Frank Wydo (2011)

Through the years Fayette County has had some outstanding football players. Big Frank Wydo from German Township ranks with the best of them.


Wydo was a standout tackle for Coach Lou Rozzi's Uhlans, the 1939 squad posted a 7-1 record and the 1940 team went 8-1-1. Wydo opted to play college football at Duquesne. The Dukes posted a record of 6-3-1 in Wydo's only season on the Bluff in 1942.

Wydo entered the Army and served until he was discharged in 1945. In the Army he played a lot of football. During his wartime service, Wydo was an aerial engineer in the Air Corps.

"I once helped fly the President to Washington," he admitted years later. "Well, he became President. He was Vice-President Harry S. Truman then. He'd just been elected along with President Roosevelt and we flew him from Kansas City to Washington just after the election."

He made quite a reputation as a lightning quick 6-foot-4 215 pound tackle playing for the Air Transport Command.

"Finest line prospect I've seen," remarked Coach Dick Emerson of the Air Transport Command.

When his discharge papers came through Wydo wanted to return to college, get his degree and play football.

Several schools clamored for his services.

The University of Kentucky brought him to their campus, but he chose not to play for the Wildcats.

Another college coach dispatched a special plane to Pittsburgh to pick him up and bring him back to campus. The 22-year old Wydo was being pulled in many directions.

Aldo "Buff" Donelli, who coached Wydo at Duquesne, had moved on to Columbia as an assistant and he put out a call for the big tackle.

In the meantime a former Army teammate had returned to Cornell and told Coach Ed McKeever about Wydo.

On the way to Ithaca, NY, Wydo stopped off at Columbia to visit Donelli. Once Lions Coach Lou Little got a look at Wydo they tried to get him to stay, but at the urging of his Army buddy he went up to Cornell.

At Cornell Coach McKeever gave Wydo the grand tour, he turned on the charm and later told the story of Wydo's recruiting visit.

"We sat at the kitchen table in my home," McKeever said. "We talked football and I got a bottle of beer. Wydo picked up the beer bottle cap and calmly twisted it out of shape with two fingers. I noticed his mind was wandering and I talked as never before and an hour later Wydo agreed to enroll at Cornell."

Wydo played two years for the Big Red on squads that posted records of 5-4 in 1945 and 5-3-1 in 1946. Wydo was accorded third-team All America status in 1946 and was name first team All East in 1946. He was named to Cornell's All Time team in voting conducted in 2003.

Looking back at his college career Wydo singled out one highlight, the 12-0 upset of Columbia in 1946.

"I played for Donelli at Duquesne," Wydo said. "And knew Lou Little since I had been there a few days, I got quite a kick out of being on the winning side."

Wydo was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with their third pick in the 1947 draft.

He played for the Steelers from 1947 to 1951 and was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles and played there from 1952 to 1957. He garnered second team All Pro honors in 1953.

Wydo was sent to the Eagles by Steelers coach Joe Bach in exchange for quarterback John Rauch who never reported to the Steelers.

The Eagles finished second to the Cleveland Browns three-years running after Wydo arrived to take a spot on the offensive line.

"That might have been the best trade I ever made," Eagles Coach Jim Trimble would opine years later. "I didn't expect it to be initially. Wydo came to us, a team of superstars, and fitted in with all of them perfectly."

The Eagles were loaded with talent, players like: Chuck Bednarik, Bucko Kilroy, Pete Pihos, Tom Scott and Bobby Walston.

"I really didn't expect much from Wydo," Trimble recalled. "I never thought much of him as a defensive player. When I got him, I didn't know where I'd use him, but I gave him a shot at offense. He turned out to be a fine tackle, a great one at pass blocking."

When he left pro football Wydo returned to his roots in Fayette County. He was a longtime tax collector in German Township and in 1962 he became the head basketball coach at Father Kolb High School in Masontown, PA.

Even though football was his sport Wydo produced some very competitive basketball teams at the small Catholic school.

Wydo coached the Knights from 1962-63 to 1968-69. The school closed in June of 1970. He compiled a record of 80-65 in seven campaigns.

The high points for the Knights were 1962-63 went they went 16-6 and in the PCIAA playoffs defeated St. Mary's of McKee's Rocks and then lost to Greenville St. Michaels 72-63.

The 1965-66 season saw Father Kolb almost capture the PCIAA Class C championship. The Knights went 15-7, in the playoffs the downed St. Gregory of North East 84-64 to win the Western Title. They lost in the PCIAA Class C championship game 91-59 to Hazelton St. Gabriel. An interesting footnote is that St. Gabriel was coached by Richard "Digger" Phelps who was later the longtime coach at Notre Dame.

During the 1967-68 season the Knights posted a 12-7 record and lost in the playoffs to Titusville St. Joseph 81-77.

Wydo was inducted into Pittsburgh Sports Hall of Fame in 1976. He passed away at the age of 54 on February 17, 1979.


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