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Former NFL coach Wyche wins primary in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Former NFL coach Sam Wyche is undefeated in his newest venture.

Wyche, who coached Cincinnati to a Super Bowl after the 1988 season, won his first election, defeating the local incumbent in the Pickens County council race Tuesday night.

Sam Wyche
Seasons: 12

Wins: 84

Loses: 107

Playoff record: 3-2

"I'm very happy," Wyche said. "I've been hearing from the many people who put me here."

Wyche, 63, decided at the March deadline to file for the race in his adopted county. Since then, he's shook hands and spoke at churches and elementary schools in his effort to unseat Ben Trotter.

Now the Republican has one more hurdle to go. He'll face Democrat Heywood Burbage in November.

But that's down the road, Wyche said. "I think we'll give this thing a rest," he said. "The voters have had enough for a while."

Wyche spent primary day greeting voters before rushing to Pickens High in his role as a volunteer football assistant. Wyche worked about two hours in near-100 degree heat before settling in to wait on results.

"I toweled off, got on my pajamas and turned on the computer," he said.

A friend of Wyche's finally came over shortly before 10 p.m. with the news the coach had won. "It's very exciting," Wyche said.

Wyche, from Atlanta, played quarterback at nearby Furman University. There he met his wife of 42 years, Jane Underwood, of Pickens. The beauty of the region and the friendliness of the area stuck with Wyche, who always knew the couple would eventually reside back near his wife's hometown.

Wyche was known as a high-energy innovator who helped tutor Hall-of-Fame quarterback Joe Montana while on the San Francisco 49ers staff of the late Bill Walsh.

In 1984, Wyche took over at Cincinnati where he went 61-66 in eight seasons. His greatest year came in 1988 when the Bengals won the AFC Championship. They were 34 seconds away from a Super Bowl win until Wyche's friend, Montana, spoiled the celebration with a touchdown pass to John Taylor.

Wyche coached Tampa Bay from 1992-95 before moving to a broadcasting career. Wyche's last NFL job was as Buffalo Bills quarterbacks coach from 2004-05.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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