KENNEWICK -- One thing that Don Coryell, the former San Diego Chargers coach who died July 1 at age 85, was familiar with was halls of fame.
His contributions in winning football games and creating a passing offense that shaped the game was rewarded with his inclusion in a number of halls of fame.
As a successful coach at Whittier College and San Diego State, he was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.
His winning 104 games and a winning percentage of .840, records that still stand, earned him a niche in the San Diego State Aztec Hall of Fame.
For the recognition he brought his community, San Diego included him its Hall of Fame.
And for his role as defensive back during a career that spanned 1949-1951, he is in the Husky Hall of Fame at the University of Washington.
The latter, I'm sure, was a great source of satisfaction.
Those were the Huskies of Hugh McElhenny and quarterback Don Heinrich.
In 1950, they lost only one Pacific Coast Conference game, to Pappy Waldorf's California Golden Bears, the eventual Rose Bowl representative.
I remember listening to that game (before the days of television) and how a Cal linebacker, Les Richter, almost singlehandedly kept the Dawgs out of the Rose Bowl.
However, the one Coryell wanted most, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, eluded his grasp.
It was the old story of often a bridesmaid but never a bride.
When he was at San Diego State and going to three consecutive bowls, he had two future NFL Hall of Famers on his staff -- John Madden and Joe Gibbs.
Both have lauded their former boss and lobbied for his inclusion among the NFL's elite.
Madden, in his Hall induction speech, attributed a large measure of his success to Coryell.
"He was a great coach," Madden said. "I'm sure that someday he will be here."
Gibbs, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the Washington Redskins, described Coryell as extremely creative, having fostered things that are still in today's game, and with having a huge impact on today's coaches.
He was the youngest coach -- and the first -- to win 100 games in college and the pros.
While Coryell didn't make it to any Super Bowls, he won 111 games in 14 years, including five division titles, and led the league in passing offense a record six times.
His offense was first referred to as the West Coast offense.
However, in a story in Sports Illustrated, Bill Walsh's 49er offense was erroneously labeled the West Coast offense -- and it stuck.
Thereafter, Coryell's passing game was called Air Coryell.
With a strong-armed quarterback out of Oregon, Dan Fouts, pulling the trigger, Air Coryell led the league in passing six years.
Upon learning of his mentor's demise, Fouts said, "He influenced offensive and defensive football because if you were going to have three or four receivers out there, you better have an answer for it on the other side of the ball. If it wasn't for Don, I wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame."
The only time I had any contact with him was in the mid-1970s.
The Seattle Seahawks, then the youngest team in the league, hosted a seminar in Seattle.
All the coaches in the division were on hand and I was assigned to a group that included Dan Reeves, the newly appointed Denver Broncos coach, Marv Levy of Kansas City, and the San Diego Chargers' Coryell.
Coryell reminded me of a quip by former WSU basketball coach George Raveling, who said of Ralph Miller -- the late, great Oregon State University men's basketball coach.
Raveling claimed Miller's face had been the inspiration for the whiskey sour.
Actually, Miller was a very interesting person to talk to.
However, I had the impression -- from TV coverage of games -- that Coryell was a grump.
It couldn't have been further from the truth.
Coryell didn't make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he left a huge legacy.
* Hec Hancock is a retired sports editor who occasionally writes columns for the Herald. Look for him on Facebook.