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.