Coaches open up about connections to 9/11

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Today is the 17th anniversary of 9/11, and for the first time, two different head coaches have spoken publicly about how close they were to boarding one of the flights out of Boston’s Logan Airport that ended up in disaster.

As detailed in this story in The Athletic, Providence head coach Ed Cooley was supposed to be on American Airlines, Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. that morning. Then an assistant coach at Boston College, he was going to fly out to Los Angeles to pay a visit to Brandon Bowman, but Bowman had opted to commit to Georgetown a couple of weeks earlier. Cooley no longer needed to be in LA, so he no longer needed to be on that flight.

Ironically enough, it was former Georgetown head coach John Thompson Jr. that had managed to get Bowman to commit to the Hoyas, and Thompson had his own brush with 9/11. He was initially scheduled to be on American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles in order to get be on the set on Jim Rome’s Show, but that appearance had been bumped back a day.

Notre Dame’s women’s coach, Muffet McGraw, was scheduled to be on one of the flight’s out of Boston as well. She had just finished up a recruiting visit with a player in Providence, and her assistant managed to convince her to fly out of Providence instead of Boston even if it would cost her being on a direct flight to California.

She shared the story for the first time on Notre Dame’s official athletic site, including this harrowing detail: Her husband did not know that she had changed her flight. He believed she was on American Airlines Flight 175 out of Logan, the second place to hit the World Trade Center. Coincidentally, Mike Brey was trying to board a flight in the Providence airport that same morning, that the trio — McGraw, Brey and women’s assistant Kevin McGuff — made the 15 hour drive from Rhode Island to South Bend in a rental car.