Former players, fellow coaches gather to honor Andros

Updated: October 31, 2003, 9:14 PM ET

CORVALLIS,Ore. -- Former players and fellow coaches bid their final farewells Friday to Dee Andros, the coach nicknamed "The Great Pumpkin" who was synonymous with Oregon State football for more than a decade.

Among the speakers at a memorial were former Oregon State quarterback Steve Preece and former Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney.

The service included a video presentation with taped eulogies by former Oregon State and current San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

Andros, who was nicknamed for his trademark girth and bright orange jacket, died Oct. 22 at age 79.

Although his coaching career saw some hard times -- his record was 51-64-1 -- under Andros' leadership Oregon State beat Oregon nine times in 11 annual "Civil War" games.

That was a point of pride for Andros, who often boasted that the Civil War game was played for "the right to live in the state of Oregon."

"I think he was at his best before the Civil War," Preece said at the memorial, attended by nearly 1,000 people. "He liked a lot of the Ducks as individuals, but don't get me wrong. As a team, Dee hated the Ducks."

Andros coached the Beavers from 1965 until 1975 and was OSU's athletic director from 1975 until his retirement in 1985.

A native Oklahoman, Andros never lost his accent and was a lineman on Oklahoma teams coached by Hall of Famer Bud Wilkinson. He went on to be an assistant coach under Wilkinson.

Andros, whose full name was Demosthenes Konstandies Andrecopoulos, was also a veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star, and spent more than a month under fire on Iwo Jima, one of the last major battles of World War II. He was a witness to the famed moment when six soldiers raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

"I think after that he saw the rest of his life as a bonus," said Craig Hanneman, who was coached by Andros from 1968-70. "That let him live his life with a lightness and a flamboyance that fit his persona."

Ed Knecht, an assistant under Andros at Oregon State, remembered the rousing effect Andros' emotional halftime speeches had on the players.

"They'd come out on the field, and they were wild-eyed, slobbering, and blowing snot," he said.

Andros is best known for the 1967 season, when the Beavers defeated O.J. Simpson and No. 1 Southern California in a game that earned the team the nickname of the "Giant Killers." USC didn't lose again that season and won the national championship.

OSU wound up going 7-2-1 that year, also beating second-ranked Purdue and tying highly ranked UCLA. ^

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index