Sports Extra with Dave Ross: Unimaginable yet vintage Al McGuire


Sports Extra - With Dave Ross



Back in 1970, Coach Al McGuire’s Marquette Warriors were invited to both the NCAA and NIT basketball tournaments. This sometimes happened to independent squads like Marquette and Dayton. Today that couldn’t take place because the NCAA controls the NIT and assigns its participants.

McGuire turned down the NCAA when he found out that his club would be a top seed but in the West Regional rather than one closer to their Milwaukee home. He said that wasn’t acceptable and opted for the NIT where his club won its four outings to claim the title against opponents that included future NBA stars “Dr. J” Julius Erving (U-Mass) and “Pistol Pete” Maravich (LSU).

McGuire was some combo of unique, controversial, engaging, and downright entertaining. I met him several times including a Lehman Catholic Foundation Banquet and he always treated me like an old friend. He knew my face and would always come up to talk including when he did TV game analysis at UD Arena where I was on press row.

When his teams traveled, the coach would often select a hotel outside the immediate area of the competition. In 1972 his Warriors played in the Dayton NCAA regional but stayed at the old Holiday Inn in south Troy.

When on the road, Al would often visit the hotel bar and even got to experience Fort Loramie legend Harry Frilling during that 1972 journey. McGuire actually got to our area with some regularity due to his role with Medalist Industries, a company that had locations in both Milwaukee and Piqua.

Coaching both

When I began broadcasting Shelby County Athletic League basketball in 1975, I heard that earlier head coaches often did double duty by also mentoring the junior varsity. However, the double duty situation that really caught my attention was by longtime coach Tom Franz of Mechanicsburg.

In the vicinity of 1980, Franz was the head coach of both the boys and girls teams at the Champaign County school. As I recall from broadcasting their tourney games against Shelby County and area opponents, he didn’t coach junior varsity of either. However, he was also the ‘Burg’s Athletic Director. In horse racing terms, it’s not just the “daily double” but rather a “trifecta” of major proportions.

NFL draft

In 1979 Sidney’s Kris Haines was the third draft choice of the Washington Redskins but wasn’t taken until the ninth round. Previous coach George Allen was notorious for trading future draft choices for established aging players.

NHL & JC

What Shelby County business has the same ownership as a major league professional sports franchise? Lacal Equipment of Jackson Center and the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets are both owned by the McConnell family and their Worthington Industries.

Though I’m sure there’s some movement of executives between the conglomerate’s various companies, I doubt that Lacal’s Roger Detrick will ever coach the Blue Jackets.

I trust Roger’s friends and associates will enjoy that last statement.

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Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. These columns have received statewide recognition by the Associated Press.

Sports Extra appears each Friday. These columns have received statewide recognition by the Associated Press.