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FOOTBALL: Former CHSL coach McCartney set to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame

By: Scott Burnstein, May 9, 2013, 10:00 am

From Riverview to the rooftop.

That’s the road that Bill McCartney has taken.

McCartney, the Metro-Detroit native and former local high school gridiron coach in the Catholic League, has been elected into the College Football Hall of Fame.

The 72-year old McCartney got his start on the area’s prep sidelines at Detroit Holy Redeemer (now closed) and Dearborn Divine Child, before going on to find great success in the college ranks, first as an assistant at the University of Michigan under Bo Schembechler and then as a head coach at the University of Colorado.

While heading the Colorado program in the 1980s and 1990s, he turned the Buffalos from laughing-stocks to an annual national power that produced numerous NFL Draft picks.

He retired from coaching in 1994.

Born in Riverview, McCartney played his college pigskin at the University of Missouri. After graduating in 1962, he returned home to the Motor City and took an assistant coaching job at Holy Redeemer under his brother who was the head coach. In the winter, he was the school’s head basketball coach, capturing a league and city title in 1969. The following fall he was hired as the head football and hoops coach at Divine Child.

The 1972-73 high school athletic campaign was a very special one for McCartney and the entire Divine Child community. With McCartney at the helm, the football and basketball teams both won state championships.

When Schembechler tapped him as an assistant with the Wolverines in 1974, he became the first high school coach ever hired by the legendary sideline general. Helping guide Michigan to its first-ever Rose Bowl crown of the Schembechler era in 1981, McCartney accepted the Colorado job in 1982.

By the end of the decade, he had navigated the Buffalos to a Big 8 title, the first of three straight. The pinnacle of his career came in 1990, leading Colorado to a National Championship, beating Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.

Under center for McCartney and the ’90 Buffalos squad in the Orange Bowl, not to mention the game’s MVP: Fellow Metro Detroiter Charles Johnson, who prepped at Birmingham Detroit Country Day.

The other members of the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame induction class are Vinny Testaverde (Miami), Danny Wuerffel (Florida), Ron Dayne (Wisconsin), Tommie Frazier (Nebraska), Orlando Pace (Ohio State), Teddy Bruschi (Arizona), Ted Brown (N.C. State), Jerry Gray (Texas), Percy Snow (Michigan State), Don Trull (Baylor), Rod Shoat (Oklahoma) and Steve Mellinger (Kentucky)

Besides McCartney the only other head coach going in is Wayne Hardin (Navy, Temple).