In the aftermath of the March 7th snowstorm, the forecasting award goes to......John Champion of WPSD. Champion correctly forecast 3-6 inches for the area, while so many others predicted much more. I'm so old! Champion was still in high school when he interned under us and wanted to be a meteorologist when he "grew up." He turned out to be a really good one!
In the meantime, with the snow on the ground, I took time to watch the Ohio Valley Conference tournament on ESPN-U and get a little "March Madness " flowing. The opening game was UT-Martin against Austin Peay (the top seed). UTM has two of the most exciting players in the country, in my opinion, in scoring machine Lester Hudson (4th in the nation), and Freshman phenom, and local kid, Marquis Weddle, of nearby Union City, TN. I think it's great to have a "local" doing so well for UT Martin. I remember, not so long ago, when passing on a local kid did NOT bode well for a former UT Martin coach. The local kid was Popeye Jones, from nearby Dresden, who went on to a stellar career at Murray State and then a long career in NBA.
This game matched two of my favorite coaches: Brett Campbell of UT Martin and Dave Loos of Austin Peay. I think Campbell is one of the brightest young coaches in the nation, and I'll always be in debt to him for NOT throwing me off the sidelines at one game a year ago. My wife, Bridget and I went to a UT Martin game and I was wearing my Middle TN State windshirt (instead of my usual Skyhawks sweatshirt) and preparing to sit way up in the rafters, when the UT Martin Sports Information Director said we could sit on Press Row if we wanted. I didn't care to (been there-done that), but Bridget really wanted to see a game "up close," so we did. I got some funny looks, but we were accommodated. On the other hand, I mean, it's not like I haven't thrown off a sideline before. I was thrown off the sideline at the '94 Peach Bowl, but that's another story!
I was a friend of Cal Luther's when he coached at UTM and LOVED UT Martin, even though I didn't go there to school (I was raised in nearby Trenton). I used to head to Martin and see many friends on weekends in MY college days, at Cadillac's, Maggie's, the Hourglass and more.
I went to MTSU and will admit, when I went to school, our players used to run through a huge poster of a commode as the crowd chanted "Flush Peay (pronounced pee) when we played Austin Peay. Those were the "good ole days" of the OVC. Later though, I covered Dave Loos when he coached at Christian Brothers in the NAIA and always admired him as one of the best, and classiest coaches I'd ever been around. I covered many battles between Christian Brothers and Lambuth and Union University. Later, I covered Loos at AP with clashes against Murray, UTM and more. Ironically, Campbell tutored under Loos at Austin Peay before moving to his job at UT Martin. Austin Peay won this game 78-77. It was a great game, although I'm sad for the Skyhawks, even though I'm so proud of them for advancing so far and having a chance to win! May I be the 1st to beg Hudson to come back for another year! Don't you know there are so many big schools which are so sorry they passed on Hudson. If Hudson comes back, UT Martin, with Hudson and Weddle, has to be a favorite for the OVC next year. I guess I need to toast them at Cadillac's sometime soon!
Murray also bowed out of the OVC Tournament this year, to Tennessee State, so I guess it's over for the locals, although they were great games!
The OVC Tournament was held at Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, a place dear to my heart, too. I went to SO many shows there when I was in college (ZZ Top, Rush , Sammy Hagar and AC/DC with Bon Scott among many others), although my most endearing memory of Municipal was attending a Bob Dylan concert there a few years ago, when my wife leaned over, smiled and said, "I can't understand a ______word he's saying" I replied, "yeah, but it's Dylan, baby!" What a house! OK...I'm ready for March Madness. Let me reach for that bracket. I need to fill it out!