Good things happen to good people. Sometimes, you just have to wait a little bit.
Around 35 years after his last game at San Diego State, guard Peter Inge was inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame Friday alongside more recent luminaries — Washington Nationals P Stephen Strasburg and Raiders/Bills LB Kirk Morrison. Inge (being introduced to the crowd on the video board), who won conference and All-American honors while performing for the late-70s Aztecs, was a major help when I was writing A Coach at Heart.
There were periods when I would email, Facebook message or call Inge frequently asking for details about what went on in the locker room, the mood of the team at certain times, the feeling everyone had after a huge win detailed in the book. He answered my questions patiently, even eagerly. He, and others, helped me take a pretty decent idea for a novel and make it something special, for which I’m grateful.
Inge was a great pulling guard. A lot of the archival photos of SDSU football in that era that depict running plays will show him in front of the running back, whether it be David “Deacon” Turner, Charlie Crews or Tony Allen. He was also popular, then and now. When I called QB Joe Davis to discuss the book project and mentioned Inge, he shared a great affection for his onetime protector. Inge called Davis one of his favorite Aztecs.
At a pregame tailgate before SDSU played Air Force — hours after the Hall of Fame induction ceremony — a whole bunch of late-70s Aztecs showed up. Maybe 20, 25 or so. Too many to count and too many for me to meet everyone. Their number included the head coach, Claude Gilbert, and some assistants.
It’s true, that comment on the Books page about the affinity these players share for each other from the teams featured in A Coach at Heart. The old Stanford captains, Jim Plunkett and Jack Shultz, still lead a group that gets together for games and other get-togethers. Inge, by the way, has a connection to Stanford. His older brother, Ron, was a running back who gained more than 1,200 yards and scored seven times in four years on The Farm.
SDSU’s football team is finally starting to show how good it can be after downing Air Force 30-14 in a Friday night TV game. Having dealt with a bum shoulder all season, QB Quinn Kaehler is finally able to throw the ball well enough to take advantage of defenses that key on the Aztecs running game. While Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon is rightfully getting accolades for his amazing performance, Donnel Pumphrey of the Aztecs has quietly moved up to fifth on the NCAA rushing chart, just short of 1,500 yards. If the quick sophomore continues at this pace, he has a chance to claim the second spot on the school’s single-season rushing yardage totals list behind — not Marshall Faulk. There’s some bar trivia. The Aztecs’ single-season rushing leader is George Jones in 1995, with 1,942. Faulk isn’t even second. That belongs to Ronnie Hillman of the Broncos.
—While the Aztecs are bowl-eligible with a 6-5 record, it’s thought that they probably need to defeat San Jose State in their finale to actually get an invitation. If that all comes together, it would be SDSU’s fifth straight postseason appearance. What the guys involved with those great Aztecs teams in the 70s would have given to go to just one bowl game!