Jack Lengyel’s wife Sandy Lengyel knows he’s not Matthew McConaughey. She still loves the guy. Jack himself has talked about how he won an ugly contest in college while he attended the University of Akron. Hey, Hollywood’s got a glut of pretty people and they’ve got to use them, okay? These inspirational sports movies are kinda’ doozies like that. What a story though- an entire football team wiped out in a tragic plane crash. It’s got the sadness factor built-in and cranked up right off the bat. Back in 1970, Jack Lengyel was coach of a college I almost attended called the College of Wooster, and he went 8-1. So he took the job as head coach of Marshall. He was married to Sandy back then too.
A few very minor details that are added in the movie that didn’t exist the same way in real life included 1) the final play the team ran not being the same 2) McConnaughey’s version of Jack on the sideline is way more animated than he actually was and 3) Jack would never wear the plaid coat McConnaughey’s Lengyel wears. In fact, Jack Lengyel’s wife Sandy would not allow him to wear such a thing, he’s said in interviews. We all know how that goes. The point, I guess, is that he was quite happy about how the story of Marshall University was told (it’s not just about Mr. Lengyel, after all).
Jack and Sandy raised three children. As with most football coaches and their wives, Jack was rarely around when he was coaching since he was so busy. Jack Lengyel’s wife Sandy didn’t complain about a thing, he has said. They now live in a town outside of Phoenix, Arizona. They still hold a special connection to the town of Huntington, where Marshall University is located. Jack goes back fairly frequently to the annual memorial to the team that was lost. I wonder what Sandy thinks of that chick Kim Paisley playing her in the movie? It must be nice to see the Hollywood version of yourself!