OSU vs Oregon | NCAA Basketball | Ep 18

OSU vs Oregon | Some team rivalries go to the soul of players and fans.  They are the rivalries that have not only stood the test of time but also made even more intense with times’ passage.

Such is the basketball rivalry between Oregon State University and the University of Oregon.

OSU vs Oregon Rivalry

Talk about time tested! These teams have played more games against one another than any other basketball rivalry in NCAA history-354. OSU leads in wins with 190 to Oregon’s 164. This is a rivalry where winning THE game can make or break a season, no matter the overall record.

With the campuses in Eugene and Corvallis just 37 miles apart, the impact on local sports fans is deep-seated.  That just raises the stakes when these teams play and is that fan fever ever felt by the players, as you are about to hear.

The Players

Lamar Hurd played for OSU from 2002-2006 as a starting point guard all four years. He was an All-Pac-10 performer and a 3-time Pac-10 All-Academic. He came to OSU from Houston and currently is a television analyst for the Portland Trailblazers.

Luke Jackson played at Oregon from 2000-2004. He is the only player in school history to be in the top 10 in 9 different statistical categories and was an NBA pick by Cleveland. He went on to play pro ball and to coach basketball at the college level.

Luke grew up in the midst of this rivalry being born and raised in Eugene. He will tell you about being recruited by both schools and why he chose Oregon. Family feelings about the rivalry matter when making such a choice as Luke will explain.

Lamar will give you an insight on this rivalry from the perspective of one who did not grow up there, but found out quickly what was on the line when these teams met. There is a bit of awe and shock heard in Lamar’s voice in relating his discovery of this rivalry in his freshman year.

Listen to the intensity of their conversation rise up as the podcast progresses. Feel the heat of their memories as they relate stories from their playing days. You will also hear that the competitive intensity still exists with each player remembering when they went head-to-head on the court.

Hurd and Jackson magnificently relate in words what such a rivalry means to those who find themselves in its midst. We leave their conversation with a very real sense that this rivalry’s long history is worthy of being college basketballs most played ever.

Buckle up. 

*Note:  The athletes in this podcast refer to the rivalry between The University of Oregon and Oregon State University as the “Civil War.”  This is a moniker that was previously used by the schools, but since the recording of the podcast, the schools have decided to no longer use this term.

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1983 Sugar Bowl | PSU vs GA | Ep 17

1983 Sugar Bowl | Seasons in sports are played to lead up to a moment of finality – the World Series, NBA Finals, etc. College football is no different as teams play for a national championship game and a number 1 ranking to end a season.

In January of 1983, that moment was the Sugar BowlGeorgia came into the game ranked number 1 and Penn State number 2.  While not classified as a national championship game at the time, few doubted that the winner would claim that moniker.  

The Quarterbacks

Todd Blackledge was the passing quarterback for a high-powered Penn State team that featured the running prowess of Curt Warner.  Penn State was a favorite in the game even though ranked number 2.  

Todd had a 31-5 mark for his career with the Nittany Lions and did not know when entering that game, that when the day was done, he would be the MVP of the Sugar Bowl.

Todd would go on to play in the NFL with KC and Pittsburgh and have a noted career as a television football analyst.

At quarterback for Georgia was John Lastinger, who entered that day never having lost a game he started at quarterback from the time he was in high school. John was joined in the backfield by Herschel Walker who did the leg work.

John would go on in 1984 to win a Cotton Bowl game and scored the winning touchdown.  However, such was not to be John’s fate in 1983.

1983 Sugar Bowl 

Penn State won the game 27-23 and the national number 1 ranking that went with it. The game lived up to its pregame hype as you will hear Todd and John remember the day.

There was an opening Penn State drive that both agreed set the stage.

There was a penalty non-call in the game they each remember as critical. A little thing it was not, but rarely is it remembered except by those in the game.

Many in sports say it is far easier to lose by an overwhelming margin than a tight matchup. In the former, you forget the mistakes-they didn’t matter anyway. In the tight ones, you harken back and think “what if.” You will hear that here.

Two QBs in the Louisiana Superdome with a football world watching.

Here are their stories of that game.

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Swimming | USA vs East Germany | Ep 16

USA vs East Germany |Everyone in the pool!  Just don’t challenge our guests to a race.  

Most rivalries end with the competitive years of those involved having concluded.  The rivalry stories we hear today ended when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

For U.S. swim teams, the East Germans posed a particularly tough rivalry as our guests will explain.  This was a rivalry born of international competition, the Olympics being THE highlight of their matchup. 

Our guests today were involved in this rivalry at the highest levels.  They came to the competition in different eras, but both faced East German teams when they were at their best.

The Rivals | USA vs East Germany

Rowdy Gains

Rowdy Gaines was the World Swimmer of the Year in 1980.  He came from the collegiate program at Auburn during which time he began his representation of the U.S. in international events.

He won three gold medals at the 1984 Olympics.  His time in the 100-meter freestyle set a world record as did the 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay teams he anchored.  He also collected nine national and two Pan-American titles.

There could have been more gold in his collection, but the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics in which he would have competed.

His freestyle form garnered him the title of “The World’s Fastest Swimmer.”

John Naber was the World Swimmer of the Year in 1976.  He swam at USC from 1974 -1977 when the program won 4 consecutive national titles.  He was part of arguably the most dominant Olympic team ever when in 1976 the men’s swim team won 23 of a possible 30 medals.  

Naber won four gold medals setting world records in all four events!  John gained the title of “Back Stroke King” for his amazing career performances.

Why do both Gaines and Naber consider the East Germans to have been such a forceful rival?  How did each view the rumors of cheating by the East Germans?  What were the relationships with East German competitors both at the time and in the years since they competed?

Rowdy and John have a friendship of some 40 years, both having followed the careers of one another with avid interest.  Now, these two friends tell us the stories they have shared with one another over the years regarding the competitors they remember so well.

Let’s jump in.

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Public Relations | Horwitz vs Swanson | Ep 15

All sports public relations departments take great pride in their work and are forever comparing their efforts with their counterparts.  That rivalry is supplemented with an understanding that PR departments often need the assistance of one another for information gathering purposes and interview arrangements.  

Our two guests today are as good as it gets in PR work.

Public Relations Rivals

Jay Horwitz

Jay Horwitz has been with the New York Mets since 1980.  He was head of media relations for 39 years before becoming VP for Alumni Relations and Historian for the Mets.  

Few in the business have ever had that kind of longevity with one team.   

Oh, the baseball history he has seen.  Jay has covered double-digit World Series and All-Star Games for MLB as a Public Relations representative.  The Mets’ games he has missed since 1980 can be counted on one hand.    

Some of that history and so many stories are part of his new book, “Mr. Met.”  There is no one better to tell those tales and no better title for the book.  

How much has he meant to Mets’ players?  Well, in 1986 when the Mets won the World Series, the players voted him a full playoff share- $93,000. 

Mike Swanson

Mike Swanson is the VP of Communications and Broadcasting for the Kansas City Royals, a position he has held since 2007.  He held similar jobs with the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies.

Mike also is one of the nation’s best television statisticians, assisting broadcasters in the booth at major sporting events including numerous Super Bowls, Final Fours, the 2007 BCS Title Game, and Bowl Games. In addition, he’s done statistics for countless college basketball and football games, including work for ESPN.

One needs a strong sense of humor in the PR positions our two guests hold, and these two have just that as you will hear when the storytelling begins.    

We begin our podcast with a look at how MLB PR departments think of one another and work to present broadcasters and fans with information about their teams.

What is the relationship with players?  Ownership?  Fans? 

And, oh yes, we have the stories from two who have seen a lot of baseball-on and off the field. 

Smile on.

Further Listening:

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Pitchers | Blyleven vs Langston | Ep 14

Shoes on fire!! So begins a romp through pitchers’ territory with two pitching personalities who let it fly.

The Pitchers

Bert Blyleven is a Hall of Fame right-hander who came to the majors at age 19 with a curveball that HOF member Brooks Robinson described as “nasty…enough to make your knees buckle…a dominating pitcher.”

Bert won 287 games, with 3701 strikeouts and a no-hitter. He will tell you that of all the figures that brought him to the HOF, he takes great pride in a couple of other numbers that speak to durability and competitiveness.

Blyleven has a Jose Canseco story that Langston loves. Not many pitchers have followed a hitter out of the batter’s box on the way to first base, but leave that to Blyleven to explain.

A spitter in baseball? Could it be so? Again, Blyleven went to the well to learn about that pitch with a story that involves another HOF member.

Mark Langston had a 16-year MLB career with 179 wins, 7 gold gloves and four All-Star Game selections. Mark was a competitor against Blyleven when he pitched for Seattle and Bert was with the Indians and Twins.

The Rivalry

They only faced each other in three starts with Bert besting Mark in those games 2-1. However, their awareness of each other as opponents went well beyond those games.

These two would end up as teammates for two years-1990 and 1992-with the Angels. That’s when the rivalry really got “hot” as Mark will explain.

Bert gets Mark to tell the story of his first start with the Angels, when they were teammates, and what ended up being a game that became a piece of baseball history.

Neither has a problem remembering who they least wanted to see at the plate when they pitched and they’ll tell you why.

When two players who love the game and the stories that go with it come together to talk baseball, we all have an inside look that delights us as fans. Langston and Blyleven are those two you get to enjoy today.

Keep an eye on your shoes!

Further Listening:

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Coaches | Raftery vs Carlesimo | Ep 13

If you derive a headache from constantly smiling widely or laughing uncontrollably, you better have a bottle of aspirin at hand for this matchup of coaches.

Bill Raftery and P.J. Carlesimo have run the gamut of basketball coaching and broadcasting, from college to the NBA, from regional networks to the Final Four.

They were direct coaching rivals from 1976 to 1981 when Carlesimo was the head coach at Wagner College and Raftery was the same at Seton Hall. There were some wild games between the schools, including a New Year’s Eve game that went to double OT, and boy, do these two ever give you some memories about that game.

The Coaches

Raftery coached college ball from 1963 to 1981 and then went on to become one of the most popular TV commentators in a college basketball HOF career covering the last 33 years. His infectious laugh and sense of humor shine through in that job and it shines brightly in this podcast.

P.J. Carlesimo

Carlesimo began his coaching career in 1971, most notably putting Seton Hall on the basketball map between 1982-1994, arriving just one year at the Hall after Raftery left.

P.J. went on to head coach in the NBA with the Trail Blazers, Warriors, and SuperSonics/Thunder.

In between the coaching stints, Carlesimo also joined the ranks of TV analysts with TNT, ESPN, and NBC.

The Rivalry

What was the relationship between these two as they coached against one another? Raftery will kick it off with one big smile, “I never liked P.J.,” and off we go!

There were the weekly press conferences in New York City and New Jersey that turned into Broadway productions with the likes of Jim Valvano, Lou Carnesecca, and Tom Penders.

There were late-night feasts after games the likes of which may not exist today. There were antics and fireworks during the games that both coaches will regale you with.

Did priests really ref games? What about that picture of Raftery flying off the bench in midair parallel to the court? An endless needling by these two of one another continues here.

Joyful, insightful, unabashed, and unique are just some of the adjectives that describe what you will hear from two of basketball’s most delightful and knowledgeable individuals and coaches.

Prepare to smile.

Further Listening:

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Reporters | Adamson vs Coakley | Ep 12

As sports reporters, it is all about getting the story.  That is no easy task when you are surrounded by others who want the same thing from the same people and want it now.

You are about to hear from two women who took on the rivalries not only for the stories, but also for the jobs that are so sought after in sports coverage.

The Sports Reporters

Ashley Adamson

Ashley Adamson has been a reporter and host for the Pac-12 Network since 2012, primarily covering the conference’s football and basketball schedules.  That job is part of a career in sports television that goes back to 2008 and includes coverage of just about every sport and doing so as an anchor, reporter and host.  

She has covered NASCAR, Indy Car, the NBA and the NFL.   

Jeané Coakley

Jeané Coakley has followed a similar journey.  Jeané is the beat reporter covering the New York Jets for SportsNet New York (SNY) since 2009.   She and Ashley have literally been at the same career path at times and they will tell you how that happened and led to an ongoing friendship.

Jeané has also covered the gamut in sporting events, from high school sports to the Brickyard 400 to the Super Bowl. 

How valuable was working from the ground up to these reporters?  They will each tell you why they believe that ladder was an important one to climb.

The Rivalry

All of this has been done by women in what for so long was a field dominated by men.  You will hear their candid comments on what that journey entailed and where they believe we are today on this front.

Who were the mentors for both reporters when it came to women in sports?  How difficult was it for Ashley to take over a position held by Jeané at an Indianapolis TV station?  What changed in their mind set regarding their work when they married and became mothers? 

You are about to hear of an adventure by two women who chose a path less taken and found that path to be a journey they would not have missed.  In doing so, they have become trail blazers in their own right.

Enjoy.

Further Listening:

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In The Press Box | Nightengale vs Miller | Ep 11

In The Press Box

READ ALL ABOUT IT!!   GET YOUR PAPER HERE!

Ah, exclamations from the days when newspapers were plentiful, many cities had both a morning and an evening paper and all journalists, including sportswriters in the press box, were looking for the big scoop of the day.

From those times came a sports rivalry we may not think much about: sports journalists competing for THE story, hoping to be the one to break the sports headline of the moment.

That rivalry goes on today, but the circumstances are far different from the days of hawking newspapers on the corner, a time when for sports fans it was the written story that kept fans abreast of their teams.

The Sportswriters

Bob Nightengale

Bob Nightengale has covered baseball as a journalist for 35 years.  He has been at USA Today as a columnist for the last 22, after working at the Kansas City Star and the Los Angeles Times.  He has witnessed the evolving world of sportswriting, changes that seem to have come at the speed of light.

Scott Miller

Scott Miller has been a sports journalist for an equal number of years, at CBSSports.com, the Pioneer Press in Minnesota, the Los Angeles Times and now as a national baseball columnist at Bleacher Report.  He is co-author of the book “Ninety Percent Mental” with former pitcher Bob Tewksbury.

Listen as they describe the never-ending rivalry for the sports stories of the day.  

The Rivalry in the Press Box

They tell us how that job has dramatically changed with the advent of social media.   They discuss what “on and off the record” has come to mean in a day of instant publication on the many platforms available to the public.

You may not associate the word “paranoia” with sports journalism, but it is applicable and you’re about to hear why.  

What is the future of sports journalism and the rivalry among writers to get the story?

As fans, are we receiving more or less information that matters and how have the sources for this information changed?

Past, present and future in this discussion between two national sports journalists in a business where the rivalry is 24/7.  Enjoy.

Further Listening:

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GM vs Agent | Major League Baseball | Ep 9

GM vs Agent

GM vs Agent | As a sports agent, what is the best deal I can get for my client and exactly what does “best deal” mean?

As a GM negotiating with the agent, what is the best deal I can get for my club and just what does THAT mean?

Rarely do you get to hear those in the position of agent and GM talk openly about what goes on between them. Rarer still is to hear it from two who actually sat across the table from one another and went at it to get deals done.

Prepare yourself-here are those two in a candid and often humorous conversation.

The General Manager

Ned Colletti

Ned Colletti worked up through the baseball ranks, from the PR front office of the Chicago Cubs, to Assistant GM with the Giants to become the GM of the LA Dodgers from 2006-20014. No GM in the NL had a better win percentage in those years.

The Agent

Barry Axelrod is a UCLA law grad who has been a sports agent for 45 years. He has represented top clients such as Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Matt Morris, Mark Harmon and so many more. His practice has made him one of the most respected and acknowledged leaders in the field.

GM vs Agent | The Conversation

Today they will give you a peek inside the business of a GM vs Agent rivalry.

You will hear of the pressures that seem to come from all sides when talks are ongoing. The GM has owners and higher up executives intently watching the progress or lack thereof in multimillion dollar negotiations with some of the biggest names in sports.

The agent has one player looking at what others have signed for and wanting the same or more.

Both parties know what is agreed to today will become starting points for tomorrow and ripple through the industry.

What a treat to hear Barry and Ned discuss specific deals, tense exchanges, the coffee spilled (literally) at the apex of a negotiation. How about when Ned presents exhibit A during a negotiation and Barry sees his own quote being used against him?

Hear Ned say to Barry, “I don’t think I ever told you this,” and we get to listen in.

These are two good people who are experts at their jobs involving the highest level of sport contract negotiations.

Ready. Set. Negotiate.

GM vs Agent.

Further Listening:

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Army vs Navy | NCAA Football | Ep 8

Army vs Navy – it is the “nation’s football game.”  At the end of each football season, there unfolds a pageantry that began in 1890..

The Oath

Each player took the same oath that brought him to this game.  Each has a mission far beyond football. When arriving at a military academy, each person takes one of these oaths:

United States Military Academy Oath of Allegiance (ARMY)

I, (Name), do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the National Government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States, paramount to any and all allegiance, sovereignty, or fealty I may owe to any State or Country whatsoever; and that I will at all times obey the legal orders of my superior officers, and the Uniform
Code of Military Justice.

United States Naval Academy Oath of Office (NAVY)

HAVING BEEN APPOINTED A MIDSHIPMAN IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY, DO YOU SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) THAT YOU WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC; THAT YOU WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT YOU TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT YOU WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THE DUTIES OF THE OFFICE ON WHICH YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER, SO HELP YOU GOD.

Not exactly a common oath one must take to play football somewhere. 

For this game, those sworn to the same mission are rivals for one glorious late Fall afternoon.

The Army-Navy football game has been played annually since 1930.  It has involved players who went on to sports careers as well as military service:  Glenn Davis, Roger Staubach, Pete Dawkins, Napoleon McCallum, Doc Blanchard, and so many more.

Army vs Navy – The Game

Keegan Wetzel played for Navy and in his senior year was selected as a 1st Team All Independent linebacker.  He played in the 2012 game that saw Navy beat Army for the 11th consecutive time.

Across the line from him for that game was Army quarterback Trent SteelmanSteelman is the only modern era Army QB to start every game in his four years at West Point.  He holds the Army career record for TDs and is second all-time in career yards.  

It was a game decided in the final minutes when Navy took the lead and held on as Army saw a final drive end on a turnover.

Steelman and Wetzel could not know this game would lead to a relationship that endures.

What was the intensity playing in those Army vs Navy games?  How did playing in those games shape the lives of the players involved?  What are the memories of Wetzel and Steelman about facing each other?

Listen to the depth of feeling from these two as they answer those questions and breathe individual life into the rigors and honor of playing football at the academies.  

Rivals? Army vs Navy and THE GAME, as good as it gets.  Enjoy.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

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