Monthly Archives: August 2015

Tuesday morning in Topeka

I did not turn on the TV when I got back to my hotel room last night. I didn’t turn in on when I got up. I was too wiped out to worry about it. 

I woke up in plenty of time, although at first I didn’t think I had any hot water to take a shower or shave. I waited five minutes for the water to warm up, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I yelped when the cold water hit me. I was going to have to go to the lobby and complain.


Turns out I turned the handle in the wrong direction. Sure enough, when I rotated about 145 degrees, it warmed right up. Same thing with the water in the sink. When you haven’t stayed in a hotel for three years like this one, you sometimes forget. That isn’t a problem at the Overland Park Marriott, since there are separate controls for hot and cold. 

Back to Topeka this morning. I was doing my best NASCAR imitation by attempting to drive the last 30 miles with the gas tank on empty, but I made it. Needed 17.15 gallons today. That’s a lot. 

Two big names today, K-State volleyball coach Susie Fritz from 10-noon, and Missouri State women’s basketball coach Kellie Jolly Harper from 11-1.  Then it’s back to KC. 

I felt kind of out of sorts at Buffalo Wild Wings last night. Other than Lauren and Tori behind the bar, I didn’t feel a lot of love. I can understand with what happened last month. 

Super 40th

Today is the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Superdome, the giant facility in New Orleans’ Central Buisness District. 

 The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as it has been known officially since October 23, 2011, is best known as the home of the NFL’s Saints and host to seven Super Bowls, although the monolith will host only one in a span of 16 seasons (2002-2017), XLVII following the 2012 season, when the Ravens defeated the 49ers. By contrast, New Orleans hosted five Super Bowls in 12 seasons between 1969 and 1980, three (IV, VI, IX) at Tulane Stadium and two more (XII, XV) at the Dome. 

The Sugar Bowl moved to the Superdome in December 1975, and the facility has hosted numerous games which have determined national championships, both in the Sugar Bowl and the stand-alone BCS national championship game. Last season, it hosted the second semifinal of the first annual College Football Playoff, with Ohio State toppling Alabama 42-35. 

Tulane made the huge mistake of moving its home games from Tulane Stadium to the Superdome. Yes, Tulane Stadium was crumbling and many of the original steel portions of the stadium were unsafe, but the Green Wave surrendered any and all home field advantage by leaving campus. Yes, there were times where the Greenies could fill the stadium–mostly when LSU or another big name school came to town–but far more often than not, empty seats were the rule, not the exception. 

Tulane might have been best served to play a couple of years in the Dome while the old Tulane Stadium was renovated. It would have been perfect with 40,000 seats. 

The Greenies finally got the message by 2011, and in 2014, they opened Yulman Stadium. 

As fine as the Superdome is for football, it may be the WORST basketball facility on earth. The Jazz of the NBA attracted scores of fans with $1 tickets, but those were so far away you might as well have been on another planet. Unless you had powerful binoculars, you could hardly see the action from those seats, and what’s worse, people tended imbibe far too much. 

The NCAA didn’t care how bad most of the seats were for basketball. They saw dollar signs, and thus held the Final Four there for the first time in 1982. It was there where Michael Jordan became a household name, canning the game-winning jumper vs. Georgetown to lift No Carolina to a 63-62 victory and Dean Smith’s first national champiponship. The Tar Heels won another in 1993 in the same building, taking advantage of a gigantic blunder by Michigan’s Chris Webber, who called a timeout the Wolverines didn’t have, costing his team two points and icing the victory for Carolina. 

The Final Four was also held in the Dome in 1987, 2003 and 2012. With the NCAA now allowing basketball specific facilities to host the Final Four again, the Superdome may be out of luck for a while. 

New Orleans hoped the Superdome woudl attract a Major League Baseball team. 

Fat chance.

First, New Orleans is far too poor to support an MLB team. How many people would honestly buy season tickets for 81 games? You have to have corporate dollars to support an MLB team, and New Orleans just does not have it. Period.

Second, the Superdome was constructed for football not baseball. The seats down the foul line were ridiculoulsy far away from the field, and the dimensions were cozy–318 feet down the lines (which I believe was generous; it was closer to 300) and 358 in the power alleys. I could have envisioned a lot of 15-13 games, which would have meant long, long nights. 

The Superdome has held so much more than sports. A 1981 Rolling Stones concert drew almost 88,000. Pope John Paul II held a youth rally in 1987. Indoor fairs and numerous expositions have come thorugh year after year after year. 

Originally, the Superdome was going to be built in the suburbs, either in Jefferson Parish or New Orleans East, which was largely undeveloped. The trend was in the 1960s, when the Superrdome was proposed by Dave Dixon and Louisiana Gov. John McKeithen, to build the stadiums on vacant land surrounded by lots and lots of parking. 

When the bonds for the Superdome were approved by Louisiana voters in November 1966, ti was envisioned the stadium would cost $46 million and would seat between 50 to 55,000, along the lines of what the Astrodome in Houston seated. 

However, McKeith wanted the New Orleans dome to be bigger and better than the one in Houston. He wanted more seating, luxury boxes, large screen televisions, whatever have you. 

It took five years after passage of the bonds for ground to be broken. By then, a site along Poydras Street and Claiborne Avenue at the northern end of the Central Business District had been chosen, and the cost of that land, plus all of the bells and whistles McKeithen wanted, skyrocketed the cost to  $163 million.

Turns out McKeithen was right to ask for all the extra stuff.

The luxury suites, tucked between the second and third levels of the Dome, were far, far ahead of its time. Today, you’d better not build a professional sports stadium without them. The Astrodome had luxury suites, too, but they were at the very top of the stadium. Heaven forbid if you were afraid of heights.

The Suuperdome has perservered while all of its contemporaries have failed. The Astrodome sits vacant. So does the Pontiac Silverdome. The Seattle Kingdome, the Metrodome in Minneapolis, and the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis are all gone. The Georgia Dome in Atlanta, which opened in 1992, will be knocked down following the 2016 football season. The Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, opeend in 1995 for the Rams, may be without a tenant come January. 

I wish I had been old enough to visit Tulane Stadium, but the Superdome is absolutely necessary in New Orleans, given the city’s oppressive climate and the frequent thunderstorms.

I may never set foot inside the Superdome. That would be too bad. I would like to see the renovations which have taken place in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. 

School’s almost out (for today)

I’m over three hours in to the first day of the KSHSAA coaching school, and for me at least, the end is in sight. 

Joe Ehrmann has been tremendous. He has conducted two sessions and is about to start a third. His message has been so powerful, especially during his most recent presentation, when he talked about American society’s ideals for boys and girls growing up, that they have to “be a man” or “be a woman”. 

Lon Krueger spoke in two 50-minute sessions, both of which were packed. One session on defense, one on offense. 

I alos had to get the presentation by Logan volleyball coach Robin Van Laeys, since Logan is in Phillips County and part of the coverage area for the Phillips County Review. I’ll also send some of this to the Norton Telegram and my good friend Dick Boyd, since a lot of Logan kids come from Edmond, a small town along K-9 in southeastern Norton County. 

I’m recording each of the sessions in order to get the key points for the stories I right. I’ll also have them for posterity in case I want to go back and listen. I think I might listen to Mr. Ehrmann’s again and again. 

After I’m done here, it’s on to Overland Park. Right now, I’m tempted to just go to the room and crash. I have to be back in Topeka by 9 a.m. tomorrow. The big names are Missouri State women’s basketball coach Kellie Jolly Harper and K-State volleyball coach Susie Fritz. 

On the other hand, I don’t have work to do. Brittany isn’t working at Buffalo Wild Wings. Maybe….

Clinical day

I got up way too early for a Monday morning, especially a Monday morning where I don’t have a ton of stuff to write for my newspapers. Those Mondays will be returning soon enough.

I was out of the house well before sunrise and on Interstate 70 east. I have migrated to Topeka for the annual Kansas State HIgh School Activities Associaiton coaching clinic. 

I began covering the event in 2008, simply because it was something to do and would be a lot better than anything else I could get prior to the start of practice later in the month. I skipped last year’s clinic, but I have returned this year.

This is the first time the clinic is running Monday-Wednesday. In past years, it has been Wednesday-Friday. This is much better, as it allows people who have to be in school meetings later in the week to attend. I still wish it were in July, as it would allow bigger names to attend. 

The keynote speaker is former Baltimore Colts and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann, who was a member of Baltimore’s “Sack Pack” of the mid-1970s. The four-man front of Ehrmann, Fred Cook, Mike Barnes and John Dutton helped the Colts win three consecutive AFC East championships from 1975 through 1977. That Colts team is best known for quarterback Bert Jones, running back Lydell Mitchell and receiver Roger Carr. Unfortunately, those Colts teams ran headlong into the Steelers twice and the Raiders once in the playoffs;. 

The 1977 divisional playoff on Christmas Eve vs. Oakland is considered one of the best games in NFL history. The Raiders trailed 31-28 with less than a minute left, but Kenny “Snake” Stabler hit tight end Dave Casper with a 42-yard pass to set up the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. Casper made an over-the-shoulder catch which is now referred to as the “Ghost to the Post”. Ghost, of course, was Casper’s nickname, being the name of a children’s tale.

Casper caught a 10-yard touchdown from Stabler early in the second overtime to give Oakland the victory. It is one of just five NFL games to go into a second ovrtime. The longest was the Dolphins-Chiefs divisional playoff on Christmas Day 1971 which wasn’t decided until just past the midway point of the sixth period. 

The other big name speaker is Oklahoma men’s basketball coach Lon Krueger. Krueger played at Kansas State for Tex Winter and later succeeded Jakc Hartman as coach of his alma mater. In 1988, Krueger led K-State to the Elite Eight, where they lost to Larry Brown’s Kansas Jayhawks, the eventual national champions.

Krueger left the Wildcats in 1990 to rebuild a Florida program decimated by probation, a result of recruiting violations by former coach Norm Sloan. Krueger got the Gators to the 1994 Final Four, but realized he would never be top dog in Gainesville–that was Steve Spurrier’s undisputed post then–and he left for Illinois. He had a brief stint in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks before returning to college with UNLV, then moving back into the Big 8/Big 12 fraternity in Norman. 

I don’t have to stay the whole day. When I’m done I’ll go to Overland Park to stay overnight and return tomorrow. 

Real love for a fake sport

Fox News sends out breaking news alerts via e-mail and text message. Many of them are sports related.

I was surprised former professional wrestling superstar “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s death from a heart attack at 61 merited such an alert. The alert was actually a little late, since it came Friday a little after 6 p.m., and he died Thursday.

Then again, Piper was arguably the second biggest star of what was then known as the World Wrestling Federation during the mid-1980s, when professional wrestling moved from an obscure sport to mainstream pop culture.

Piper might have only been behind the immortal Hulk Hogan on the WWF marquee.

He was one of the WWF’s most hated characters when he burst onto the scene in 1984, coming to the ring in a plaid kilt and using bagpipe music as he came to the ring. He had his own interview show, Piper’s Pit, where he insulted some of the WWF’s most beloved figures, including wrestling’s living legend, Bruno Sammartino. Sammartino, who basically was the WWF in the 1960s and 1970s, beat Piper in a steel cage.

Piper was part of the the main event at the first Wrestlemania in 1985 at Madison Square Garden. He, Paul Orndorff and Cowboy Bob Orton lost to Hogan, Mr. T and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, and after the match, Orndorff, Piper’s original manager in the WWF, turned on Rowdy Roddy and realigned himself with Hogan.

The next year, Piper engaged Mr. T in a boxing match at Wrestlemania 2. Piper was disqualified for a body slam.

Later in 1986, Piper switched from heel (bad guy) to face (crowd favorite), as the WWF replaced Piper’s Pit with The Flower Shop, hosted by the grossly obese Adrian Adonis. Adonis, managed by the annoying “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, wore heavy makeup and a foul smelling perfume to the ring, declaring himself “Adorable”.

At Wrestlemania III, contested before over 93,000 at the Pontiac Silverdome, then the home of the Detroit Lions and Pistons, Piper topped Adonis in what was billed as his retirement bout. Piper was apparently knocked out with a sleeper hold, but he was revived by my favorite WWF wrestler of that era, Brutus Beefcake. Beefcake had an ax to grind with Adonis, who cut his hair during a six-man tag match in a televised show the previous month.

Piper recovered and put Adonis to sleep. Beefcake then cut his hair, and when Adonis woke up, he was thoroughly embarrassed. Fifteen months later, Adonis (real name Keith Franke) perished in an automobile accident in Canada.

Piper became an analyst for WWF matches, cheering loudly for the face wrestlers. He would come back to the WWF and remain as popular as ever.

I admit I loved the WWF in mid to late 1980s. My brother and I watched USA Network’s Prime Time Wrestling religiously, first on Tuesdays in 1986, then on Mondays in 1987 and ’88. We had over 30 WWF action figures and the ring. I wish now we had held on to them. We could have made a small fortune on eBay, or kept them as a reminder of our childhood.

My father took my brother and I to four WWF shows at Lakefront Arena at the University of New Orleans. Two were in 1986, and the first featured Hulk Hogan defeated “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff to successfully defend his championship. There was another in 1988 and a final one in 1989.

As I mentioned, my favorite WWF superstar was Beefcake (real name Edwin Leslie). He entered the WWF in September 1984 as a vain, cocky heel, dressing up in animal print tights. He was managed by “Luscious” Johnny Valiant, himself a former WWF superstar wrestler. Beefcake teamed with Greg “The Hammer” Valentine to form The Dream Team, which won the WWF tag team championship in 1985. They lost the title at Wrestlemania 2 to the British Bulldogs, who were managed by Captain Lou Albano and had Ozzy Osbourne in their corner.

At Wrestlemania III, The Dream team defeated the Rougeau Brothers, but Valentine and Dino Bravo, a French Canadian like the Rougeaus, left Beefcake at ringside. Following the Piper-Adonis match, Beefcake became “The Barber”, carrying a large pair of hedge clippers to the ring and winning the adoration of the fans. Beefcake was in line to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship in 1988 from the overly cocky Honky Tonk Man, but was injured. In late 1989, Beefcake and Hogan, who were best friends in real life, twice defeated “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Zeus, a large black warrior billed as unbeatable, in tag team bouts.

Tons of people rip Hulk Hogan in the comments section of his old matches on YouTube, but the man was the reason why the WWF prospered. Every single wrestler who lived a good life owes it to Hogan, who took it to the next level, making it more popular than boxing, tennis and NASCAR in the mid-1980s, and just behind golf and the NHL. Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) first came into the public conscious as Thunderlips in Rocky III in 1982, then won the WWF heavyweight championship on January 23, 1984 when he defeated the dastardly Iron Sheik at MSG.

You had to love when it looked like Hogan was beaten, only to “Hulk Up” and furiously recover. You could count on what would happen whenever he started becoming imprevious to other wrestlers’ offensive moves: three punches to the head, a big boot to the face, then the leg drop. Match over. Only the Ultimate Warrior kicked out following the leg drop, and he defeated Hogan for the world championship at Wrestlemania VI at Toronto.

I stopped watching wrestling by 1991. I had much more on my plate with high school and other sports. I love watching the old bouts on YouTube though. Brings back some childhood memories.

would happen next: three punches, big boot, leg drop. Match over.

Class of 34 (seconds)

Next time, Bethe Correia, shut your claptrap and back it up in the octagon before you go mouthing off.

Check that. Just shut up.

Correia got her just rewards earlier this morning (very late last night in the Central Time Zone) when Ronda Rousey destroyed her in 34 seconds to retain the UFC Bantamweight championship in Rio de Janeiro. Rousey didn’t even need to take Correia to the canvas and apply her devastating armbar. Instead, “Rowdy” simply pummeled the Brazilian loudmouth with a pair of devastating right hands, beating Correia at her own game.

In May, Correia made the fatal mistake of telling Rousey that she shouldn’t “kill herself” if she lost, even though Correia damn well knew Rousey’s dad committed suicide.

The question now becomes what is left for Rousey to prove in UFC?

Miesha Tate, the only fighter to last past the first round with Rousey, will get a third shot at the queen in January or February. Unless Tate pulls off one of the biggest shockers in 21st century sports, Rousey will then have no competition, period, unless she wants to fight a man, and that would be too risky. Could she go back to judo, in which she earned an Olympic bronze medal in 2008 at Beijing? Could she attempt freestyle wrestling and be ready for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo? Maybe she goes to the WWE in honor of her late friend, Rowdy Roddy Piper, who died Thursday of a heart attack at 61. Or there’s always acting.

No matter what, Rousey will be a very rich lady. I don’t know of a single product who would not want her as a lead endorser.

I love Rousey, but anyone who paid $54 ($49.95 plus tax) to watch the fight is nuts. And no way was I sitting in a crowded Buffalo Wild Wings.

Sunday morning’s alright for fighting

It’s after 11 p.m. in the Central Time Zone, and the big UFC Bantamweight championship bout between the sexy and tough Ronda Rousey and big mouth bitch Bethe Correia has yet to begin. The thing is, it’s after 2 a.m. in Rio De Janeiro, where the fight card is taking place. So much for Elton John’s 1973 classic “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, at least for the eastern third of the United States and the majority of Canada’s population, which is situated in the provinces in the Eastern Time Zone, Ontario and Quebec.

It is reminiscent of October 30, 1974, when the bout for the World Heavyweight boxing championship between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali in Zaire (previously and currently Democratic Republic of the Congo) started at 4 a.m. local time in order to be shown in prime time on closed circuit television in the Eastern and Central time zones (8/7 C) in the United States. Ali won the “Rumble in the Jungle” and regained the heavyweight championship by knocking out Foreman in the eighth round.

Rousey will hopefully beat the living daylights out of Correia and torture her in doing so. In May, Correia said on Twitter tha she hoped Rousey won’t “kill herself” if she lost.

Rousey’s father committed suicide when she was a teenager. He had been in pain for several years following a sledding accident. Correia crossed the line and she attempted a phony apology, which Rousey rightly rejected.

Even though this fight is in Correia’s home country, the Brazilian has not curried much favor amongst the natives, who instead have taken quite a liking to Rousey, who may be America’s best female athlete right now. Maybe it’s making good for Americans embracing Pele when the futbol icon played for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League from 1974 through 1977.

Today is also the 34th anniversary of the premiere of MTV. The first video was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”. In those days, MTV actually lived up to its full name of Music Television and played MUSIC VIDEOS. None of this other crap. Yes, I loved Beavis and Butt-Head when I was in high school, but I could do with out Teen Mom, 16 and Pregnant, The Hills, and yes, even Two-a-Days, the so-called look at the Hoover (Ala.) High School football program which played more like a teen soap opera, more focused on who was dating who instead of how to stop an option offense

It is also the 49th anniversary of Charles Whitman’s killing spree in Austin. He killed his wife and mother, three visitors to the University of Texas Memorial Tower, then climbed to the top of the tower and used it as a sniper’s perch, killing 12, including an unborn baby. Six and a half years later, New Orleans would become the next American city to be terrorized by a sniper. .