This Day In History (December 8, 1980)

December 8, 2015

Thirty-two years ago, on today’s date, the real world and sports collided in a rather strange way.

The New England Patriots were playing the Miami Dolphins in the Orange Bowl on Monday Night Football.  It was a tight game, tied at six going into the fourth quarter, and tied up again at thirteen-all with under a minute left in regulation.  Near the end of regulation in a game that was vital to the AFC playoff picture, ABC News informed Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Frank Gifford that former Beatle John Lennon had been shot in the back and killed outside of his apartment in New York City.

There’s something you have to remember here:  This was back in the days before internet, social media, cell phones, text messaging, E-mail, and just about every other form of instant communication that we have today with the exception of the telephone.  Cable TV was still in its infancy, and most Americans didn’t have access to a 24-hour news network like we have entirely too much of today.  Monday Night Football was the highest-rated show on at the time, and would get the news of Lennon’s death to the most amount of people.

An ABC reporter just happened to be at the hospital for a completely unrelated reason, and heard the words “John Lennon” and “shot” from down the hallway.  That’s how ABC got the story first, and the ABC truck informed the crew in the booth that they had to announce what happened on air.  After discussing the situation during a commercial, they decided that there was no good way to break the news, and just decided to come right out with it.  Patriots kicker John Smith was actually lining up for a potential game-winning field goal (which he ended up missing) when Howard Cosell told the world about what he called “an unspeakable tragedy”.

Chances are that a story like that will never be reported to the public in the same way again.


Gamecock Fans Should Be Pleased With Today’s Loss

November 28, 2015

Clemson 37 @ South Carolina 32

Gamecock fans and alumni should actually be pleased by this result.  Of course the Gamecock faithful would have loved to have the bragging rights of being the only team in the regular season to have knocked off Clemson, and to have been the team that (possibly) prevented the Tigers from a College Football Playoff birth.

But, let’s be honest here:  The Gamecocks had arguably the worst season they have had since Lou Holtz’s first season as the Gamecock’s coach in 1999 in which they went winless at 0-11.  Carolina’s only wins in 2015 were in the opening week against UNC in which the team that had the most players without leg cramps at the end would win (also, no one knew at that time that UNC would actually be a pretty good team), against Central Florida (winless at 0-12), and against a hapless 4-7 Vanderbilt team.

Clemson will go on to the ACC Championship Game, and then to the College Football Playoffs.  Carolina will start looking for a new coach.  If Carolina would have pulled out a victory today, the powers that be would spend the next two months relishing the victory against their cross-state rival instead of focusing on finding the best coach they can get.  Wins in rivalry games by bad teams cloud the issues that made them a bad team in the first place.  If an assistant led the Gamecocks to a victory, the players might rally and demand that assistant be given the head job based on one game.  You may laugh, but it happened to West Virginia after Rich Rodriguez left after the 2007 season, and Bill Stewart led the team to a 48-28 Fiesta Bowl win versus #3 Oklahoma.

Clemson fans, congratulations.  Gamecock fans, get ready for an actual search for Ballcoach’s successor.  There certainly will be plenty of fine candidates.

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