Quayle A Rare Breed For UVa
Special To TheSabre.com
May 04, 2012
Coach Mike London, Nelson Yarbrough, Frank Quayle and Bobby Sandell at the recent ceremony to honor Quayle with the Order of the Crossed Sabres Award, which recognizes service and dedication to Virginia football.
Growing up with a dad who was a UVa coach and also an ACC football official, it was hard not to fall in love with Charlottesville, UVa, and those Scott Stadium Saturdays in the fall. It was 1966, the opening game of the year, and by some quirk my dad did not have a game that day. Usually our mom, who was a big Virginia sports fan as well, would take us to the game, but it was really cool as "Daddy" went with us as well. The Hoos had a senior QB in Bob Davis who had a great career at UVa and led the Cavaliers to an opening-game win against Wake Forest that day. I had noticed that Virginia had a new running back that looked pretty good, and I remember he wore the No. 24.
After the game my brother and I were usually after chin straps as we used to hang out by those old dressing rooms right behind the south end zone. Just as we were getting ready to leave, after the player bus had already departed, that sophomore tailback emerged out of the UVa dressing room; he had been receiving treatment for severe cramps after the game. My parents offered to give him a ride to University Hall, but little did we know that we were driving a legend after his first game as a Virginia Cavalier.
For those that didn't see Frank Quayle play, you really missed something. He is hard to describe, but he was like a small fullback with great speed. At 5'10" and 200 pounds, he was a north-south runner. He could get going at top speed pretty quickly as he had tremendous acceleration, but at the same time he was very powerful and never ran out of bounds. I went to many of his games including eight during his senior year, and I don't remember a time that he got knocked backwards. He wasn't the fastest back, but I don't remember many times where he got chased down from behind. There were many defensive backs in the ACC at that time that wished he ran out of bounds because he was a punishing runner.
Frank Quayle did it all. He returned punts and kickoffs and was an excellent receiver. It is amazing to think that of all the great backs in Virginia history - Barry Word, Terry Kirby, Tiki Barber, Thomas Jones and Wali Lundy - Frank still has the record for career all-purpose yards. Each of these backs played four years. He set the record in three years and 10-game seasons! Check out this video Virginia Athletics produced for The Virginia Football Alumni Club as it presented the Order of the Crossed Sabres Award to Quayle recently.
Yes, Frank had quite the career. Later that same year in 1966, UVa went down to play nationally ranked Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Tech was coached by a legend, Bobby Dodd, and Virginia almost pulled out the upset win. Braxton Hill's field goal attempt went wide, and UVa lost 14-13. Dodd was quoted as saying that Quayle was one of the best backs he had ever coached against in his career. The last home game of the 1966 season was against the Maryland Terrapins, and Frank broke the 200-yard mark, which included two first down runs on 3rd-and-29. Frank had mentioned (by the way this was a serious football player) that he had been attracted to UVa after there had been some pre-season ranking talk in 1965. Davis was coming off a great sophomore season, and UVa had upgraded recruiting significantly. Frank had come to Virginia to play big-time football.
It was clearly a growing stage for Virginia football, and Quayle was right in middle of it. In 1967 the Cavs went to Columbia to play the Gamecocks and got off to a great start. They were up 17-0 at halftime, and it was almost 24-0 but a fumble in the end zone and a questionable call right before the end of the half kept South Carolina in the game. The hosts made a furious comeback that Quayle responded to by returning a kickoff for a touchdown in the second half and the Hoos won.
The team came up a little short in one of those devastating UVa losses right after that, though. The next week the Cavaliers lost at home to VMI, which Frank had said "was a very tough and embarrassing loss." This UVa team was better than that. Virginia suffered some other tough losses that year, and I remember Frank having four or five 50-yard runs called back that 1967 season. You could tell the Cavaliers were improving but just couldn't seem to get over the hump. My dad officiated the game at Wake Forest that year, and Frank went for about 50 yards right before the half only to have it called back. I thought Coach Blackburn was going to have a heart attack arguing with my dad and Carl Deane at the half. Virginia eked that one out 14-12. Yes, Frank scored the late winning touchdown.
UVa had not had a winning season in 16 years dating back to 1952 and the Art Guepe era. If ever there was a year to do it, this was it - 1968. Virginia had local star and Lane High sensation Gene Arnette at QB, who had a very solid season in '67. Arnette very skillfully ran that option pitch play that was so successful that season. Jeff Anderson was a wide receiver his sophomore year and had moved to fullback. The offensive line was anchored by All-ACC guard Chuck Hammer and Greg Shelly, who won the Jacobs Blocking award as the top OL in the ACC. Joe Hoppe was the tight end, and the Hoos had a couple of good receivers in Dave Sullivan and Chuck Moser. However the unsung hero of this group was Jeff Calamous, a guy nicknamed "Spade," and, according to Frank, he "made that key block on the edge" that enabled Frank to have an amazing year. That was Frank's style to give the credit elsewhere as he was truly "old school" in that regard. As good as he was, I have never heard him ever brag or talk about himself. His comments have always been things like "I was passionate about the game" and another was "I loved to play on the road" as the opponents' noise really got him excited.
In 1968, Virginia opened at Purdue, the No. 1 team in the country. UVa won the toss and as Arnette has told me, "We won every pre-game coin toss that year." As it turned out, it was a special year in many ways. The Hoos beat Duke 50-20 in Durham for the first time in a long time; my brother and I were ball boys and our dad officiated. Frank ran for 182 and Anderson 183 in a dominating win. The Cavaliers also had a huge win at Carolina, 41-6 (Frank never lost to the Tar Heels), and Frank had more than 100 rushing yards at halftime in that one.
Arnette ran the team beautifully all year long and Anderson was a tremendous back as well - but this was Quayle's team. He averaged 6.9 yards a carry for the season, which was an ACC record that stood until Warrick Dunn and that high-flying offense of FSU broke it in 1995. By the way, Dunn did it with a great complementary passing game and a lot less carries. Quayle in 1968 was the meat and potatoes of the Virginia offense.
Frank saved the best for last. I will never forget those 1968 seniors being honored before the game. UVa was 6-3 and guaranteed a winning season as the week before the Cavs had beaten Tulane 63-47, which at the time was highest scoring game in modern NCAA history. The opponent for the finale was Maryland on a sunny-but-blustery day in November. There were also some records on the line. Clemson had a great running back by the name of Buddy Gore; he and Frank were the same class and were tied for the all-time ACC rushing record going into the final game. So whoever rushed for more yards that day (Gore played against South Carolina) would be the all-time ACC rushing leader. Gore got 150 yards, but he didn't get as many as Frank. Frank scored the winning touchdown in a very exciting 28-23 home win over the Terps and rushed for more than 200 yards; he came within one yard of the all-time UVa record for a season.
Frank's first year as a commentator came in 1983. Sloan's opened that night in Charlottesville and George Welsh's team came out with an impressive opening game victory against Duke. Between 1968 and 1983 Virginia had one winning season, which is amazing to look at from that perspective. Frank did a great job as a color guy. My dad used to say, "Frank knows the game so well," and his fierce competitive nature came through in his commentary. Who could ever forget that scream in the background when the UVa defense kept Warrick Dunn out of the end zone in the upset of FSU in 1995? What is interesting is that from 1983 until 2006, the Hoos had only two losing seasons. I think for Frank it was meaningful that Virginia had finally become the football power for which he had come to Charlottesville 46 years earlier. Frank's wife Peggy told me she saw tears in Frank's eyes after UVa won at Penn State in 1989. Frank told me one time how "devastated" he felt after that Georgia Tech game in 1990.
I remember many Virginia fans bringing their radios to Scott Stadium over the years to hear Frank's analysis of games. I think one of Frank's great qualities as an announcer was his ability to put things in perspective. At UVa there have been heartbreaking losses and embarrassing ones, but after hearing Frank sum up his thoughts you felt a little better as he would find a silver lining. On that same note, when Virginia had a big win or surprisingly easy game he would never get too carried away. He always has been like Coach Welsh in that way - don't get too high or too low. We as fans tend to get very emotional, and Frank had that ability to keep things in perspective. I can remember many times when he got tough questions live on the air after an emotional game. I think his blend of truly caring about the program tempered with his very logical nature enabled him to be extremely effective as a broadcaster. When he responded to tough questions, it was hard to disagree with him.
In talking about Frank Joseph Quayle and his football accomplishments both as a player and a broadcaster, it is hard not to talk about him as a person. He is a devoted husband of more than 40 years, a very caring father and family-first kind of person. The two games he missed as an announcer were because of important family obligations. Frank has been a very successful businessman, a community leader, football coach, and a man committed to social causes. I have had the chance to be around Frank quite a bit in my life and just always admired his uncompromised integrity and commitment to doing things the right way.
I told Frank I thought he could commentate for 10 more years, and many were going to be really disappointed that he was stepping down. He told me he still enjoyed it but didn't feel like he was quite as good as he used to be. One thing about this guy is he always demanded excellence of himself and anything less than his best was not good enough for him. This man is a rare breed and Charlottesville has been fortunate to have him. We will miss him on the radio.
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