Marvin Bass

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Marvin Bass

Marvin Crosby "Moose" Bass (born August 28, 1919 in Norfolk, Virginia; died December 3, 2010 in Columbia, South Carolina) was a long-time football coach who coached the Birmingham Vulcans during their lone season of play in 1975.

Bass was the son of Alexander and Mamie Riddle Bass of Petersburg, Virginia. He starred for Petersburg High School and earned a football scholarship to play for Carl Voyles at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. He won All-American honors and captained the 1942 Indians to a 9-1-1 record. Bass was picked by the Detroit Lions in the 1942 NFL draft, but did not play. He completed his bachelor of science and graduated with the class of 1943, then spent two years in the US Navy as a Pharmacy Mate, 3rd Class during World War II.

After the war ended, Bass returned to William & Mary as an assistant and accompanied the team on their trip to the 1948 Dixie Bowl at Legion Field, a 21-19 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks. In 1948 he joined the North Carolina Tarheels staff for one season, before returning to his alma mater. He was an assistant on the Indians' 1950 Cotton Bowl team. Though he was on the losing end of the 7-6 game, the opposing players, his former Tarheels, carried Bass off the field on their shoulders.

In 1952 Bass joined Curly Lambeau's Washington Redskins staff. He returned to North Carolina as an assistant in 1953, then went to work for Rex Enright at the University of South Carolina in 1955, staying on with Warren Giese after ill health forced Enright to step down as coach. In 1960 he was hired by Bobby Dodd at Georgia Tech, but returned to South Carolina to succeed Enright as athletic director and Giese as head coach in 1961. Over the next five years, his Gamecocks compiled a 17-29-4 record. The Bass years may be best remembered as the period in which quarterback Dan Reeves played for South Carolina. Bass was succeeded by Paul Dietzel, who took the Gamecocks to an ACC championship in his first year.

Bass was named head coach and athletic director for the expansion Montreal Beavers of the Continental League in 1966. In 1970 he was hired as an assistant on John Rauch's Buffalo Bills staff. He then coached for the University of Richmond for a year before coming to Birmingham as an assistant to Jack Gotta on the coaching staff of the Birmingham Vulcans, which went 17-5 and won the World Football League championship over the Florida Blazers in World Bowl I at Legion Field. Despite their on-field successes, the team's debts overwhelmed its owners, who dissolved the team with $2 million owed to creditors.

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A group of local investors committed to fielding a team the following season and organized the Birmingham Vulcans with Bass as head coach. That team went 9-3 before the entire league folded in October 1975.

In 1977 Bass returned to the Bills staff headed by Jim Ringo and remained with coach Chuck Knox in 1978. In 1979 he was hired as an assistant with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders. In 1982 Denver Broncos coach Dan Reeves, Bass' former quarterback at South Carolina, brought him on as a special assistant. He remained on Reeves' staff with the Broncos, and later with Atlanta Falcons, going to four Superbowls. He retired at age 85 following the 2004 Falcons season during which Reeves stepped down.

Bass returned to the Columbia, South Carolina area in his retirement and eventually moved into the Rice Estates assisted living facility and, later, the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Hospice House. Bass died in 2010 and was survived by two grandsons and a great-grandson. He is buried in the Greenlawn Memorial Park Mausoleum in Columbia.

Bass was inducted into the William & Mary Athletics Hall of Fame and the Commonwealth of Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1981. The South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame inducted him in 1992 and named the strength and conditioning center at Williams Brice Stadium in his honor in 2000. In 2005 South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford inducted him into the Order of the Silver Crescent.