Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops ripped off his headset and threw it down when Florida made a key first down against his defense last Thursday, January 8, and I could imagine what he had to say: “Damn you, Cactus Jack!”
It was the second time Florida successfully executed a shovel pass during a 24-14 victory over Oklahoma that clinched the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) title. As Utah’s coach in the ’50s, “Cactus Jack” Curtice popularized the shovel pass to such an extent that it became identified with him. Urban Meyer, the Florida coach, studied Curtice’s old playbook at Utah and employed the shovel pass to great effect with the Utes, and to even greater effect in the hands of Tim Tebow and the Gators.
The Santa Barbara connection? Jack Curtice spent the last seven seasons (1963-69) of his noteworthy coaching career drawing up plays for the UCSB’s erstwhile football team.