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Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2006

Baker reunion headed to Green Bay

Packers coach McCarthy played on ‘86 squad

October 26, 2006

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Twenty years have elapsed since Mike McCarthy played football for Baker University so it's time for a reunion.

But what do you do when the most famous member of BU's 1986 team can't make it?

You take the reunion to him.

Baker athletic director Dan Harris and many members of that '86 club will be in Green Bay this weekend to fete McCarthy, the Packers' first-year head coach, and to attend the Green Bay-Arizona game.

Harris said the idea to take the party to McCarthy germinated over a year ago when he was in New York City visiting Andy Solomon, a nose guard on the BU team that finished as runner-up in the NAIA Division II championship game.

"We talked about going to see Mike wherever he happened to be coaching," Harris said. "At the time, I think he was with New Orleans. Then when he got the Packers' job, we sent out invitations and about 20 of us are on board."

Harris, who was the Wildcats' offensive line coach under the late Charlie Richard in the mid-'80s, recruited McCarthy out of Scottsdale, Ariz., Community College.

"When Mike came to campus," Harris said, "I gave him a pair of offensive line blocking gloves. He said, 'Coach, I won't need these, I'm a tight end.'"

At that point, Harris says he introduced McCarthy to running back Ed Lierz.

"He's an All-American running back," Harris told McCarthy, "and you probably won't be catching many passes with him here."

Harris wasn't fooling. Thanks to McCarthy and the other offensive linemen, Lierz earned NAIA All-America honors. In one game during the '86 season, Lierz gained 301 yards rushing, still the school record.

Lierz, who lives in Overland Park, will be one of the former Wildcats traveling to Green Bay this weekend. Some of the others expected to make the trip are Sean Franklin, a U.S. Marshall and former Lawrence policeman; Scott Rampy, who works for Wal-Mart in Bentonville, Ark.; Steve Meyers, an assistant principal at Raymore-Peculiar, Mo., High; and Bill Miller, facilities manager for the Gardner-Edgerton school district.

The Baker contingent will arrive Saturday afternoon in Green Bay where McCarthy will greet them and usher them to the Brett Favre Steakhouse for a celebratory dinner.

At that time, Harris will present McCarthy with a replica Baker football jersey with the No. 89 the Packers' coach wore when he suited for the Wildcats.

"The next morning we'll take part in a Lambeau Field tailgate, which I hear is a great experience," Harris said.

McCarthy has also arranged for his former coach and teammates to obtain pregame sideline passes.

"As an NFL coach, you know Mike is awfully busy," Harris said, "but he's really gone out of his way to make sure we have a good time."

McCarthy, a native of Pittsburgh, spent his freshman year at Salem College in West Virginia before transferring to Scottsdale for his sophomore season. During his two years at Baker, McCarthy earned all-Heart of America Athletic Conference honors and was a team captain.

McCarthy began coaching as a graduate assistant at Fort Hays State. His first NFL job was with the Chiefs in 1993. After six years in Kansas City, McCarthy spent a season as the Packers' quarterbacks coach before moving on to the 49ers and the Saints.

Green Bay tapped McCarthy, who will turn 43 next month, for its head job last January.

"Mike was devoted to football," Harris said. "He has a passion for it. I'm glad he stuck with it."

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