On Inside a Trophy Case

I’ve been in Anderson Arena, on the Bowling Green State University campus, many times. Whether passing through its lobby to avoid cold, wind, and/or rain, attend a basketball game, concert, or hear a US President; it is a place dear to my past.

I was there the day President Ford made a campaign stop. Unfortunately, he had gone through several recent assassination attempts, yet those of us who can remember Squeaky Fromme and Sara Jane Moore, may also recall the night when a popping of a camera flashbulb created temporary havoc. Yep, that was in Anderson Arena and I was there.

Anderson Arena is the place I attended concerts and saw acts as Yes (with Rick Wakeman), Jefferson Starship, Doobie Brothers (early in their career), and Bachmann-Turner Overdrive.

Who knows how many sporting events I attended at Anderson Arena, but as a sports venue, it’s far from luxurious … actually sparse … but a good place for fans. With fans near the court, The House that Roars was a tough place for opponents.

Earlier this month, Anderson Arena hosted its last Falcon basketball game as next season brings a new venue. Little did I know at the time, one of my lasting memories is seeing a partially deflated basketball in the lobby’s trophy case that is connected my life-after college in Cincinnati.

The date on the basketball was February 16, 1963, with the following score inscribed: Bowling Green 92, Loyola Chicago 75. Those Ramblers had come to town undefeated (21-0) and ranked #2 in the country – actually behind the two-time defending champion Cincinnati Bearcats, (where I earned my Masters and now attend sporting events).  At the end of the year, Loyola would have a late-game rally to defeat the Bearcats in the national championship game – which is also one of the earliest college basketball games from my childhood memory.

On that night in February of 1963 though, the night belonged to the Falcons, who were very good. They eventually won the MAC championship, and were part of the 26-team March Madness. They beat good teams, and lost to other good teams in close games. On that night, the Falcons never trailed, and were comfortable ahead most of the game … and the basketball from that night is in the trophy case.

Two Falcon legends gave this team an inside-outside threat. Howard Komives, the pure shooter, went on to a 10-year NBA career. Nate Thurmond, the inside rebounder and scorer, was not only an All-American, but had a long, outstanding NBA career, and a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. Coach Harold Anderson is also in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Although Anderson Arena will now be quiet, yet the memories of the roars will live on. I will always remember that basketball in the trophy case, and know that I would have loved to be there on that night.

Outside picture courtesy of sharing through Flicker

Inside color picture courtesy of the Toledo Blade

Inside black and white picture used with permission from PepperGuy, Grant Cummings.

On the Glory of 25 and 50 Years Ago

I earned by undergrad degree at Bowling Green State University, thus a proud Falcon. The end of 2009 marks the end of celebrating two monumental sports moments from years gone by: the 1984 NCAA Hockey Championship and the 1959 NCAA Football Championship.

I imagine someone is scratching their head about the 1959 gridiron feat because references list Jim Brown-led Syracuse as national champions, but the Falcons were the NCAA College Division (Small College) champions. The team numbers are impressive: 9-0-0 and outscoring opponents 274-83 … and to think that rival Toledo scored 21 points while the defense held 6 opponents to single digits. Here are some notes about the personnel.

  • Coach Doyt Perry led the BG for 10 years with a .855 winning percentage (77-11-5) and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame
  • Bernie Casey (RB) was an All-American, the ninth pick of the NFL draft, and had a successful career with the 49ers and Rams
  • Jack Harbaugh (QB/DB), had a successful college coaching career and father to John and Jim
  • Ron Blackledge (TE/DE) had a successful coaching career and father of Todd
  • Larry Smith (WR), served as head coach at Tulane, Arizona, USC, and Missouri
  • Jim Young, assistant coach, served as head coach at Arizona, Purdue, and Army; member of College Football Hall of Fame
  • Dick Young, assistant coach, served as AD at BG, Oklahoma State, and Washington State
  • Dave McClain (QB) coached at Ball State

Here’s a short article about the team. By the way, the players above and below with hyperlinks are enshrined in the BGSU Hall of Fame.

Twenty-five years later (1984) the Falcon icers won the national championship. Although BG had a stellar record (31-7-2) and ranked #2 in the final poll, an OT loss to Michigan State in the league championship game sent BG to Boston to face the Terriers in two-game total-goal series. Having lost by 3 the first night, BG roared back to win by 4.

A rematch semi-final win over MSU then vaulted the Falcons into the finals. Trailing by 3 to Minnesota-Diluth in the final period, the Falcons roared back to tie with 1:47 left, and then eventually winning in the fourth overtime!

Here are some of the roster notables.

  • Garry Galley (D) – 18 years in the NHL
  • Dave Ellett (D) – 16 years in the NHL
  • Gino Cavallini (W) – 8 years in the NHL
  • Iain Duncan (W) – 4 years in the NHL
  • Todd Flichel (D) – 3 years in the NHL
  • John Samanski (C) – 11 years playing in Europe
  • George Roll (W) – Head coach at Clarkson
  • Jerry York (Head Coach) – Currently head coach at Boston College where he has also won a national championship

See the full roster
Read about the season

On Two Bowling Greens

One has a GM Corvette plant and accompanying museum, the other has the National Tractor Pull Championships. One has a population of about 30K (in a rural area) and the other 54K (yet more of a metro area). One became a town in 1798, the other in 1855. Both have similar elevations above sea level (547 & 696) and each located along an interstate highway. Both have public universities.

One is on plains flattened by the glaciers, and the other has a gentle roll. One is the Central time zone, the other is Eastern. One occupies about 10 square miles, the other 35. Probably because of early history, there’s a slight difference in their pronunciation: BOWL-ing GREEN and BO-lin grin. One is in Ohio and the other Kentucky.

One is home to the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) and the other the Western Kentucky University (WKU). One has the Falcons and the other the Hilltoppers. One has a college on the hill, and the other’s college created a hill from the removed soil when building a large pond.

I’ve lived in Ohio all but the first 3 months of my life. For some reason people confuse these two universities. I first discovered this in my youth after telling people I was attending Bowling Green, I would get comments like “The one in Kentucky or Ohio?” “Have you gone to the Corvette Museum?” Even after moving to Cincinnati for my adult years, I’ve occasionally encountered similar confusion.

Last week I posted thoughts about the potential disbanding of a known college hockey program. Hmmm … BGSU or WKU? The very next day I was looking at the brackets for the women’s basketball tournament. This bracket, undoubtedly from a major news source, listed Bowling Green, Ohio as one of the first round tournament sites – of which I wondered, “In that outdated, dumpy college gym?”

Well, Bowling Green is also found in Florida, Missouri, South Carolina, and Virginia, but none of these are college towns. Bowling Green is also in New York City as the city’s oldest public park, but it’s not a town in itself. Although nobody has ever confused my Bowling Green with these places, at least nobody has ever related me to Fruit of the Loom Underwear that has a  manufacturing facility in Bowling Green. After all, I prefer Hanes.