Bob Seaman, the coach who led the Wichita State football team following the plane crash of 1970, died on Monday in Eaton, Ohio at the age of 86.
Mr. Seaman was the driving force in WSU football continuing after a plane transporting players, athletic department officials and boosters to a game in Logan, Utah crashed into a Colorado mountainside west of Denver and killed 31 people on Oct. 2, 1970.
Mr. Seaman was the offensive coordinator at the time and was subsequently promoted to head coach. After the surviving players voted, Mr. Seaman led the Shockers back onto the field just 22 days later against Arkansas. He remained the head coach for three more seasons, compiling a 13-26 record, but did lead WSU to its first winning record, 6-5, in nearly a decade during the 1972 season.
“I don’t think Coach Seaman gets nearly enough credit for what he was able to do,” said John Potts, one of the surviving players who played in that Arkansas game, in a 2015 story published in the Eagle. “Personally, I think the man belongs in the (Shocker) Hall of Fame, record be damned.”
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Mr. Seaman was a talented athlete from Sandusky, Ohio, where he was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and track and field. He earned a football scholarship at Kent State, but an injury during his freshman season ended his playing career. He instead joined the Kent State track and field team and even won a Mid-American Conference title in the high jump following the injury.
Following his athletic career, Mr. Seaman became a high school football coach in Ohio before being hired by WSU coach Ben Wilson in 1970. After four seasons in Wichita, Mr. Seaman went away from college football until returning in 1979 to coach Emporia State where he went 10-30 in four seasons.
Mr. Seaman made an impact on thousands of students, players, coaches and their families, but his biggest impact may have been being the foundation to keep WSU football moving forward.
“I think my dad had to take on so much responsibility at that time and that there were just so many things he had to do,” Mr. Seaman’s oldest daughter, Jo Ann Trede, said of her father in 2015.
“I think about the efforts of everybody within the university and everybody within the football team,” Mr. Seaman said in 2015. “Their efforts and what they did to come back and play in such a short amount was just amazing.”
Mr. Seaman is survived by his wife, Jean, three daughters, Trede, Paty Asher and Kay Sisko, brother, Ted Seaman, and sister, Ellen Wadge.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Hospice of Dayton, 324 Wilmington Ave., Dayton, Ohio, 45420. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.gsbfuneralhome.com.