Hoosiers flip UCF receiver commit Phil Benker #iufb

Indiana flipped UCF commit Phil Benker on Monday, making the Florida receiver the seventh member of a rapidly growing 2016 recruiting class.

Benker, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound receiver, tweeted on Monday evening that he was switching his verbal pledge to Indiana. The Jacksonville, Fla. native was on campus for a visit last weekend.

“After long hard thoughts and discussions with my family I have decided to flip my commitment to Indiana University,” Benker wrote. “I would like to thank the UCF staff for allowing me to be (a part) of their family but we had to make a business decision! Excited for the future! #GoIU”

Benker is Indiana’s fourth commit in three days and the first receiver in its 2016 class. 247 Sports rates Benker as a three-star prospect, while Rivals gives him two stars. Benker was UCF’s first commitment of the 2016 class when he verballed in late March, choosing the Knights over offers from Wake Forest, Duke, Colorado, Troy and Alabama State.

Benker hauled in 59 passes for 1,062 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior last season at Sandalwood High. His high school quarterback, Eli Peters, is an Illinois commit in the same class.

Benker’s commitment came only hours after three-star cornerback A’Shon Riggins announced his commitment to the Hoosiers. Those two followed three-star Georgia defensive lineman Allen Cater on Sunday and three-star safety Khalil Bryant on Saturday. They’re joined in the 2016 class by Alabama running back Tyus Flakes and Cincinnati prospects Peyton Ramsey, a quarterback, and defensive lineman Ryan Smith.

IU, Illinois and Purdue each have seven commitments for 2016, a three-way tie for the fewest in the conference. The other 11 Big Ten programs have at least 10 commitments, led by Michigan State’s 19.

126 comments

  1. Chet-

    Something made me think of you. 500 hp and a backseat for the wife and scruffy too!

  2. While back for my old friend’s memorial I toured campus for the first time in quite a while. Took in Cook Hall. All that jazz.

    It’s all so much more than in my day. The campus seems twice as big, if that’s even possible.

    I did grab lunch at Nick’s (Italian beef) and hit some of the old haunts. One of my dearest friends met me for lunch. Our freshman year her work study job was at the library. Forty years later she still works there. That’s just not in my DNA. Good for her.

    Memory Lane. Beck Chapel, the Union, strolling through campus. I found I’d lost the ability to breathe 90 degree humidity laden air. I’m glad to be back in Colorado.

    It was great fun but, in the words of Asheville’s Thomas Wolfe, ‘you can’t go home again’.

    Time marches on.

  3. I Disagree, Chet. Maybe it depends on how much time we spend growing up at home. For every basketball court we used to play on or every tree we used to climb or every hole we used to fish or house we used to egg or every back road we used to cruise or every place we kissed a girl or every grocery store we shopped or every house we used to live in that’s no longer there, there’s new wonder in its place. New places to discover. And for my children to discover. And there’s always more old haunting grounds to re-explore if you get tired of finding new ones. You and I, and probably our great-great-grand kids will be long gone before half of these irreplaceable treasures are gone. It just depends on what you experienced, and how much you treasured it. Bloomington is my hometown. I spent two decades living it. A small part of me dies every time I go home, but a new part of me grows. And I still find some home every time I visit. And I always will.

  4. That said, I didn’t mean to soil your experience. I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you got to revisit and relive, and take some solace in remembering your friend and the times you spent. And smiled. Cheers, amigo.

  5. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the visit. The changes weren’t so much about Bloomington or the campus, they were about me.

    Somehow I had blocked out the withering summer heat and humidity. I’d forgotten that lines of traffic are not restricted to major cities. My summer memories of the Student Union were of wide, cool corridors…not shoulder to shoulder humanity.

    The campus is still beautiful…it’s probably even more beautiful. I’d be lying if I said Bloomington was as charming. Kirkwood is now lined with generic franchise stores such as Urban Outfitters, Jimmy Johns type eateries, and the like. Nick’s, Village Deli, and Cafe Pizzeria still hold down the fort but they are shouldered between Panda Express and other dime a dozen airport food-like establishments.

    The streets are filled with cars and nary a bicycle in sight.

    The athletic facilities between 17th and the loop are very impressive, I must say.

    Time marches on. The current batch of students would probably think the Bloomington I lived in was a dump. Maybe it was but it was my dump.

    It’s all fine. Years from now those students will probably voice the same issues.

    I’ve been living in the mountains of North Carolina and, now, high up in the Rockies for over 30 years. I have become accustomed to worrying more about elk than bad drivers when I’m on the road. To quote more than one ex-girlfriend, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

    Stepping off the airplane and breathing that cool, dry Colorado air after a week in a sauna was incredible.

    All that being said I’m likely to spend even more time in the area in the near future as my little girl will be attending grad school in Indy for the next three years.

    I still love Bloomington and the IU campus. It’s just not the same place I once knew.

    Punjab, Tom’s memorial was what we should all hope for. Big turnout. Lots of laughs mixed with tears and countless funny stories that left you gasping for breath. Shooting arrows at inanimate objects during the day and a flaming arrow salute after dark. While I share no DNA with them, this is my de facto family. These are the people I visit when I travel. We haven’t all been in the same place in 20 years. It was glorious.

  6. We had a very comfortable day immediately after you left, Chet…That’s how it works here in Indiana. Last night was beautiful with very little to no humidity. The temp was around 70 degrees. Of course, I grew up in NW Indiana and even during the hottest of summers there was the influence of Lake Michigan and Canadian cold fronts/air that would sometimes not push as far southward as Bloomington. I experienced quite the mixture of weather in NW Indiana…We would have the hot and humid summer days…exceptionally beautiful fall days that were crisp and cool in the early mornings and finish by sunset with almost a warmth an August day…We always called it “Indiana Summer”:…In the wintertime, Lake Michigan would be the energizer to fuel storms and cold fronts with moisture that would pummel us with snows in the countryside that could easily push 20″ totals in the breath a major overnight squall.

    I loved the change of seasons and the opportunity to experience holidays and summers with the varying strokes of natures signature upon the memories…Kicking leaves along sidewalks under Autumn’s moon…the stiffing hot summers mixed with rains to feed the gardens and grow the tomatoes into the sweetest accompaniment a Sunday dinner of fried chicken and fresh sides of corn and green beans grown of you own hand….And the harsh winters that could allow your home to feel like the fortress a man’s pride to build a strong blanket against the elements where a fireplace with actual could actually be a fireplace, roar of flame from cuts of dried timber brought from the outside to the box, rather than the wimpy things that burn a stove-like gas flame inside a glass box a foolish claim to be called a “fireplace.”

    And then there’s those incomparable memories of high school basketball tournaments when Indiana had the single class, one champion, system that build gave every town a reason to live a dream for a few weekends in March…..And the rivalries that could develop in those sectionals and hometown gyms were like nothing I guess we ever could go back.

    I’m not sure if we never need to go back…All memories live like the oak trees and maple trees along the streets my memories…They green in spring and warm in the summer…They keep by a fire in harshest nights of winter and quiet for awhile in retreat for the next chance to bloom and give to the sun a new leaf. Memories don’t have to be stagnant things…Nor do they have to be a thing that passes with our ending heart or a move away a place. We drop the acorn our last fall for new leaves to kick and the tales to our children can be the water to feed a place in their own new garden..The old summers long and hot harvest in the new… And the vines that taste the morning dew feed those sweet red homegrown tomatoes carrying a memory or two of Indiana days seemingly endless and bright where the earth held us in her arms once so delicate and innocent a seedling of earliest myth and might.

  7. Yeah, the weather was changing my last morning there. It was certainly more pleasant.

    I’m not really trying to compare the places. That’s not fair or even reasonable. You can’t exactly come here and start a business (for the most part) and, while a fair number of people do get up and drive to Durango for work, it’s a bit short of convenient.

    It’s a beautiful spot in Colorado that hasn’t been stricken by the Aspen or Vail disease. It’s a hidden gem that does not require wealth but you do have to have a steady income that you are not likely find close by. I’m lucky to be here.

    We have wonderful seasonal changes but, naturally, they are different. While we have few maples to show off their autumn glory, the aspen and cottonwoods are pretty spectacular. Winter seem to defy logic as you can get a foot or 2 of snow yet comfortably ski without a jacket in 25 degree weather because if the intensity of the sun.

    But, again, that’s only great if you can stay home and spend the day skiing.

    Bloomington has jobs and stores and hospitals and a university and scores of restaurants within walking distance. I have scenery and solitude. If the sights and sounds of the city are part of the equation for where you find your comfort zone then you’d certainly hate it here.

    There is no perfect place, just the place (or places) that is perfect for you. For me, I think I’m on to something out here.

  8. I remember Husky Tom telling me of Annecy, France. That sounded like heaven.

  9. Those were the days of high school basketball having one champion. I remember so many games being played with grit and passion as a teenager. How could they ever have though this system is better? Guess everyone needs a trophy.

  10. IU traffic. Don’t go anywhere near there on game days, football.

    Chet, just missed you. I was on campus Tuesday, showing some friends.

  11. Love Colorado, love Bloomington. Proud also to say that, even as a west coaster, I love the humidity and can’t get enough of it. Walking down Kirkwood on a summer evening at 9PM in sandals and a tshirt, not the least bit uncomfortable, watching fireflies and feeling the thick air opening up your pores and making you feel alive…hard to beat. If a pop-up Iso T-storm drifts through, even better.

    Annecy was a place I’ll never forget, Harvard. Big beautiful lake in a picturesque mountain town, cobblestone streets, open air markets with charcuterie and fresh fruit, huge loaves of bread sticking out of baskets, musicians tucked in corners playing cellos and fiddles.

  12. Though my writing has frozen its feeble attempts at poetry
    And nothing to the winds through the palms is a breath of easy prose,
    Up from the depths, at the sound of footsteps tapping the gray sun-washed planks,
    A walk to the end of the pier to the place a lonely heart’s dangling toes
    A slippery white nose breaks the glass of the warm crystal clear sea
    The great white whale, a man, or myth? A song that never found the sands or hours to drift?
    The baker, Pierre, calls from streets of cobblestones into the salty air of endless oceans
    To matter not where the melancholy goes and takes to swallow all lasting emotions?
    For now we do not waste to currents and readied sails the wonder of it all..
    I plead to resurrect the ghost of islands formed in the coral of words
    And to all the boundless stars of night and to the colorful dreams I call!
    There she blows!….There she blows! From deepest waters he rose!

  13. A story about game day traffic and my recently deceased buddy…

    We lived in the residential area bordered by Willkie Quad and Third Street. Needing essentials from the old Krogers on Third we set off in Tom’s Beetle. It was October 29th, 1977. Both Halloween and Tom’s birthday would fall the next Monday…so it was party night. The game had ended about 45 minutes earlier.

    As you may recall Thrid Street heading west drops from 5 lanes to 2 as you get to campus. We were stopped at Bryan (?) and Third waiting for traffic to part and let us through to the turn lane. As the nearest lane ended in a couple blocks there were no cars in it but the next lane was quite backed up.

    The cars moved and opened a gap for us. Tom glances left…then right…then pulls out…

    …right into the path of the totally unimpeded bus that topped the slight rise to our left…

    The bus hit the left side of Tom’s Beetle shearing away most of the car in front of our knees. I can still picture the wall of glass flying across the car and bouncing of the passenger side glass just before it exploded.

    The car was lifted up and deposited in a nearby yard. The bus driver appeared next to us, obviously certain we were dead.

    Other than a few nasty cuts and bruises we were unscathed.

    The car clung precariously together with a few bits of metal on the passenger side. We had to wait and sign the denial of care form for EMS (we were practically in front of their station). As we waited the wrecker arrived. With no insurance Tom just told him to drop it off at our house on Clark St. a few blocks away…where our girlfriends were awaiting blissfully unaware of recent event. We later learned the driver dropped off the car and said he didn’t know anything about its occupants.

    We arrived to find them apparently mourning our deaths. While relieved, it would be an exaggeration to say they were happy with us.

    At this point we realized we had failed on the original mission and never made it to Krogers. Tom asked his girlfriend (later to be his wife) if we could borrow her car.

    She declined.

    Tom Swift 1952 – 2015.
    IU Class of 1978.

  14. oops…that would be Harvard for Hillbillies

    or, if you prefer, Hardfarts for Heebie-jeebies(insert green smiley face).

    Where would Vic and Cody have placed in tonight’s NBA draft?. Can you say irrelevant?

  15. If you mean ‘knowing what we know now’ Cody might not be as high but Vic would certainly be the first player picked. He’s a great NBA player. If your choice is between a great NBA player and the guys in this year’s draft it’s an easy call.

  16. Really? You think Vic can compare to a D’Angelo Russell? I still can’t believe that the “experts” aren’t predicting D’Angelo to go #1.

    Teams don’t get up for playing the bottom-dwellers….I’m not sure Vic is as hot of a commodity as some would like to think. Only time will tell if he can take his “magic” to the higher echelon teams once his stint with the Orlando Magic is over. I’m not so convinced that translates to the same level of stardom/relevance as what has seemingly come to fruition on a lowly team. His offensive skill set just doesn’t compare to a D’Angelo Russell.

    Dellavedova could be a star in Orlando.

  17. I didn’t think you watched much NBA, Chet. Because he’s in an NBA dunk contest preceding an All-Star game, makes him a “great” NBA player? I’d say he’s far from great. “Great” should be reserved for names like Bird, Johnson, Jordan, LeBron, Robertson, Isiah Thomas, etc.

  18. Cody will go down as Jordan’s greatest blunder as an owner. Great players don’t necessarily make great businessmen or great sports analysts/journalists…or great singers..or great golfers….or great gamblers. All you need is a great ego and the hype machines in your corner.

  19. Vonleh headed to Portand….I always liked Noah. Hope he finds success in Portland….At least he’s out of the horrifically boring Carolina area. Portland seems like a cool town..

    1. You never know how these things will turn out, but the question with Russell is far more mental than physical. He has tremendous upside, but Victor’s work ethic is more of a sure thing, whether that ever qualifies as All-Star caliber. Personally, I see D’Angelo more likely to end up Stephon Marbury than Steph Curry, but maybe that’s more about the situation he lands in.

  20. I just like the overall game of Russell….and I think there’s way more star potential/natural charisma to build a team around. ..Probably why the Lakers are so interested. I know nothing of his work ethic as it compares to Oladipo.

  21. Vic averaged 18-4-4 as a rookie. Shot 82% from the stripe. If you think if you put the two one on one against each other today Victor would not eat Russell alive you’re out of you’re mind. One is an established NBA player and the other is a college kid with potential.

  22. I should have said ‘Vic averaged 18-4-4 as a rookie playing a new position. Not many people have the skills to move from a shooting guard in college to playing the point in the NBA.

  23. Those stats are on the Orlando Magic…Nobody brings their best against the lowlife teams. And just because I think Russell has more overall skills(especially as a creator and a long range shooter), doesn’t mean you have to get nasty and use terms like “you’re out of your mind.” It’s an opinion, Chet. But it’s not an opinion that you once claimed you watched very little NBA…I believe those old comments are part of the history of Scoop. If Victor can one day translate his success to fighting for a role on a playoff worthy team that is taken seriously, then he can move into the realm of consideration something remotely close to a “great” professional talent.

  24. One on one…? I definitely take Russell. He has plenty of experience and skills for someone of Oladipo’s talent..

  25. We’ll see. Didn’t mean to insult you. If Russell is half the player Oladipo is he’ll be a success in the League. Lucky for him he’ll be on a team worse than the Magic so any stats he puts up shouldn’t be taken seriously either.

  26. No harm, Chet.

    But you are right about the Lakers…Guess you have to be rather horrible to get high draft picks. Koby took that team down with the same classless behavior he left in a Denver hotel room. I doubt he’ll be a quality mentor to Russell. He’ll scrap and claw for his fading relevance and likely sabotage anything that could be positive for the Lakers. Orlando 25 wins…vs. Lakers 21 wins… ? Yippee. That’s two piles of dog excrement hardly worth my comparisons their overall team “greatness.”

  27. Kaminsky to Charottle. Goodbye Cody.

    Would love to see Cody go to the Lakers……Put him with a true future star in Russell.

  28. You’ve been pretty clear that you hold a grudge against Victor for ‘only’ playing three years (and graduating) from IU but let’s be honest. He IS one of the better players in the League and he IS getting significantly better as time passes. There’s not an NBA guy out there that feels differently. I do listen to ESPN.

    His stats are arguably better that Steph Curry’s at the same point in his career and teams were most definitely not psyching up to play Curry and Golden State before this year.

    The thing is, he’s a really, really good player and you look kinda silly being dismissive of his success.

  29. I hear absolutely no chatter about him whatsoever, Chet. ..His game isn’t big enough to get noticed on an irrelevant team. And I don’t think teams that want to contend for titles will ever take much interest in Oladipo via a trade. He’s just not a natural scorer. And he sorta moves up and down the court like an Ostrich in a hurry.. There’s really nothing that smooth in his game. There’s never been anything consistent in his shooting ability(especially from the perimeter). I think you look silly in your adulation for a player that can pad his stats on a crappy team but really can’t compare to someone with true star potential…(e.g. Jimmy Butler). Stick to motorcycles and wrestling. .

  30. And Golden State played through a lot of teams with true stars sidelined because of season-ending injuries. Possibly one of the most fluke championships in decades…Easy to get caught up in things, but Curry will never lead a dynasty team. I highly doubt they’ll even get past the second round next year.

  31. That’s just silly.

    He finished second in the voting for rookie of the year receiving quite a few first place votes.

    A quick check showed that he lit up 4 different playoff teams for 30+. I guess I get a different ESPN because I hear his name all the time.

    Yet, you want to label him as NBA dog meat when compared to a guy that never even laced up and, as far as I can see, hasn’t exactly led any team to any particular heights.

    Now, you’re saying the League MVP and leader of the current champion ‘is no Jimmy Butler’. That Andrew Luck is OK but he’s no Tommy Maddox.

    That’s some of the funniest stuff you’ve ever written on here.

  32. One more thing, while I’m certainly not a big Golden State fan, they were the number one seed because they won more games than any other team in the League. All year long. So, you’re trying to tell me that every team in the NBA was suffering some sort of injury plague that only kicked in whenever Golden State appeared on their schedule?

    Classic stuff.

  33. No, Chet. You’re getting it wrong, again. I believe Oladipo to be no Jimmy Butler. Curry is a great player and a shooter like no other. But let’s also realize that Golden State won that championship going through a Thunder team with no Durant or Westbrook and a Cavs team with no Love or Erving ….

    And Andrew Luck is no Joe Montana..or no Peyton Manning…or not even a Jim McMahon. Not yet. He’s Young, Not as in Steve Young. But I also don’t see the “it factor” in Luck. There’s that special magnetism and love to build something bigger than yourself that comes with the true “great” classification you want to throw around like silly putty onto a wall. To make that leap for a second year player on a bottom-dweller team, simply because he played for the “glory of Old IU’ , is an insult to the true legendary players of the past and those superstars that can take put their teams on their backs even when the rosters are depleted.

    It’s not just a raw talent equation. Do you honestly think there weren’t hundreds of players better than Bird in the athletic equation(even in an era seeing nothing like the high-flying athletes on the court today)? Next thing you know, you’ll be talking like a Scoop journalist to build your blog support. You’ll be comparing Hanner Perea to the next Hakeem Olajuwon.

    I don’t have a grudge against Oladipo. He’s done no more personal harm to me to hold a grudge than what he’s done to you in personal welfare that equates to excessive/strange adulation. He is no more legendary at IU than he’ll be in the NBA. There is no banner, Elite 8, or Final Four, next to his name. For all that love of Crean and candy stripes, he truly is more to Orlando and selling tickets for a bottom-feeding team in the swamp state. He left, like many that had too much to risk for things no dollars can buy, where true legends don’t desire things left undone. He’s to stardom on the NBA court as Crean is to stardom on the college coaching sideline. We create these things more than they truly exist in the reality of a worthy comparison to once-in-a-lifetime, Hall of Fame, talent that is etched onto the memory of sport.
    Leader….multitude of skills that encompass nearly every skill set for any game…court vision/field vision….a natural and unforced style and comfortable personality that pulls in every lens of every camera…..the bigger the stage, the bigger the performance(and I’m not talking singing sideshows or proving you can jump through a flaming hoop and play a better than average game of basketball). ..Clutch…smooth…steady….truly memorable to withstand the generations in the rearview mirror and those yet to come? Oladipo? Who?

    Then again, I’m not sure if we allow any talent to mature into something honest and memorable before we overly hype it and market it into something its never going to live up to. The NBA product is too big for true legends anymore. …much like what Calipari(and Crean to a less successful extent) has brought to the utmost reason to live in slathering individual phenoms with “greatness” to the college game. That’s the reality you’re placing Oladipo as something already accomplished and legendary to be lumped in like clumps in mashed potatoes with all the rest those “greats.” I find it so shallow and so exhaustive..and so unsophisticated…and so too easy. Gone are the creative minds and creative journalists that can truly bring more to the table or a broadcast…or a blog… Gone are men that can “tell it like it is,” though, heaven forbid, they may have never played the game

  34. Then again, I’m not sure if we allow any talent to mature into something honest and memorable before we overly hype it and market it into something its never going to live up to. The NBA product is too big for true legends anymore. …

    Read that over a couple dozen times, Chet. That’s not a grudge. That’s step-back three. That’s seeing there’s nothing there and confidently drilling in game-winner. That’s a Bird dagger to go along with all those memorable no-look passes and things that defy a logic of what can and can’t be done with a round ball heading for a round hoop. You don’t always have to be fancy. You don’t always have to put on a show to be legendary. You just see things for what they are….and you drill it as if it’s your morning cup of coffee. You ain’t looking for what some blowbag on First Take, Calipari, or some toupee-wearing prognosticator is going to write or say….You just play the game like a god and go on about your business.

  35. We’ll see.

    I doubt that there is an NFL expert anywhere that doesn’t think that Andrew Luck is the best young quarterback in a decade. I’ve heard it time and again from every NFL prognosticator in the business.

    But, hey, believe whatever you like.

  36. Oh, almost forgot. Stick to motorcycles, wrestling, your hot catholic girlfriends from college days, cockpits, mountain life, and legalized pot corndogs at a county fair. Leave basketball to where passion belongs.

  37. I just caught that. ‘Andrew Luck is no Jim McMahon’. Was there ever anyone anywhere that ever thought Jim McMahon was a really good quarterback?

    Time to skip last call, Dude.

  38. Thanks for allowing me to believe whatever I like….Do I need to electronically sign something and email it back to you? No, I’m not a fan of Luck. I’m a fan of gritting it out and eff-you in your face. If it was merely about talent, Rex Grossman would be in the NFL Hall of Fame. …instead of a Chicago Hall of Shame.

    But you keep living in your hype bubble…I hear there is only humidity in Indiana….and a ton of summer hot air courtesy Harvard. Best stay away from the place as much as possible.

  39. You’re the guy that can’t stand people that play their sport in Indiana…unless they’ve somehow moved Chicago to the Hoosier state.

    You’re all about Illinois when it comes to sports figures.

    That can’t be fun.

    See you later, dude. All in fun.

  40. Greatness isn’t just having the raw oodles of talent, Chet. It’s summoning your unique skills to a level you’ve not known until they are most needed. That’s what wins Super Bowls…and NBA Titles…and tiny Indiana sectionals when David spits in the face of Goliath….McMahon lived for those moments. And it that respect(at least on the NFL stage his young career), Luck’s last big stage was a walloping from the New England Patriots that made him look like a high school QB(much like Grossman in a big game). Luck has plenty of time to prove he’s something of Super Bowl pedigree. Do I think he’s in the class of the guy that came before him in Indy and built Lucas Stadium? Nope. He’ll need a lot more than Luck to be of that grade.

  41. It was all a tactical maneuver, Chet. I hope you found the “out of your mind” Harvard to be something helpful …If I brought you some tidbit of diversion to the harsh reality our mortal existence, then it can’t be all bad…I do know one thing…I will never be “great.”

  42. Chet-

    Hmm. “It’s all in fun”…? Don’t forget that it was you that said Tom Crean’s teams don’t appear to be having much “fun.” I’m paraphrasing your comments from a post last March(after our exit from the tournament), but, to your credit, you have had some moments when you’re borderline honesty comes through rather than thumping your chest to demonstrate your complete Hoosier(ness).

    Assembly Hall wasn’t always a rest area the purely puritanical that sell hype and religion on a pogo stick There was a day when guys weren’t drinking and taking to the roads…When football players weren’t drug dealers…I do remember the fun. It wasn’t the Knight years…It wasn’t the now. It was of very brief existence when we knew Hoosiers were really not Hoosiers in the egotistical sense our propped up morality in worlds of black and white…When young men brought the only love for something they could do with comfort while having fun…When, with a more humble purpose , brotherhood was before symbols on uniforms and condemnation of things…

    Yes, there was a very brief time that I actually found Hoosier Basketball to be fun. A time when I actually felt we were trying to be better rather than segregate out the chosen bad people of the streets and hate. But I’m pretty sure that’s not an opinion many would share in our “New Generation” and “Because it’s Indiana” world.

  43. You actually never used the word “fun”…but your description didn’t make for anything that sounded like fun. It follows:

    Chet #16

    Friday, March 20, 2015 – 8:40 PM EDT

    In the midst of, IMHO, the two most exciting days of college basketball I couldn’t help but notice, as I watched game after game, the absence of emotion among our Hoosiers. At least in comparison to most of the teams I watched. Every player on every team wore their emotions on their respective sleeves. The Hoosiers, not so much.

    It just seemed that way to me. Maybe it was my imagination.

    Jim McMahon…? That dude had fun…and played with emotion. Rex Grossman…? Jay Cutler..? Not so much.

  44. For those still following along…Found this. Thought it was sorta cute. Finally, something on a sports page to give a bit of a human touch. Maybe it’s not a sports page….Not really sure since it’s called the “Players’ Tribune.” Who would have thunked it? There’s some smart journalists out there that let someone else do the talking. If only a little, such groundbreaking stuff may have just made me more of a Cody Zeller fan. How Cody details and describes many of the pre-Draft “job” interviews with execs and owners is quite the fun read.

  45. Jim McMahon had the advantage of the Walter Payton and one of the best defenses ever. He was garbage other than that one season. Luck has carried a Colts team that every pundit states overachieves.while I admit they looked horrible against the cheatriots, that doesn’t degrade how Luck carried the team. Also, no denying Bird was awesome, but he played with many over average to great players during his time.

  46. In the 1980 Holiday Bowl, the Cougars faced an SMU team led by star running backs Craig James and Eric Dickerson, and the Mustangs built a 45–25 lead over BYU with just four minutes left in the game. As Cougar fans headed for the exits, McMahon screamed that the game was not over yet. He guided BYU’s offense to three quick touchdowns, including a 41-yard Hail Mary pass to Clay Brown to win the game as time expired. It is regarded as one of the greatest comebacks in college football history;
    BYU fans refer to it as the “Miracle Bowl”.

    (courtesy:Wikipedia)

    Some dudes just have the ‘it factor.” The funky QB they call McMahon ……

    And there will certainly never be another “Sweetness.”

  47. For his career he averaged a whopping 0.8 TDs/0.75 interceptions/game. That’s 100 TDs and 90 interceptions. Pretty close to a 1:1 TD/interception ratio.

    He had ‘it’ all right. Like Jamarcus Russell did.

  48. He had it when it counted. That’s a lot more than Cutler, Grossman, or the countless other Bears’ QB’s that threw/throw big playoff games down the tubes…He didn’t miss games because of stubbing a toe. He often played hurt…very hurt. He led a ’85 Bears team that only lost one game. He loved the stage and his teammates rallied around his natural leadership and “eff you” attitude. And how can you not love a QB that moons a group of intrusive journalists..?

    But I’m sure you know all, Chet…You likely never watched one Bears game he played.. The guy was a winner….and he made watching the game fun. He didn’t possess Andrew Luck’s size or power, but he played with confidence and a resiliency that epitomizes the toughness to succeed beyond a stat line.

    Watch four minutes of what a winner looks like. Big games…Big Monday Night stage…Big gonads…Not the familiar world of pocket fisherman snidely people. And FUN. I thought you liked fun, Chet? Are the mountains fun? Is your wife fun? Is toking on weed fun? Is Oladipo fun? Nope. He’s a narcissist who’s not nearly as talented as the crappy team he plays on makes him appear. And he didn’t know what to do with the big stage. Don’t sing when they don’t even know your name.

  49. And the guys in the trenches loved him……He never ceased to value(and make it known on the field with his signature helmet-butt to a lineman after a big play) that a QB is only as glamorous the unsung heroes that give him a pocket to work. He made those around him better…..Not everything lives in a stat sheet, Geoff Jr.

  50. And if you’ve ever watched the Bears play, the entire world knows when they are going to throw…One of the most notoriously predictable play calling teams in the history of the NFL. It was not a Bill Walsh offense….It was never designed to be. Predictability + Walter Payton + plus a bruiser style of football more about field position than run and gun = quite amazing percentage completion ratio for McMahon. And then Bears(especially in the heart of McMahon’s career and the Super Bowl season) were about fun rather than padding McMahon’s stats…..Who could ever forget handing the ball off to “The Fridge” against the Packers….? A little pitch-fake to Walter and simple corner route/misdirection to the end zone to give McMahon a simple 15-yd passing TD was not going to be in the equation. It was give to Walter flying over the top of a goal line defense or punishing runs in short yardage behind Perry or a fullback. How many times do you think McMahon got to throw the ball comfortably on 1st down?
    But just cling to those stats like a baby sucks to a nipple. Why? Because you don’t understand otherwise.

  51. When it was fun, Chet. Not like today..not puritanical bowbags always chasing the “wreckers” of the world or looking for those Sampson 3-way call weapons of mass destruction…..Not like Seahawk thugs spitting and spouting their hostile tone in the face of blond sideline reporters . Or a-holes appearing to be anti-fun because they’re just at a press table so “they don’t get fined.” And not like cheaters that have to deflate balls because they have no balls to play a game fair.

    Back when you beat up the other team rather than the cute ESPN girl….while deriding the receiver you outplayed the weekend before.
    Back when the Chicago Bears had talent with stones…A humble and determined Sweetness that was gentleman off the field. A time when a Bears team made the game what it was supposed to be….Duh….a G-A-M-E..

  52. Giving the ball to Perry, a defensive lineman, on the goal line against an outclassed opponent and denying Walter Payton a chance to score a touchdown in his only Super Bowl late in his career was the most classless play call I’ve ever seen.

  53. And what did the “great” Jim Harbaugh do on the Bears from 1987-1993(seven seasons)?

    50 TDs
    56 INTs
    73.8 pass Rat Avg over 7 years

    McMahon’s seven years with the Bears:
    67 TDs,
    56 INTs
    80.4 Pass Rat (Note: Before a lacerated kidney injury that knocked him out of the remaining ’84 season, McMahon was carrying a 97.8 pass rating….with 8 TDs and 2 INTs over the first 9 games)

    Move Harbaugh to an AFC Colt’s team with a different style and far different competition… and he looked like Johnny Uniitas, Oh, how I love stats. Harbaugh sucked in a Bears uniform…though the stats not truly indicative just how ghastly his performances.

    I’m pretty sure Ditka regrets his “classless’ decision to not let Sweetness have a Super Bowl TD…No disagreement on that one. Ditka always seemed to have a soft spot for the Fridge. It was wrong…Can’t disagree. I remember the look on Walter’s face on the sideline…He was such a wonderfully positive man….Such a decent human being.

  54. We’re having quite the FUN here.
    I can’t believe it’s been 30 years since the Bears last Super Bowl title.
    Those were truly the glory years…The Hoosiers were always relevant and my Bears were dominating the NFC with Sweetness and one of the best pass-rushing defenses known to the NFL.
    Winning is fun too. Shouldn’t have to wait 30 years for titles at places like IU and cities like Chicago. Fun shouldn’t be in such limited supply at fine Indiana institutions and a beautiful city on Lake Michigan that is the heart and beacon of the Midwest…I guess there’s the Blackhawks.

  55. Also the glory days of Indiana High School basketball when true :”winners” competed for ONE high school championship. Back when it was FUN to open the morning paper and search all the scores at all the statewide sectionals…From Jeffersonville to South Bend to Plymouth…to Chesterton…to East Chicago…to Bedford…to Lafayette Jeff …to Fort Wayne….to Gary…..and look high and low for the upsets and the blowouts and feel the fever of what March Madness in Indiana truly meant.

    Now everything is just a hype show, a dunk contest, and blue ribbons for all….as we watch phenoms turn into instant gazillionaires after meaningless h.s.butchered class tournaments and one-year of farting around in college. Yippee.

  56. ^ Half the fun was scouting the other team and traveling around to different cities within the state. People in general love the story of an underdog taking out a favorite in general. If the goal was to ruin high school basketball they succeeded. I wonder if every state goes by this model now?

  57. Probably not. But it was the Super Bowl and it was theater. The Fridge had been an integral part of a dominant defense ..And the man was a phenomenal athlete for his enormity. He was involved in passing the ball on options and caught a touchdown pass against the Packers. I’s not like they only picked the Super Bowl game to do something fun in the offensive game utilizing his abilities. Did you watch the last segment of one of the YouTube clips I provided a link where the Fridge jumps up and high-five’s Walter? My Lord, he almost gets as high off the turf as Payton.

    Found an old story today where McMahon was quotes as saying the Super Bowl was basically a bore. Sweetness will forever be one of the most beloved sports figures in Chicago history.. It was a bad decision by Ditka, but it tarnishes nothing of one of the most dynamic and powerful running backs ever. Walter Payton was a class act….and he defined work ethic.

    Chet-I recommend the book “Pure Payton“…It’s worth the purchase if simply for the DVD and the video highlights of Payton. I own a copy….and the DVD is a gem.
    Enjoyed chatting with you…Sorry I got a bit defensive and rude. .

  58. Top-10 Anagrams for Chesterton, Indiana

    10. Stretch One, Indiana
    9. He Test Corn, Indiana
    8. Her Cot Nest, Indiana
    7/ Ten Torches, Indiana
    6. Trench Toes, Indiana
    5. Troth Scene, Indiana
    4. Stench Tore, Indiana
    3. No Chet Rest, Indiana
    2. Chets Toner, Indiana
    1. Stoner Chet, Indiana

  59. You know, for a guy who doesn’t smoke pot I sure do get my name associated with it a lot on the Scoop.

    Could be worse. Had I moved to Alabama I’d no doubt be accused of lynchings.

  60. The Strater Hotel the narrator referred to is where Louis L’Amour wrote his western novels. He would bring his family to Durango and stay for weeks in the room directly above the saloon (now named the Diamond Belle. The waitresses still wear dance hall gal outfits.) with the honky tonk piano (still there) music drifting up from below adding to the ambiance.

    A block or so down the street, in 1906, Sheriff William Thompson battled Durango’s marshal, Jesse Stansel, in front of what is now El Moro Spirits and Tavern (El Moro Saloon back then). The battle ended badly when Thompson was mortally wounded by Stansel in their dispute regarding an illegal gambling operation taking place in a local saloon.

    It’s an interesting little city with a colorful history. I personally don’t know that I’ve ever seen the streets quite as empty as they were in that video. It’s usually quite the hopping place.

  61. If you lived in Alabama you also couldn’t play lotto or go to a casino. State won’t let the citizens vote on it. Dead issue.

  62. Your mind is a sponge, Chet. Always very impressed with your interest in the world around you….So many people just don’t care. So few storytellers anymore. I think you’ve played a lot larger role in your kids doing so well and succeeding in college than you give yourself credit. Growing up in a household that is filled with learning and exploration is a great gift so many don’t get. I can see why you really enjoy new places…It’s because you love the history and the tales of other lives that should not go forgotten.

  63. Chet …. Don’t forget the lynchings that happened in Marion Indiana Back in the 20’s and 30’s. For being in the self righteous north Indiana had more KKK members than some southern states. Indiana is just Kentucky with more corn. Yep, good ole Corntucky.

  64. Ben.. By the way a state senate committee approved a bill for a state lottery last month. It’s still in the works, but it’s hardly a “Dead issue”.

  65. Yeah, that was an unfortunate period. Nothing to be proud about there.

    If there was a saving grace, at the end of the day the grand dragon that moved to Indiana to establish the klan operation did end up a resident of the Indiana State Penitentiary. At least there is that.

    To be fair, Indiana (and IU) certainly has produced more successful individuals who, in general, left a positive mark on the world than Kentucky. I once asked a friend and UK alumnus to name 5 UK alumni who went on the be great successes or do great things and he couldn’t include basketball players. He could name three.

  66. I consider Marion to be North Central Indiana. Certainly not Northern Indiana or Northwest Indiana….The founding member of the Klan that was responsible for infiltrating Indiana was from Georgia…They set up in Evansville and had their heaviest presence in Indianapolis during the 1920’s. His partner that Chet speaks of had roots in Oklahoma and Texas.

    It’s also my understanding that this “Dragon” from the Southern United States was eventually paroled and ended up in Tennessee His original imprisonment was the result of being “tried and convicted in a notorious abduction, rape, and murder of a young white woman” in 1925. The main early foothold the Klan activities and influences were in Evansville and Indianapolis. A very ugly chapter in Indiana History..

    But there are also many current ugly chapters including the pathetic conditions of public schools in the IPS system and the segregation a solid education continually following an inexcusable and disproportionate number of African American households..

    There is not a lot of hope in this country(all cities across this primarily white and wealthy land) where little is done for the rooted hopelessness of a locked-in struggling and stagnant economic class faced with nothing short of economic imprisonment on dangerous and drug-ridden streets with nothing of enough job opportunities/skills or access to quality education to foster avenues of change or a sense of hope for their children..

    Our country should be ashamed that such talking points be given to the media mirage of fighting racism on CNN when our cities live in such institutionalized versions of it. Equal rights begin with equal access and safe streets. No President of this rich country has done much of anything but pander to big business while so many, often heavily weighted in African American populations our cities, have nothing of a quality of life that approaches liberty and justice for all.

  67. Compliments for your great poem on this thread, Harvard. Sorry for not complementing you earlier. I’m down to an occasional sullen weekly check-in on the Scoop these days.

    I happen to completely agree with you about the Warriors. They faced 4 straight teams with injured point guards en route to their gifted title. That, and Iguodala discovered lightning in a bottle (How in God’s name does a guy shoot twice as well from the 3 point arc as he does from the free throw line?). A healthy Kyrie, not to mention Love, would have spelled an entirely different outcome.

  68. Seahawk-

    A poem that was far from great, but thanks nonetheless. Only check into Scoop once a week? You must have a nee addiction or, possibly, a life. Hope you’re doing well and enjoying your new stomping grounds.

    Come on, man….Dellavedova easily brings the same firepower as Love, Irving, and Varejao combined. But we should also point out that the Bulls had nothing near100 health(an injured Gasol that could not play in the final games against the Cavs, a Noah that’s battled through a hamstring injury, .Gibson with shoulder issues,.and a D-Rose that was just coming back off, yet, another knee issue, and is still nothing of his old self). So, I guess it could be argued that the Cavs faced a very depleted Bulls team before Irving was out of the mix against the Warriors.

    Not a big fan of Golden State. Once the Bulls were finished, I was cheering for LeBron and the “Rustbelt” and “Rock & Roll” city from the shores of Erie I got rather sick of watching Curry with his pacifier posing as a mouth in the close-up camera shots. Get the hell over yourself. He was obviously not breastfed as a child. Maybe he sees the bottom of the nets as a large bosom in waiting…?

  69. RAM,

    That is good to hear. Thanks for the update. It’s time for this state to adopt some changes. Everyone just goes to Georgia, Mississippi or Flordia anyways. We had a business man actually build a theme park with a casino in my hometown but the folks in Montgomery made him close it down. They actually sent him to prison over it. Maybe he shouldn’t moved in 15 miles south into Florida but I admire him taking a risk. Thanks again.

  70. Harv, I couldn’t even fully explain to people why I had grown to detest Curry so much throughout the playoffs. I’ve heard the argument that he’s a small school kid who made it big in the pros– not some supremely gifted one-and-done phenom who makes a mockery of collegiate athletics at some big time school- and those are the ones we should root for (especially underdog connoisseurs like you and I.) Sure. Except his NBA bloodlines kinda nullifies that argument. He makes some great plays, but also takes way too many ill-advised shots that would get most players benched. They just happened to go in at a remarkable rate. I wasn’t a fan of him parading around his daughter, either. I get it. Sassy two year olds are cute. I’ve had three of them now. But it wreaked of publicity stunt with false humility. And I’m never a fan of showboating. But that mouth guard/pacifier (I used the same term) nonsense was maybe what put it all over the top. Irked the living hell out me.

    Okay. Rant over.

  71. “also takes way too many ill-advised shots that would get most players benched. They just happened to go in at a remarkable rate”

    Sounds like a description of Pete Maravich. Do yourself a favor and check out some Youtube on Pistol Pete. Unbelievable. Had there been a three point arc when he played in college his scoring records might never be broken.

  72. He’s still the all time NCAA scoring leader even though freshmen couldn’t play in his day and there was no 3-point shot.

    Amazing.

    I watched him put up 54 against Kentucky.

  73. I checked out the videos, Chet, and he was amazing. But the videos don’t show the whole story. It’s like the mixed tapes the kids and their promoters put out on YouTube. Nothing but highlights. No bad shots. No turnovers. No inattentive or lax defense. No sulking. No problems that throw red flags. You take the good and are clueless about the other.

    I hate that I’m doing this, but Maravich never led LSU to the tourney. Never led New Orleans to any spectacular heights. Never had a bunch of cast offs and role-players step up in a huge way and deliver when the star (MVP of the league) got relegated to 2nd, 3rd, or 4th fiddle.

    Or maybe he did. I don’t know. But to me, comparing a legendary player (Pete) in reference to a current streaky player who would be nothng more than a max contract and circus attraction on an overachieving team in a few years (see Anthony, Carmelo) cheapens what Pistol was. Pete was transcendent. I didn’t have to watch videos to understand that. Curry? He’s a baby who got bailed out again and again in the playoffs, and would seemingly always get another chance at greatness after he failed to hit the big shot. Big Ten’s own Draymond gave him how many second chances to hit the big shot? Sometimes persistency delivers, I guess. But he’s no Pistol.

  74. Oh man, thank you Harvard and Punjab for those words about Curry. Feel the same way. Grew to hate Curry in the finals, but it’s so sacrilegious to say you hate Stephen Curry, so I kept it quiet. Thanks for breaking the seal for me to open up.

    Harvard, your Bulls argument is tenable. Still think the Cavs would have prevailed with both teams at full strength. Where is Jimmy Butler going next season? I like him.

  75. As Chet suggested with the addition of the 3pt shot I would suspect both goals Punjab complains Pistol did not attain would have became attainable. He and Wilt were the best offensive weapons on the hardwood I ever watched, bar none.

  76. Of course, Pete wasn’t just a scorer. John Havlicek called him the best ball handler to ever play the game. He was also an extraordinary passer.

    Pete chose to play for his dad at lowly LSU, a team that won 3 games his freshman (ineligible) year. He was drafted by a Hawks team whose offense consisted of pounding the ball inside to Walt Bellamy on every possession. He still averaged nearly 28/game his last season there. Because of the poor fit, after 4 seasons he was traded to an expansion team, the New Orleans Pelicans. It wasn’t until his last season, with a pair of worn out knees, that he was on a quality Celtics team that played a red hot Sixers team and Dr. J in the playoffs.

    Would Michael Jordan have become a household name if he played his college ball at Mississippi State and spent his career on expansion teams and cellars dwellers with mediocre coaches instead of Hall of Famers Dean Smith and Phil Jackson?

    Who knows?

  77. I guess I have a soft spot for Curry because I saw him play a good bit in college. My younger son competed in the same conference during the same time period (different sport) and we’d try to catch the home Davdison games as they were about a hour away. He was always composed and dignified on the floor(as well as being pretty much unstoppable) and he was the last guy in the world to give up bulletin board material. Davidson came within 2 points of a Final Four. That’s remarkable.

    Not being a huge fan of the pro game (though I’ve come to watch it more recently) I can’t really relate to the complaints about him other than he won the title and your team didn’t. Magic Johnson used to piss me off that way.

    I’d much rather see Curry with the trophy than a Carmelo Anthony or the like.

  78. Seahawk Tom, as you disapprove of Steph Curry’s behavior what were your feelings regarding Richard Sherman? He must have really gotten on your last nerve.

  79. Chet- I love Richard Sherman. Enough air has been wasted on that subject, though. I shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that a fan can overlook the defects of his own teams star players as he criticizes others for similar faults.

    At least Sherman will tell you how he feels. I like that a lot better than the smug and passive-aggressive demeanor of a rich kid who grew up hanging around NBA players and pouts his “annoyance” to the media when people dare to applaud the hussle of Dellevadova in defending him for a few games.

  80. By the way I knew there had to be some sort of sentimental back-story to explain why Chet likes Curry, call it a hunch.

  81. Without some sort of connection I usually don’t care. I’ve never really been a bandwagon kind of guy. I’m still waiting for some attachment to the Rockies or the Avalanche but, as I said, I just don’t care.

    In the SoCon you could mingle with the players and chat with the coaches.

    How can you not love that?

  82. I got to know Madison Baumgarner a little bit when he played at South Caldwell, a conference rival to my kids’ high school. I was delighted when he won the Series MVP.

    His big pitching rival in high school was a kid named Sam Runion, from our local school, who was the first player taken in the second round of the supplemental draft. A lanky kid with a 96mph fastball. Unfortunately, he still hasn’t been able to get any movement on it and, last I heard, is still in the minors.

    Sure, I have ‘my teams’ but mostly it’s always been more about the back story for me.

  83. Nothing like a good “back story,” unless it’s your nickname in prison…..

    Hulls is the next Pistol Pete….Dipo is the next Michael J……Fox.

    Jimmy Butler(also not the best prison nickname) is going to go play for Brad Stevens …..Bulldog and Bull bring championship days back to Boston in a Butlerpalooza

    I once dressed up as the ghost of Pistol Pete for Halloween…It was when my wife was nearing the delivery date of our daughter. I wore a skull mask with a mock LSU jersey sporting Pistol’s number, black Converse high-top’s. and a silver gunslinger toy pistol with toy holster…I carved out a cheap rubber basketball and applied to a the wife’s large belly atop white t-shirt …She also wore half a plastic rim with net and cardboard replica of a backboard…True story. Pistol Pete was certainly special…One of my favorites…along with Bob “Butterbean” Love…and Dr. J

    I still own an personally autographed black & white photo of Bob Love ….As a child, my mom used to take me on an hour journey across the Indiana border into Illinois and a shopping mall called River Oaks….(a suburb just southwest of Chicago) …She would take me to a Carson Pirie Scott store because she believed they had the sharpest looking young boy’s clothing of the day…I was spoiled sick…not really. I think she just enjoyed the trip and wanted to make me feel special. Anyway, on one of these trips(the only one I really remember), Bob Love just happened to be at the store signing autographs…He was already at hero status in my young heart already bound forever to be a Bulls fan….My mom had no idea who he was…..I probably nearly wet myself. Bob Love….Butterbean at the young boy’s department a Carson clothing store my mom drags me on this long highway journey for bell-bottom striped pants and mammoth collar paisley-patterned shirts? . On this day we had no idea his impromptu appearance? The silky smooth Chicago Bull that I pretend to win games against all Lakers, Wilt the Stilt, and the world on my driveway hoop? There is a God I surely thought.

    Butterbean Love…? Also not a good prison nickname.

  84. I know lots of people whose rooting habits are similar to yours. For me, it’s more complicated. I struggle with rooting for personalities and individual players, and instead gravitate towards “team” stories and narratives. I like seeing how sports teams are woven into the collective psyche of a city. That was one of the many reasons why I couldn’t cheer for entitled silver-spoon Steph to trump in the finals vs. the Cavs and their rag-tag rust belt crew. Does SF and the Bay Area really need any more sports glory these days? Do the magnates of Silicon Valley really need yet another reason to celebrate their charmed lives under the sunshine? It is somehow so fitting that the figurehead of their newest championship team is was raised amongst millionaires and trained at an elite liberal arts college.

  85. oops.

    …own [a] personally autographed…

    I know coachv would believe that to be redundant. All autographs are personal, Harvard…Not necessarily…This was Bob Love sitting at a long table in a department store and signing his Bulls photo in-person for a little sh___ from Chesterton, Indiana with his tongue tied and eyes never more wide while wetting his shorts. That’s personal.

  86. Fun stories.

    That’s the same reason I could never get on board with New England. They bring in some of the creepiest and/or self indulgent people to ever play the game and stuff a sock in their mouth for a season or two and claim they are ‘doing it the New England way’. Then they pretend like they weren’t awful people when the they were in Foxboro because the local press looked the other way.

  87. I have observed that the extent to which people, for lack of a better word, deify professional sports figures seems to have a relationship with population density. I realize that the teams mostly bear a city’s name but fans that don’t even live in that city, but still a city, usually in the same geographic region, seem to care a lot more than in a rural town in the same area.

    I might well be mistaken but it has always appeared to me that city folk seem to identify or place on a pedestal or, chose your own axiom, professional sports figures than rural residents.

    Is that off base?

  88. Roy Hobbs: I coulda been better. I coulda broke every record in the book.
    Iris Gaines: And then?
    Roy Hobbs: And then? And then when I walked down the street people would’ve looked and they would’ve said there goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game.

    We embrace our own existence when we dream. …And through our heroes live our dreams. The beautiful thing about sports is that it allows a return to those days you wanted to be Roy Hobbs. But it also functions as metaphor for all we’ve fought and persevered to be something and to make something of a life.

    I never searched for the perfect athlete or the perfect team… I grew up near Chicago, and all the radio and TV broadcasts of the many Chicago teams surrounded my world..I couldn’t imagine rooting for any other team than one from Chicago…But there was also something deeper to identify….I would find something I believed to be in the soul of a team….I would also marvel at the many differences in great athletes….And though there is always identifiable gifts all the best share to play at the highest levels any sport, I would be drawn into the uniqueness apparent within each. There was always a hope that even if you couldn’t do it all, you could develop something better than anyone else to find that niche in the game that would keep your dream alive …..And I guess that’s sort of the dream in anything we do…To be uniquely gifted makes us somewhat immortal in memory and closer to the gods. Don’t we all want to be that “lightning in a bottle” and to seize a day, if only akin to a comet blistering by the heavens, on the rare chance a grand stage?

    I grew up in a small town, but every day I’d tune into a Bulls game..or a Bears game…or a Cubs game, I felt like part of the extended family containing many, many brothers and sisters. The huge crowds of Wrigley and the romance that beautiful city….I felt part of it and it allowed me to dream…I’d listen to Jack Brickhouse and I truly believed he somehow knew the young dreamer on the other side….He talked through his microphone no different than the dreamer caught in love with a game…Never giving up a sunny afternoon living in some immortal state where every summer can return to a new season. I may put those heroes and my favorite teams of yesterdays on a shelf in all the turmoil and struggles to live in the routine an “adult life,” but how I long to be the child again, to be sprawled out on the floor in front of a tiny black and white TV and living so detached from the reality of what must be inevitable….For even a heroes day is merely a comet passing……And a child’s dream is gone faster than the singing of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

    And all the gulping and consuming of sports merely the medicine to drown the summers of old with some hope a morning sun found in the escape to a memory when nothing needed this narcissism and where nothing mattered but a dream flying on the immortal wings of youth. .

  89. Chet- interesting hypothesis. In the case of Cleveland, where i am right now, they say that with a big population of mill and factory workers (historically speaking) who work long, grueling, and depressing hours with little vacation, the sports teams have taken on added meaning because in many cases they are the “only thing going” for people who lived supposedly dreary lives. I guess this can also explain why fan bases seem so passionate in other great lakes ex-manufacturing cities like Chicago, Green Bay and Buffalo.

    But, I think this holds true in any city. If you’re right there in the thick of all the urban glitz, grime and commotion, you tend to take on the city’s identity, which is projected nationally through its sports teams.

    Harvard: nice halloween costume story and Chicago images. Another reason why city folk may connect even more with their teams: the teams are a city’s culture, and you see it everywhere: windows, balconies, neon lights in the bar, the stadium that you walk past, etc etc

  90. It gets very rural, very quickly, in the Midwest…You do not have to be a resident of Chicago(in terms of work or city boundaries) to have always been part of the regional coverage(local TV, radio, newspaper, local evening news sports coverage) that stretches into suburbs, rural areas, small towns, mid-sized cities, and a multitude of lifestyles and varied communities, to quickly adopt the “big city” team only 50 to 100 miles away. It was only a 45 minute drive from my small town/rural setting near to be in the heart of Chicago….A trip on the South Shore train or a jump onto the Indiana Toll Rd. and you were in the city your favorite sports teams always a part of the morning paper or evening sports coverage broadcast by WGN or the many other local Chicago arms of national stations. I grew up on Chicago newscasts as well….Your news could come from a local Chesterton Tribune, a Chicago Trib delivered on Sunday…a Gary Post, and Walter Jacobson on the television bringing Chicago’s evening news(Channel 2?) courtesy CBS and your rooftop antenna to family room…

    It was very simple to live in a very rural area and still be extremely passionate fans the nearby Chicago teams….Many of my close friends in high school were just as in love with Chicago sports teams. I’m sure it’s no different for cities like Indy, Cleveland, Cincinnati, etc….Outside of driving to the edges of a major Great Lake, a one hour drive in almost any direction puts you into farmland…

    My dad/s father worked most his life in the Gary steel mills…My dad didn’t want any part of it….Gary was only 20 minutes to Chicago…My grandfather had very little interest in sports…The real passion to watch sports didn’t begin with either my grandfather(on dad’s side) or father…I was the young blood to bring Chicago sports teams and all the names the greats to the dining table chatter….

    Anyway, I’m not even sure how such a hypothesis gets formed….It wasn’t the 1800’s and stagecoaches via dirt pathways to reach the big city…The “rural” definition of the Midwest isn’t the same as living in the middle of South Dakota or Nebraska…or a dusty Rocky Mountain town removed. And maybe that’s what makes many Midwest markets so unique…You can have such a plethora of varied people all works of life in such relatively short distances….A family farmer ….a lawyer working his/her practice in a small town…or the mill worker in the factories along the shores….cheering to lift his spirits via a team that makes him feel life has something “going for it” to simply be lucky enough to see Ernie’s smile…or Sayers feather through the giant cheese block a Green Bay Packer line….or the marvels of a clutch performance from the incomparable MJ bringing back-to-back three-peats to Da Bulls!

  91. I think a more interesting hypothesis may be how cable TV and the internet are removing the old reaches a passion to a sports team that pulled rural town 50 miles away into its grip a young heart. There is so much to offer at the fingertips in such a shotgun approach all sports via cable packages and computer streaming that it all becomes a candy store of passionless sweets and replay tweets. In that sense, sports removes itself our lifeblood, and becomes beyond rural…It becomes a desert of no oasis a passion to live. Lots and lots of sand …..and lots and lots of hourglasses nobody has the time to nurture a love.

  92. ST, I think you are on to something.

    Harvard, I never implied that the ‘heroification’ of professional athletes was absent in rural areas. It just isn’t nearly as prevalent.

    Most of the folks in the wide open spaces of this country couldn’t care less about MJ and the Bulls. Or LeBron. Or Steph. The NBA is absolutely a city person’s game. The League knows it and that’s how they market.

    More people in Nebraska could name the third string quarterback for the Huskers than last year’s Cy Young winner. Of course, baseball has been relying on a handful of hard core fans for a generation. I don’t know about this year but last year the NFL draft show got better rating than the World Series if I’m not mistaken.

    The NFL has more of a draw. College football fans are more often pro football fans than other sports. But, again, in rural areas I think you’ll see more passion for the state university than the NFL team in the capital city. That may be related to the fact that the players don’t tend to come from major cities as is the case with the NBA. Football is, and is perceived to be, more of a rural sport. I’ve always wondered how difficult it must be to get a pickup game of football together in a major city. Where do you find a big grassy field?

    I meet fewer and fewer baseball fans in general. The sport has big problems. The biggest thing it has going for it is city identification and pride. Denver is very supportive of the Rockies but, if you drive 50 miles nobody pays much attention. Atlanta is much the same. In fact, outside of teams like the Yankees or Red Sox, as you get farther from the city the ambivalence is hard to miss.

    I know that in the ‘Region’ the Cubbies are huge but not to most of Indiana. It’s an Illinois team. As are the Bulls and Bears. To most Hoosiers you may as well cheer for Ohio State. But even the Pacers following drops off in farm country.

    Anyway, interesting discussion.

  93. It’s funny how the term “rural” or “small town”…or “mill rat” can imply backwoods, backward, removed, hillbilly, “lynching”/Confederate flag-waiver, antiquated, dinosaur, out of touch…etc.

    And then I see that big new beautiful glass highrise smack in the middle of Chicago’s most famous streets with the name “Trump” plastered in letters taller than a Field Museum T-Rex and longer a Devin Hester kick return…..Rural comes home sometimes. And Chicago, my big city I loved from small healthy town a liberal and loving kind where values grew to include all in America’s big melting pot of dreams, now seems of much smaller shoulders…The view I once admired her strength and grace across the shores of Lake Michigan has sold out to something more a disgrace …The building in all its stunning architectural towering reflections mirrors a day more “rural” than a slave trader living on the plantation a luxury golf course where Mexicans rake Trump’s hair like a sand trap segregated from the rich and the bigoted green. .

  94. Chet- I don’t think it’s the driving distance that is killing the “following” of teams outside the city limits….I think the “following” is being killed from the inside out.. And it kills it in terms of passion for a specific team far more than any driving distances from inner city to rural destination back in the days our youth.

    The shotgun marketing and availability of so much coverage a bottomless pit of sports(via web, stream, cable), along with the thousands of other distractions the internet age provides(gambling, porn, video gaming, etc, etc) has created a pot for all sins and pleasures.. Who the hell cares about following one boring sports team anymore. ? We have all at our fingertips. Soon we’ll be the virtual reality version to insert ourselves into our own games(fantasy sex and fantasy sports)….in our own stadiums …as we sit in our underpants in a chair somewhere…I’m actually in jeans, but you get the point. The innocence is gone, my friend. And there wasn’t much for ‘heroes” to blossom to begin with as we now move from the face a small humble love for something outside the mirror to living in boxes, streams without trout, and Facebook pages to build our own mountaintops. .

  95. Wow…Fun journey on this thread. Punjab and Seahawk Tom sharing their artful writing styles and interesting thoughts. And Chet….You are on your game. And you’re very sneaky in the methods you turn a subject and get Harvard off the negative track. You’d make for a very good psychologist. Thanks for that, as well.

  96. Harvard- I thought that Rahm stopped that Trump sign from going up. Too bad it’s still there. Anyhow, good points.

    The subject of baseball’s declining popularity, especially amongst the US black population, is a curious one. I’ve heard the argument that cost is to blame, but that argument doesn’t seem to hold much water when so many of the best players are coming from dirt-poor Caribbean and Latin American nations, who are crazy for the sport.

    Could it be something in the mechanics of the game itself that is turning us off finally, with so many other options available? As a society, are we done with slow, deliberate and skill-heavy “thinking man’s” games? Sad to imagine. But the way the Mariners have been in recent years, I hardly watch the game anyway.

  97. Nope…I believe a law was passed after Trump jumped the borders of an ostentatious display his own name no egotistical wall too high a jump.

    Then again, I also don’t believe a basketball stadium at a public university known for years its Assembly Hall designation should require a name change because the millions sent via a donation from the child a corporate giant.

    I see a lot of small public golf courses closing in surrounding communities I live…Those still surviving are far less busy than 10 years ago…I think you’re right< Seahawk… Too much at our fingertips to invest in the slower things that take up an entire day to watch or enjoy. And for all those that loved crucifying Tiger Woods for his failings in relationships and night club behavior, he saved golf from a death that would have arrived much sooner.

    But somehow Wrigley defies the odds of it all…..But once waiting ends and the glory of a World Series finds Clark and Addison…? Maybe the Cubs will just be another team struggling to remain relevant in the eyes a public so easily distracted by the endless offerings from their own computer chair. ? Because who has the time to waste when so much can be wasted updating a Twitter page or Facebook page…or dating page…or stock market page…or obsession with a Scoop page?

    And what genius decided to bring in instant replay for select moments a baseball game? So we can slow it down even more? So we can turn a bang-bang play into a second 7th inning stretch? Yippee. I'm getting sleepy just thinking about a hundred different angles the tag at second base….

    Wow…Bulls offering quite the contract to entice Butler to remain in Chicago…I guess I was right…He is no Victor Oladipo. If only the Bulls could pull in D-Wade…We might have something of a dominant basketball team back in the Windy City.

  98. Trump’s rumored campaign slogan: “We Shall Over- comb some daaay….”

    Hey, if the NBA could come back from the dead to have it’s best-rated finals since Jordan, then maybe baseball isn’t doomed either…a Cubs World Series would do a lot to turn peoples’ tired heads back to America’s pastime.

  99. Remember the young female that was the opening scene midnight snack for a great white shark in the 1975, blockbuster movie, Jaws? I guess we’re at the 40th anniversary… Here she is now Guess she became an accountant and now lives on a houseboat …Please pass the Polygrip.

    . .

  100. Jeremy must be getting irritated…My pictures are awaiting moderation.

    “We shall over-comb some daaay!”..That’s funny as hell, Seahawk Tom.

  101. Hey..how ’bout that! My post #119 returned.

    It’s my understanding that to secure a Southern sweep, Trump will have a hologram replica of the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ car rooftop applied to his orange skull rug…..His already General Lee Hazzardous hairdo will also be outfitted to be flown as a flag from the rear antenna his campaign limo. .

  102. This goes back into the thread a bit but, when the topic was Pete Maravich, a comment was made that he never led LSU to the Big Dance. Don’t forget, the tournament only took the conference champs (in the SEC almost always Kentucky) back then. A really good 1973-74 Indiana team didn’t go to the tourney. In 1974 the #4 team in the country, Maryland, didn’t go because they lost to NC State in overtime in the ACC tournament.

    Not making the the tourney wasn’t nearly the black mark it is today with 7 teams from a single conference going to the tourney. Back then it was win the conference or go to the NIT (or CCA).

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