Hometown: Lynchburg, VA
Record: 22-8-1, Bowl Record: 1-0
Carl Crennel was an incredible defensive lineman and linebacker for the Mountaineer teams of the late 60s. All three years of his varsity career, he was named to an All-America team. He is also a notable player in West Virginia football history as he is one of the first African-American defensive stars for the Mountaineers. WVU had only been integrated for a couple years by the time Crennel got to Morgantown, making his decision to come to play for the Mountaineers a major decision. Having grown up in West Virginia myself, I know that the people have good hearts, but they can be quite stubborn to change. I’m sure the atmosphere of Morgantown during the 60s was less than hospitable for players like Crennel. But I’m sure after Mountaineer fans witnessed Crennel punishing opposing offenses, they must have warmed up to him. Following his successful and memorable career, Crennel was inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.
Memorable Game: Carl Crennel earned game MVP honors during the 1969 Peach Bowl against the South Carolina Gamecocks. The 1969 season was one of the best seasons Mountaineer fans had enjoyed in quite some time. WVU had managed to produce a 9-1 record with wins over Pitt and Syracuse. The strong performance landed West Virginia the Peach Bowl bid to play South Carolina. The game was WVU’s first bowl game in 5 seasons. Head Coach Jim Carlen had a month to prepare for the game and had offensive coordinator Bobby Bowden install a new wishbone offense just for the bowl game. This gave the Mountaineer offense a competitive edge over the Gamecocks. The offense would not need many points during the rainy bowl game as Carl Crennel and the WVU defense smothered the South Carolina offense, holding them to only a field goal for the afternoon. West Virginia beat South Carolina by a score of 14-3 to secure the school’s first bowl win in over 20 years.
Competition: There was no competition with Crennel for this spot. Not only did Crennel have a Hall of Fame career for West Virginia, he was also one of the early pioneers of integration for the Mountaineer football team. His contributions to the West Virginia football program cannot be overstated.
Teaser: Tomorrow we begin the second half of the countdown to kickoff. We will feature the career of a great Mountaineer linebacker that terrorized quarterbacks and was a complete menace to opposing offensive coordinators. His ability to disrupt offensive schemes had to flat out annoy opposing teams like Dennis the Menace annoyed the heck out of Mr. Wilson. Yes, I also enjoy John Hughes films.