How coaches can handle pouting players

| December 22, 2011

This is a true story.

I once asked one of my grandfathers how he and my grandmother had stayed together so long (they were well up in their 80s).

Grandpa said, “After our wedding, your grandma and I got in our buggy and started off. My horse stumbled. I said ‘that’s one.’ He stumbled again and I said, ‘that’s two.’’’

“Danged if he didn’t stumble again. I took out my pistol and shot the horse in the head.

“Your grandma said, ‘You shouldn’t do that.’

“I said, that’s one.’”

I thought about that when I watched one of our basketball heroes go through the motions all game long and the team most Kentuckians root for lost. Someone should have told him, “That’s one.”

I tell you that and I should add that Howard Schnellenberger told me several times that the easiest thing to do when an athlete fouls up or pouts is to run him off. Howard believed that a good coach could straighten things out to the benefit of all concerned. We will see how the one I am talking about reacts  (and you know which one, don’t you?).

Whose little girl?

Another true story. My grandmother was three or four years old during the Civil War. Parts of Kentucky, as most of you know if you were awake in history class, would be under the control of Union soldiers one day and the Confederate army the next day.
My great-grandmother told my grandmother what to say when the soldiers wanted to know, “Whose little girl are you?”
She was told always just to say one thing, “Mommy’s and daddy’s. I don’t know their names.”

Blanda and Tebow

Speaking of old people, there was a nice story in The New York Times last week  about how an old quarterback, George Blanda, did for the Oakland Raiders in 1970 what a young one, Tim Tebow, is now doing for the Denver Broncos.

Tebow is winning games with his feet and passes. Blanda, then 43, won with his field goals and extra points. He also could pass and run.

Blanda started his college career for Paul Bryant during the Bear’s first season at UK, 1945. He is famous for what he said the first time he saw Bryant: “That must be what God looks like.”

In that first year at UK, Blanda was excited about having as teammates  Kentucky’s two greatest athletes ever  to graduate from high school in the same year, Harlan’s Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones and Male High’s Ralph Beard. They both started in UK’s first game and Beard’s football career was ended when Ole Miss broke both of his shoulders when Blanda handed off to him.

UK had dropped football for 1943 during World War II and athletic director Bernie Shively filled in as coach when the sport was revived in ’44.

My first year at what is now Eastern Kentucky University was 1948. My friends told me to be sure to sign up for the P.E. class taught by Blanda’ beautiful wife, Betty. But her class was filled so I had to settle for Charles “Turkey” Hughes, who won more letters and freshman monograms (17) than any other athlete in UK history.

Turkey had to hustle

Turkey played four sports for the Wildcats: football, basketball, baseball and track.

The baseball field adjoined old Stoll Field on the west. During baseball and track meets (the track was around the football field), Turkey would hustle to the track when the Wildcat baseball team was at-bat, and then back to baseball when the Cats were in the field.

At Eastern, Turkey coached both football and baseball.

Blanda died last year. During his magical season with Oakland, he was nine years older than his coach, a fellow named John Madden. Wonder what ever happened to him?


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.

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