Cradle of Coaches

“There is nothing like Miami, nothing like the Cradle of Coaches.”
John Harbaugh

Bob Kurz,Newhouse was the Sports Information Director at Miami University, coined the phrase “Cradle of Coaches” in 1959. Miami University then unofficially was known as the, “Cradle of Coaches” until 2012 when it was officially trademarked.

The number of college and professional football coaches with roots to Miami University is incredible! Some of these men played football at Miami; some were assistant coaches there; and others were the head coach at Miami and then went on to more prestigious jobs. Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh played at Miami and was recently inducted into the Cradle of Coaches and given a statue in his honor. Paul Brown was one of the greatest football coaches of all-time; not only did he attend Miami University, but he also succeeded Weeb Ewbank at quarterback there. Ewbank led the Baltimore Colts to two NFL titles and was the New York Jets Head Coach when they defeated the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.

Among the “greats” who coached at Miami and then had a great deal of success elsewhere, was Sid Gillman. Gillman popularized the “deep downfield pass”. I well remember that from his days of coaching the San Diego Chargers of the AFL.

Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian and Bo Schembechler are three of the greatest College Football Coaches of all-time. All three were the head coach at Miami before moving on to bigger programs. John Pont coached at Miami and then led Indiana University to its only Rose Bowl appearance (1968) There are others, too. A tip of the cap to not only Miami University but also to the great State of Ohio for its rich football heritage.

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Ara

“A good coach makes his players see what they can be, rather than what they are.”
Ara Parseghian

Ara Parseghian recently passed away at age 94. Ara Parseghian was the head football coach at Miami (five seasons), Northwestern (eight seasons) and Notre Dame (11 seasons). Parseghian led Notre Dame to National Championships in 1966 and 1973. Ara Parseghian was inducted into the College football Hall of Fame in 1980. He retired from coaching at age 51 and then embarked on a broadcasting career.

Ara Parseghian was a great man and an outstanding coach! At Miami, the cradle of coaches, Ara had success and raised his profile Nationally. Ara then went to Northwestern at age 32 and brought the Wildcats back to respectability. Notre Dame was Parseghian’s next stop and he returned the Fighting Irish to prominence!  Ara Parseghian was fiercely determined and also paid great attention to details. Another of Ara’s strengths was that he moved players to other positions where they flourished. One example was he moved Jack Snow from running back to wide receiver. Parseghian gave Quarterback John Huarte an opportunity, and Huarte went on to win the Heisman Trophy.

Ara Parseghian was a “down to earth” guy whose Notre Dame teams never lost consecutive games during his tenure. I met Ara at a Notre Dame game in South Bend that he was broadcasting. I spoke to him at length and Ara could not have been nicer.

When Ara Parseghian got the Notre Dame job, he realized he had to reinstill confidence in his players. He did just that and as Jack Snow said, “He made us believe in ourselves.” The “Era of Ara” ended after the 1974 season when Parseghian resigned saying, “He was physically exhausted and emotionally drained.” Ara Parseghian started the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation in 1974. Three of his grandchildren died of Niemann-Pick disease. Ara Parseghian will be missed.

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Cody

“You go through stretches where you get lucky hits.”
Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger is in his rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bellinger was taken out of high school (Chandler, Arizona) by the Dodgers in the fourth round of Baseball’s Amateur Draft in 2013. In 2007, Cody Bellinger played in the Little League World Series. Cody’s father, Clay, was a utility player in the Major Leagues and played on a couple of World Championship New York Yankee teams. Cody Bellinger rose through the Los Angeles Dodgers Minor League System very quickly and got to the Major Leagues in late April of 2017, at age 21.

Cody Bellinger was being very modest when he made this statement about getting lucky hits! Cody Bellinger is the Dodgers answer to Aaron Judge! Both are rookies, All-Stars and MVP candidates. Bellinger, who turned 22 on July 13, is three years younger than Judge. Bellinger was promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City to the Dodgers on April 25th and has been “tearing up” Major League pitching. He belted nine homers in May and became the first rookie ever to hit 10 home runs in a stretch of 10 games! Bellinger already has five multi-homer games and has hit more than 20 home runs this season. Cody Bellinger runs well but when you hit home runs you trot around the bases! It is a joy to watch Cody Bellinger swing the bat. He has terrific wrists and an explosive swing. Whether it is Cody Bellinger, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve, and many others, it is great to see so many excellent, young players in Major League Baseball!

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6,000 Games!

On Friday, I will be privileged to broadcast my 6,000th Indianapolis Indians game! it has been a labor of love! My thanks to the Indians and to all the wonderful people I have met along the way!

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Here Comes The Judge

“Every time I go up to hit, I feel like it’s going to be my moment.”
Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge is in his first full season in the Major Leagues. Judge played college baseball at Fresno State and was taken by the New York Yankees in the first round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft. Aaron Judge made his Major League debut with the Yankees last August and homered in his first at bat. Judge batted only .179 with four homers in 84 at bats and he struck out 42 times. Aaron Judge has been sensational in 2017!

Aaron Judge is 6’7 282 pounds and his power to all fields is incredible. Aaron Judge is about much more than home runs. He sets a great example by playing hard and with passion. He runs well and gives you everything he has in right field. It is so important to note that since he is hitting home runs to all fields, he is not getting into bad habits at the plate. Many power hitters constantly try to pull the ball so it is much easier for pitchers to pitch to them.

Aaron Judge cut down on his leg kick this season and the results have been astounding. He is batting over .300 with more than 20 homers. Aaron Judge is a fine young man with a terrific work ethic. Baseball is a game of adjustments, and Judge has made some that put him on the path to greatness!

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Cradle of Quarterbacks

“It’s our people and work ethic. The six Hall of Fame QB’s from Western PA. didn’t do it themselves.”

Joe Namath

Johnny Unitas won three NFL Championships and one Super Bowl. He was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection who was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player on three occasions. Joe Montana was a four-time Super Bowl Champion and a three-time Super Bowl MVP. Montana played in eight Pro Bowls and twice was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Joe Namath led the New York Jets to a Super Bowl victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. Namath was a four-time AFL All-Star and two-time AFL MVP. Dan Marino was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection who was the NFL’s MVP in 1984. Jim Kelly was a five-time Pro Bowl selection who led the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowls. George Blanda played more seasons of Pro Football (26) than anyone else played. He was a four-time AFL All-Star who also won the AFL’s MVP. Blanda made a name for himself as a place kicker, too.

These six men all from Western Pennsylvania are six of the 26 quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That one region in the Country is the cradle of quarterbacks is truly incredible! Western Pennsylvania has produced other fine quarterbacks but these are the best of the best! I think, like most people, I would rank Tom Brady as the best quarterback of all-time with Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas neck and neck for second and third. Joe Namath was a great quarterback for a short period of time and Dan Marino and Jim Kelly were outstanding for many years. Western Pennsylvania had its foundation in coalmines, steel mills, and railroads. Many of the great athletes from there were first and second generation sons of immigrants. The toughness, work ethic, and great attitude that these people possessed made them really special!

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Larry Legend

“I’m 60 years old and want to do things away from basketball.”

Larry Bird

Larry Bird stepped down last week as the Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations. Bird is the only man in NBA history to be the League’s Most Valuable Player, the Coach of the Year and the Executive of the Year. Larry Bird was the National Player of the Year, his senior season at Indiana State (1979). The following season, he was the NBA Rookie of the Year. Larry Bird was named the NBA Most Valuable Player on three occasions. He was named MVP of the NBA Finals twice and was an All-Star in 12 of his 13 seasons. Larry Bird led the Celtics to three Championships in the 1980’s.

I first saw Larry Bird play when he was a junior at Indiana State. I recognized how talented he was but I do not think anyone realized that he would go on to become one of the greatest players in NBA history. Larry Bird had incredible eye-hand coordination. Let’s remember that not only was he a great scorer, but he also was a good rebounder and an excellent passer. Bird was a team player, one who would dive for loose balls.

Larry Bird was the head coach of the Pacers for three years; they went to the League Finals once and the Conference Finals the other two seasons. During Bird’s time as President of the Pacers, they went to the Conference Finals on three occasions. Anyone in that position, will have his “hits and misses.” The last couple of seasons were especially challenging and Bird felt it was time to “move on.” For all of his successes, Larry Bird came close as a coach, but was unable to bring the Indiana Pacers a Championship as a coach or as an executive.

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