Marvelous Marvin Hagler (that was he legal name) died last weekend at the age of 66. He was the undisputed middleweight boxing champion from 1980 to 1987. There have been great middleweight boxers over history and Marvin Hagler belongs in the pantheon of those great fighters. In 1985, Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns met for Hagler’s championship; that fight has come to be knowns as “The War.” The first round was a slugfest from bell to bell; Hagler suffered a severe cut in the second round as both fighters continued to punish each other. In the third round, Hagler finally knocked Hearns down; the referee stopped the fight when Hearns collapsed into his arms as he wiped off the gloves. It was the best boxing match that I remember seeing.
Rest in peace, Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Last week, I mentioned in a rant that the NCAA Tournament Final Four had taken place in Madison Square Garden seven times the last being in 1950. I received a detailed message from the reader in Houston over the weekend which allows me to “revise and amend my remarks.” [Hey, if those gasbags in the US Senate can do it, so can I.] The reader in Houston is the unchallenged champion of sports history in these parts, and here is the pertinent part of his email to me:
“Please note that from 1939 through 1950, there were only eight teams in the NCAA Tourney and to call it a “Final Four” for those years is almost ludicrous compared to the current terminology where a team has to win numerous rounds to get to the “Final Four”, making “Final Four” sound prestigious to say the least. (On a side note, I never heard of a reference to the “Final Four” or “March Madness” until the 1970s when the tourney went mainstream on the networks when Brent Musburger first used the terms on air. Before then, we always used the term “semi-finals” for what now is known as the “Final Four”.)
“Back in those days, the “Final Four”, as we refer to it today, was not held in the same city. There was an Eastern Regional consisting of four teams and a Western Regional of four teams with each regional in a different city. The Regional winners would then meet at the designated site for the championship game several days to a week later.
“Over the early years, Eastern Regionals were held in cities such as Philly (1939), Indy (1940), Madison, WI (1941), New Orleans (1942), and New York City (1943-1950) with the Western Regionals being held in San Francisco (1939) and Kansas City, MO (1940-1950).
“During the early years, the finals were held in Evanston, IL (1939), Kansas City (1940-1942), and New York City from 1943 through 1950, except for 1949 when the finals were held in Seattle, WA.
“In 1951, the tourney was expanded to 16 teams and the rest is history, as it increased over the years to the current number. Because of the college point-shaving scandal of 1950-51, Madison Square Garden was no longer used as the home of the championship game, although in subsequent years earlier rounds of the tourney were held at the Garden.
“So to say that the “Final Four” took place seven times in MSG is incorrect, though in 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1950, the runners-up at the two regionals did meet in a National Runner-Up game for third place prior to the championship game at the Garden.”
I enter a plea of “Guilty” to the charge of presenting a glib and insufficiently researched point last week, Your Honor. Thanks to the reader in Houston for this clarification and expansion.
A high school football coach in Georgia may have erred to the point of blasphemy. Rush Probst is the head football coach at Valdosta High School and a You Tube video that appears to be Probst, the person says that the University of Georgia pays recruits to come to Georgia and pays certain star players to remain at the school. Valdosta Georgia is in the heart of “SEC Territory” where college football is taken as seriously as anywhere else in the country. Georgia’s fans are as rabid and as committed as any in the SEC; they will rise to the defense of their school if an outside accuser makes such a charge – – but to have one come from a school in the State of Georgia is not something to be expected.
Allegedly, Coach Probst said that Georgia coach, Kirby Smart< is aware that Georgia boosters pay “up to $150K” for players and very specifically that Nick Chubb received three payments of $60K to sign on with Georgia and then to stay at the school as opposed to declaring for the NFL Draft. Obviously, Georgia is investigating the situation because if they do not investigate, the NCAA will.
Let me be clear about several points here:
- I have no idea if Coach Probst is the person speaking on that You Tube video.
- I have no insight into how recruiting is done at Georgia or any other college football program.
- IF what Coach Probst says on that video is true and can be shown to be true, it will represent a tectonic shift for college football’s image of amateurism.
- Coach Probst names a person as the “handler” – the intermediary – between Georgia coach Kirby Smart and the player. It will be interesting to see/hear from that person on this matter.
One thing I am rather certain about regarding this situation is that Coach Probst is not planning to apply for an assistant coaching position at an SEC school any time soon…
Finally, the remarks allegedly made by Coach Probst reminded me of a statement by the Greek Philosopher, Plato:
“Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools because they have to say something.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………