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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Coaching change

   October 1, 1985 -- Kay Stephenson probably never had much of a chance to be a successful coach of the Buffalo Bills.

   Stephenson (real first name: George) had a hard act to follow. Chuck Knox had built the Bills into a playoff team, but left after the 1982 season after Buffalo had lost its final three games to miss the playoffs. There was talk of morale problems on that team due to the strike of 1982.

   Stephenson, a former Bills' quarterback, took over and guided the Bills to an 8-8 season in his rookie. The breakeven mark turned into the high point of his career with the team. Buffalo went 2-14 in 1984, and then lost its first four games in 1985.

   That was enough for owner Ralph Wilson, who let Stephenson go on this day. Hank Bullough, the team's defensive coordinator at the time, was named as Stephenson's replacement. By the way, some of Stephenson's other assistants in his 2-plus years were Pete Carroll and Dick Jauron.

   The move didn't help; the Bills lost their first game under Bullough, 49-17, to the Colts, and finished the year 2-14.

   It took a while, but Stephenson wasn't quite done as a head coach. He led the Sacramento Surge to a championship of the World League of American Football in 1992, and also coached the San Antonio Texans and Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

--- Budd Bailey

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