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 stories in their own words.

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

Sports Medley: 2015 Super Bowl Recap

by Tony Medley

Pete Carroll meet Fred Merkle. Merkle was a rookie first baseman who played for the New York Giants in 1908. In a key game with pennant contender Chicago Cubs, the Giants had Merkle on first and Moose McCormick on third with two out and Al Bridewell at bat, in a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning at the Polo Grounds. Bridewell hit a single to center and McCormick crossed the plate with the apparent winning run. Merkle, on first, thought the game was over so ran towards the dugout to avoid the crowd that always flooded the field when a game ended. Cubs’ second baseman Johnny Evers saw this and somehow got the ball and stepped on second base, appealing to umpire Hank O’Day that Merkle was forced out at second and the inning was over without the Giants’ run counting, so the game was still tied. O’Day agreed with him. With the field flooded with fans, the game was over. The Giants and Cubs finished the season a few weeks later tied for the pennant, so the replay of the tied game was essentially a playoff for the pennant and the Cubs won, 4-2. The play has been memorialized ever since as “Merkle’s Boner,” and Merkle was referred to as “Bonehead Merkle,” even though what he did was standard operating procedure at the time. As a postscript, the Cubs beat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series for their last World Series Championship.

Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks had the Super Bowl in the bag. They had a second and goal on the one yard line with approximately 30 seconds left in the game, trailing 28 to 24, two timeouts remaining and the NFL’s best rusher Marshawn Lynch ready for three tries to gain the 1 yard to get into the end zone. Instead, Carroll calls for a short pass in the middle of the field. It’s intercepted; the game is over; Seahawks lose!

This is much more of a “boner” than what poor Fred Merkle did in 1908. And it should go down in history as such, “Carroll’s Boner.” This isn’t Carroll’s first visit to the bonehead school, though. In the 2006 Rose Bowl game against Texas, USC had a fourth and two at midfield with 2:13 left in the game leading by five, 38 to 33. USC’s star player was running back Reggie Bush, who won the Heisman Trophy as 2005’s best football player. But when SC lined up for their most important play of the season, Carroll called for the ball to be given to SC’s other running back, LenDale White, who was thrown for a loss. Texas took over and drove down for the game winning touchdown. But the worst and most inexplicable part of it, Bush wasn’t even in the game! He was standing on the sideline watching. One might be able to understand Carroll calling for a play to fake a handoff to Bush, who everyone would expect to carry the ball, and hand it to White as an element of surprise. But with Bush not in the game, that ploy was out. Who in their right mind would have the best offensive player in the game on the bench for the biggest offensive play of the year? The answer to that is the same guy who would throw a short pass into a stacked defense instead of handing the ball off to the best runner in football to try to make one yard, Bonehead Pete Carroll, a title he richly deserves off of these two calls.

But this game was actually lost late in the third quarter when Seattle was rolling and in process of making it a rout. Seattle had scored 17 consecutive points and had a third and three at midfield. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a perfect sideline long pass that was right in Jermaine Kearse’s two hands, but Kearse dropped it, resulting in a three and out and a punt. When this occurred, I had a strong premonition that it was a huge momentum swing and that New England was going to come back and win. Voila!

Kearse is the same receiver who muffed two passes in the Green Bay game that resulted in interceptions which contributed to Green Bay’s big lead near the end of the game. If Kearse makes the catch, Seattle has a first and 10 on the New England 20 near the end of the third quarter and a 10 point lead. It’s not unreasonable to think that they would go in to score a touchdown, get a 17 point lead and put the game almost out of reach, leading to an easy Seattle victory.

Kearse was almost a hero prior to Carroll’s bonehead call, however, by making a spectacular, bobbling catch on the New England five yard line, giving Seattle a first and goal with a little over a minute remaining. After Kearse’s amazing catch, Lynch gained 4 yards to the one on first down, and then Carroll called his mystifying pass play which New England intercepted, basically ending the game with only 20 seconds left. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

Kearse was also involved in the intercepted pass. Kearse’s job on the play was to run an arguably illegal pick (the same play on which a penalty was called that cost Notre Dame a winning touchdown over Florida State earlier in the season) to screen defensive back rookie Malcolm Butler from defending the intended receiver, Ricardo Lockette (who only caught 11 passes all year long, adding to another mystery as to why he would be the intended recipient of such an important pass), but Kearse was held up at the line of scrimmage by Patriots’ cornerback Brandon Browner, so the unscreened Butler had a clear run at the ball. To the rookie’s credit, he recognized the play immediately and knew exactly what he had to do. He is a potential star.

Brady played the spectacular game New England needed and was aided by crippling injuries in the Seattle secondary. While Brady’s short passing game is virtually indefensible, Seattle was known for not allowing many yards after catches, but New England receivers constantly caught the ball and ran for good yardage after the catch. Injuries to star defensive backs Richard Sherman (who is rumored to require Tommy John surgery), Kam Chancellor, Jeremy Lane (who made a key interception in the first half and injured his arm bad enough to miss the rest of the game), and Earl Thomas obviously had dire effects on the “Legion of Boom” and the game.

I can’t end the article without mentioning Seattle wide receiver Chris Matthews. Seattle’s weakness all year has been the lack of a deep receiving threat. Matthews was on the roster all year long, but played in only three games without a reception, probably without a ball being thrown to him. Finally getting a chance in the biggest game of the year, he was the star of the game for Seattle, making several key, difficult receptions. How could this player be on the Seattle roster without Carroll realizing his talent? How could he not play in front of butterfingered Jermaine Kearse?