Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pure Pipe

The news that former Miami University and University of Louisville Head Coach Howard Schellenberger is retiring from coaching gives me an opportunity to dust off my favorite Schellenberger story one more time.

I was a sports reporter at the University of Louisville’s student newspaper when Schellenberger arrived on campus. He was a larger than life guy with the shock of gray hair, the moustache, the pipe and the national championship ring.

I was excited to meet Schellenberger, but also a bit wary. Schellenberger was old school, having studied at the foot of legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. I knew players were dropping like flies at his first practices. With this backdrop, my editor and I headed over to the Shelby Campus for a media day. I should say here that my editor was the antithesis of Schellenberger. He was a young, bohemian kind of guy with a ear ring, which wasn’t all that common back in those days.

Schellenberger held court for the assembled masses before opening the floor for questions. My editor threw up his hand. Schellenberger pointed at him. In his trademark gravelly voice, he uttered, “Uhh, yes, ma’am.” Undeterred, my editor asked his question, ignoring the coach’s apparent slight.

Nevertheless, the moment was pure Schellenberger. At least that’s how I remember it, although my memory may have been dulled by holding back laughter.

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