The Times West Virginian

Mickey Furfari

April 28, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Former LB now is noted artist

MORGANTOWN — David Benn of Akron, Ohio, was an outstanding linebacker on the West Virginia University football team in 1968-69-70.

But the 6-2, 200-pound alumnus became more of a longtime celebrity than he was then. Benn is widely known as a noted artist who still travels around the world painting artwork of people and different views and sights.

“I’ve been an artist my whole life,” he said on a recent visit to Morgantown. “I decided a long time ago if I couldn’t become a head football coach, I’d be an artist.”

Benn explained that he obtained his artistic ability from his deceased father, Jack, who was a painter. So he continued doing that as his entire career.

After graduating from WVU with a degree in physical education and a minor in art, he taught art in Akron schools for 36 years. He retired from that job in 2011.

However, Benn will tell you — proudly and emphatically — that he’s still practicing as a professional artist.

(He even sketched a facial portrait of this writer during the interview).

Benn, who doesn’t turn 65 until Dec. 29, said he really fell in love with West Virginia while he was here. He really enjoyed playing football for Jim Carlen and also Bobby Bowden.

“In high school back home, I played both fullback and linebacker,” he recalled. “But when I went to WVU and met (bigger) Jim Braxton, I told that great fullback I definitely planned to play linebacker.”

Braxton not only starred as a fullback as a Mountaineer but also for the Buffalo Bills later in the NFL.

“I wasn’t real fast (as a LB),” Benn noted. “But my idea was to deliver a blow and never to take a blow.”

If memory serves, the Ohio native got his fair share of tackles and forced a few turnovers during his three years as a WVU letterman. But statisticians weren’t required to keep defensive stats during that early period.

Benn contributed to sparkling records of 7-3, 10-1 and 8-3. The 10-1 mark in 1969 sticks out in his mind as the most memorable achievement.

That’s the year WVU upset favored South Carolina 14-3 in the Peach Bowl at Atlanta. Bowden, then still the offensive coordinator, installed a completely new set of plays as a secret weapon just for that game.

“It rained hard that night, and the Gamecocks never could adjust to stop our offense,” Benn remembers. Carlen resigned the next morning for another job, and Bowden became head coach.

“I saw Coach Carlen the last time he was in Morgantown,” Benn recalled. “And I still keep in touch with Coach Bowden.”

So much so, the artist painted a portrait of Ann, the coach’s wife, and she treasures that. So does Bobby.

In addition to the Peach Bowl victory, he can’t forget that shocking 36-35 setback at old rival Pitt in his senior season — and Bowden’s first year as head coach. The Mountaineers blew a 35-6 halftime lead.

Benn, who’s divorced, has three children. They are son Rush, 40, and daughters Kester, 38, and Naomi, 16.

“I love West Virginia,” Benn concluded, “And once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer.”

1
Text Only
Mickey Furfari
  • FURFARI COLUMN: Wyant talks about ‘Pappy’ Lewis and other items of interest

    I saved some other interesting observations from the recent interview with Fred Wyant which you may find worth reading.
    He believes a college football coach ought to recruit a quarterback he wants, give him some help, then turn virtually everything over to him and let him go.

    July 26, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Five major sports topics of interest to area fans

    Tom Hart, a widely known retired Morgantown High School administrator and coach, continues to excel as one of the nation’s top bowlers.
    However, he told me he faces knee-replacement surgery. So he’s going to find it necessary to give up bowling during a period of rehab. Hart has competed in an amazing total of 45 U.S. Bowling Congress tournaments during his outstanding career.

    July 25, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-Mountaineer track star dies; WVU athlete arrests may be concern

    I’ve learned belatedly that James Gordon “Jim” Dial, an outstanding men’s track and field sprinter at West Virginia University during the late 1940s, has died.
    He was a native of Huntington who earned All-State first team status. The Huntington High star led all scorers in the state Track Championship meets in both 1946 and ’47.

    July 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Jedd Gyorko running and taking batting practice now

    A report on the internet at this week’s start indicated that Morgantown’s Jedd Gyorko might be ready finally to rejoin the San Diego Padre’s starting lineup.
    He has been on the Major League’s disabled list since June 3. Problems with his feet was given as the reason Gyorko was unable to keep playing.

    July 16, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU hopes to boost season-ticket sales

    West Virginia University’s season-ticket sales for football are the lowest in nine years just two months before this season’s first home game.
    That will be on Saturday, Sept. 6, against Towson State. The Big 12 portion of the schedule follows.

    July 10, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: San Diego Padres’ Gyorko remains on disabled list

    Stringing together some odds and ends that may interest you:
    • Jedd Gyorko still is not active with the San Diego Padres. The former West Virginia University standout has been on the baseball’s disabled list for just over a month and hopes to return soon.

    July 9, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: It had to feel like ‘Ol’ Home Week’ for the Tricketts

    It might have felt like a bit of “Ol’ Home Week’ to West Virginia University starting quarterback Clint Trickett.
    His parents, Rick and Tara Trickett, were in the Morgantown area and stopped by to spend some time with Clint. They still live in Tallahassee, Florida.

    July 3, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: WVU football season-ticket sales approximately 26,000

    Stringing together some odds and ends about sports that may be of interest to you:
    • West Virginia University season-ticket sales for the 2014 football campaign have reached approximately 26,000. That’s some 2,000 since the count of 24,000 when the renewal deadline was reached.

    June 27, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: USA Today has WVU 78th in football countdown from No. 128 to No. 1

    Like Las Vegas oddsmakers, USA Today’s sports writer Paul Myerberg doesn’t rank West Virginia highly in that newspaper’s early college football predictions in a copyrighted piece.
    In one of its thorough pieces, USA Today analyzed West Virginia in its No. 78 ranking among 128 college teams. That’s what is called a countdown from No. 128 to No. 1.

    June 24, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Las Vegas oddsmakers not kind to WVU in early listings

    Not long ago, I guessed that the West Virginia University football team will go 6-6 during the 2014 football season.
    That was based strictly on a hunch. It would show at least some improvement over last year’s pitiful 4-8 finish.

    June 22, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads