Odd Fit was
a Pat Dye Receiver
Coaches’ impact on Terry
Gallaher went far
beyond the white chalk on the football field
absence of a father, Terry Gallaher clung to his coaches for some form
of male guidance in his life. Along the way the former Pirate wide
receiver found the father he never had in a combination of men who
taught him the game of football and the game of life.
This Gallaher catch at Duke strangely ended up
incomplete — out of bounds (Submitted Photo)
my son Patrick Henry after Coach Pat Dye and Coach Henry Trevathan,”
Gallaher said. “My parents divorced when I was young, so I really didn’t
have a father. Coaches have always deeply affected my life. I was very
immature in high school and these coaches helped keep me in line.”
humble athletic beginnings in Warner Robins, GA, at Northside High
School, Gallaher found his way to East Carolina through another coach,
Frank Orgel. At 5-8, Gallaher was an undersized, but overdriven, running
back in those days. Orgel’s wife had been Gallaher’s middle school
guidance counselor and her husband had never stopped keeping an eye on
the young athlete.
actually played a lot because of my size until I was a senior,” Gallaher
said. “I was a small, fast white boy. Running track gave me a lot of
opportunity and I was a state champion high hurdler here in Georgia. I
succeeded in spite of myself in football.”
who once coached prep football in Gallaher’s area, had played with Dye
while at Georgia. When Gallaher was a senior in high school,
Orgel was recruiting coordinator at the University of North Alabama and
the diminutive running back from Northside was one of his chief targets.
Coach Dye got the job at East Carolina, Coach Orgel went with him,”
Gallaher said. “And he took a lot of us with him.”
was part of Dye’s first-ever recruiting weekend at East Carolina. That
special weekend didn't happen until January because Dye had honored a coaching commitment to
Alabama for a New Year’s Day bowl game. At the time, the signing period
was before Christmas, so the kids that had come in were already hanging
Forest was the only Division I school to recruit me and they were 0-11
the year before,” Gallaher said. “Not being very smart, I decided to go
to East Carolina to be a teacher instead of Wake to be a lawyer. It was
then that I dedicated myself to poverty early on.”
committed himself to a coach, rather than a school.
never heard of East Carolina,” he said. “Down here, it was SEC or
independents Georgia Tech or Florida State. And Miami was not even a big
school. So when I signed and went there, a lot of people around here
thought I had gone to a Division III school. Coach Dye was the first
East Carolina coach who went south for his players.”
Gallaher, Dye was more than a coach, he was a mentor with no parallel.
Dye was Bear Bryant junior,” Gallaher said. “I’ve never been through
anything like it for sure. Coach Dye can charm you to death. He always
recruited the mommas. He knew that when momma decided, players will
follow. He sure charmed my momma. She loves that man even today at 82
years old. He can walk on water to her.”
admits that he had no clue what he had gotten himself into when he committed to
Dye. He left Warner Robins for ECU because of Orgel. Upon arriving in
Greenville, he knew right away that Dye
was not going to let him or any player have an easy time of it.
Dye was the first coach to really push my buttons,” Gallaher said. “And
Coach (Henry) Trevathan… he was something. Playing split end in the
wishbone offense is not a stellar position to play. I played wide guard,
really. I looked forward to pre-game because that was the only time we
threw the ball. If we were throwing in a game, we were probably behind.”
quickly found out that he was going to be a receiver, rather than a
never been away from home and here I was 10 hours from home and I was
more afraid of going home than staying,” he said. “In high school, I
played running back my senior year and I was able to rush for over a
1,000 yards. Mostly from fright… if they don’t hit you, you can’t get
"I went to East Carolina as a running back. But the first time I
had to low block Cary Godette, I was ready to change positions. He had
bad knees and I tried to hit him low and he about killed me. Ruined my
career as a running back. In high school, I could get outside and outrun
everyone, but in college, I get out wide and there is a defensive end.”
News clipping from when Gallaher set an
Gallaher’s speed was his advantage, though he jokes about it. As
a prepster, he won the Georgia state high hurdles championship. Later
on, he briefly
ran track at East Carolina.
run for ‘Dollar’ Bill Carson,” Gallaher said. “Man he is a
dinosaur… still coaching today. I quickly learned that the college high
hurdles are higher than the high school high hurdles and that my
outright speed was outright too slow for college, so I gave it up.”
was not too slow for football. So it was off to wide receiver for
Gallaher… a position not for the faint of heart in a Pat Dye offense.
split end in coach Dye’s Wishbone, you were really a blocker,” he said.
“You had to be a very different kind of receiver. You were never near
anyone and we all kind of bonded. Billy Ray Washington, as bad as I
wanted to beat him out, we were close. Vern Davenport and tight end walk
on Barry Johnson from Farmville… we all kind of were an odd group.”
Gallaher made a hell of a debut as a receiver – one that landed him in
the NCAA Record Book.
an NCAA record, but we were behind in the game,” Gallaher said. “So, it
wasn’t really something to get excited about.”
Gallaher’s first three collegiate receptions went for touchdowns and 218
yards. The feat landed him in the record books for yards per catch
average for a game. Subsequently, the NCAA broke down the records by
number of catches with a 3-4 category and a 5-8, etc… So there it is in
black and white, Gallaher’s name alongside players like Randy Moss.
Captain's Coin Toss vs. N.C. State. L to R -
"Brute" Felton, NG; Mitchell Smith, OT; Terry
Gallaher, SE (Submitted)
you lead a division I team with 13 receptions in 11 games, that says
something. That is the story of my life,” Gallaher said with tongue in
in reality, made his name by being a tenacious blocker and a timely
the ’75 season, I didn’t catch too many touchdowns,” he said. “Games I
caught touchdowns in weren’t really highlights for me. Blocking was my
thing. I remember when we beat N.C. State my senior season. Ted Brown
was playing for State and they were supposed to beat us badly and we
beat them. We were a thorn in a lot of people’s sides and many of the
instate schools didn’t want to play us after awhile.”
Gallaher’s career was different in a number of ways.
didn’t play my freshman year, but I had two senior seasons,” he said.
“This is a tough one. In 1974, you could not red shirt freshmen. When I
finished my fourth year, it was the following spring that redshirting
freshmen began. So after I had already been listed a senior – and I was
named the outstanding senior – (ECU) applied the redshirt retroactively
to my freshmen year when I had been injured. They played me on scout
team and tried to run me off to get my scholarship… I was a body. So, I
got a second senior season.”
extra year was one that Gallaher particularly relished.
TD catch vs. William & Mary, 1975
a chance to make the Peach Bowl my junior season and got knocked out by
William & Mary, of all teams,” he recalled. “Then, we went 9-2 my first
senior season and got no bowl bid. Then, we were 9-3 and got the
Independence Bowl and the special thing for me was that it was my 5th
year and Coach Dye, and the other coaches all treated me more like a
player-coach that year. That was very special to me.”
Dye was extra tough, ala his mentor, Bear Bryant, the bullish coach’s
methodology turned out to be inspirational to his overworked and
motivated us by reminding us constantly of the fact that we were all
rejects from somewhere else,” Gallaher said. “That we were the type of
team that goes 9-2 and gets nothing for it. But, he also reminded us
that we could play with anybody in the country.”
a mighty dose of Dye mind games and it worked with this bunch of
Pirates. And Gallaher points to quite a few “inspiring” stories.
we played an ACC school, we would get fired up, but when we played Sonny
Randle’s Virginia team, (Dye) had us really (fired up),” Gallaher
said. “He reminded us that Coach Randle left (ECU) for (better pastures). How
Coach Randle would always say that you can’t compare the ACC to East
Carolina because it was comparing apples to oranges.
Group of ECU players pose in
Charlottesville (vs. Virginia): L to
R - Rick Bennett,
OT; Jimbo Walker, OG; Wilbur
SE; Terry Gallaher, SE (Submitted Photo)
went out there, beat them 63-14 or something like that and I remember all
of the (ECU) fans who went up there were throwing oranges on the field
and wouldn’t you just know that Chancellor (Leo) Jenkins was the guy
throwing the most oranges.”
were other games.
(North) Carolina was great,” he said. “We beat them 38-14 when Bill Dooley was
there. It was made more gratifying for me because his brother, Vince,
was at Georgia at the time and being from Georgia, it was very special
to me. Of course I also played in the 12-10 loss and had the distinction
of having my ribs broken by a little freshman named Lawrence Taylor at
the end of the game when he hit me clean into the fence they have over
was also the South Carolina game.
their homecoming game and they had this little running back named George
Rogers, who happened to go on and win the Heisman Trophy a couple of
years later, but we were beating them at the half. Then they came back
and won a close one.”
East Carolina, Gallaher said that he learned many things from his
coaches about being a man. For that, he will always cherish those years
and those men who so amply filled in for the father he never had.
learned a great deal about coaching.
Dye taught me so much about taking average players and making them play
above their abilities and taking the better players and keeping them
that way,” Gallaher said. “If you can do that with your players, you’re
going to win games. A coach has to make the kids think they are better
than they really are.”
ECU receiver Terry Gallaher (left)
quarterback Leander Green
career at East Carolina was said and done, Gallaher made a pretty good
accounting for himself. In addition to the NCAA record-setting
performance against Appalachian State, Gallaher finished as a four-year
starter; claimed the school, single-season average yards per catch record (33.3);
was named to the 2nd team Associated Press All South
Independent team (1977); was the Greenville, NC Touchdown Club Athlete
of the Year (1977); won the Swindell Memorial Award (1977 & 1978);
and was the team captain in 1978.
bad resume for a little “split guard” trying to play catch in a running
felt the pull of coaching towards the end of his playing career, but resisted
initially after his eligibility ended at East Carolina.
signed a free agent contract with Ottawa,” Gallaher said of giving it a
go in the Canadian Football League. “Coach Trevathan helped get me that
opportunity and I thought there would be a real chance up there. Being a
receiver in the Wishbone wasn’t a really good training ground for the
NFL and in Ottawa, it seemed like I spent more time coaching the other
receivers and they were taking my job. That’s when I really caught the
coaching bug, so I went and begged Coach Dye to let me be a Graduate
Assistant coach for him and he said ‘Yes.’ Unfortunately, it was his
(Dye's) last year at East Carolina.”
being cut by Ottawa and getting the green light from Dye, Gallaher
returned to ECU and, among other things, finished his
undergraduate degree. As a coach, Dye assigned him the role of managing
the scout team offense, a thankless job that, in the long run, turned
out to be a great way to learn a bunch about football strategy in a
short period of time.
learned a lot about many different offenses,” he said. “You learn a lot
when you have to learn a new offense each week.”
collegiate coaching career ended after the one season, following Dye’s
departure to Wyoming.
it came down to the need to have a paying job,” he said. “In college
coaching at the bottom of the ladder, there is not that much money. When
Ed Emory came in, the first thing he told all of us is that we were
fired. As it turned out, I worked the spring (through his contract) for
Ed Emory and then, it just so happened, that I got an opportunity to
coach at Tucker High School in the suburbs of Atlanta.”
It was a
chance for Gallaher, a history teacher by trade, to actually earn a
living and continue to coach. He has remained in the prep coaching ranks
since. After 23 years as a high school football and track coach,
Gallaher has finally hung up the cleats – this year.
the first year (Gallaher has spare time),” he said. “I just gave up coaching this
year and part of that is to spend time with my kids. I spent 23 years
with other kids. I can even read a book now. I didn’t realize how much
time coaching took up.”
football coach, Gallaher has never been the head honcho, though he was top
coach for track.
have been a head coach,” he said. “Here in Georgia, in this town, there
12 or 13 coaches on the staff. It's like a small college staff. Had the
opportunity ever come, I was prepared to be a head coach. But, my family
became the priority.”
coaching career has allowed him to travel full circle in his life. From
Tucker High School, he moved to his own alma mater, coaching at
Northside High School, before moving along to his last prep post at Warner
Robins (which also produced current Pirate Drew Sutton).
Terry Gallaher in his coaching days
at Warner Robins
(Photo: Warner-Robins website)
it back to Warner Robins,” he said. “I went to Northside High school
(where current Pirate Jermarcus Veal played) and I am retiring at Warner
ways, I do regret leaving (Greenville) sometimes,” he said. “Mainly
because when I came back to Georgia, I had no past. I wouldn’t trade my
years at East Carolina for anything, but I know now that it is just
wonderful here, having my family here.”
Gallaher was a well-respected
football coach and
made a name for himself as a head coach in track.
was my real love in high school,” he said. “I was the head coach for
both the girls and boys. I always felt like track was good for all
sports. You can take athletes from any background and find (a track
pursuit) for them. It is highly individualized, but also a team sport.
To run a track practice is like organized chaos. But it is a cooperative
in retirement, Gallaher is again very much that boy on the edge of
beginning a new journey. He is excited about time. Time to be with his
kids, Rachel and Patrick Henry – both in high school. Time to be with
his wife Gail, with whom he has been married for 22 years. Time to play
with their two Dachsunds, Max and Raider, who are much like their third
and fourth children.
time, mostly, for himself to do those things that the life of a coach
always tell myself, my day (for complete freedom) is coming,” he
laughed. “My day is coming. My only fear is that I die before my time
comes. And if that happens… I’m going to be very mad about it.”
golf, though he admits that his game suffers because he only picked it
up when his body made him stop playing competitive softball. He keeps
his two Dachsunds, Max and Raider, busy. And he plans to finally get back
to Greenville, maybe even take in a few games and relive some old times
as a Pirate.
Carolina gives me a special sense of pride,” he said. “That school gave
me choices in life. There are not a lot of ECU banners down here, except
mine. I’m a Pirate through and through and now that I have less hair, I
can even wear a do-rag and look like a Pirate.”
move into this new phase in life because he knows that as a coach and
teacher, he is satisfied with his work.
than the strategies and the managing of athletes, Gallaher revealed that
there was a deeper meaning to his coaching career.
definitely could say that I gravitated to those kids that were
struggling with something,” he said. “I was told in middle school that I
was too small to play (football). So I never look at a kid and make that
determination because you just don’t know what a kid is capable of with
the right support. You don’t want to extinguish that fire. Maybe I give
too much of a chance sometimes. I’ve been real fortunate to be part of
some pretty good programs and around some really good young men and
back in the most personally significant way he could. Life lessons
learned from his former coaches were well-heard.
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