Al Gluchoski, a starting center on West Virginia’s 1975 Peach Bowl team, has died.
Gluchoski, from Woodbridge, N.J., followed his older brother Adam to WVU and was a three-year regular for Hall of Fame coach Bobby Bowden in 1973, 1974 and 1975, earning all-East honors his senior season on Bowden’s team that defeated North Carolina State 13-10 in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
Former Mountaineer offensive tackle Dave Van Halanger recalled Gluchoski being one of the most popular players of that era.
“Al was a great person,” said Van Halanger, a former WVU and Florida State strength coach and now director of player welfare at the University of Georgia. “We were best friends – he was best friends with Tommy Bowden and Tom Florence and was just a great guy and a great leader.”
Van Halanger recalled Gluchoski once going head-to-head with Temple All-American nose guard Joe Klecko, who later became an all-pro defensive tackle with the New York Jets.
“His junior year we played Temple and they had the big nose guard Joe Klecko and I remember we’re in the locker room before the game and Al says, ‘Man, I’m just tired. I just feel so tired’ and I said ‘Yeah, well you better get going.’ We didn’t know how good Klecko was and that was the worst game Al played his junior year,” Van Halanger chuckled.
“Well, our senior year we open up with them and Klecko is still the nose guard and the whole summer that was all we talked about. We were preparing for Joe Klecko and Temple. Temple almost beat Penn State the game before us and Al went out there and just dominated Klecko. We had a great game and we won 50-7.
“And I remember after the game our junior year (Al) said, ‘Man, that guy just killed me. He was great.’ And (Klecko) really was.”
“I coached defense and he was on the other side of the ball, but he was a heck of a player and a real tough kid,” recalled former linebackers coach Donnie Young.
Following his WVU playing career, Gluchoski spent a season on the practice squad with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1977 before briefly going into coaching and then working in the computer industry.
In 1980, Gluchoski attended Bible School and from there he moved to Sacramento, Calif., where he began his ministry. In 1987, Al Gluchoski Ministries was incorporated, enabling him to travel the country speaking at meetings, bible schools, churches and conferences.
“People really wanted Al to come to their church and come to their meetings because he did such a great job speaking,” said Van Halanger. “I know when I was at Florida State I had him come speak to our guys and when I was at West Virginia he came in and did the chapel for us when I was up there as the strength coach.”
In 1998, Gluchoski relocated to Ft. Worth, Texas, and most recently, he based his ministry work in Chester, Ill. Gluchoski authored the book Samson: Life Lessons From a Flawed Hero
, distributed a quarterly newsletter titled “Apples of Gold” and developed a website http://www.algministries.org
for his ministry.
Van Halanger said Gluchoski was very proud of his Mountaineer heritage and frequently spoke about playing for one of college football’s all-time great coaches in Bowden.
“He loved being a Mountaineer. That was something big for him. That was in him – he was a West Virginia Mountaineer,” said Van Halanger. “He would always watch them any chance he got and would tell me, hey, I’m watching the ‘Eers tonight. He was involved with the teams I was with, either Florida State or Georgia, so he always wanted us to win also.
“He didn’t know what to do when Georgia played West Virginia (in the 2006 Sugar Bowl in Atlanta), but he was a Mountaineer to heart,” Van Halanger said.
Gluchoski, 58, died Dec. 16 in Chester, Ill. He is survived by his wife Lorraine and daughters Tiffany and Victoria.
Mountaineer fans can post their condolences here: http://www.legacy.com/guestbooks/thesouthern/guestbook.aspx?n=allen-gluchoski&pid=161802405&cid=full