Kent McCloughan was part of two rebuilding jobs as an athlete, first with Nebraska and then with the Oakland Raiders.
The World-Herald’s 1961 high school athlete of the year helped new Husker coach Bob Devaney turn things around in Lincoln. Then, in McCloughan’s third pro season with Oakland, the Raiders went to Super Bowl II.
“We kind of turned things around in both situations, which was very satisfying,” said McCloughan, who worked as a scout for the Raiders after his playing career. He retired in 2012 after 39 years with the team in scouting and player development.
“Things went a long ways from my first year at Nebraska (3-6-1 in 1961 under Bill Jennings). We should have been undefeated in 1963. We had just one bad game, against Air Force. In 1964, we lost a lot of good, experienced players, but we had a good chemistry.”
McCloughan, an All-Big Eight defensive back in 1964 and a two-time All-Pro in the American Football League during his six years with the Raiders, was no stranger to success.
He was All-Nebraska in football in 1959 and 1960 at Broken Bow, won three gold medals in the 100-yard dash and set the 220-yard state record of 21.4 seconds in 1961. The record stood for 51 years until Papillion-La Vista’s Kenzo Cotton broke it with a 21.31 in 2012.
McCloughan’s wife would occasionally check with relatives who still lived in Nebraska to see if the record had been broken, but he was glad to see someone finally top his time.
“I couldn’t believe that record kept sticking around,” McCloughan told the World-Herald in 2012.
During his time with the Raiders, McCloughan and fellow defensive back Willie Brown popularized bump-and-run coverage to disrupt a receiver’s route. The technique was so effective that in 1978 the NFL changed its rules on when defensive backs can make contact with receivers.
But his biggest success, McCloughan said, came off the field.
“My most important job was raising a family with my wife, Elnora,” McCloughan said. “That has brought us the most happiness.”
Played for: Broken Bow High, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Oakland Raiders
Best athlete from Nebraska played with or against: Our quarterback, Dennis Claridge, was a special person who helped turn things around at Nebraska. Gale Sayers would have to be the best athlete I competed against in college.''
Best moment as an athlete: There were several. "At Nebraska, you had to look at how successful our teams were from 1962 through 1964. No one expected our 1964 team to be as good as it was because we lost so many great players from 1963, so that was a special year on a team that had good chemistry and a real passion for games and practices. A lot of good friendships were begun. Certainly, playing in the Super Bowl was a big thing.''
Early sign of greatness: Coming from a town of 2,500 people, he earned playing time at Nebraska as a freshman. Earlier, he placed in the state track meet as a freshman and his team won the state track meet three years in a row.
McCloughan was No. 35 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »