Vaughn Mancha
Vaughn Mancha
Full Name:  Vaughn Hall Mancha
     Born:  October 21, 1921 in Sugar Valley, Ga
     Died:  January 27, 2011 in Tallahassee, Fl

FSU Career
Coaches & Administrators

Athletic Director
Year  Hgt  Wgt  Cl  Ltr  Hometown

Elected into the FSU Hall of Fame in 1982
In 1945 Vaughn Mancha was a consensus All-American center for the Alabama Crimson Tide. After two years with the Boston Yanks of the NFL, Mancha became head football coach and athletic director at Livingston State University in Alabama. In 1952, Mancha came to Florida State where he served for five years as an assistant football coach under Tom Nugent. After two years on leave in the Columbia University graduate school, Mancha returned to FSU as Director of Athletics, a post he held for 12 years. In his years as Athletic Director, Florida State moved ahead in all sports. Mancha's administrative leadership provided the kind of scheduling and coaching that took FSU into bowl games and NCAA playoffs. The development of the balanced athletic program fielded by Florida State University today is due in no small part to the foresight and leadership of Vaughn Mancha, coach, athletic director and molder of Seminole athletics.

From the Tallahassee Democrat, January 29, 2010
Renaissance man, FSU AD and football star Mancha dies at 89
By Gerald Ensley, Senior Writer

Vaughn Mancha could have dined out forever on his days as a tough, two-way college football All-American at Alabama. Instead, he used his fame as a springboard to leadership, scholarship, art and a place in Florida State University history.

So hum an aria from one of those Italian opera songs he loved to sing: Mancha died Thursday of congestive heart failure at Big Bend Hospice. He was 89.

Mancha spent 12 years as Florida State athletics director, helping guide FSU to national acclaim. He spent another 15 years as an FSU education professor. And he spent his last 25 years as a fixture at FSU events, regaling listeners with stories, memories and encouragement.

"The FSU community has lost a most valuable and legendary component," said retired Tallahassee judge James Joanos, FSU's unofficial sports historian. "His hard work and leadership greatly helped FSU prosper. Beyond that, his colorful and unforgettable personality added to the spirit of the place."

Mancha was hired as the FSU athletics director in 1959 -- leaving a Ph.D. program at Columbia University to accept the post -- and gained a reputation for hard work, integrity and boosting FSU football fortunes. He replaced head coach Perry Moss with Bill Peterson, whose high-flying passing game and bowl success brought attention. Mancha then drew on his SEC contacts to land games with Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky -- with three consecutive victories over Georgia landing FSU on the national map.

In 1970, Mancha stepped down as athletics director but took a position as associate professor in the College of Education, where he taught media courses in design, layout, graphic design and most notably photography. He set up FSU's first film production lab, so coaches and players could view game films in a timelier manner. Before retiring in 1985, he was one of the first FSU professors to use instructional television, foreshadowing today's embrace of online teaching.

For years, he created brochures, posters and striking photos in a studio he built in the basement of his High Road home.

"Vaughn Mancha's role in raising the profile of not only Florida State athletics but the entire university was very significant," said Rob Wilson, FSU athletics spokesman. "He was a true Renaissance Man, who charmed everyone he met."

Mancha, son of a Spanish immigrant father, was born in Sugar Valley, Ga., and moved with his family to Birmingham when he was 10. He lost most of the sight in his left eye at age 6, when a playmate shot him in the eye with a bow and arrow. But he grew up big (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) and strong, thanks to six summers working at a Birmingham ironworks plant.

At Alabama, he was a two-way center/linebacker who started every game for four years, generally playing all 60 minutes: "Defense was where you played; offense was a rest period." Despite his size, he was renowned for his quickness: "No S.O.B. could outrun me -- not for five or 10 yards." He was a three-time all-Southeastern Conference choice, a consensus All-American his sophomore season (1945) and played in two Rose Bowls.

In 1948, Mancha was a first-round NFL draft choice of the Boston Yankees, forerunner of today's Indianapolis Colts. But a knee injury ended his career after one season.

In 1990, Mancha was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1992, he was selected to the Alabama All-Century team.

"He was an outstanding leader, not just a leader," Alabama teammate and NFL star Harry Gilmer told the Birmingham News. "He was so quick, and could react to a man making a move on him. I'm sure everybody that we played dreaded having to go against him."

After the NFL, Mancha was hired as head football coach at tiny Livingston State Teachers College (now the University of West Alabama), where he coached for three seasons -- with an admittedly loose regard for recruiting and other rules.

In 1949, his Livingston State administered FSU's only loss of the season -- using three of his former Alabama teammates as referees.

"I always said (the friendly refs) didn't make a difference," Mancha said. "But I did pay them a bonus."

Mancha was a storehouse of quips and anecdotes and was not above exaggerating the facts for a good punchline. After leaving Livingston State, he spent five years as an assistant coach at FSU, starting under the late head coach Don Veller -- who fumed valuable scholarship money was "wasted on golfers; why not just give them free range balls?"

By the time Mancha became AD, Veller had become the golf coach and Mancha said he waved away Veller's requests for more scholarship money by saying, "Why don't we just give them free range balls?"

In later years, he loved to roam the FSU football offices, singing the opera songs he learned growing up in an Italian section of Birmingham. He'd stop at the office of FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, who he accused of "following him." Andrews was an Alabama All-American wide receiver and defensive back in the 1960s, who also coached at Livingston State and FSU.

"He liked to come around and talk about how it was (at Alabama) back in his day," Andrews said. "He'd always remind me he was on the all-century team and say, 'I didn't see your name on that list.'"

Mancha is survived by his wife of 64 years, Sibyl, plus his two daughters and a son.

A memorial service will be held Feb. 7 at 6:30 p.m. at Tallahassee's First Baptist Church.

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