We all have had a few days to absorb the passing of John Wooden. I just read a great column by Rick Reilly at ESPN (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=5260677) sharing his personal recollections on Wooden. Regardless of what you think of Reilly, positive or negative, it was a very nice column. His piece, published today, reminded me of some of the reasons I loved hearing about Coach Carr. Carr, like Wooden, was well read, and an educator. Carr, like Wooden, was not about PR and putting himself in front of the camera. Carr, like Wooden, was loved by many of his players. Carr, like Wooden, always wanted to do things the right way, win or lose. Carr, like Wooden, was loyal, sometimes to a fault.
Obviously, Carr is not Wooden, and the analogies eventually fall down. I was ready for Carr to retire, and am thrilled that RR is our coach. I support RR wholeheartedly, and pray that MSC and DB give him plenty of time to succeed. Nonetheless, reflecting on Wooden brought back many good memories of Carr. I loved his smile, and the thought that there was a warm heart of gold behind the curmudgeon sometimes on display for the mass media. I loved his dictionary, his interest in history, and literature, his character, his entire being. It is my hope that like Carr, we will see many wonderful things about RR over many years to come.
Thinking of Wooden and Carr does bring to mind one thing I just don't want to ever see at Michigan. If winning championships ever means you have to cheat, to compromise your values, to whore yourself and your school, then let me off the bus. Mind you, I do believe that RR wants to do things the right way, which is why the whole "major violations" and "NCAA sanctions" debacle pains him so greatly. But there are too many coaches and athletes and others who will cut corners for success. It wasn't worth it to Wooden, or to Carr, or, not that it matters, to me.
As Wooden, quipped, Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. I don't want any more stupid discussions and threads on "Michigan Men." I do want my alma mater to do things the right way, out of the right character.
Lastly, slightly off topic, but cut from the same cloth as this post, I was thrilled in the meta topic about "Blogs with Balls" to see Brian's concern with ethics. Brian's desire to do things the right way is one of the reasons that I come to this website more than any other.
p.s. If you want more of Wooden, ESPN also compiled a bunch of his quotes. You can find them at http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5249709.