Thursday, April 8, 2010

Opining on Tiger, RIT hockey and the retirement of Rochester hoops coach Mike Neer

Got a kick out of Masters chairman Billy Payne giving Tiger Woods a lecture on morality Wednesday. Hmmm, if I’m not mistaken isn’t the Masters held at Augusta National, a country club that didn’t allow African-American members until about 20 years ago and still doesn’t allow female members? Given the restrictions of where this “tradition unlike any other’’ golf tournament is held, I think I’d leave the moralizing to someone else if I were Mr. Payne.

• Speaking of Tiger, I found his new Nike commercial a desperate attempt to clean up his image with the aid of his strongest sponsor and his deceased father. In the commercial we see the golfer with the serious sexual fidelity issues staring stoically into a camera while his dad, Earl Woods says: “To promote discussion, I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?’’ The camera then zooms in on Tiger’s face as flash bulbs go off, apparently representing the media’s glare. I wish Tiger’s advisors would realize that there is no magic wan that will instantly make up for his transgressions. Contrition and trust are built over time. Stop with the feeble spin-doctoring attempts, play golf to the best of your ability, continue to receive counseling for your problems and attempt to make amends to your wife and your kids.

• These are the times when I miss being a sports columnist here in Rochester. You have the Rochester Institute of Technology hockey team gunning for a Division I national championship. You have the retirement of legendary University of Rochester basketball coach Mike Neer after 34 seasons and you have the Red Wings opening the International League baseball season. Lots of stuff to opine about.

Should RIT come home from the Frozen Four with a title it would rank as one of the top sports stories in Rochester history, right up there with the Ryder Cup, the Royals winning the NBA championship, Sammy Urzetta’s victory in the U.S. Amateur golf tournament and Abby Wambach scoring the gold-medal-winning goal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.

Here’s hoping that regardless how the Tigers fare that the powers that be at RIT start raising funds for a much-larger ice rink to replace Ritter Arena (capacity 2,100). The time to strike is now, while the excitement is so high.
RIT’s exciting run reminds me of their last national hockey championship back in 1985. I was there in Schenectady when coach Bruce Delventhal guided the Tigers to a 5-1 win vs. Bemidji State. I’ll never forget captain Blaise MacDonald’s response when I asked him to sum up his feelings. He said: “I’m so excited I have goose bumps on my finger nails.’’ Great quote.
Coach Neer’s retirement signals the end of an era for the Yellowjackets. I was there, too, covering UR’s national basketball championship back in 1990 as Neer’s boys nipped DePauw University (alma mater of former vice president Dan Qualye), 43-42, in the lowest-scoring title game in DIII annals. Mike was always a classy guy to deal with and as his 563 victories attest, he knew hoops.
Oldtimers may remember that Neer was second choice for the Rochester job. The first choice was a guy from nearby Lyons by the name of Jim Boeheim. Jimmy B withdrew his name from consideration when his alma mater, Syracuse, finally woke up and promoted him to head coach after Roy Danforth left the Orange men. I’d say things worked out nicely for both coaches and their schools.

1 comment:

Keith Wozniak said...

How come no mention of the Amerks heading into the playoffs?