03 October 2009

sal aunese

the earthquake and tsunami which struck the samoa islands brought back memories of sal aunese.

mr. aunese was the first samoan to quarterback for c u boulder and maybe the first samoan to start at quarterback in all of college football.

but it was much more than that;

buffs head coach, bill mccartney and c u athletic, director bill marolt, had worked to come back from the 1984 season's disastrous 1 - 10 record and build a winning team.

it all came together starting in the 1988 season when the buffs went 8 - 4 and earned an invitation along with the brigham young cougars to play in, what would turn out to be mr. aunese's final game the freedom bowl.

in the spring of 1989 mr. aunese was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer. he died aged 21, on saturday 23 september 1989. a game day, in what would have been his senior season.

to mr. aunese, his teammates dedicated what would turn out to be the perfect regular season. colorado's first in modern times. the buffs went on to play in the orange bowl where they lost to notre dame 21 - 6.

that set colorado up for the 1990 season in which they went 11-1-1 including a trip back to the orange bowl where this time they defeated notre dame 10 - 9. the associated press voted the buffaloes the number one college football team in the country. so did a cnn-usa today poll. see colorado buffaloes' 1980's climb to the top of college football by john s. craig.

besides all the emotion and drama you'd expect from a storied period in collegiate football, mr. aunese's story doesnt end there because it has another twist.

unbeknownst to head coach mccartney and his wife, their daughter kristy was in a romantic relationship with mr. aunese that ended with the spring birth of their son timothy chase mccartney. t.c. was five months old when his daddy died. at mr. aunese's funeral head coach mccartney praised his daughter for taking the hard road and promised to help raise the lad.

its a small world. as we were googling around trying to learn whatever happened to t.c. we found out that t.c. is a senior in college and plays back-up quarterback [#17] right here at lsu.

it turns out that an assistant coach at colorado back in the 80's, the very one who had recruited sal aunese to play is none other than current lsu head-coach les miles.

we think its good on head-coach miles and lsu that he made sure that mr. mccartney earned his degree and got to play his fathers position and for a respected team.

actually, glenn guilbeau with gannett, wrote one of the better articles about it all back in september 2007: "lsu qb has odd lineage." incredibly its still on the advertiser's website here. or click here to download three page .pdf [44 kb].