Johnny Holliday: Legendary Terps QB Jack Scarbath Was ‘Down-To-Earth, Regular Guy’

Maryland play-by-play announcer Johnny Holliday was upset to hear that legendary Maryland quarterback Jack Scarbath passed away Dec. 6 at the age of 90, but Holliday will always remember Scarbath fondly after following him as a fan, working with him in the booth and, most importantly, being close friends with him.

Scarbath, a graduate of Poly, played quarterback for the University of Maryland from 1950-1952, and he had many great accomplishments during his time in College Park, Md. Scarbath led his team to a 28-13 win against Associated Press national champ Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl to close out the 1951 season, and he was a first-team All-America pick and the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1952. Scarbath went on to become the No. 3 pick of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.

Holliday played quarterback at North Miami High School and became a big fan of Scarbath at the time after watching him against Miami at the Orange Bowl. Holliday was impressed by the raw talent and ability Scarbath displayed at Maryland, which is what sparked their friendship later on.

“The thing that impressed me about him, even when watching as a kid, was how loose and how flexible he was running the offense, throwing the football,” Holliday said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 8. “He didn’t throw many passes, but he’s listed among the top passers in Maryland quarterback history for [completion percentage].”

The first time Holliday and Scarbath met, the two discussed their style of play at the quarterback position — both had run the Split-T offense — as well as their passion for the game and drive to win.

Holliday thoroughly enjoyed working with Scarbath as an analyst later on. When Holliday presented Scarbath an opportunity to work as an analyst for Maryland football games in the early 1980s, Scarbath took the position immediately.

“I had been playing golf with him a lot. He was involved with the Maryland Terrapin Club and the M Club and very, very much involved in the athletic program. He was on the Board of Regents as well at the University of Maryland,” Holliday said. “… When an opening came for an analyst I told our station, ‘Hey, there’s a guy I play golf with that’s a pretty good name at Maryland, Jack Scarbath. You think he’d like to do it?’ And Jack jumped at the chance.”

Holliday said that Scarbath was a pleasure to work with and was good at his job. The two spent a lot of time with one another, in and out of work, throughout the years. Holliday said once you got to know Scarbath, you came to know him as a great man.

“He was a good analyst. He was really good because he came at it from a player’s perspective, a former professional player’s perspective and a coach’s perspective because he coached down at South Carolina as well,” Holliday said. “… It was so nice to have a friend up there in the booth with me. And we would go on vacations together. We would go to Florida together. Our families would be together, and I was just always taken aback by him being such an enormous name, legendary name at the University of Maryland, but still just a down-to-earth, regular guy.”

Holliday brought light to all the great memories the two had throughout their time as friends. He still thinks to this day that Scarbath is one of the greatest Maryland football players of all time. Despite his short NFL career, Holliday said Scarbath is still one of the best Terps ever.

“I think the reason he didn’t make it in the pros — as big as everybody thought he was going to be — is that back in those days in the 50s, nobody ran the Split-T offense I don’t think in the NFL,” Holliday said, adding that, “I would probably say in his era there was no quarterback in the country that matched what he did [in college]. … For his time, and what he did, to me he was the greatest.”

For more from Holliday, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics