Remembering Cas - What a golf shot!

Len Casanova probably was not our best football coach, but he probably was the finest human being ever connected to Oregon Athletics. Almost fifty years ago, as an incoming freshman, I wrote Cas and scolded him for recruiting only one of my high schools two All State ends. The other took a scholarship at the Oregon State and gave us some fits in following years. In today's world an audacious letter like that would be trash canned by the secretary that opened it. Not in Cas' case.

He (Casanova) sent me a personal letter asking me, a 19-year-old freshman, to please come and visit him when I arrived on campus. I did and he told me that I was right and he had made a mistake in not recruiting the other end. That honesty and humility typified his life.

I had a History Professor at Oregon who was a fallen away Catholic and had no use for football or athletics. Cas spent four years visiting him to see if he would go back to church. The Professor never did, but to this day he still talks about Cas with reverence.

Cas asked me to play in the member guest golf tournament at Eugene Country Club thirty plus years ago. On the 3rd hole, the number one handicap hole as I remember, Cas hit his drive into a fairway bunker. Being a 20 handicapper, he grabbed his sand wedge and headed into the trap. The ball was sitting up in the trap, and I suggested to Cas that he try his 4 wood instead. I suggested he aim right and swing only with his arms and he would probably pull the ball toward the green, 180 yards away. Cas looked at me like, "Yeah, who do you think I am, Arnold Palmer?" But he did as I suggested and hit the best golf shot of his life fifteen feet from the pin. He sank the putt for a natural birdie and with his 2 strokes on that hole netted us a 1. We went on to win more loot than I'd ever won at anything. It's my favorite memory in over fifty years of golf. I shared that experience with won of the greatest guys of all time.

The other memory that could really get Cas steamed was the Oregon vs. WSU game of the early 60's at Hayward field. WSU had a 6-point lead with less than a minute left. Oregon had the ball on their 3-yard line. Its fourth down and we need one good play to score and win the game, but the clocks running and we are about to get a delay of game penalty. Mike Brundage our quarterback looks at Cas on the sideline. Cas is dragging on his 20th cigarette of the game. Finally he signals to Brundage to throw the ball out of bounds to stop the clock. Mike does as he's told and we turn the ball over on downs. Cas always denied calling the play, but I was there and saw it happen. Just another reason not to smoke.

Len Casanova a member of all the Hall of Fame's around, not because of his coaching record, but because he was the kind of guy you wanted your son to play for! Autzen Stadium should be renamed for CAS!


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