Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as an eBook, this is the controversial story of John Wooden's first 25 years and first 8 NCAA Championships as UCLA Head Basketball Coach. This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John Wooden and the influence of his assistant, Jerry Norman, whose contributions Wooden  ignored and tried to bury.

Compiled with more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach. The players tell their their stories in their own words.

Click the book to read the first chapter and for ordering information. Also available on Kindle.

2013 NFL Playoffs First Round

by Tony Medley

I had pretty much decided a while back not to make predictions this year. One reason dominated: the officiating has been putrid since the old-time refs have returned. The League has turned the game into a passing game for wimps. It has removed entirely any possible defense of the pass. You cannot mount a hard rush of the passer because if you hit him a moment after he releases the ball, you get called for roughing. Defensive backs can't defend because if there's any touching at all, regardless of who initiates it, they get called for pass interference. If there's a collision running the pass route, even if the potential receiver runs into the D back, there's a holding call. There is, simply, no way to defend the pass. The guys who played in the 50s must be turning over in their graves.

Pass interference calls are particularly egregious. Any time there is a long pass, one cringes, waiting for a penalty flag. I started making a list of the Phantom calls, but gave up when it got too long after only one hour. This isn't football anymore. It's become more like baseball and basketball, where the officials control who wins the game. As a result, it's almost impossible to analyze and pick a winner of any particular game. I watch the games all year long and have a pretty good feel for who can win and who can lose, which is why I picked 10 out of 11 winners last year, the only loss being a last-second defeat of New Orleans by San Francisco, and have only been wrong four times out of 33 games in three years of writing this column, for a record of 29-4. But now, due mainly to the officiating, every game is basically a coin toss. However I do have feelings about how these playoffs should go if they were playing real football, so here's how it looks to me.

Cincinnati at Houston: Last summer I was in Las Vegas and went to an oddsmaker with the idea of placing a bet on Houston winning the Super Bowl. Since the odds were short, 8-1, I thought it a bad bet and didn't place it. Had the odds been 15-1, I would have placed it. So last summer my pick to win this game would have been Houston without a thought. However, Houston has lost three of its last four games, the last one being a very important game that they needed to win to get a first-round bye, and they played horribly. Quarterback Matt Schaub does not play well out of the shotgun. He's much better taking a snap in the T formation. So if Houston gets behind and Schaub has to play from a passing formation, Houston will be weaker. When you look at this team it's got All-Star defensive linemen, a great runner, a fine receiver, and a reasonably competent quarterback. But they looked horrible in three of the last four games, so something's wrong, probably an overrated offensive line. Conversely, Cincinnati has won six of its last seven games and is one of the hottest teams in the league. They have a pretty good offensive line and a very good defense. I have always believed that you pick the hot team in the playoffs, not the one that looks good on paper. That's why I was probably the only person who not only picked the New York Giants to beat Green Bay last year in Green Bay, but said I didn't even think it was going to be close. However, history is against Cincinnati. Four times in the past the same two teams have repeated in succeeding years facing each other in the playoffs. All four times the team that won the first time also won the second time. Last year Houston beat Cincinnati in the playoffs. Even so I'm picking Cincinnati, although Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton is still a question mark.

Indianapolis at Baltimore: Last year in the first round of the playoffs Houston played Baltimore. Houston was without both its starting and backup quarterbacks. I still thought Houston was the better team, but picked Baltimore because of its experience and the fact that it was playing its starting quarterback. Houston played the better game and should have won, but didn't. This year is even more difficult. Baltimore, old last year, is a year older, but they come into the game healthy. Indianapolis has a fine quarterback, an adequate defense, and a porous offensive line. Despite his admirable good performance this year, Andrew Luck has thrown a lot of interceptions, mainly because he doesn't have enough time to throw. That's not going to get any better against Baltimore's defense. Like Houston, Baltimore has been losing more than it's been winning lately, and I'm not a fan of Baltimore's quarterback. Even so, I think Baltimore has more talent and should win.

Minnesota at Green Bay: These teams have met twice and Minnesota should have won twice. They lost the first game because quarterback Christian Ponder threw two horrible Brett Favre–type passes that completely turned the game around and allowed Green Bay to win. One was with about a minute left in the first half with Minnesota leading and driving for another touchdown. With the ball inside Green Bay's 10 yard line, Ponder threw a pick six and Green Bay trotted off the field with the lead instead of being behind by double digits. At the start of the second half Ponder threw another horrible interception, and Green Bay won the game easily. Last week Minnesota beat Green Bay in a game that Green Bay was motivated to win because had they won they would have had a bye this week. Despite this, Green Bay could not win. All this points towards a Minnesota victory. However, Green Bay gets defensive back Charles Woodson back and middle linebacker Clay Matthews is back and playing himself back into shape. Green Bay's defense is better than it has been and finally healthy. Despite Green Bay's miserable offensive line and meager running game, they have recently shown a runner who might be able to take some of the pressure off of Aaron Rodgers, who is miraculously talented. If they defend Adrian Peterson's runs and make Ponder beat them with his passes Green Bay should win at home.

Seattle at Washington: Seattle and Washington are two of the hottest teams in the league, both led by rookie quarterbacks who run as well as they pass. This should be a terrific game, but RGIII has an injured leg and that mitigates Washington's offense. Right now Seattle is playing the best defense in the league, their quarterback is hot and they've got a fine running game. Seattle should win this game even though it's the visiting team and it hasn't done well on the road.

That's it, but I'm not responsible for the officials and any of their game-changing calls.

January 5, 2013