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 Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 17

On Afghanistan
Ever since our leaders decided to militarily engage in Afghanistan, I’ve continued to wonder if that’s the best decision. History shows mighty armies of the British and Russians both left with their tails dragging behind. We fighting the Taliban, a group that our subversive efforts armed and helped gain power (as per Charlie Wilson’s war).

  • Does our mere presence in that country in the name of finding top Al Qaeda leadership actually motivating people to join Al Qaeda?
  • Would capturing Osama bid Laden create more harm than good?

David Ignatius’s recent column is a good read.

On City School Superintendents
Public school systems in the large cities throughout our country struggle for a variety of reasons, thus regularly rank low on state-scoring criteria. Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) is currently searching for a new superintendent. I’ve been in the area long enough to observe a search pattern, so I ask these questions.

  • Why do urban districts (like CPS) continue to search other urban schools for new leadership, thus not the successful suburban schools?
  • Better yet, if the suburban superintendents are so good, why aren’t they setting up to face the challenges in the urban districts?

On the Next Justice
No, there’s no opening currently on the U.S. Supreme Court, but Paulette at Let Us Talk tosses out a name.

On the Hall of Justice
I’ve never been into comics, but those who are will be interested in this article from the Cincinnati Enquirer about DC Comics’ Superheroes and the Hall of Justice of the Justice League of America.

On a BG Legend
I attended my first college sporting event when I was in grade school. I grew up near Ohio University and my uncle took me (and my cousins) to a game because he wanted to see a player on the opposing team known as a greater scorer. Little did I realize this would actually be my first Bowling Green game (I’m a BG grad).

Howard “Butch” Komives, a guard, was the nation’s leading scorer in the 1963-64 season with 37 points per game – long before the 3-pt line existed. The other day I read of his passing.

In another link to me, that same season Loyola (Chicago) won the national title, thus preventing Cincinnati’s bid for a third-straight title. (I was am a Bearcat grad and fan). Interestingly, the Falcons pounded the #2-ranked, undefeated Ramblers earlier that season. Sports fans will like this look-back perspective from Loyola and the 1963 tournament bracket.

On the Sweet 16 Games
Gotta Pick

  • Louisville over Arizona
  • Memphis over Missouri
  • North Carolina over Gonzaga
  • Oklahoma over Syracuse

Coin Toss Says

  • Michigan State over Kansas
  • UConn over Purdue
  • Pitt over Xavier
  • Villanova over Duke

On Something to Chuckle

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.

On a Dying Team

During my years on the campus, I was an avid Bowling Green Falcon hockey fan.

  • bglogoI stood outside the arena doors for an hour in the cold BG wind waiting for the doors to open to get my preferred seat.
  • I didn’t miss many home games as a student, and sat (most of the time) in the same general admission seat – along a rail above a stairway at center ice on the east side for most of the games over five years. (Observable below).
  • After seated, I played crazy 8s with friends since gametime was still an hour away.
  • I saw the early wave of the 34 Falcons who played in the NHL, and others made the U.S. Olympic team.
  • I saw coach Ron Mason on his way to becoming the most-winning coach in NCAA hockey history.
  • I saw many great games, including numerous exciting moments that shook the arena. (The close aluminum ceiling had the place roar.)

hockeywinAlthough I wasn’t a student when the Falcons won the 1984 National Championship on Gino Cavallini’s fourth-overtime goal, my heart was there and tuned into ESPN. I wasn’t there to see two Hobey Baker Award (hockey’s Heisman) winner, George McPhee and Brian Holzinger, but they increased my pride.

Today, the BG Ice Arena faces the threat of becoming nothing more than a physical education facility. While surfing this part Friday I discovered the university is considering disbanding its hockey program.

ice_arenaThe facility and finances are at the heart of the issue. After years of neglect, the 40 year-old arena is antiquated – in need of both repair and renovation. Updating has been delayed – funding decreased and eventually cut. Surely the facility hasn’t made recruiting easy, thus it’s been a tough last 10 years for Falcon faithful.

Past neglect (by choice) and tough economic times have put the university’s administration between a rock and a hard place. Part of investing in a team is investing in the facilities, and I hope this is not a search-for-financing plea as clearly used by pro franchises.

As avid of a fan I was and as much as I still bleed orange, I say pull the plug. Instead of continuing as a bottom dweller and having one of the worst facilities in the CCHA, I’ll settle for no more embarassment and living in my memories – the kind I’ll get when I return to campus, sit in the seat, and remember when the building shook.

Support Articles: Toledo Blade and NHL FanHouse

Images from the Associated Press and Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune

PS: It’s 4:15 pm (same day of the post) and the BGSU Athletic Director posted an open letter today stating all sports are safe for next year – but also emphasizes the budget constraints.