Archive for Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cromwell headed to Ring of Honor

Former Jayhawk great on hand for today’s KU-Mizzou game

October 29, 2005


If Kansas University can get out of its Big 12 Conference football funk and win today against hated rival Missouri at Memorial Stadium, it would be considered an upset.

Still, the world won't sit up and take notice the way it did when the man being honored by KU today led the Jayhawks to an upset victory on the road 30 years ago.

Nolan Cromwell, whose number goes up on the Ring of Honor today, didn't hesitate when asked to name the most memorable moment of his KU career.

"Beating Oklahoma in '75 was the biggest game of my college career," Cromwell said Friday night from his downtown Lawrence hotel room. "And it might have been the biggest game of my career ever. They had something like a 29-game winning streak, and we went into Norman and beat them."

Cromwell played quarterback in that 23-3 victory for KU coach Bud Moore, but it was another coach who lured him to Lawrence.

"I came to school here because of Don Fambrough," Cromwell said. "His honesty and sincerity."

Fambrough said after seeing Cromwell play in high school, he told his staff, "I just saw the best football player in the state of Kansas, if not the world. And the second-best athlete in the state is his sister."

Cromwell, a defensive back during his first two seasons at KU and in the NFL, coaches wide receivers for the Seattle Seahawks, assisting Mike Holmgren. The Seahawks are in the midst of their bye week.

"Fortunately, we won on Sunday, and Mike promised the team if we won he would give us some time off," Cromwell said. "And the timing couldn't be better because it's Missouri week. I know Coach Fam is fired up."

Cromwell -- he was named Big Eight offensive player of the year in 1975 after rushing for 1,124 yards -- said he learned of having his number retired in a phone call from former KU assistant coach and player Pat Henderson.

"When Pat called me and told me they wanted to do it, it was really gratifying," Cromwell said. "It's not something you're ever expecting to happen."

After spending a decade playing and another as an assistant coach in the NFL, Cromwell isn't likely to return to the college game, but he didn't rule it out.

"I've thought about it," said Cromwell, who interviewed for the KU job that went to Mark Mangino. "The thing that's a little uncertain that I haven't talked to anybody much about is the time restraints. You're there seven days a week in the NFL, but it's bang, bang, bang, you know your schedule. There are time restraints in college we don't have to deal with, but coaching in college is a thought that's crossed my mind."

Nolan Cromwell at a glance

¢ A graduate of tiny Ransom High, Cromwell was the Jayhawks' starting free safety as a true freshman in the 1973 Liberty Bowl. He also started at free safety in 1974, then was switched to quarterback when first-year coach Bud Moore installed the wishbone offense in 1975. ¢ He was named Big Eight offensive player of the year in 1975 after rushing for 1,124 yards -- third-highest total by a quarterback in NCAA history at that time. ¢ His 294 yards rushing against Oregon State on Sept. 27, 1975, was an NCAA record for a quarterback at the time. ¢ As a senior in 1976, Cromwell played only half the season after suffering a knee injury against Oklahoma. ¢ Cromwell also earned All-America honors as an intermediate hurdler. ¢ For the last 26 years, he has been associated with the National Football League -- the first 11 as a Pro Bowl- caliber safety and the last 15 as an assistant coach. ¢ A second-round draft choice of the Los Angeles Rams in 1977, Cromwell played his entire 11-year career for the Rams, earning four Pro Bowl berths, an NFC Defensive Player of the Year award in 1980, and an NFL Defensive Back of the Year award (Football Digest) in 1984.


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