There have been so many gosh-awful stories of decadence in our newspaper sports sections — and even on the nightly national TV news — that I thought I would pass on some feel-good stories this week.
The first one comes to you courtesy of Jerry Jones, who was Denny Crum’s top assistant on both of U of L’s two national basketball championship teams.
Jerry said that there was a football player who never had been much of a player. But, suddenly, in one game he played like he belonged in the National Football League.
“What happened?” a writer wanted to know.
The player replied: “I lost my dad last week. He was blind. This was the first time he had ever seen me play.”
• • •
Jim Miller was a great football coach, a key aide to Paulie Miller on some of old Flaget High School powerhouses that were sparked by the likes of Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung at Notre Dame and Associated Press All-American end Howard Schnellenberger at UK.
When I covered high schools for The Courier-Journal I knew that Jim was an integral part of Flaget’s success, but I was surprised when I learned that he was a musician and singer and director of the Thoroughbred Chorus, all-male singers who were really good.
But there was so much more to Jim Miller. I hope that you got to read Eric Crawford’s excellent C-J column about Jim’s life. He was a two-time prisoner of the Germans in World War II, wounded in his skull, which kept him from returning to Tennessee or to play football for Frank Camp at U of L.
Bud Thieman, one of my most faithful historian sources, reminded me that Jim was the third baseman on St. X’s 1942 state championship baseball team.
Gene Rhodes called to tell me about Jim’s funeral at Our Lady of Lourdes. The Rev. Bill Miller, a priest who was Jim’s cousin, led the funeral mass.
And the current Thoroughbred Chorus plus the Southern Chorus and barber shop quartets from around the country, some 75 or 80 strong, sang their hearts out for Jim. It was a standing-room-only turnout.
One more item about Jim: He was a great dancer! How did he learn to dance? Well, he wanted to play football, but his mother wouldn’t let him until he learned to dance.
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Speaking of Flaget, the new manager of the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple A team in Louisville is David Bell. He is the son of Buddy Bell and grandson of Gus Bell, who was the first of many great athletes at Flaget.
• • •
The high school football season ended last week, just a few days after Scott County and Ballard opened the basketball season. Ballard, with the next great Bruin, sophomore Quentin Snider, scoring 25 points and junior guard Lavonne Holland adding 22, won in Louisville 85-76.
Chris Renner’s Ballard team and Billy Hicks’ Scott County team could be playing for all of the marbles at Rupp Arena in March. Remember that I told you.
• • •
Okay, so the Tennessee team that Joker Phillips’ Wildcats beat isn’t a typically strong bunch of Rocky Toppers. It still was Tennessee wearing those Orange shirts.
• • •
Fearless John Clay, one of four or five outstanding columnists at The Lexington Herald-Leader, stuck his neck out and ranked all 12 head football coaches in the Southeastern Conference:
- LSU’s Les Miles.
- Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
- Georgia’s Mark Richt.
- South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier.
- Alabama’s Nick Saban.
- Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino.
- Florida’s Will Muschamp.
- Auburn’s Gene Chizik.
- Kentucky’s Joker Phillips.
- Miss. State’s Dan Mullen.
- Tennessee’s Derek Dooley.
- Ole Miss’ Houston Nutt.
Clay noted that Petrino, who complained about LSU kicking a late field goal while leading the Hogs by 21 points is the same guy who called timeout so he could add another TD in a big win against UK.
Category: Earl Cox on Sports
About the Author (Author Profile)
Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
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.