Sports

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m NOT Gay… but my brother was.

February 10th, 2014 at 3:09 pm by under Community, Health, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports, Uncategorized

Michael ROBERTS died in 1985… of AIDS. When he finally “came out of the closet” he went straight to a hospital bed. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ravaged his body. At peak health he stood six feet three, two hundred twenty five pounds. At death, I could’ve carried him in one arm while holding a stack of his lesson plans in the other. The only things that terrified this former middle school teacher -as much as the disease’s death sentence- were having to tell our parents he was ill- and why.

Michael also worried about another thing… the world finding out about his illness through the efforts of a persistent reporter. Consider the times: In ’85,  the average Joe and Jane  were terrified of being in the SAME ROOM with someone who was gay. Homosexual black males were at high risk of contracting AIDS and HIV, then. And, too many people thought they could “catch it” if an infected person just breathed on you.  So, a teacher, with AIDS, and charged with caring for 30 rambunctious kids all day? That would have been BREAKING NEWS. Thankfully, my big bro’s “story” never made the headlines.

Michael Sam_image Michael Sam -3 nfl_mortscheft_sam

 

 

 

 

Fast forward 30 years to 2014… another MICHAEL, (about the same SIZE as my brother) is proudly telling the world he is gay. Michael Sam  made an ANNOUNCEMENT on ESPN. My, My, My, how times have changed. SAM, a star defensive end at UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, thus could become the first openly gay  player in the NFL. Now, I’m as guilty as the next man of selective amnesia – my initial reaction to SAM’S interview with ESPN was- “Why do you have to make an announcement? Your sexual preferences are your business! Just do your talking on the field!” Up to this point, there are no “known” homosexual players in the NFL. Guys have said they suspect there are some on each team, but with hyper aggressive players like Ritchie Incognito running roughshod over locker rooms, it’s no surprise no one dares speak up.

KATIE COLLETT heard me thinking out loud this a-m and offered a timely perspective- that may or may not have been SAM’S’ thinking. She said she, too, has a gay relative. And that relative endured some stressful times due to lack of acceptance in the broader, heterosexual community. But, here’s where she hit the nail on the head. She said – maybe MICHAEL SAM “came out” so the next kid won’t have to… He, or she, can just “be.”

I immediately thought of the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his roommate posted video of him in a sexual act with his male partner. Gay student Tyler Clementi _190-articleInline-v2

Tyler Clementi  told his parents he was gay, just days before heading off to college.

Michael SAM will soon be graduating, I imagine, with his head held high, and fully capable of “taking off” anyone else’s head who wants to give him some grief over being gay. Good luck in the draft, the locker room, the field, and life.

Michael ROBERTS hated football. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he looked down from the heavenly grandstand to applaud a good hit.


Ref lose control of Old Dominion vs UTEP game

February 9th, 2014 at 12:48 am by under News, Sports, Uncategorized

Players have bad games, coaches have bad games and they are always held accountable by both the fans and the media. Win or lose after the game they meet the press sometimes with a smile, sometimes with their heads hung low.

Referees and officials also at times have bad games, not very often in my opinion, but every once in a while it happens and since they are such a big part of the contest they too have to be held accountable.

So let me say basketball officials Tim Gattis, Greg Rennegarbe and Brent Dugas had a bad night in Norfolk, Virginia tonight.

Gattis, Rennegarbe and Dugas refereed the Old Dominion game against UTEP. It ended as expected with the USA Conference leading Minors blowing out the home team 63-49. Coach Tim Floyd’s team is big, athletic and deep. Even without the three players kicked off the team last month after gambling allegations forced the school to report the alleged infractions to the FBI, UTEP is good. Old Dominion is in a rebuilding year and began the game with a surprising 5-3 conference record.

Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones has done a wonderful job in just a few months remaking what had been a decimated team. Jones a former player and head coach at the University of Virginia was a fiery competitor in his younger years, but transformed into a more mature and calculating teacher after a dozen years at American University in Washington, D.C. If I were to guess, I would say he was worth maybe one technical a year.

Jones got his annual “T” just two minutes into tonight’s game.

Gattis, Rennegarbe and Dugas had to be out of breath after this one. They called 52 personal fouls, three technical fouls and a flagrant foul. The calls pretty much evened out on both sides. Although UTEP was clearly the better team, causing ODU to play sloppy basketball, it was also evident the officials called a sloppy game. Gattis has been calling NCAA contests since 1996, he has several NCAA tournament appearances under his belt, so he is no rookie. Rennegarbe and Dugas are veterans too, and normally come and go where nobody knows their name.

Not tonight.

I have been covering Old Dominion basketball for 39 years. I have never seen a fan being escorted out of game by police for yelling at an official, until tonight. One was tossed by a referee, and I am not sure what was said. The second was thrown out by an Old Dominion police officer sitting behind the UTEP bench. Not sure what was said there either, or why the officer took it upon his or her self to make that call. Perhaps a re-evaluation of ODU’s “throwing fans out of the building procedure” might be in order.

The bottom line is, the game was out of control from the opening minutes. And it is the responsibility of the referees to not let that happen. We may never know why. Coach Jones knew that with one technical already under his belt a second would most likely lead to a suspension meaning he would not be able to accompany his young team on its road trip to North Texas next week. All he could do was spend the entire game standing in front of his bench with his arms folded and his mouth shut while he glared at the officials.

When players mess up, they are called out and sometimes benched. When coaches mess up they face the music as well. Tonight, Tim Gattis, Greg Rennegarbe and Brent Dugas called one of the worst game I’ve ever seen. They would not face the media like players and coaches do win or lose after every game to explain what happened. Company policy I am sure.

But, like at least two angry fans, they too had to be escorted out of the building by the police. Something that is not supposed to happen on a Saturday night at a Conference USA basketball game.


Olympics Eve

February 6th, 2014 at 11:42 pm by under Sports, Uncategorized

All in for day one.

230 Americans spread across all 15 disciplines have gathered in Sochi Russia for tomorrow’s Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics.

What is supposed to be a joyous occasion tomorrow night could end up being compared to the opening scene of a Tolstoy tragedy?

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 51-billion dollar Winter Olympics, are set to go down as one of the most uninviting and stressful in the history of the games.

Unfinished buildings, un-happy citizens, un-comfortable security and the stress of terrorist attacks is not usually what one expects to find at what is supposed to be the one of the world’s most celebrated athletic events.

As far as the action on this opening day, the United States is in a three way tie for 5th place midway through the first phase of the team figure-skating event.

The top four right now, Russia, Canada, China and Japan, the team event will not be held tomorrow due to the Opening Ceremony.
Aaron Bacote scored 22 points to lead Old Dominion past Texas-San Antonio 69-61 Thursday night.

Old Dominion scored 14 straight points, including six from Bacote and five from Keenan Palmore, early in the second half to open up a 39-27 lead with just more than 16 minutes to play.

A 3-pointer by Jordan Sims with 12:08 to play pulled UTSA (7-14, 3-5 Conference USA) within eight, but the Monarchs responded with an 8-0 run, sparked by back-to-back 3s from Jordan Baker, which extended the ODU lead to 55-39 about 3 1/2 minutes later.

A 13-4 spurt by the Roadrunners pulled them within seven with, 61-54, with 3:02 remaining, but ODU (11-12, 5-3) made 9 of 12 free throws the rest of the way to seal the victory.

Palmore scored 16 points and Baker added 13 in the win.

The Admirals return to Scope tomorrow night for a two game weekend set against the top affiliate of the New York Rangers, the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Norfolk will be without the services of 21 year old Emerson Etem.

He returns to the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL after posting 11 goals and 17 assists in 25 games for the Admirals.

While Etem gets the call to Anaheim, the Ducks sent 31 year old veteran Dave Steckel back to Norfolk.

Steckel has 425 career NHL games under his belt and has a reputation as one of the top face off specialists in hockey.

Pirate’s hall of fame slugger Ralph Kiner who went onto an equally distinguished 40 year broadcasting career with the Mets died today.

Kiner was one of New York’s most beloved sports figures, broadcasting Mets games from 1962 until 2006. He was known to rub elbows with stars like Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope and romanced leading ladies such as Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh.

Ralph Kiner was 91 years old.


Frank Beamer Reflects

December 20th, 2013 at 10:07 pm by under Personalities, Sports

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is preparing his Hokies for a Sun Bowl game against UCLA.

Coach Beamer is 67 years old; it was 27 years ago when he, like Coach Maynor, was brought in to turn a struggling football team around.

And boy did he, he is the winningest active coach in college football, and makes millions of dollars a year.

But in just these past few weeks he has seen two of his closest coaching friends, Mack Brown at Texas and Jim Grobe at Wake Forest give up their jobs after what some may call disappointing seasons.

Which gives even a guy like Coach Beamer, a chance to reflect.

“It just kind of reminds you that nothing’s certain about this business,” he said. “But I’m very sensitive to staying around too long. I’m very appreciative of Virginia Tech, and they stuck with me when things weren’t good, stuck with me longer than most people would, and that probably won’t happen again. It’s a performance business. I fully understand that,

Over the past few months, two of Coach Beamer’s biggest supporters, longtime school president Charles Steger and athletic director Jim Weaver announced their retirements.

The new AD is expected to be hired sometime in February.


New Coach at Hampton University

December 20th, 2013 at 10:06 pm by under Personalities, Sports, Uncategorized

It’s no secret; some colleges in America are defined by their college football program.

Putting more and more pressure on coaches to win, year in and year out.

Those that don’t often are shown the door.

As was the case at Hampton University Monday night.

After two 4 and 8 seasons, Hampton University officials today made a major coaching change, firing head coach Donovan Rose and replacing him with up-and comer Connell Maynor from Winston Salem State.

Rose has coached the Pirates for 23 years, 18 as an assistant and five as head coach.

His teams struggled the past couple of seasons, and it is really no surprised he was sitting on that “hot seat” this winter.

He was reportedly told of his firing last night.
Connell May-nor on the other hand took a 1 and 10 program at Winston Salem and turned the Rams into champions.

The Rams made the NC-double A division 2 playoffs three years in a row, and played for the NCAA championship two years ago.

Maynor’s team is the two time defending CI-double A champs, and have won 24 conference games in a row.

Now he feels he’s ready to step up to division 1.
Maynor compiled a 45- and 6 record in four seasons, the best four-year period in the history of Winston Salem football.

He has the best winning percentage in program history and his 45 wins rank fourth all-time at the school.


Veterans: Good and Plenty

November 7th, 2013 at 3:29 pm by under Military, News, Personalities, Politics, Sports

6 was good enough for Matthew Plenty. That’s how many children this AIR FORCE veteran had between wives’ one, and two. And he also loved his COWBOYS! That always made for some good conversation during the few times I visited his Newport News home. Mr. Plenty could talk some “smack” about WASHINGTON. After retiring from the AIR FORCE and settling into a civil service job at FORT EUSTIS, the PLENTYs’ welcomed my wife’s family by their East End homestead all the time. I recall first meeting him at our wedding in 1982! And although my wife stayed in touch with the kids, we hadn’t seen him much over the years- one of those friends you kinda knew was always there. Always. Until Monday. I vividly recall my wife’s reaction when she learned Mr. Plenty had died. She knew he was sick, in home hospice care. We planned to visit, tomorrow.. but LIFE got in the way. I hear he had some fascinating stories to tell about his military service. But now he’s takes those stories with him. TOMORROW now becomes TODAY. I’m finalizing plans, along with a colleague over at SUNTRUST BANK in downtown Norfolk, to talk to- actually, HONOR, some other VETERANS, who have some stories to tell. I personally know two of them. Mr JULIUS GREEN is the husband of my wife’s best friend, Rosalyn. Every now and then, “Roz” would drop a dime about Mr Green’s ARMY years, duty in Korea, Germany, Fort Eustis. Only after pressing for details did I learn that he was the Army’s first African American MASTER DIVER; or in other words, the Army’s version of CARL BRASHEAR.

He was the Army's CARL BRASHEAR

Army Master Diver

Poking around a little more, I learned Mr. Green attended Warrant Officer School with his neighbor, and another friend of mine, JOHN E. GRAGG… That’s Army Chief Warrant Officer 3, John Gragg. He went on to become the ARMY’s first African American BOAT CAPTAIN.

The Army's first African American boat captain

The Army’s first African American boat captain

Gragg says he was the captain of the big tug that helped pull this ARMY VESSEL OFF a sand bar in the James River in March of 1972. And, boy, does he have more stories to tell.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

CW3 John E. Gragg captains tug that helped free this stranded vessel in the James River, March, 1972.

Both plan to share them with us at a reception in their honor, 10 AM, FRIDAY, 09NOV13, at SUNTRUST BANK, 150 West Main Street, downtown Norfolk, 12th floor. Also being honored this day, a “young man” who earned 3 PURPLE HEARTS, the hard way. Retired Army Ranger William “Joey” Pocan. TOMORROW is TODAY…The time is now to say THANK YOU to these, and all outstanding veterans. I hope they’ll take a moment to tell us a story.


What I Should Be Telling You About The Boston Marathon…”On The Run”

April 16th, 2013 at 12:50 pm by under Sports

The Latest Running News and Notes in Hampton Roads – “On the Run” with Sportswrap Running Reporter, Jon “Flex’ Leiding

Even in Tragedy, We Have Friends "On The Run"

Even in Tragedy, We Have Friends “On The Run”

How To Describe Something Indescribable

Today I should be telling you how amazing the Boston Marathon is:  it’s history over the 117 years, some of the past winners I’ve been lucky enough to meet, and how great it was to watch the last few minutes of the race.  I should be telling you that I ran in 2009 and the feeling of joy racing down Boylston Street to the finish and setting my personal record on a historic course, making me feel like I belonged to the sport I enjoy and am somewhat successful. I should be telling you how proud we should be of our American Runners,  placing 4th and 6th place in BOTH the Men’s and Women’s Elites.

Kris Lawrence Making Strides "On The Run"

Kris Lawrence Making Strides “On The Run”

I should be telling you about how locally Kris Lawrence and Gina Slaby were so good on Patriot’s day that they finished in the Women’s Top 50, each running in the Two hour and Forty Something marks.  I should be telling you how envious I and thrilled we should be.  I should be telling you that Kris set her personal record yesterday and that we should be looking for more great things to come from these Ladies.

I should be saying how very exciting it is to run the Boston Marathon and giving “shout outs” to our local Running friends.  I should but, that all changed around 3pm yesterday.  I was handling some paperwork and my Mother calls.  “Are You Watching TV- it’s the Boston Marathon.  There was an explosion!”

Watching video after video had me thinking about all my running friends competing that day.  I watched video of the first blast showed Runners disoriented, even falling to the ground.  I saw someone pushing a stroller, like those used by several of the Fundraiser Charities racing to the side of the road for safety.  I looked the the time on the clock: Four Hours and Nine Minutes.  That’s one of the heavy traffic times through the finish for the Marathon.  From a numbers standpoint, more people are trying to break three and four hours than any other time.  I should be seeing Charity Fundraiser Runners at the finish.

My mind started to think about those who were there. I should have been writing about  John Adams, from Norfolk had run 3:10:45, even one of my friends, Thomas Hicks had run 3:14:03.  There was Brenda Kalin,  crossed the finish line Five minutes before the explosion.  First time Boston Marathoner, Trish Jones of Virginia Beach finished in 3:53:08, while her fiance’,  Bill Murray watched like others near the finish.  Our good friend, Sam Wittenberg and Jim Duffy had just finished a few minutes prior prior.  Virginia Beach resident, Lacey Baliet crossed the line in 4:09:34 .  As Chris Rupe was reveling in having finished his first Boston Marathon in 4:09, a loud blast roared behind him thirty seconds later.  He rushed toward the blast but EMTs directed him away to the medical tents.

Trish Jones at her First Boston Marathon

Trish Jones at the Boston Marathon

Over 9,000 Runners did not finish.  Susan Hagel, the Tidewater Striders Female 2012 Champion and John Price were 3/4 of a mile away, along with famed Boston Marathon Champ and writer for Runners World Magazine, Amby Burfoot.  I remembered David Mick and Dennis Welch, running with Michael Davis from Team Hoyt, all unable to finish amidst the chaos.  As Runners , we train to keep going.  Monday, the finish line had become a crime scene.  I should be writing about how inspirational all these runners are regardless of where they finish.  I should

Instead, I’m writing about how Runners turned to heroes.  After hearing of the tragedy, Runners went to the Red Cross to offer blood to help.  I’m writing about fans who lined the streets to cheer on their champions, immediately realized the troubles and didn’t run away but, stayed to help those so badly hurt.  Three people, including an eight year old who came to cheer his Dad, paid the ultimate price, while a hundred and forty others  were injured.  Cowardly as it is, no new information is available yet and the healing process will take some time but, yesterday’s race proved that in a celebration of personal achievement, our innocence was lost.   Hopefully, we catch those responsible.   I wish for us all some closure.

Leah Nyfeler, an accomplished writer wrote: “And before we put this beast on trial for punishment, I’d like to see the perpetrator have to run the marathon course so that all can witness what kind of person does this. No hiding behind a backpack, no distance between perpetrator and victim, no intellectual justification. Just 26.2 miles and seeing exactly what a person is made of”.

In the meantime, don’t quit.  Don’t stop Running or planning to run an event.  If  they were looking to test our perseverance, they shouldn’t have chosen Marathoners.  We are millions strong and unified…”On The Run”.

 

Look for my new Running Blog on WAVY.com soon.  As always, I appreciate the feedback.  See you soon!

Still On The Run!

Still On The Run!

On the Run with Jon “Flex” Leiding,  Sportswrap Running Reporter.

 


Spring Right In- We’re On The Run Again!

April 10th, 2013 at 4:01 pm by under Sports, Uncategorized

On the Run,  Featuring The Latest Running News and Notes in the “757″ from Sportswrap Running reporter, Jon “Flex” Leiding

We're On the Run Again!

We’re On the Run Again!

Can’t Stop Now- We’ve Got News

A technical glitch had us away last week, so let’s give up some “luv” for those of you who hit the road last week, like the Autism Awareness 5K at Mt Trashmore.   Virginia Beach’s David Kidd was the Overall Champion in 16:24, while Lizzy Vanderbilt blazed the 3.1 mile course in 20:25.

At the Queens Lake 5K, good friend of the Blog, Todd Kessler,  from Newport News, won in17:17.  The real story on the Peninsula has been Mercedes Castillo-D’Amico.  The 55 year young, Newport News Resident, captured thhe Ladies title and set an Age Group Course Record with a swift20:29. Wow!

Can’t Forget My Suffolk Friends-  The Suffolk YMCA Run was fun for all who got out on the 5.66K run.  Also in Suffolk, the Bon Secours Colon Health 5K went to good friend of the Blog, Steve Speirs with a solid 17:28.  There is no stopping him these days… Chesapeake’s Emily Rivet was the Fastest female with a 22:10.  Races are all over the “757!”

A Duathlon combines two activities, this time Biking and Running.  The Va. Duathlon in Surry had plenty of Hampton Roads best, including Virginia Beach’s William Byland, a Top Three Finisher and Chesapeake’s Rachel Jastrebsky, the Winner of the Womens division.  Gotta give the “shout outs” to Courtney Ann Pollman of Virginia Beach, along with Lisa Armistead, who both rocked the 5K run along with the 23 mile Bike Ride.  Well Done, Ladies!

Time to Get Busy This Weekend!

Last week may have been a bit light but, what a weekend it will be!  Take your pick-  all over Hampton Roads, you can find races almost everywhere.     Saturday, the  Monarch Kids Run features a 5K and One Mile in Norfolk.In Newport News, the Earth Day 5K Races away from Newport News City Center, then go to the Southside.

The Dismal Swamp Half Marathon has become a tradition.  Love this race!  Ann Hupp always puts on a good event.  Sadly, work will keep me away this time but, I hear there are a few spots available.  Check out mettleevents.com to get registered.

If you crave more, take a trip to the Outer Banks and you’ll find plenty of Fun with the Flyin’ Pirate Half Marathon.  My good friends, Angelo Celesia and the legend, Dr. Mel Williams will be there.  Be on the lookout for them!

No, we’re not done yet!  Up the road, the Ukrops Monument 10K is always a Big race in Richmond.  Good Luck to all of you taking the trip!

Then, Monday…..   BOSTON!

It All Starts Here!

It All Starts Here!

Many of you will are taking the trip to be part of the “Massachusetts Madness”.  This is one race that you have to have a qualifying time.

From Hopkinton, all the way to Boylston Street, over 26,000 Runners will challenge the famed Heartbreak Hill, while experiencing the worl’d oldest Marthon. There are so many stories, charities, and great people, just “amped up” to get to the starting line.  Having run the event in 2009, I send “best of luck” wishes to all of you going.

Race Director, Dave McGilivray, who is also holds the same duties for the Williamsburg Run For the Dream Half Marathon weekend,  has run the marathon each year since  1973. For 16 years he ran it with all the other runners and since he began working with the race in 1988 he has run  the course afterwards.

Two Years Ago,  I caught up with him and we cghatted a while.  Here’s a look back to give you some of the flavor that is the  Boston Marathon:    Click on this link>>>   On The Run With Boston Marathon Race Director, Dave McGillivray    <<<Click on this link

If I look a bit exhausted, I had just finished the Half Marathon about ten minutes prior. Thanks for checking out the interview!

Here’s to Fast Times a Good Breeze to take you to the Finish!

Boston M Finish

Also on the Horizon, the Peninsula Track Club will be holding a 24 Hour Run at Sandy Bottom Park in two weeks.   That should be a real challenge.  We’ll try to keep you informed.   We always appreciate the Feedback.  If you have a story idea or just want to drop us a line, please do!

That’s All for this week.  Maybe we’ll catch you soon… “On The Run!”

On the Run With Sportswrap Running Reporter, Jon “Flex” Leiding on WAVY.com.

 


Was Jeff Jones Best Hire for ODU?

April 4th, 2013 at 9:42 pm by under Personalities, Sports, Uncategorized

Social media, (WAVY.com, Facebook, and comments from nameless readers at the end of articles on newspaper web pages) is the new water cooler gossip zone, reminded my colleague and Old Dominion graduate Jeff Myers today. Jeff is a season ticket holder for both ODU football and basketball, and like thousands of others, had an opinion of the hiring of new basketball coach Jeff Jones.

In less than 24 hours, anonymous pundits typed their fingers raw, calling for the firing of Old Dominion athletic director Dr. Wood Selig after word leaked out Selig had hired Jeff Jones away from American University in Washington, D.C. to replace longtime coach Blaine Taylor who was fired in the midst of Old Dominion’s most miserable season in school history.

Looking back, I must admit I think Dr. Selig made his first mistake by being honest and saying he was looking for a hard working, maybe young coach, who would work hard, knows the area and would bring excitement back to the Ted Constant Center.

So much for honesty. Like other AD’s, Dr. Selig should have just clammed up and said he was looking for the best coach possible. But that is not his style.

His second mistake (and this is only my personal opinion) came when he publicly proclaimed in late February that interim coach Jim Corrigan was not only in the running for the job, but that “another candidate had to come in and beat him.” A great slap on the back for a job well done under difficult circumstances, but nothing I ever believed to be true. Although I am sure Dr. Selig will disagree.

I wonder how ecstatic Monarchs fans would have been if Selig had hired the loyal 54-year old Corrigan who had spent 19 years as an ODU assistant, but had only won three games as a head coach? Not a very sexy hire.

Virginian Pilot reporter Ed Miller, one of the best, and who’s primary beat is ODU basketball, reported the finalists to replace Taylor were down to a handful. Dennis Felton, who left Western Kentucky to move onto Georgia where he was fired in 2009. Kevin Keatts, a promising assistant to Rick Pitino at Louisville, who’s previous job was as a Prep School coach at Hargrave Military Academy. And 56-year old Steve Robinson, Roy Williams’ top assistant at North Carolina, who was fired as head coach at Florida State after five years. Felton has been out of the business for four years, and although Robinson is considered one of the top assistant coaches in basketball he did not fare well in his only shot at being a head coach.

Keatts seems to have the most upside, but there is no guarantee he would be the next Brad Stevens, Shaka Smart or Danny Hurley (my guess to be the next coach at Rutgers, if they can get him).

So who would have drawn cheers had they been introduced today instead of Coach Jones? Alabama’s Anthony Grant would be nice, but his $1.8 million price tag is a little out of ODU’s reach. Seton Hall took a chance with Tommy Amaker, a then young Duke assistant, who left Seton Hall after three short years for a better job at Michigan where he was fired and replaced by Richmond’s John Beilein. Amaker is at Harvard now, where he turned down a $1.1 million a year offer from Miami last year.

Of course, it would have made national news today had Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield donned a Blue and White Monarchs cap. Dr. Selig had the darling of this year’s NCAA tournament secretly on his radar before March Madness began and had already interviewed Enfield before his team’s unbelievable run in the NCAA tournament two weeks ago. Selig was so interested in Enfield he had a private plane ready to fly down to Ft. Myers to bring Enfield and his wife to Norfolk for a final talk and maybe a final offer. The plane was sent back into the hanger when Enfield instead flew to Los Angeles where he landed a six-year $6 million dollar deal to become the new coach at USC.

But let’s be honest. Let’s say FGC (where is it, again?) had not beaten San Diego St. and Georgetown two weeks ago. Let’s say Enfield had agreed to come to Old Dominion. How many Monarchs fans had him in their coaches search bracket? What would the reaction have been when word leaked out that ODU’s new coach was a former businessman with two years of coaching experience at the school nobody had ever heard of.

“Fire Wood Selig” would have been the rant of the day.

So with Enfield in LA, and all the other finalists with their fair share of question marks, Selig may have taken the safe way out. ESPN college basketball guru Fran Fraschilla, the former coach at St. Johns and New Mexico convinced Dr. Selig that Jeff Jones was the perfect man for the job. A hard worker, a great strategist, well connected in the world of AAU basketball (maybe the most important complement). A coach who can calmly make the kind of adjustments on the fly which is worth two or three wins a year. That can be the difference between making the postseason and being a bubble team bust.

ESPN host Tony Kornheiser pointed out today that Jones’ record at AU was the best in the school’s history and even more impressive considering the private school in the Patriot league with tough academic standards is no Duke. NBA reporter David Aldridge said this morning Jones had taken American U to the NCAA tournament twice, something none of its previous coaches including Gary Williams (Ohio St. and Maryland), Jim Lynam (St. Joseph’s), or Tom Davis (Iowa) was able to do during their coaching stints there.

Aldridge said what impressed him the most, was that Jones stayed at AU for 13 years and did not use it as a stepping stone for a better job. Aldridge said Jones respected the people and fans at American University and appreciated their love of basketball, that he gave the fans there the excitement of having a winning and championship team. When AU beat Colgate in 2008 and made the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, Jones sat on the bench after the game with a towel over his head and sobbed with joy over what his team had accomplished and what it meant to the fans. He brought respectability and a winning attitude to the program, and the AU fans will forever be grateful for that.

It may not be sexy—but it appeared to be sincere.

Boo Williams, one of the most successful AAU coaches in the nation, who lives in nearby Hampton, told David Teel of the Daily Press today, “They (ODU) needed to get somebody who knows the 757 and North Carolina. Jeff knows the area. I think it’s a good hire.”

But in the age of the web, where every game is on TV, and a totally obscure coach with a hot wife can get a million dollar a year raise by winning two games, fans want flash. You know, Mark Schmidt at St. Bonaventure, Scott Nagy at South Dakota State, Chris Mack at Xavier, Baylor’s Scott Drew. Had Dr. Selig been able to steal away any one of these household names how excited would Monarch fans be tonight?

I pointed out to Dr. Selig today, something he already knew of course, that some ODU fans were disappointed and were wishing for a “sexier” hire.

His response…

“I can understand that but my number one goal is to put ODU basketball in a position to win championships, because I believe championships are sexy. So if ODU is going to win Conference USA championships, if ODU is going to go to the NCAA and compete and make noise in the NCAA Tournament, the position I believed was best suited to put us in a position to accomplish that was Jeff Jones.”

And considering the options, I tend to agree.


Sham-Rockin’ the Miles This Weekend… “On The Run!”

March 11th, 2013 at 3:07 pm by under Sports

On The Run!    The Latest Running News and Notes in Hampton Roads from Sportswrap Running Reporter, Jon “Flex” Leiding

 

We're Back for More..."On The Run!"

We’re Back for More…”On The Run!”

The Calm Before the Storm!     Before we go racing into the BIG Shamrock Sportsfest Weekend, let’s look at the past weekend as so many of you are getting prepped for the big day with other races.  First,  the Cox Falcon 5K  went to Va. Beach’s Caleb Doan on Satruday, with an outstanding 15:45, while the Ladies Champ is a familiar face here and big supporter of our blog,  Renee High with a solid  18:22 for the 3.1 mile course.

This season, we’re adding “Shout Outs”, our way of spotlighting more than just winners.  let’s start with Ben Werve,  11 years old, turning in a terrific  19:07, 60year old, Carolyn Shaheen, who sparkled with her 27:00 effort.  Also in the crowd,  Triathlete,  John Lomogda  from Norfolk  “brought it” with an 18:31,  a big 5 minute PR for  Courtney Pollman , blistering the course in 21:16.     John Dicarlo, 63 of Virginia Beach gets in with a 23:36 and Dolores Ware , 42 years young rocked the  run in 19:47.

We went to the Peninsula Saturday and found  the Jamestown High School Swamp Run 5K.  That’s where 18 year old, Andrew Richards,  from Williamsburg crushed it with a 16:23.  Krissa Loretto, was the Fastest Female in a very swift 19:37.  Keeping our “Shout Outs” going, how about Carol Talley,  who at 58, set the age group course record with a 23:57! Want More?    Check out Karla Havens, also setting an age group record at 51 with a 20:57.  Also, getting into the groove are Williamsburg’s Greg Dawson with a stellar 17:46 and  Men’s Race Walker, the blazing fast Tom Gerhardt, from Chesapeake in 30:06.

Not Quite done with the weekend as we also checked out the 1st Annual Chalkboard Chase run, all around the beautiful Mariner’s Museum.  With the race approximately 3.75 miles, Newport News’ Chris Reoyo was the overall winner in 19:48.  That’s a 5:17 pace per mile!   the always speedy, Mercedes Castillo D’Amico led the Ladies in 26:16.  Even though this is a “First Time” Race, we’ll still kick the “Shout Outs” to Valerie Hughes of Yorktown, with a nice 32:41 and 14 year old, Aaron Kempf who posted an amazing 20:30.  The future of Running in Hampton Roads really does look very bright!

Going Strong and Going Long

They all Go "On The Run" this Weekend!

They all Go “On The Run” this Weekend!

The Tradition Continues!  The Shamrock Sportsfest kick into year 41.  Staring with the Towne Bank 8K, then the Leprechaun Dash and Kids Final Mile on Saturday and rolling into Sunday with the Anthem Half Marathon and Yuengling Marathon, nearly 28,000 of you will “hit the road”, while thousands more will cheer on these great people.  Runner’s World magazine, the most popular Running Magazine in the U.S., recently ranked the Shamrock Half Marathon in the Top Five of Half Marathons in the Country, based on reader response.   Great DJs and Bands line the Oceanfront course, making the miles go by quick.   The Half is SOLD OUT but, there are a few spots still left for the Marathon.

We’ll have Videos posted later in the week to get you ready for the action and maybe a surprise or two.  Keep checking here  all week long.  Last Time, we were lucky enough to catch up with Race Director, Jerry Frostick, who’s team at J & A Racing has really made this a National event and a must-do race.

Click here for the Interview>>>>  On The run for Shamrock Weekend!  <<<<<Click here for the Interview for Jerry as we chatted about the Shamrock Sports fest weekend!

As always,  “Thanks” for checking out On the Run, the Running Blog from the Station and website on your side, WAVY TV and WAVY.com.    Maybe we’ll catch you soon…“On The Run!