamentals. He taught you how to do it."

Bugel was born March 10, 1940, in Pittsburgh. He played guard and linebacker at Western Kentucky, coached there for five years and then toured the college circuit until 1975 when he joined the Detroit Lions' staff. Two years in Detroit, four with the Houston Oilers and then?

Ah, on to destiny with the Redskins.

In 1982, during training camp, he would dub his offensive linemen "Hogs" and have the name stick and become marketable, in great part due to Starke's business acumen. Everyone wanted to join the Hogs. Quarterback Joe Theismann got honorary status as a piglet. And the '82 Redskins won the team's first NFL title since 1942 with a 27-17 victory against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII.

"When he had meetings with his linemen in those days, it was violent," Walker says. "I was on the outside, listening."

That tradition of superb offensive line play continued after Bugel left in 1990 to become head coach of Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals. When the 1991 Redskins added Super Bowl XXVI to their hardware collection, they allowed quarterback Mark Rypien to be sacked only seven times in 16 games.

Now Bugel steps away again. The Redskins and all of his friends will miss him.

Larry Weisman covered professional football for USA TODAY for 25 years and now joins the Redskins Broadcast Network and to bring his unique viewpoint and experience to Redskins fans. He also appears on Redskins Nation, airing twice nightly on Comcast SportsNet, and on ESPN 980 AM radio, all in the Washington, D.C. area. Read his Redskinsblitz blog at and follow him on

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