Thursday night was out Stars and Cars event at Mercedes-Benz of Sarasota. We raised money for the V Foundation and were thrilled to have Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay in attendance. He is a terrific young man. Also there were former Red Sox star Rico Petrocelli, former NFL player Willie Clark, ex-Big Ten stars Marcus Liberty and Jerod Ward. It was a special evening for a very good cause.
It has been a very tough week for college basketball.
First, the sport lost Dean Smith, the Michelangelo of coaching. We learned to admire and respect him for his accomplishments both on and off the court.
Now we have lost Jerry Tarkanian at age 84. Tark the Shark, who could ever forget him walking the sidelines with that towel in his mouth, chewing at it. Years ago, I labeled him as the Father Flanagan of coaching. If you were a young guy and had a problem, the call would be made to UNLV. Tarkanian would be able to get the most out of his players’ ability and talent.
Watching a practice session run by Tark was like being at a clinic. There was so much intensity, passion and emotion, especially on the defensive end. His players went at it full force, so the games turned out to be easier than those practices.
He was all about competing and get the most out of his people. Tarkanian had a great relationship with his players. Think about some of the names that dotted the Runnin’ Rebels roster: Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt and on and on.
When you talk to the athletes who wore that UNLV uniform and played under Tarkanian, you hear nothing but rave reviews. He was a lot more than just a basketball coach; he was a father figure, much like Smith was at North Carolina.
It is always special to walk into Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke. The fans down there treat me like royalty. It is also a pleasure to watch the Blue Devils in ACC play. Duke had had a battle but got to the winner’s circle against a Georgia Tech team that has come so close so many times but is 1-9 in the conference.
It was another milestone night for Coach K. He earned his 423rd ACC victory (regular season and conference tournament combined), passing the Michelangelo of coaching, North Carolina’s Dean Smith, as the winningest coach in league history.
Mike Krzyzewski loves making history at Madison Square Garden. He won his 903rd game there, passing Bobby Knight on the all-time win list back on November 15, 2011. Then on Sunday, he got win number 1,000 when his Blue Devils rallied to beat St. John’s.
Duke was down 10 with just over 8 1/2 minutes left. Coach K made some adjustments. Marshall Plumlee came in and helped. Quinn Cook and Tyus Jones made several crucial shots and the Blue Devils got to the winner’s circle.
I will repeat what I have said on TV. Mike Krzyzewski is the best coach in any sport. I rank them: 1-Coach K; 2-Gregg Popovich of the Spurs; 3-Bill Belichick of the Patriots; 4-Geno Auriemma of Connecticut women’s basketball and 5-Nick Savan of Alabama football.
Big Blue Nation was smiling after Saturday afternoon’s latest W. Kentucky moved to 19-0 by winning at South Carolina. Again it was defense, defense, defense, holding an 11th opponent to 50 points or fewer.
The Wildcats also got solid play from Devin Booker and Tyler Ulis off the bench. These guards could start at 99 percent of colleges in America, and they were super against the Gamecocks. Kentucky once again was able to get plenty of points on second chance opportunities, dominating the offensive glass.
South Carolina tried to get back in the game during the second half but could not get the deficit to single digits despite several opportunities. It was a great environment down in Columbia and a good win for the ‘Cats, especially after losing there last season.
Tuesday night I had the opputunity to be the Keynote Speaker for Bridgestone Tires big sales convention at the Don Cesar Resort in St Pete, Fl. I really appreciated the kindness and hospitality from all the people at Bridgestone and the amazing audience. They are #1 in the entire business and it was a pleasure speaking before them. I had chance to share a moment with President, John Paragga who has a great story. He started selling tires and worked his way up to President of this super successful company . I also cant thank Mellisa Togh for sharing her time with me and giving me background on the event. She did a great job as host and made my visit great. This event was great and Bridgestone is awesome with a Capital A!
I enjoyed my two days in Louisville. It started with a book signing, followed by a great Italian dinner at Vincenzo’s.
The main course was two Hall of Fame coaches, Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino, going at it. The Dukies were coming off a two-game losing streak, falling to NC State and Miami. Defense had been a problem in those two defeats, but the Blue Devils got to the winner’s circle on Saturday because they went to zone, forcing the Cardinals to try to shoot from outside.
It was struggle city for Louisville. Jahlil Okafor and company led by 21 points in the second half en route to the W! Coach K playing zone, wow it was like Jim Boeheim out there, baby! But it worked to perfection.
Buckeye nation was the toast of the college football world. Congrats to Urban Meyer and his team on a great performance against Oregon.
Ohio State’s Cardale Jones was playing in just his third game at QB, and he showed poise.
The Buckeye defense did a great job against Marcus Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner. Ezekiel Elliott was unstoppable carrying the ball for the Buckeyes. My friends, mark my words. Elliott will be the frontrunner for next season’s Heisman after recording back-to-back 200+ yard performances vs. Alabama and Oregon.
Meyer is a class act. I remember when my son-in-law Thomas played at Notre Dane, and Meyer was a member of the Irish staff. Thomas told me the he was a special coach. He has three national championships now to prove it.