When I initially conceived the section "March Mad Men", I knew instantly whom I would first feature.
While there have been more important announcers in the NCAA Tournament, no one brought as much character and perspective as McGuire, the legendary Marquette coach whose wisdom still inspires 15 years since his passing.
In high school, I always enjoyed McGuire's off-beat announcing during NCAA Tournament games on CBS.
Of course, I was too young to remember McGuire from his NBC heydays, when he joined the classy Dick Enberg and the knowledgeable/cantankerous Billy Packer to call college basketball games.
While I was in college, and my younger brother began attending Marquette University and learning more about McGuire's impact on the campus, I too started learning more about Coach Al.
For one Christmas, I think shortly after I had graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, my brother bought me several books on McGuire.
I quickly read Roger Jaynes' great book, Al McGuire: The Colorful Warrior, truly impressed by the genius, craziness and honesty of McGuire, a true one of a kind.
In celebration of McGuire, the humble beginnings of The College Basketball Nostalgic and even the start of the school year (where motivation and inspiration is always sought out), I wanted to share some of favorite quotes from McGuire, as taken from Tom Kertscher's Cracked Sidewalks and French Pastry: The Wit and Wisdom of Al McGuire.
What you'll learn in these quotes is that McGuire was far more than a coach or a broadcaster; he was a character, a man of great perspective.
There are not enough Al McGuires in today's world, and that's a damn shame.
In no particular order, here are some of my favorite quotes from Coach Al.
I hope you find them thought-provoking and inspirational.
- "My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house. That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk."
- "I'm not sure I have the basketball knowledge of a good high school coach. I don't know if I coach. I think I'm more like the master of ceremonies. I create a party on the court and keep it going."
- "People can't understand my players screaming back at me, but it's healthy. Also, I notice that the screaming always comes when we're fifteen, twenty ahead. When it's tied, they're all listening very carefully to what I have to say."
- "I'm not saying they were Einsteins; they were marginal students. But every ballplayer who ever touched me has moved up his station in life. And the players moved up my station."
- "If a player leaves Marquette and doesn't have some of my blood in him, then I don't think I've done a good job."
- "Coaching is not the ultimate. I never liked coaching. There's got to more to life than hangin' up jock straps."
- "Keep in mind that winning is only important in major surgery and all-out war, and you'll have a leg up on staying loose and winning ballgames."
- "The people who know basketball, their elevators don't go to the top."
- "What it takes to be a great player, beyond raw talent, is self-centeredness and a certain numbness to the crowd. Superintelligent people can't be superb athletes. They're too aware."
- "I've always been the bridesmaid. More like a lunch-pail, tin-hat type of person. I never thought I'd really win. I'm a positive thinker but I always thought I'd come in second."
- "[Coaching] didn't quiver anymore...If something doesn't quiver, I have no excitement in it."
- "I had my moment on the stage. The trick in life is to know when to leave."
- "I think the world is run by C students."
- "Life is what you allow yourself not to see."
- "Sports is a coffee break."
- "When a guy takes off his coat, he's not going to fight. When a guy takes off his wristwatch, watch out."
- "Every obnoxious fan has a wife [at] home who dominates him."
- "Help one kid at a time. He'll maybe go back and help a few more. In a generation, you'll have something."
- "If someone calls you, the third thing he says is usually the reason he called."
- "Congratulate the temporary."
- "I'm an Einstein of the streets and an Oxford scholar of common sense."
- "I only comb my hair if there are four people in the room, and if there are four people in the room, I'm getting paid."
- "I want to keep the pulse of the parking lot attendant--the country club or golf course is not where it's at. The pulse is on the cracked sidewalks. If you lose that, life's not worth living. As a person, I hope I never change."
- "Don't call me son unless you're going to include me in your will."
- "I'm dying with my eyes open. I want to see everything."
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