Every year we as fans look forward to so many traditions that come along with sports.
In a city on a river by a steel mill sits a special place. A university we know as Marshall that until the 90’s was better known for losing records. Who would have thought that such a terrible event like a plane crash from a losing effort in football at East Carolina would eventually be the stepping stone for a championship football program and where excellence became the norm and not the unusual.
We all know the story now. …75 of the Marshall football team, coaches and supporters went down short of the runway in Huntington setting off a chain of events that would eventually bear fruit. A few years ago I was lucky enough to become friends with Red Dawson, the assistant coach that missed the flight back home because he chose to drive back on a recruiting stop. Shortly into the conversation I asked Red if it bothered him to talk about it. I got the feeling I was talking to a Vietnam veteran that had a story to tell. A story that needed told but just too much emotion. Red told me “Yes. it was time to talk about it”
I’ve known others involved.
Jack Lynguel who took the job to rebuild the team.
Keith Morehouse, WSAZ SPORTS reporter who lost his father on the ill fated flight.
I was teammates ,classmates and remain dear friends with the children of the Late Perry Moss.
Les Moss , a coach in his own right and Penny an award winning broadcast news journalist and wonder mom.
Perry Moss recruited many of the kids on that tragic night and he always thought especially highly of Teddy Shoebridge who chose to play QB at a Marshall and the offensively minded Perry Moss.
Moss was let go before the season and I can’t help but think he always had that team somewhere in his mind. I had the chance to be around him often but never felt it was right to inquire about his thoughts but I truly sense he thought about them daily.
My good friend Sam Huff personally told me the story I had never heard that he had contacted MU and volunteered his services to be their head coach and get them up off the ground.
Perhaps no city anywhere but our great state of West Virginia could handle such adversity and eventually shine for excellence.
Doc Holliday took overcast program and maybe the most important thing he has done for the team and community is kept the memory of the 75 alive. It’s done in a tasteful honorable way that is both unique to the team and shared with any and all both with ties and without. John Holiday is a great pick for the head coaching position. He grew up in nearby Hurricane, WV and he has resolute drive that will not allow him to be out worked or fail.
I want to close this column by making this suggestion. Retire the number 75 from Marshall Athletics. Let it take its proper place like baseball’s Jackie Robinson for whom Major League Baseball retired for every team a few years ago. Let the number 75 never again he worn by a player but yet let it be at every game painted on dugouts, hung from rafters and stadium walls.
That’s just my opinion, thanks for talking to the Mike.
Photo per CBSsports.com
Can’t whistle show tunes every year
November 1, 2016
photo by tennessee247.com
The big thing these days are alternate uniforms at the college and pro levels. Even some high schools are venturing into those programs that are trying it. A year or so ago I made mention or rather asked the question as to why some of my alma mater school teams had added some predominantly black color schemes to the uniforms that had traditionally been red or scarlet and grey since those were the school colors. This seemed like a no brainer to me but at that time but I apparently ruffled some feathers.
Tough Turkey !!!
I’m not the only one that feels this way. I posed the question to one if our greatest college football coaches who said he didn’t like it because he thought, “you lost your brand”, and could not easily look at a game on on TV and know who was playing. …..I agree.
I know what your thinking. ..get with the times big man.
I don’t mind the change in uniforms but at least stick with the school colors. I was sent a picture from a follower of my column, let’s call him….hmmmm…I’ll try to think of a snazzy name. Anyway it’s a picture of one of our school’s cheerleaders dressed in one if our biggest rivals’ colors. I mean c’mon man. Enough of this! Your brand is and should be a part of who you are, both growing up and beyond. Are we to change the old saying of “that guy bled blue and gold” except for when they wore the alternate grey uni’s?
I could understand if your colors were bland or ugly buy I’m talking about a couple of schools with great athletic tradition and great colors.
My beloved high school Poca “Dots” (official colors red and grey) are one team we’re in fact referring to with the picture that was sent by a aliased reader. The cheerleader was dressed in predominantly black with some red. I was not the valivictorian in 1985 but I did dress and play in approximately 100 sporting events and the only black I ever wore was a pair of black cleats at a football game. That was because a Penn State coach was in the stands. Ant then there was the two black pieces of electrical tape we all wore on our helmets to remember two team mates who had lost their dogs during the season. …..yep…their dogs.
On the college level the biggest team that comes to mind aren’t he Tennessee Volunteers…what great tradition they have with those orange uniforms. While I’m not from there I just don’t get passing up the traditional orange and white to wear dull grey uniforms….no sir. ..don’t get it. As a recruit in the mid 80’s I can remember visiting there and everything was orange and pointed out and mentioned with pride.
Now I’m sure I’ve made some of you mad…that was not my intent. However it was my intent to get you thinking about why in the world we would stray from tradition and school pride.
Think about it and once again thank you for Talking to the Mike
Oh yeah. …you…that fella that keeps sending me the emails that always end with “…..sounds like a good story for a column…” you were right this time. I’m gonna try to come up with a nickname for you to keep you from being the target of angry fans for suggesting such ideas…..that’s my gig!!
October 25, 2016
Welcome back Wednesday
photo by gotomahawks.org
I took some time off to take my lovely bride on vacation but we’re back and I’ve got some new sports thoughts on my mind.
Lots of things to write about but I’m going to get back into the swing of things with midget league football.
Sunday I got a text inviting me down to watch a friend’s young son play some midget football. My first question was do they have a concession stand? Once that was confirmed I jumped into my black Hemi and headed south.
First stop, concession stand…$2 each for hot dogs? Should have been 2 for $3 but anyway. …
I sat down on the bleachers to watch the game and was immediately reminded of why I don’t coach these teams. The parents I was sitting by were horrible. The coaches that give up their time to coach these young guys should never have to put up with some of the things being said from the stands.
No matter how good you think your little guy is I assure you he is not being scouted for nor will he be offered a scholarship from the ranks of pee wee football. One mother in particular thought she should be calling the plays for a NFL team on Sundays.
That said, I applaud the coaches players and the well behaved parents that attend the games on their day off seeking some entertainment and to watch their little guys do what they are supposed to do at this level. Have fun and learn the basics of this game we love and enjoy.
And by the way. …thank a coach at that level when you get a chance. Taking the time to be away from his own family to participate in helping the kids of your community and to be involved on a great sport.
Just my opinion.
Feel free to post yours at the bottom of this article.
Thanks for talking to the Mike.
September 6, 2016
Let’s talk college football polls….
I understand the need for preseason polls but in reality they don’t mean much until probably the 3rd or 4th game when cupcake season is over . This year the first week was not your usual line up and as a fan I enjoyed it.
I’m not going to give a run down of the entire Top 25, just some highlights and then feel free to discuss.
1. Alabama – Don’t look for this to change anytime soon. The Crimson Tide has great talent, great coach and some karma in the bank stemming from when WV native Nick Saban came to the aid of summer flood victims and high school football programs with much needed aid.
2. Clemson….to early too tell. The Tigers might have had the wake up call they needed.
5. LSU- Another maybe and too soon to judge. …I am a huge Les Miles fan….lets wait and see . They were either ranked too high to start or Wisconsin was ranked too low.
6. Houston- Started the season the way they ended it with huge win against Oklahoma after beating FSU in bowl game. Houston, if I were you I’d give this coach whatever he wants…your on a roll.
10. Notre Dame – Another too early to tell ranking.
11. Texas- Looked much better from last year but I wonder about the yo-yo voting. ..way low then way high.
WVU was victorious in what was in my opinion a pretty darn good Missouri team, bad helmet design aside. Mitch Vingle wrote a great article after the game stating the same thing. While Missouri may play in the great SEC, what gives prudence to my belief is they never gave up, never shut it down and this is a good sign from a team with a new staff. At anytime the Tigers could have started using young players or used the excuse of starting to build the program. To my knowledge that never happened. If WVU had started the season ranked I think they would have made a jump but since they didn’t we won’t know. If I had a vote I’d put them in at the number the #23 spot. Let’s hope the momentum continues this week.
The Thundering Herd opens this week and they aren’t getting any respect in the polls either. Herd fans I want to make a prediction….this will be a nice year. Next year when the game slows down even more for their young QB and if Bill Legg is still on board, a head coaching job is surely in Bills future, and over due if you ask me. The Herd will come out of the gates in the Top 25 and put up big numbers! !! If I’m a young WR with hands and souped up wheels I’ve got to be thinking about signing on the dotted green line.
Anyway, just a few college football thoughts. …thanks for Talking to the Mike
September 1, 2016
Sportsfans, have you had the chance to see the footage of Minnesota Vikings QB Teddy Bridgeport? I’m not ashamed to say I turned the channel when it was about to be shown. I wanted no parts of seeing it.
I can still remember Washington Redskins QB Joe Theismann being routinely tackled , if there was such a thing, by arguably the best linebacker ever Lawrence Taylor. I had seen much harder and vicious hits. Truth be told I’d seen harder hits that day on Mountaineer Field where Fred Smalls and Bo Orlando were handing out bruises. As routines as it may have seemed it broke his leg, snapped it in to. The reaction by Taylor was instant. Waving for immediate medical attention. The TV room at Towers was a mix of stunned silence and loud expressions of what was just witnessed. To this day I don’t want to see it.
The reports that grown men, hardened athletes used to blood and sweat along with knowing what pain feels like we’re throwing up on the field because of what they just witnessed. It was reported that this type of injury could have easily led to loss of limb or possible death if trained professionals had not been immediately available.
We as fans or so called sports writers take the liberty to let athletes know what’s we think of them and what we respect. In cases such as this we can only be thankful this young man had the properly trained professionals at hand. Early word is he will play again. Im only hopeful he will be able to walk without a limp. Oh yeah, one more thing….when Taylor snapped Theismanns leg it was during a rival game on Monday Night Football. …in Bridgewater case it was a non contact drill where he simply dropped back to pass. No doubt he has done this several thousand times.
Good luck Teddy
Talking to the Mike
AUGUST 31, 2016
Here we go, Talking to the Mike column number 3.
The first week is over for WV HS football. ….some teams are better than they thought and others not as good. One game does not a season make though. Let’s talk about Capital High for a second. I gave them kudos last week for taking on a team out of Ky, Johnson City. From the highlights I saw JC looked to be a handful for any of our AAA schools. I look for Capital to bounce back this week. They have the talent and the coach. I really like the coach and wish him a long career, he’s good for WV HS football. As a AA team at Poca, we once hosted a AAAA team from KY and if my memory serves me right their coach made the comment he hated to bring his team to a little podunk town called Poca but hey a win was a win. Final score….Poca had 46 I think….team from Ky….not as many….win Dots
Hustle on the weekly Friday night football shows continue to bother me. Want to win. Want to play college football Want to be a good team mate and player? Hustle on every play and good things will happen. I promise
How many teachers sit their kids by alphabetical order? That will change at Huntington High thus week with their young QB Luke Zban. You might remember that name as his daddy was a hot shot good looking QB out of Huntington East Pony Express days gone by. Mark Zban signed with Ohio State before transferring to Marshall. Zban found his spot under center for the Herd when a injury move a guy named Pennington into the lineup and as they say….he got Pipped….as in Wally Pipp. Don’t know the story of Wally Pipp? Google it….I have enough of a problem putting these sentences together. …lol
Let’s hope young Zban continues to work hard and improves his skills and continues to be a positive influence on the community. Something tells me there will be no worries. …Luke….Mark is your father….lol, couldn’t resist
After suffering some huge injuries the WVU Mountaineers will still show up. ..I get the feeling that Holgs has his team ready to face all comers. Does that mean being favored no matter who they play? No. It means that after 5 or 6 seasons he has his program moving in direction he wants…is it there yet….no.
Hot seat candidate? Yes. I’m my hot seat ? No
It would be different if I thought the gut wasn’t trying. Was just in it for the cool tshirts. No sir, I get the feeling that one day somethings is gonna click and you’ll never in your life find someone that wanted him fired. Well, on the record, I’m not one looking for his job. I’d rather see him and his team jump out to a 5-0 record and then shift into another level of intensity and bring home a strong finish.
Until next week, this has been column number 3, Taking to the Mike
Have a storyline or older Mountaineer you’d like me to interview. Let me know. I’ve toyed with the idea of putting together a list of 10 questions to ask each interviewee , same 10 questions to each person. I think that would be interesting. Send me one of the questions you would ask to RSNsports.com
AUGUST 24, 2016
OK sports fans…..week one of the high school football season is upon us. The bumps and bruises are starting to heal, the modified two a days are behind you and game preparation is on your minds.
Here are some things that I believe will make you and your team successful this year.
1) Hustle on every play. Lineman especially can make the difference with down field blocking
2) Listen to your coach and not the fans in row 3. You may not understand the grand scheme of things but your coach does and I can almost assure you the guy in the third row doesn’t have a clue…..you want success…..listen to the coach
3) One play at a time. Tried and true. Play to the whistle and regardless of the outcome reload for the next play
4) Did I mention hustle?
5) Believe in your team mates. No matter what anyone says this is not war, this is not life or death. It is however a lesson in life and will give you memories you will talk about for many years to come. Make those memories be good ones
6) Practice hard every down. If your plans are to play college football , You never know when a scout will stop by to watch you practice. It’s also a way for you to see playing time on Friday night. Every play
7) Last one. I’ve mentioned hustle and playing hard. When I watch a play there are 2 things that immediately pop into my mind. The players that are hustling and putting forth the effort and the slacker. When you watch the highlights on the news see if the players that standout the most aren’t the ones that are loafing. Don’t stand out for that reason
My week one prediction is a game that has a lot of meaning for me. I lived on the Putnam County side of Nitro and thus went to school at Poca. Bryce Casto is a proven winner and will get the Wildcats where they need to be. Seth Ramsey has a goal of returning the Dots to prominence and is in the process of rebuilding.
This is a tough one for me to pick but I told myself I’d be honest and pick with my head and not me heart.
Dots fans, better days are ahead and I will not be disappointed to lose this one.
Nitro 21 Poca 12
See ya next week