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.

2014 NFL Playoffs Third Round

by Tony Medley

This is a homage to stupidity and I start with me. Before the playoffs started I determined that the four best teams were New England, Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle, not necessarily in that order. So I figured that I really didn’t have too many games to pick since all the games involving those four had already been picked. Somewhere along the way I started rethinking, always a mistake, and picked against two of them this weekend, resulting in two losses that I shouldn’t have had. So I should be 6-2 instead of 4-4.

Now for the real culprits. Who are the dumbest people in sports? Give up? The people who play and coach the sports, that’s who. This couldn’t have been clearer than in the San Diego-Denver game, a game San Diego should have won. I said last week that Ken Whisenhunt was the best offensive coordinator in the game. I want to withdraw that. Denver has one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL (27th) and San Diego has one of the best passers in the NFL in Philip Rivers. San Diego started the game running, even though their only really good runner, Ryan Mathews, was gimpy. They spent the entire first quarter running the ball to no effect. It was clear from the outset that Denver’s defensive line was dominating. Undaunted by this and the fact that Denver’s rush defense was seventh in the league and that Denver was disdaining defending the pass and only defending the run, Whisenhunt and Head Coach Mike McCoy continued to run off tackle plays through the end of the third quarter, (even though Mathews, San Diego’s only effective runner, never got in the game after the half) resulting in Denver’s 17-0 lead, without allowing quarterback Philip Rivers to throw even one pass more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Rivers is San Diego’s best offensive player but Whisenhunt and McCoy muzzled him for three quarters. The woeful Denver pass defense had nothing to do with it. It was San Diego’s play calling. In the fourth quarter they finally let him pass downfield. Even though by then Denver had stopped defending the run and was defending against the pass, Rivers went through them like a dose of salts, scoring 17 points and coming close to winning the game. San Diego’s game plan was beyond stupidity (dumber than me picking Indianapolis and San Diego).

As to the other games, the refs continued to stink the place out. Without going into excruciating detail, the Colts-New England game was tarnished by two pass interference calls, one phony one against the Colts on third and long that gave NE a first down inside the five and eventually a touchdown when they should have been forced to punt the ball away. The second was a missed call on a real pass interference by New England that would have given Indy a first down in a crucial situation when the game was still on the line. These two calls (one call, one non-call) turned a close game into a rout.

But that doesn’t alleviate the fact that poor Andrew Luck was horrible. Oh, he threw some amazingly accurate long passes, but he missed some amazingly simple short passes, all of which resulted in interceptions. I expected more, which is why I picked them to win. But because he was so bad New England could win by running the ball over 40 times and without Tom Brady throwing even one touchdown pass.

But Luck didn’t give the worst performance in that game. That honor goes to broadcaster Dan Dierdorf, who was making his last appearance in a long career. I always thought he was an unusually perceptive commentator. Unfortunately, he blew it in his last performance. In the second half, New England was punting. The pass from the center went way over the punter’s head. He recovered it on the one yard line and made what appeared to be a futile attempt to pass, but it was ruled a fumble and it went out of the end zone for a safety. Dierdorf excoriated the punter, saying that he should have just fallen on the ball, not give up the two points, and “given the defense a chance.” So Coach Dierdorf would rather be defending a first and goal on the one yard line than just give up the safety and kick it away. Actually, what the punter did was the best thing that could have happened to New England. In that situation it’s much better to give up a safety than take the chance that a playoff team can’t score a touchdown from one yard out in four tries. A touchdown there turns the game around. As it was, Indianapolis only got two points and then Luck threw another interception after receiving New England’s punt from the 20.

As expected, San Francisco beat Carolina and Cam Newton proved what I indicated in last week’s column, he’s not ready for prime time, and seemed to give up in the second half.

Next Sunday’s games (at least one) are too close to call, so I’m not going to call them.

San Francisco at Seattle:

I was puzzled by Pete Carroll’s game plan against New Orleans. His conservative offense made the game a lot closer than it should have been. In fact, New Orleans almost scored two touchdowns in the last 1:04 to steal the game after being outplayed.  But maybe Pete knew what he was doing because his quarterback, Russell Wilson, was the worst of all the quarterbacks who played last weekend, missing short passes that I could have completed with my eyes closed. To give him credit, though, he did make two big plays he needed to make to win the game. As long as Marshawn Lynch doesn’t get injured, though, this game is a tossup because San Francisco has all three of its prime receivers healthy and ready to play including Crabtree who just never seems to miss a catch that’s anywhere within reach. This will put a lot of pressure on Seattle’s excellent pass defense. Colin Kaepernick, at 6-5, 240, is as effective a runner as Wilson and a better passer. But San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh will continue to mute the 49ers’ great offensive talent, so it should be a close game, and any call I make would be a guess, and I’m not going to guess.

New England at Denver:

Denver wasn’t that impressive beating San Diego. But for San Diego’s woeful game plan they wouldn’t have made it into the AFC title game. They won’t get that chance against Bill Belichick, who will undoubtedly take advantage of Denver’s weak pass defense and let Brady throw the ball. Alas, the Patriots have no downfield threat, so Denver has an advantage in that it really only need defend the short passing game and put pressure on Brady. Don’t look for New England to run the ball 40 times this week like San Diego did (and like New England did against Indianapolis), regardless of the weather. Because both teams have woeful pass defenses, this should be a high scoring game. If I had to put money on it, I’d put it on Denver because they are healthier, are playing at home, and since they play at this altitude all year, are much better acclimated to it than New England.