WKU figures Crennel, Asher, Casey among Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame 2021 inductees

Wyatt Sparkman, Football Reporter

The Louisville Sports Commission announced on Thursday that five-time Super Bowl champion Romeo Crennel, NBA champion Dwane Casey, and the late play-by-play announcer John Asher are to be inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2021. All three honorees have strong ties to Western Kentucky University.

Crennel, a member of the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni and the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame, was a four-year starter for the WKU football team from 1966-1969 and team captain his senior season. He went straight into coaching after his final year on the Hill. He was an assistant defensive coach for the Hilltoppers for five seasons before making the jump to Division I in 1975. 

Credit: Kansas City Chiefs

Crennel coached as a defensive assistant for 11 seasons at Texas Tech, Mississippi State and Georgia Tech before making the jump to the NFL in 1981 as the New York Giants’ special teams coordinator and defensive assistant. He won two Super Bowls with the Giants as special teams coordinator and defensive line coach. 

Crennel got his first defensive coordinating gig in 2000 with the Cleveland Browns under Bill Belichick. He moved with Belichick to the New England Patriots where he won three Super Bowls in four seasons, winning NFL Assistant Coach of the Year in 2003 before earning his first NFL head coaching opportunity with the Browns in 2005. 

Crennel coached the Browns to a winning record in 2007, the last winning season Cleveland would see until 2020. He was the head coach for three different franchises, accumulating a career record of 32-63. Crennel is now the Senior Advisor for Football Performance for the Houston Texans. 

Casey served as a WKU assistant basketball coach from 1981 to 1986 under Clem Haskins. He became an assistant at his alma mater, Kentucky, until 1989 before bouncing around smaller basketball leagues. His first NBA job was as an assistant coach for the Seattle SuperSonics. 

Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

After 11 years as an assistant in Seattle, Casey became the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He coached for a season and a half before becoming an assistant for the Dallas Mavericks in 2008. He won the 2011 NBA Championship with Dallas, upsetting the heavily favored Miami Heat. 

Casey got his second head coaching stint with the Toronto Raptors after the 2011 Finals. He served as their head coach for seven seasons, winning NBA Coach of the Year for the 2017-2018 season. He is now the head coach of the Detroit Pistons. 

Asher, a member of WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni, graduated from WKU in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is best known for his radio work that spanned three decades that included play-by-play announcing for horse racing, basketball, and baseball before Asher passed away at the age of 62 in August of 2018. 

Credit: Horsephotos

Asher was the play-by-play announcer for the Louisville Redbirds, the Latonia Racetrack and the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Boys Sweet Sixteen. He was an important public relations professional for 20 years in thoroughbred racing. He became the Vice President of Racing information at Churchill Downs.   

Asher earned seven Associated Press Large Market Reporter of the Year awards in Kentucky while accumulating five Thoroughbred Racing Eclipse awards. He also won the Scripps Howard National Headliner Award while working for WAVE and WHAS radio stations in the 80s and 90s in Louisville. 

Football reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @wyattsparkman3.