Air Force, California Have Football-Baseball Connections

By Bo Carter, www.armedforcesbowl.com

With college baseball season and Major League Baseball spring training less than three weeks away, it is worth a few minutes to take a look at the numerous football-baseball connections among Air Force and California coaches and student-athletes prior to the 13th annual Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Tuesday at 1 p.m. (CST) at TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium.

One of the obvious two-sport aficionados is California head coach Sonny Dykes, who played first base at Texas Tech from 1989-1993 while attending football practice almost daily when time permitted with his mentor/father and retired Tech head coach Spike Dykes. The younger Dykes also assisted at Red Raider summer football camps while studying at the knee of Texas Tech head baseball coach and College Baseball Foundation Hall of Fame member Larry Hays.

While Sonny Dykes was working his baseball-football connections, he has followed a line of stellar California Golden Bears student-athletes who starred in both sports.

NFF College Hall of Fame football standout Jackie Jensen is one of the prime members of this fraternity. Jensen was the first Cal running back to gain 1,000 yards in a season in 1948 and ended the 10-0 regular season with a 170-yard rushing afternoon against Stanford. Though the Golden Bears ended the year at 10-1 after falling to Northwestern 20-14 in the Rose Bowl, Jensen already had left his mark in the first NCAA Baseball World Series in 1947 when the Golden Bears downed Yale and 1B-future U.S. 41st President George H.W. Bush.

The San Francisco native later signed with the New York Yankees in summer 1949 and played for 12 seasons with 199 career home runs in the majors. He became the first standout in history to play in the Rose Bowl, NCAA Baseball World Series, MLB World Series, and the MLB All-Star Game.

Yet another two-sport favorite of the Bears was none other than Jerry Goff, father of California 2015 starting QB Jared Goff. Jerry Goff starred for the Cal diamond teams of 1984-1986 after his annual football duties and was drafted in the third round of the 1986 Major League Baseball draft by the Seattle Mariners before playing six years in the majors.  He concluded his career with the independent league Amarillo Dillas.

The Air Force baseball-football ledger is headed by two-sport All-America quarterback and current offensive coordinator Mike Thiessen.

Thiessen starred as Mountain West Player of the Year quarterback for the Falcons in 2000 and finished his 1998-2001 baseball career as an All-America selection and holder of 10 different school records, including a 33-year hitting streak.

Thiessen, who has been OC for the coordinators either as a soloist or in joint responsibilities for the last six seasons, starred in minor league baseball for two seasons while fulfilling his service obligations and joined the AFA assistant coaching staff in charge of receivers in 2007.

1993-1996 Air Force baseball standout Tom Coleman was a high school football star before playing the diamond sport for the Falcons, Coleman currently is a high school football coach and instructor after retiring from the Air Force as a C-141 command pilot.

Former Air Force assistant coaches and all-time quarterback standouts Beau and Blane Morgan learned football and baseball chores under their football coach and director of athletics Barry Morgan during your summer activity and have taken those dual-sport lessons into the coaching and business world. Beau Morgan even was on the 55-man roster and practice squads of the NFL Dallas Cowboys from 1997-2000.

All these multi-sport performers paved the way for many successful seasons in both endeavors at Air Force and California throughout their college and professional lives.