‘Country Jim’ Kirk devoted his life to the community

By BUDDY MARTIN

He was a Hillbilly who came south to Alabama to pursue a spot on Alabama’s football team but would wind up at Florida State University on an accidental career path to broadcasting one busted shoulder later.

It was all about the fascination with the Talking Box.

Back in the hills of Tennessee about a decade earlier, Kirk had seen and heard his first radio through a screen door. Now he was on track to someday own his own radio stations.

Kirk joined a small station in Quincy to work for a man who had ideas of opening one in Ocala. Thus the seeds were planted for WMOP AM, and later, WFUZ FM. He would own them both before finally selling them off.

Jim says he instantly fell in love with Ocala and “I felt like I was born here after one day.” The community has loved him back for more than 60 years.

Back in the day, “research” meant walking the streets and talking with people, not Gallup Polls. During the days prior to launching the new station in Ocala, Kirk engaged folks with friendly banter around the courthouse square.

What he discovered was a thirst for country music, gospel and others voices. He gave them all of it — none more popular than he morning show host, “Country Jim,” who strummed his ukulele, sang, cracked jokes and offered up some Will Rogers-like wisdom.

Playing the uke was something he took up at FSU to impress the girls during his nighttime dormitory serenades which he also turned into a campus political campaign. In essence, Jim Kirk brought that act to Ocala and he sang his songs for over 40 years.

Very few people, if any, were ever more popular in the local media than Kirk. His presence was significant, especially when he started showing up at City Council meetings and rubbing shoulders with city leaders, which he soon parlayed into a high community profile. He lightened the mood of any room.

Kirk became one of them, launching an illustrious political campaign that included three terms as mayor – twice during critical times in the 1960s and again in the 1970s for the bicentennial. He also served two terms as councilman.

Jim married the girl he had met in high school, Elizabeth, known to Ocalans as “Biddie,” and they produced three sons and a daughter, plus five grandchildren. Russell, John and Richard live in Ocala; Deborah Ann lives in Raleigh, N.C. where she is a Presbyterian minister.

For a while, he was seemingly the only Seminole it town, but was never short on guile when it came to firing back at his Gator friends. Jim Kirk’s loyalty to FSU was akin to a three-piece suit that hangs around long enough to come back in style again, so when Bobby Bowden’s reign came in the 1980s and produced championships, Kirk was stylish.

The he became stylish again after the 2013 season when Jimbo Fisher’s ‘Noles won the national championship and quarterback Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy. Bragging rights got bigger.

“I’m not only happy about the Seminoles,” Kirk proudly beams, as if sticking the Seminole spear in Marion County soil, a la Chief Osceola, “but I’m happy about Ocala – the hotbed of Seminole supporters.”

And off we go.

Kirk is not only bullish on FSU, but bullish Ocala. He still maintains a small office behind the building of his former WMOP site and can look out his front door at Tuscawilla Park. His office is filled with artifacts from his past – more like a combination of Fibber McGee’s closet and a Jim Kirk Museum – much it mementoes or photos from his FSU past.

If the city goes through as planned to build Linear Park down the railroad tracks of Osceola Avenue there could be a trolley or rail car running right past his door.

“That is an exciting thing, with the walkway downtown,” says Kirk, who turns 87 this year. “They’re going to close this street and lead right to the activities center in the park.”

As he spoke, plans continued to unfold for the new home of the Ocala Symphony, the old Ocala Auditorium, which will be gutted and refurbished as a venue in the heart of the green space. Nearly 50 acres of green space, sometimes referred to as “Ocala’s Central Park.”

Being a preservationist and admirer of all things downtown, Kirk still seethes a little at the demolition of the courthouse and wants no part in the blame or credit of that decision. But he feels downtown has overcome that mistake and is headed in the right direction.

Although there have been some critics about the lack of leadership in the community, Kirk doesn’t agree and thinks it is “doing remarkably well.” He realizes the challenges we face of competing with larger city and hails the idea of the new Ocala 489 industrial park and the new deal with FedEx will attract other “classy” brands.

On sunny days as he putzes around his office, he looks out to delight at activity around the Tuscawilla Pond — fishermen dropping in line, people enjoying wildlife on their lunchtime. “I can sit here and watch it,” he says. “It’s very exciting. And I’m so proud the symphony people have taken over the auditorium. That would have destroyed my faith in humanity if they had taken that building down.”

It’s to say who was more blessed by the arrival of Jim Kirk – him or the community. Even Gator fans can’t deny that.

(Email Buddy at buddyshow@aol.com)

 

 

 

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Why I probably don’t miss the Masters these days as much as I should

 

It used to be my favorite place in all of sports – the photographer’s stand at Amen Corner on Sunday. For 35 years I felt blessed to be parked there, watching the leaders traipse around golf’s most famous real estate in America’s most famous golf venue.

With warm April sun splashing on my shoulder, brightly colored flowers framing the greens, and birds chirping in the Georgia woods, it always felt like I was part of the Masters landscape.

This year, as in the past two, I’ve been happily parked around my big screen HDTV during the Masters instead. And to be honest, it almost feels like I’m still there. Aside from the old friends and maybe the peach cobbler, I don’t really miss it at all.

Our dirty little secret: Every year when the leaders came through Amen Corner, almost every single journalist would scramble back to the press room to watch the final five or six holes on CBS anyway. You could never keep up with what was going on around the course if you didn’t.

The truth is, thanks to the late Frank Chirkinian of CBS, the Masters has become a made-for-TV event. Just as all of sports seems to be in the process of doing.

Yet, I read the other day that ESPN’s TV ratings for the current Masters were off by as much as 36 percent the first two days. That’s what missing Tiger Woods will do to the Nielsen ratings. Believe me, as the former media director of a Colorado PGA Tour event no longer in operation – The International – I can assure you the numbers are directly tied to high profile personalities like Woods.Tiger can make or break an event, although that’s never going to be the case with the sovereignty of the Masters. In our case he broke The International once he quit playing at Castle Pines because the TV ratings plummeted. (Ironically, the upcoming PGA Tour dates for the International were replaced by his AT&T event at Congressional in Washington, D.C.)

You can tell CBS is gagging a bit about the early ratings dropoff, although the golfing gods were fairly kind with the pairing of popular Bubba Watson and young 20-year-old phenom Jordan Spieth teeing off in Sunday’s finale. And venerable Freddie Couples still on the leader board.

Try as he may, my friend Jim Nantz can’t hype Jordan Spieth’s success big enough to convince us that he is the next Tiger. Although, like so many of you, I’m already a big fan of Spieth.

In fact, I gotta go now, because Spieth is teeing off at No. 1 and I’ll be able to see his shot better in my living room that I would standing at the No. 1 tee box.

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This Huskies-Gators Final Four matchup is about settling score, and a lucky bounce at Gampel Pavilion

The last team to beat the Gators before their 30-game winning streak is alive and is now in the way of a national title.  Remember that night in Storrs? How has this Gator transformation taken place since? Billy. Donovan.

Raise your hand if you truly thought, and believed, the Florida Gators would be going to the Final Four after the night of Dec. 2 at Gampel Pavilion when they lost to UConn because of a fluke rebound and subsequent putback by Shabazz Napier. Even Napier knew he was lucky. “I just felt I was fortunate enough to be in the right spot at the right time,” he admitted.

Fate owed one to the Gators and fate may have paved the way after the Huskies beat Michigan State, 60-55, for a trip to the semi finals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Napier’s buzzer beater against a banged up Florida squad that December night is a bitter memory for Gator fans:

http://www.alligator.org/sports/basketball/article_803a998e-5be1-11e3-908a-001a4bcf887a.html

In fairness, Napier is a stellar guard whose briliance shone again in UConn’s 60-55 win Sunday, as he scored 25 points.

When the Huskies and Gators meet in Texas, the matchup between Shabazz and the SEC Player of the Year, most valuable player in the SEC Tournament and MVP in the South Regional, Scottie Wilbiken, may the one for the ages. In the game at UConn, a banged up Wilbiken had to leave the court with three minutes to go. You think he might be just a little psyched about payback on a neutral court.

Beating the last team to defeat them would be sweet and seemingly prophetic, but winning against anybody would be all Billy Donovan’s team needs to wipe out the memory of The Lucky Bounce in Gampel Pavilion.

Did you see this Gator rejuvention coming after Dec. 2 ?

The odds of it happening were something less than a perfect bracket, but admittedly almost lottery-like.

Show of hands please?

I must admit I didn’t raise mine either.

We should all agree on this, however: No matter if Florida wins over UConn or wins or loses in the national championship game, Billy Donovan has done his best coaching job ever and now deserves a place among the elite in college hoops — maybe right behind his mentor Rick Pitino and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski.

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March 30, 2014 · 6:23 pm

Memo to The Gator Nation: It’s safe to come out!

Gator Nation is smiling. You could see their pearly whites all over the Amway Center last weekend, as you no doubt will tonight in the first round of the South Regional in Memphis when Florida tips off against UCLA.

By BUDDY MARTIN

I know I speak for the majority of the repatriated Gator fans today who feel all blissed out about the recent return to the Glory Days. It’s like a fog is lifting as this Florida basketball team blue-collars its way back to the top of college hoops. The orange and blue flags are no longer flying half-mast.

It’s Great To Be … Well, you remember how that chant used to go.

And yeah, as the Ol’ Ball Coach used to say, maybe the Good Lord is smiling on The Gator Nation again.

Billy’s boys have brightened our mood and hope is abounding among Gator fans that somehow, by osmosis, that winning feeling might even return to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium some day.

To be honest, some Gator fans are afraid to be too optimistic about basketball, as if they didn’t deserve it. At times it has gotten scary: First the No. 1 ranking — some of us even feared it might be a jinx – and then on to what has become an almost annual trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Timed perfectly to ease the sting of the downturn in Gator football fortunes.

So now they offer up this collective prayer to Billy Donovan: “Pulease, pulease coach Donovan – don’t let this winning feeling go away just yet!”

While maybe the basketball success is not a total panacea for an ailing football program – a program that seems to be a lot more blue these days than bright orange – it sure helps to temporarily obscure the memory of the dreaded numbers 4 and 8.

You’ve heard the old joke going around:

 

Q. What did Will Muschamp do at Florida that Billy Donovan couldn’t?

A. Turned us into a basketball school.

 

OK, a bit cheap perhaps. But point taken.

The irony of the aforementioned joke is that the basketball success at Florida has drawn the attention of the coach many people believe to be one of the top three in America. But it’s a football coach: New England’s Bill Belichick.

Last Saturday, there was Belichick at the Amway Center, white Gator visor and all, sitting with his lady friend at the Florida-Pitt game, cheering for – are you ready for this? – the basketball coach at Florida and his team.

So does that make UF a basketball school? Or a football school that just happens to be enjoying a good year in basketball?

You decide.

I have been vocal about my disappointment at Muschamp’s lack of progress – even called for his dismissal BEFORE the loss to Georgia Southern –  but I now must say Will should get a stay of execution  this year to prove he can – or can’t – get it done again at a championship level.

The worst-to-first SEC turnaround at Auburn gives Gator fans some modicum of encouragement. And Donovan’s persistence after a rocky start this season proves that the right coach with the right plan can eventually get it done.

The fact that Donovan signed a new deal in February and that Muschamp is on a short lease may or may not impact that argument. With Billy’s bonuses this year he will be just a tad under $4 million, which some would say was “football coach money.” Worth every penny and then some.

Nobody begrudges Donovan the dough after a fourth straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen and a realistic quest for a third national championship. He is one of three SEC coaches to win 400 games and ranks second all-time in wins at an SEC school behind Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp (875) after No. 449 over Pittsburgh. A nice round 450 tonight over UCLA would look good on his resume.

As for whether Florida is a football or basketball school, who cares?

Bear Bryant once said he found out that answer at Kentucky when at the end of the football season in Lexington he was given a cigarette lighter as a gift and Rupp got a Cadillac. This year at Florida, the car goes to the basketball coach.

Buddy Martin, host of the daily radio show “Buddy Martin’s Sports Page,” has written four books on Gator sports. Most recently “The Boys From Old Florida” was rereleased by Skyhorse Publishing. You may email him at buddyshow@aol.com

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Four Reasons Why We Love This Florida Gator Basketball Team

By BUDDY MARTIN

Even though these guys really haven’t won the ultimate prize yet – and may not – I feel compelled to confess today that of all the sports teams fielded by the University of Florida over the past 60 years, Billy Donovan’s 2013-14 basketball squad is one of my all-time favorites. And really it has nothing to do with being the nation’s No. 1 team because, as everybody knows, such a distinction this time of year is usually fool’s gold.

No matter what awaits them in March Madness, this team will be on my Mt. Rushmore of Gator hoops. I love the way these Gators have bonded, the way they grew together and approached every game as if they were underdogs. The way they carried themselves with confidence, composure and countenance in crunch time.

But it didn’t come easily. Every game, it seems, was another chapter in “The Little Engine That Could.”

It’s easy to love the championship basketball squads like the ones which won back-to-back national titles in 2006 and ’07 and had three members drafted in the Top 10 of the NBA Draft.

The memories still resonate of Joakim Noah blocking a shot, snatching the ball in mid-air and dribbling on a beeline to the middle of the court to lead the fast break. The nimble giant would dish off to skywalking Corey Brewer on the mega-dunk or Al Horford taking it hard to the rack, or pass to a trailing Taurean Green who would knock down the trey.

Who wouldn’t have been inspired watching theatre and ballet unfold on the hardwood before your very eyes to say nothing of the trophies that were produced?

This 2014 team is not about aesthetics and bling, however. It is neither Picasso or Michelangelo, nor the grace or beauty of the triple axle.

It’s maybe more like MacGyver doing graffiti, a bunch of egoless blue-collared guys with lunch pails doing an honest day’s work. No convergence of art and music these days as much as it has been “Please be patient: Our site is under construction.” Divas need not apply.

There’s not much pretty about Scottie Wilbiken deking on his cat-and-mouse routine, darting in and then pulling back almost like a semi-do-over, dumping a ball-screen pass to Will Yeguete, a guy who only shoots as a last resort. Yeguete more than likely hands off to Casey Prather, who either drives to the hole or dishes to mammoth Patric Young. And sometimes on a hot night, Michael Frazier will be sweet-stroking 3s like buttah.

The heart of their offense is their pressing defense, the zone trap, turning over an opposing player and attacking their will.

They’ve come a long way since Donovan had to scour the parking lot for a quorum to hold practice. And even then it took his former team manager to fill the void and walk-on Jacob Kurtz has wound up playing significant minutes.

If it is true, as the experts say, that success is 90 percent about showing up, then the firm of Wilbiken, Young, Prather & Yeguete will all graduate magna cum laude from Donovan’s School of Grit & Determination.

These. Gators. Always. Show. Up. And. Play. Hard. Period.

In a year when some of the hard-core Gator football fans are flying their flags at half-staff and licking the wounds from a 4-8 campaign, they can proudly beam, “Well, at least we are a BASKETBALL school!” They then can proudly point to The Four Who Stayed For Four who amassed 113 wins, an annual invitation to the Elite Eight and a perfect SEC campaign.

Young, Prather, Yeguete and Wilbiken, through their loyalty, recharged the Gator Nation, raising the spirits of The Boys From Old Florida.

1. We all love Patric, whose guns are superseded only by his supersized heart. But isn’t every one of those jump hooks a hold-your-breath adventure? He lumbers downcourt like an 18-wheeler with one tire low on air, always pedal-to-metal. He goes up for rebounds like a starving lion after red meat and flings himself toward loose balls as if falling on a grenade for his best friend. Yet his signature moment of the season was his lunge for the errant ball against Tennessee and subsequent on-his-butt outlet pass that iced the clock. And let’s not forget that Young has become the most improved free-throw shooter on the squad. He knew if he didn’t become more accurate that his team would be hurt late in games because foes would turn him into a Hack-A-Pat target. He wasn’t the two-time SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year for nothing. Thank you Patric.

2. As much as Young has improved his free-throw shooting, Prather has improved his game times 10 over in the last four seasons. Either that, or when the equipment manager wasn’t looking, a clone of Kevin Durant slipped into that No. 24 uniform. There were times when Prather wanted to transfer, discouraged by his inability to shoot the 3-pointer and lack of scoring to help his team. He was a bit of a loner. So he worked through it only to be injured earlier in this year. Prather more than doubled his 6-point scoring average to lead the team in that department. His defense also became a huge asset. He delights in slapping the ball away for a steal and finishing the break, sometimes with a soft-butterfly landing to avoid the charge. Thank you Casey.

3. Yeguete does the dirty work – whatever scraps are left by Young. He boxes out, sets the picks, takes the charge or sometimes defends the low post. It’s easy to lose sight of Will because he’s not flashy and tends to blend into the background. Yet during high school at Florida Air Academy, he was known as a player who could “dominate a game without scoring,” according to an opposing coach. He was so shy four years ago that he practically needed to re-introduce himself to the team in practice. The fact that he spoke French and his family lived on the Ivory Coast didn’t make for an overnight relationship of sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya and roasting marshmallows. After a slow start with tendonitis, Yeguete has become one of those unsung heroes you hear about. And he’s sort of the glue. Thank you Will.

4. If it seems like Wilbiken has been playing for Florida since the 1990s, it’s because he was so young (17) when he virtually walked across the street from The Rock to play four more years in his hometown. Yet he almost didn’t play that last season because he was in an eyelash of getting booted off the team late last summer for violation of a team rule. It was the second time in 18 months he broke a team rule and was sat down. His coach invited him to transfer unless Scottie was willing to move back in with his parents and follow a strict conditioning regimen. He also was required to apologize to his teammates and the fans. Even then he was suspended until further notice and didn’t come back until Game 6. Then he suffered an injury. Somehow it made him more resolute. When this team is struggling, needs a bucket but nobody else can throw it in the ocean, Wilbiken is money. He also plays belly-button defense, picks the pocket of his man often and has been known to shut down some of the SEC’s top scorers. If Patric Young is the heart of this team, Scottie Wilbekin is its guts. Thank you Scottie.

They went against the one-and-done philosophy of the basketball mercenaries. Long after any NBA riches might have come and gone, their names will be uttered in respect and Gator basketball lore will likely pay homage to The Four Who Stayed For Four.

In the end, these seniors leave behind a meaningful legacy. They’ve already bequeathed a 32-game homecourt winning streak at the O’Connell Center, not to mention the establishment of the record 18-0 standard in league play.

“They’re going to carry this with them for the rest of their lives,” says their coach. “They’re going to have their children and they’re going to come back here and they’re going to be remembered for what they’ve done. They’ve done something that’s not happened here before.”

Notice how Billy Donovan sort of left himself out of all of this success.

Despite some of the travails earlier in the season, I’ve got a pretty good idea that one day Donovan will admit that this has been one of his most rewarding seasons, because it might be the best coaching job he’s ever done. For right now, however, he’s got another hill to climb with “The Little Engine That Could.”

(Email Buddy Martin at buddyshow@aol.com)

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The Outdoor Renaissance Man

Mark Emery: From Brownie Camera to Winning Emmys

By BUDDY MARTIN/Best Version Media Editor

At first glance, Mark Emery sounds flat-out crazy.

Emery is a bit of a renaissance man – a onetime professional kick boxer who plays guitar and writes music; a producer/photographer who makes movies and writes his own scores.

You also might find the strapping 6-foot-4 Floridian swimming down the Silver River in scuba gear with members of a Special Forces team in training, hitching a ride on the tail of a gator. Or helicoptering to a beach in Alaska to photograph a pack of grizzly bears feasting on a whale’s carcass. Or sticking his head inside of an alligator den. Or perhaps hanging upside down in a small aircraft, which had crashed into a tree at some remote spot in Alaska – one of many predicaments he has managed to escape.

In his last assignment, Mark found himself swimming upside down just 18 inches underneath a rattlesnake with fangs visible.

Most outdoor-loving Huck Finns prey on grasshoppers or caterpillars or frogs, or maybe a grass snake or two. From the start, however, Mark Emery had his eye on bigger game.

At 14, Emery and his friends were trapping alligators around Central Florida, putting them to sleep by rubbing their tummies. He and his buddies captured a seven-footer in a retention pond, promptly putting the critter into a comatose state. Back then alligators were protected by law. When Mark’s dad discovered the reptile in a coma, he feared they had killed it.

“In those days it was about a thousand-dollar fine for killing one,” said Emery. “I think my dad probably made about $95 a week. So I got my butt whipped. Once daddy realized we hadn’t killed the gator, however, he took us out for ice cream. First and only time I got a whipping followed by ice cream.”

It turned out Mark’s love for animals wasn’t just a boy’s passing fancy. He started with a Brownie camera, exploring creeks and rivers and forests at his back door in Ocala. He’s been tracking critters ever since – sharks and all kinds of fish, wild boar, alligators, deer, bears, etc. Not always to trap them, or kill them, but to shoot video and still photos of these magnificent creatures.

Working his way up as assistant at the Ross Allen Reptile Institute, he learned how to milk poisonous snakes. There he met pioneer film photographer Jordy Klein and began learning the trade.

Over the past few decades, Mark has spent countless hours in the water and the wilderness, studying the animals’ habits, building a bridge of trust that allowed passage into their world. That understanding of territorial imperative has provided a window of photographic splendor to nature which, coupled with Emery’s genius, has led to international renown and a pair of Emmys.

These days he plunders the wilds of Alaska and various other far away places, documenting animal behavior for The Discovery Channel and National Geographic. Those tasks can be daunting.

The stories of his wildlife adventures would have made a reality series itself, but it takes a toll. Never mind the plane crashes in Alaska or getting whacked by the tail of a crocodile. Just the task of trudging up mountains or through wild country with his team, hauling thousands of pounds of equipment is a massive undertaking.

“I am working out all the time just to keep up with these younger guys,” said Emery, 59, although still fit and trim and energetic.

While fearless, Emery knows the pace must eventually slow just a little over time. And as he does, he and his wife/business partner Mary hope to be around Ocala more, turning more toward teaching other young aspiring artists and photographers. So they have begun offering specialized education, including rivers tours for students from Silver Springs. His dream is have a film school there one day.

Come this May, the Emerys will once again pack for Alaska. Mark does some fly fishing guided tours and Mary works at the local salmon fishery. Like the creatures of the wild, they migrate there every year for four months. After all, they, too, are creatures of habit that just have to migrate.

(Email Buddy Martin at buddymartinshow@gmail.com)

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March 1, 2014 · 8:51 pm

Boeheim’s explosion is the gold medal winner so far, but stay tuned

Animal activists be forewarned: Get ready for the assault on the zebras. It’s open season on basketball officials.

Don’t get me wrong — some of these whistle-blowers have got it coming.  But be nice. They’ve got mommas and daddies and wives and children, too.

Good officials should be seen but not noticed. But there they were again, front and center at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night, looking very much like the accidental game-changers who were unwitting instigators of the meltdown and subsequent ejection of a college basketball icon. First the first time ever in nearly 1,300 regular season games, a Hall of Fame-To-Be-Coach got thumbed out of the gym.

Tony Greene booted Jim Boeheim on a double-technical for doing his Mike Jagger impersonation; Boeheim sashaying across the hardwood to protest a block-charge call. If coaches can get flagrant technicals, he got one. Or two. So yes, he deserved it, even if the blocking call was perhaps debatable.

There has been sort of an undercurrent of discontent brewing all season, especially among the coaches who are having a difficult time understanding the changes in some of the rules and the different way the calls are being interpreted and implemented, depending on which crew is working the game. You knew this was coming sooner or later.

Beating Duke is never easy and there is this perception that if they are handing out breaks at the Good Luck Store, Mike Krzyzewski will get a bucketful.

Syracuse had a chance of defeating the Blue Devils for the second time this season when the wheels came off. C. J. Fair was called for blocking, Boeheim had his mid-court meltdown and Duke’s Quinn Cook made three of four shots to ice the game.

I thought the ESPN crew did a fairly good job of exlaining the new rule and why Greene had to make the call, but it was convulted by Dick Vitale’s diatribes which he later softened.

I like Dick Vitale personally and appreciate what he has done to help popularize the sport, but when it comes to his basketball “analysis,” his intrusion on the game is often annoying and his perception inaccurate. Vitale is too busy with the coronation of coaches rather than explaining why Duke’s interior play was so much more effective with Jabari Parker.

Block/charge is the most difficult of calls — many of them are 50/50 — and is naturally given to debate.

They have tried to tweak the rule but, as Boeheim says, “It’s been explained a hundred times. C.J. (Fair) got in his motion. I saw the replay. The guy was moving. That’s it. Simple as that.”

Boeheim also joked that he wanted to see “if I had it in me to get out there — and I did. I was pretty quick. And I stayed down.”

I come down on the side of Boehein in favoring more of a block than a charge (or at least a no-call) on that controversial play, but running madly on the court was egregious behavior that is symptomatic of a larger problem: The growing animosity between coaches and officials. So he deserved to be tossed.

I was not aware that this was Boeheim’s first ejection ever (he says he was tossed in an exhibition game). Ironically, Boeheim said later in his post-game interview, that the game “was extremely well-officiated.” Swore he was serious.

However, officials have got to stop freewheeling on their judgment and establish more uniformity and game-to-game consistency. Coaches must stop going on the court and re-learn how to do their jobs from the bench. That worked pretty well for John Wooden.

Boeheim made his feelings known on what he called “The Worst Call of the Year.” He might have also won the award for “Worst Behavior of the Year,” although he isn’t likely to stay in that gold medal position as we approach the Ides of March.

However, Boeheim has no business setting picks on officials at mid-court.

In fact, I’m sick and tired of coaches thinking that they belong on the court in street shoes, roaming the hardwood sideline like they were on a football field. I wish more of them would be teed up for violating the boundaries of the coaching box. But officials have not enforced that rule.

Get ready for the post-season explosions, because they are coming, like an Independence Day Fireworks display four months early. Who are the most likely contenders to be on that podium with Boeheim? Stay tuned.

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/24453475/watch-jim-boeheim-goes-nuts-gets-tossed-in-final-minute

ImageCBS Photo.

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