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. This is the book that UCLA Athletic Director J.D. Morgan tried to ban.

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Super Bowl 2011

by Tony Medley

No surprise to me that Chicago didn’t belong on the same field with Green Bay (in fact I think I said that last week). Whoever won the Green Bay-Philly game was going to the Super Bowl. And Green Bay was lucky Michael Vick threw a pass to the wrong guy at the end of the game.

Chicago’s cover 2 is very well played by their two safeties. But there was a huge hole in it on the left side zone between the line and the safeties and every third and long in the first half, Rodgers found it for a long completion. While Rodgers couldn’t throw the long pass, he was able to show the intermediate pass to open receivers against this weakness (which is evident in all cover 2 defenses). The game was the rout I expected until Chicago got lucky and Rodgers got hit in the head, Green Bay thought the game was won and pulled in its offense, and Cutler went out. Had the game gone on a little longer, the Chicago third string quarterback might have pulled it out.

The Steelers-Jets game can be summed up in two words, “Brian Schottenheimer.” The Jets’ offensive coordinator tied Sanchez’s hands all year long and the biggest game of the year was no different. There’s an old axiom in football, “establish the run to establish the pass.” Problem is, that doesn’t work when you’re playing against the top run defense in the league, which was Pittsburgh’s.

After Pittsburgh scored on that long first drive, ever time the Jets got the ball in the first half, Schottenheimer started with a run. Each time it was stopped at the line of scrimmage, so Sanchez was always faced with a second and long, which was disaster for the Jets’ first half offense.

But that wasn’t the end all of Schottenheimer’s mistakes. The Steelers only earned two touchdowns, so the Jets should have gone into half down 14-0, but with little time remaining on the clock, Schottenheimer had Sanchez throwing, resulting in a sack, fumble, and 10 more points.

Finally during the half time somebody on the Jets realized that in order to run against the Steelers, you must establish the pass. Then you can run. In the second half Sanchez was allowed to throw on first down and the Jets’ offense got into gear. Sanchez’s effective passing game allowed the Jets to get off some valuable runs.

But Schottenheimer still wasn’t through. The Jets, down 24-14, had a 1st down on the Steelers one yard line. Schottenheimer called two passes, one of which should have been intercepted and run back for a TD. Score a touchdown there, and the Jets will win the game. No wonder Rex Ryan was so angry. Next year if Schottenheimer is still here, I’m going to be looking for another team for whom to root.

But both games are instructive for the Super Bowl. Sorry to tell my Packers’ friends, but Green Bay will be lucky to beat the Steelers. Green Bay had no competition against Chicago (who had no competition against Seattle). The NFC is woefully weak, especially compared with the AFC which has at least four teams stronger than anyone in the NFC; Pittsburgh, the Jets, New England, and Baltimore. Even though Pittsburgh has injury problems on its offensive line, it is a much better rounded team than Green Bay.

Green Bay’s offensive line is still suspect. Rodgers still is run out of the pocket a lot, and the running game is unlikely to be very successful given the weakness of the offensive line. But Green Bay isn’t straddled with a guy like Schottenheimer, so will be smart enough to establish the pass first with their exceptional quarterback Rodgers. If the passing game works, James Stark will have a better opportunity to run and Green Bay might have a chance.

However, Rodgers was no Superman in the second half of the Bears game. Which one will show up Sunday? Also, a fly in his ointment is Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh’s defensive player of the year. He freelances all over the place. Nobody knows where he is or what he’s going to do, even Pittsburgh. If he’s healthy, something I doubt, he could be a big difference because he’s in a class by himself as a disruptive force.

Pittsburgh’s running game is much stronger than Green Bay’s, even if their starting center doesn’t play. Rashard Mendenhall was virtually untackle-able against the Jets, and the Jets have a good run defense. Their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, is a proven winner and is extremely difficult to sack. Their receivers have specific alternate routes to run when Roethlisberger is flushed out of the pocket. That’s when lots of their big plays occur.

Everyone is gushing about how these are the two best teams facing one another, but nobody mentions that neither Green Bay nor Pittsburgh scored a point in the second half of their conference championship games. If they are so great, how did they each lose the second half badly?

I like Green Bay, but Pittsburgh seems much the stronger team to me, and I can’t understand how Green Bay could be favored.

February 4, 2011