Earl Cox: Don’t Forget Our Football!

| August 17, 2011

With so much basketball “news?” filling our newspapers and TV sports reports in the heat of August, it may have escaped your attention that the Commonwealth  of Kentucky has become more of a football state than ever before.

Everyone is aware that we now have three big-time football programs (all three struggling as they may be), but UK, U of L and WKU play in major college programs.
All of you history buffs know that down through the years only UK dared to be great when Paul “Bear” Bryant coached the Wildcats to bowl victories, a Southeastern Conference crown and a national championship.

More seats have been added to U of L’s Papa John’s Stadium. A fancier scoreboard, with huge TV screens, will greet UK fans to Commonwealth Stadium.
All well and good, but none of that will add W’s on the scoreboards, no matter how fancy. (See how the Dallas Cowboys have floundered since the zenith of all scoreboards has been installed.)

Now forget about UK, U of L and WKU for a few moments. Here are things that turn me on:

Trinity High School, the Louisville Catholic powerhouse, starts its season Friday night with one of the nation’s top-10 teams. All around our state, there are prospects capable of playing for the Alabamas, Auburns and other top level teams. Two quarterbacks already have committed to Southeastern Conference teams.
We have more players on the college level now than ever.

Patton’s Pikeville

Look at what former Gov. Paul Patton has done with Pikeville University. Yes, Pikeville is a university with its own medical school. And it has a football team and Patton wants it to be a winning football team.

We once had football programs at Kentucky Wesleyan, when the school was in Winchester, and Berea College and Transylvania played football. Wesleyan started up football again since it moved to Owensboro.
Georgetown, Union, Cumberlands, Kentucky State University continue to play. Campbellsville joined the fun in recent years. So did Kentucky Christian.

Super Bowl QB!

Three of our regional state universities – Eastern, Murray and Morehead – are very much alive, but Morehead had the good sense to play on a lower level. Morehead probably will remain forever as our only college to produce a Super Bowl-winning quarterback  (Southern High product Phil “Whitey” Simms).

Morehead is the best example of how a college football program can come back from the dead. When it lost its accreditation, Morehead got down to very few students. It had to buy helmets at a fire sale from a Louisville sporting goods dealer and a lot of cotton to make them fit. That worked fine until it rained. The cotton got slick and helmets suddenly started sliding off!

Georgetown once recruited a player who had used all of his eligibility at a Southern college. He became a Tiger star. Remember, this was pre-NFL days and many players who loved the game simply started over at colleges in the North.

Georgetown’s veteran became a famous sports columnist for a Knoxville newspaper.

DiMaggio

All of you hard core major league baseball fans, listen up!
The U.S. Postal Service announced that Joe DiMaggio will be the first of four Hall of Fame members on postage stamps.

My question is this: Who should be the other three?

My money is on Ted Williams (who should have been first), Babe Ruth, and one of these three: Bob Feller, Jackie Robinson or Stan Musial.

DiMaggio was a very private person. When William H. King would bring him to Louisville Downs to add class to the harness track, it would be with the understanding that the great Yankee center fielder would not have to give interviews or sign autographs.

Once it took gregarious Paul Hornung to break through DiMaggio’s shield.
Hornung was having dinner one night in a fancy New York City restaurant. He spied Joe D. across the room. DiMaggio at the time was a TV spokesman for a coffee company. Hornung called for a waiter and asked to borrow his serving towel  and a pot of coffee. With the towel  across his arm, Hornung swaggered over to the baseball great and asked, “Coffee? Mr. Coffee!”

That broke the ice.

When DiMaggio was married to movie star Marilyn Monroe, she made a movie in which she stood over a New York City manhole cover with steam blowing her billowing skirt above her waist (she held it down in front).

DiMaggio gave her the devil for that, but the picture appeared in the movie, in Life Magazine and countless other publications. Can you name the movie? I think it was  “The Seven Year Itch.”

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Category: Earl Cox on Sports

About the Author (Author Profile)

Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
502.897.8910

Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.

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