Manch Wheeler, a former University of Maine quarterback who led the Black Bears to one of their greatest seasons before reaching the American Football League with the Buffalo Bills, has died, the school announced Monday. He was 79.

“Manch was a tremendous player and ambassador to our football family,” Black Bears Coach Joe Harasymiak said in the announcement. “His presence at Alfond Stadium will be sorely missed.”

Wheeler, who was born in Augusta and grew up in Manchester, was a standout at Orono, earning an all-conference selection in 1961. He led the team in interceptions in 1960 and ’61, was second on the team in scoring in ’60 and third in rushing in ’61.

But it was throwing the ball where he set himself apart. Wheeler led the Black Bears in passing from 1959-61 and guided Maine to an 8-0-1 record in his final season, the program’s last undefeated team. The Black Bears also won the Yankee Conference that fall with a 5-0 league mark.

The performance and Wheeler’s powerful throwing arm got the attention of the Bills, who signed Wheeler as a free agent in 1962 and kept him on board as a member of a quarterback corps that included two-time All-Pro Jack Kemp. Wheeler played one season in Buffalo, appearing in four games and rushing three times for 7 yards.

The journey was enough to get Wheeler inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.

“It was a good experience,” Wheeler said then of his pro football career. “Football was always a vehicle to get to know people. Playing was fun but it was the people – the coaches and players – that was what it was all about.”

ZACH SMITH, the former Ohio State assistant coach who was fired last month after a history of domestic violence allegations became public, was arrested for suspected drunken driving in 2013 but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Documents obtained by The Blade in Toledo showed that Smith was stopped for speeding in Dublin, Ohio, north of Columbus, in the early hours of Feb. 23, 2013. He was arrested after failing a field sobriety test and declining to take a blood-alcohol test.

In April 2013, Smith pleaded guilty to an amended charge of failure to control and paid a $375 fine.

It’s not clear whether the misdemeanor was reported to the university. Smith’s lawyer declined to comment, and Ohio State didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Smith was fired July 23. The university is investigating Coach Urban Meyer’s handling of the domestic abuse allegations against Smith. Smith has never been criminally charged.

NEBRASKA: Police arrested two more people in connection with a burglary at the home of Coach Scott Frost.

Lincoln, Nebraska, police said a 20-year-old man was taken into custody Saturday and a 16-year-old boy was arrested Wednesday. A 17-year-old girl also was arrested last week.

CONNECTICUT: The school postponed plans to put a club for season-ticket holders inside its football stadium because it would have displaced a memorial statue to a slain player, Jasper Howard.

Howard, a defensive back, was stabbed to death during an altercation on campus in October 2009, hours after starring in a homecoming win over Louisville.

COLORADO STATE: Coach Mike Bobo was hospitalized to undergo a medical evaluation after experiencing numbness in his feet.

Bobo said in a statement that he’s “very encouraged by the test results to this point and hope to have some answers soon.” But he gave no indication about how long he might be away from football.

His coaching staff is running practices in his absence.

Bobo, 44, is 21-18 in three seasons at Colorado State and has taken the Rams to bowl games all three years. Bobo arrived at Colorado State from Georgia, where he was a quarterback for the Bulldogs and later their offensive coordinator.


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