SUNSET, S.C. - Former NFL coach Sam Wyche, the fiery innovator with Cincinnati and Tampa Bay who once scolded his home crowd for throwing snowballs, has recently been spending his days shaking hands and discussing fire hoses.
The man who tutored Joe Montana is vying for a seat on the county council in Pickens, a county of more than 116,000 people in the state's northwestern foothills.
The way the 63-year-old Wyche sees it, a local politician's chance to see an idea grow into reality would be like designing a play his team uses to win a game. ``That's what I like to do,'' Wyche said. ``I'm looking forward to the public service.''
ious potential voters who drop by his house, speaks at housing developments and hands out fliers detailing his background.
The campaign for the $10,000-a-year post is low-key and low-budget. No handler. No spokesman. He noted his few lawn signs cost $105 each. ``And we had one stolen,'' he added.
At a recent event where about two dozen well-heeled retirees gathered to hear his pitch, Wyche talked about the need to better place fire houses and ambulance headquarters in the county. He also stressed his key pitch: attracting more business to the region.
The county includes Clemson University, but its chief industry is manufacturing. Wyche believes the contacts he has made in coaching, broadcasting and as a motivational speaker could put him in touch with the decision-makers who might bring businesses to the county, which sits between Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.
Then comes the question that's been most asked during the campaign: Why is he running? He explains his interest in helping the community, while also dropping one of the NFL names that commonly pepper his addresses.
``Boomer Esiason, my old quarterback with the Bengals, sent me an e-mail two weeks ago,'' Wyche said, standing in front of a fireplace in a golf course clubhouse. ``'You've been hopping around the frying pan all your life as an NFL coach. Why would you jump into the fire?'''
Wyche grew up in Atlanta, but played football at nearby Furman University. It was there he met his wife of 42 years, Jane Underwood. All through his coaching and broadcasting careers, Wyche says the couple knew they'd settle down in Pickens, her hometown.
``This is where we hope to croak,'' he said.
Wyche admits missing life in the NFL, where he once famously scolded snowball-throwing Bengals fans with the angry words, ``You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!'' His last league job was as quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills under Mike Mularkey from 2004-05, and he realizes the people most likely to hire him are also no longer in the NFL.
He downplays what his NFL career means to people in Pickens County.
``Anybody who watched me coach knows I don't have all the answers,'' he said, adding that he gets more and more excited about the campaign. ``It starts to get fun because you realize you could do some things.''
Republican incumbent Ben Trotter said he isn't fazed by facing a longtime NFL personality. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, he managed to crack a joke about his recognizable opponent.
``Only people in this district get to vote in this race,'' Trotter said. ``It doesn't matter if I can carry the Cincinnati precincts or not.
``But I do think I could carry Cleveland.''

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