I was going to write a light-hearted recap of some of the best sports has to offer for the week, but when I learned of the deaths of two coaching greats, I knew this post would begin with a much somber tone.
RIP Skip Prosser
On Thursday, after completing a jog, Skip Prosser, basketball coach of the Wake Forest Demon Decons, was found slumped against his desk and was unresponsive to CPR. Wake Forest has grown to be one of the most recognizable college basketball teams in the country, the firery-haired coach on the sidelines was the main reason why. Prosser coached at Wake Forest two dynamic players close to a decade apart in Tim Duncan (arguably the best player in the NBA) as well as Chris Paul (arguably the best young point guard), and in the process elevated the Demon Deacons to their first ever No. 1 ranking. He is the only coach to take three seperate schools to the NCAA tournament his first year as coach, as his teams made the postseason in 18 of 21 years of coaching.
TP’ing for Skip – Students pay homage to their coach in the Quad
But most of all as I watched him the last several years he seemed like a good guy who players liked to play for. His coaching roots were in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he coached the high school team to a state championship in 1982 and five regional championships. Although he would go on to be the winningest coach in Xavier history, and succeed in securing Loyola’s only NCAA tournament berth, he has remarked that he would be just as content with his career had he remained as a coach back in West Virginia at Central Catholic High. For the upcoming basketball season he had a top five recruiting class coming in, and the future for Wake Forest looked especially bight. I am sure the tradition will continue, but it pains me to see such a great man and coach leave so early.
RIP Bill Walsh
We lost another great coach in Bill Walsh, architect of the 49’ers dynasty and arguably the greatest offensive football mind the NFL has ever seen. Bill Walsh, 75, had been battling with leukemia before passing away Monday afternoon. One cannot overstate the importance this man had to the game of football. He had a rocky start coaching in the NFL, almost deciding at one point to quit being a coach for a front office job, but would return and lead the 49’ers to three Super Bowl wins in only 10 years of coaching. He had an eye for talent, drafting Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott, and acquiring Steve Young, a hometown hero of mine who was given his opportunity thanks to Walsh’s belief in his potential. He was a man who believed football was a mental game, that was won with preparation in the film room and confidence in teammates, and he put his players in positions to succeed. The elements of the West Coast offense he designed is used by all NFL teams today. In fact, looking at the coaching tree below, it is easy too see why he his influence has permeated the lead long after he has left it:
(click to enlarge)
He was more than a great coach though, he helped shape the league to what it is today. He was one of the loudest voices for diversifying the coaching ranks, starting a minority fellowship program to speed the development of black coaches by bringing them to training camps. It is perhaps only fitting that the last Super Bowl he watched pitted for the first time two African-American coaches against each other, one a former player of his in Dungy and the other a product of his coaching lineage. Steve Young remarked today that no man has done more for the game in the past 25 years, and there is little doubt that he will long be remembered.
In other sad (and shocking) football related news, it appears as if officials are considering the possibility that Pat Tillman was murdered by his own comrades less than 10 yards away, and did not die from enemy fire (as the Army orignally claimed) or from friendly fire (as the subsequent investigation initially concluded). Pat Tillman gained instant notariety and respect when he left the Arizona Cardinals at the peak of his NFL career to go be an Army Ranger in Afgahnistan and Iraq following 9/11, only to be killed and then have his death be lied over and manipulated as a recruiting stunt by the Army. Although his mother was able to reveal a coverup at the highest levels of government regarding his death, the chance that his death was deliberate at the hands of his own men provides even more detail that casts an undeserved shadow over his sacrifice. Read the article here.
Now on to the good stuff.
Let me first say it has been a rough week for sports – Mike Vick is indicted, the leaders of the Tour de France have been removed for doping (and the winner accused), the contoversy over Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record continues to unfold, and the NBA is dealing with a betting scandal of massive proportions.
So here is a bright story to kick things off: the Iraqi soccer team was victorious in its biggest tournament, the Asian Cup. This is a country who could use the distraction and any sort of unity, and one can only hope that this success will be sign of better things to come.
In Hoya world, Roy Hibbert struggled to get his game on at the Pan American games, no thanks to Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, who shot an abysmal 8 for 37 (4-19 from 3), along with eight assists and 15 turnovers. It will be interesting to see if Roy Hibbert will benefit form his experience with international play, but it is disheartening to see USA not even win a single game. Article here.
Switching to American football, check out this article on the image of an NFL franchise, which takes a look at the the beleagured Atlanta Falcons and what a good role model should be.
In other football breaking news, it looks like Reggie Bush really likes grilles on his cars – check out his customized Mercedes ride:
And guess who also likes to pimp his ride?
If Barry Bonds were a dog, this is what he would look like:
Check out this trick football play…those kids know what they are doing:
Don’t believe it? One team once won their state championship on the same play:
Finally, here are some quality video clips, showing that other side of sports: