Training Camp doesn’t have the same ring as Spring Training. Spring Training is a fresh start on life. Training Camp is back to work. And the concept of strapping young men donning way-too-much gear on sweltering-hot days seems impractical as well as unwise. Baseball smartly goes to Florida and Arizona for appropriate weather. If football did that, it would be a boon to the economies of the Upper Peninsula and the Yukon. But we love our football. And as the start of training camp approaches, I can’t help but think about how much it has changed, from a media standpoint, since I started watching football practice in earnest. That would have been Platteville, 1984, with the Chicago Bears. My best football-practice memories are of the Bears and their NFL rivals. There’s nothing like August in Mankato, Minn., watching the Purple People Eaters in Green Giant Country. (But if you’re going to Tampa, be sure to bring a little hotel towel to hold the sizzling Hertz steering wheel.) I never did spend a lot of time at college training camps—or even regular-season practices. At first, when I covered Notre Dame, there was no need. On Media Day, I would gobble up a bunch of interviews with lads like Rocket Ismail, Chris Zorich and Michael Stonebreaker—Notre Dame had the best football names—and parcel them out while doing the important work (to...Read More
Author: Herb Gould
Some thoughts on the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But first, some preamble. Once upon a time, the U.S. Open would go from one fancy tree-lined country club to another, grow the rough and give the championship trophy to the guy who hit his ball in the rough the fewest times. That’s why I always preferred the Masters and the British Open. At the Masters, there was no rough. There was risk-reward joy mingled with crash-and-burn disaster. I’ve always been partial to the British Open because it was the opposite of the pristine country-club. It was scruffy and prone to unbelievable weather—and it had Henry “Oh, deah! That’s in the Buhn!’’ Longhurst, who paved the way for all of those Anglo-accented commentators who followed him. And then there was the PGA, which always seemed to be played in a sweltering Tulsa or Texas or Blythe, Calif., wherever the thermometer was boiling over. Over time, golf’s four majors have become more homogenous. The Tiger-proofed Augusta favors longer hitters and higher scores, like the U.S. Open. In an era where the U.S. Open (Pinehurst, Shinnecock Hills, and yes, Erin Hills) and the PGA (Whistling Straits) are going to courses that tip their cap to St. Andrews and Old Tom Morris, the British Open seems a bit less foreign than it used to. And the Brits have subtly lengthened their courses. The...Read More
My father was a small-town pharmacist. He was a kind and good man who came from a family that didn’t have two nickels when he was a Depression kid. . . who saw some things in a World War II jungle that he would never speak about. . . and who put his three kids through college by spending long days in his tiny drug store. Sometimes he worked with a front-register assistant. Sometimes it was me. Sometimes he worked the whole place by himself. He never went to pharmacy school. He was a food chemist. Because my mother’s father and uncle were pharmacists, he took the pharmacy exam and became an RPh. You could do that in those days. Lake Zurich is a bustling suburb these days. Back then, it was a farm town, with an appealing lake and an aging little resort hotel, that was transitioning into a suburb. One Saturday, when I was 8 or 10, I helped Drew, the high-school kid who worked for him, canvass the whole town with fliers for the Rexall one-cent sale. Another time when I was working there as a kid, a farm worker came in holding the tip of a severed finger, and said, “Hey, doc. Can you put something on this?’’ Dad did what he could, and sent the man off to the nearest emergency room. His Monday-through-Friday...Read More
Thad Matta is out at Ohio State. It’s a combination of disappointing recruiting and chronic back trouble that makes it difficult for Matta to lead the rigorous life of a Big Ten basketball coach. I won’t say you heard it here first. But you did hear it here early. In early March, I told you in this space that the returns of Matta and Indiana coach Tom Crean were big questions in my mind. The other one I wondered about was Chris Collins. But Northwestern stepped up with a great contract extension, and none of the traditional powers tried to swoop in. While Collins is a great fit in Evanston, Crean just seemed to be a bad fit in Bloomington. With Matta, it just came down to a bad back. Honestly, I’m surprised he was able to hang in there this long, based on what I know about backs in general, and what I had heard about his back for years. Also, Ohio State doesn’t mess around. Two straight NCAA tournament misses, and recruiting shortfalls were enough for athletic director Gene Smith. Possible replacements include Xavier’s Chris Mack, Arizona’s Sean Miller, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin, Butler’s Chris Holtmann, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Billy Donovan. In other words, Ohio State will get a really good new coach—one who is healthy and eager to put the Buckeyes...Read More
It has been pointed out by reader(s) that TMGcollegesports.com has slowed to a crawl. We assure you that, when young amateur men led by multi-million-dollar coaches (who are decidedly not amateurs) return to the gridiron, we shall, too. In the meantime, the Cubs have opened a six-story, 125,000 square-foot office building adjacent to Wrigley Field. It appears that the building is right where I used to park when I was a weekend Cub warrior during the Frey-Zimmer era. That’s one of many reasons I did not pursue a career as a baseball writer. Others include 16-inning games and labyrinthian clubhouses where reluctant-to-talk ballplayers could hide. Did you know. . . you can often find signs that say “Zimmer Frei’’ in Austria and other Teutonic locales? I noticed this on a ski trip, and thought, “Wow! There really are Cub fans everywhere.’’ I found out later that the phrase means “room available.’’ But I digress. The Cubs’ march to their proper place among the dominant powers in the Major Leagues continues. They have an office building. It started with lights and a handful of night games. Then came a steady flow of night games. Billy Joel concerts. Then $10 beers. And finally, a World Series championship. We’re talking Progress. With a capital P. I, for one, am not concerned by the Cubs’ undistinguished start to the 2017 season. I never...Read More
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