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 this oath:

HAVING BEEN APPOINTED A MIDSHIPMAN (or appropriate academy designation ) IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY (or other service), 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. 

The Oath of Enlistment

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:

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ACC College Basketball | MD vs VT | Ep 7

Would you really ask a college basketball player to throw up during a game if things were going bad, just to change the momentum?

What do you do when the water main breaks on campus when there is a big game to be played that day?  How about when the opposing coach has a suggestion of what to do and uses the water break as a rallying cry for his own team?

Fictional questions?  Well, no, they are part of what you are going to hear on this edition of The Sports Rivals.

The Coaches

Gary Williams is a Hall Of Fame college hoops coach who coached at American University, Boston College, Ohio State and at his alma mater, Maryland.  It was with the Terps that he won the 2002 NCAA Championship and where he spent 22 years on the bench in the conference which many consider to the best in college basketball year in and year out, the ACC.

Seth Greenberg spent 34 years as a college coach, including 2003-2012 at Virginia Tech as a Gary Williams coaching rival in the ACC.  Seth came through Long Beach State and the University of South Florida on his way to Virginia Tech.  He would face Williams’ teams between 2003-2011.

ACC College Basketball

Virginia Tech was a late arrival to ACC College Basketball and Gary Williams was not all that excited about adding to the league, especially when Tech started winning games in the conference.  He’ll tell you how the Tech addition just made the season that much tougher.  

These two outstanding coaches give you an inside peak into the ACC and what it was like to face the best college teams in the country on a nightly basis.  

They will take you through their own rivalry that is a history of intense games, overtimes and an “I can beat you” attitude that came from both coaches.   Neither missed the opportunity to find a way to inspire their team by using actions or words coming from the other side. This was a rivalry of “whatever it takes.”

Seth will take you through the impact Williams had on his coaching decisions in putting the Virginia Tech program together.  Williams will tell you his thoughts as he prepared to take on a Greenberg team.  

From two ends of the court, here is a coaching rivalry that had vivid games, great memories and the creation of a relationship of respect in the college coaching ranks.

Further Listening:

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UCLA vs Arizona | NCAA Mens’ Basketball | Ep 6

UCLA vs Arizona | NCAA Mens’ Basketball–Rivalries take time to build and this one has had decades.  UCLA and Arizona are two of college basketball’s premier programs.   Over the years the race for Pac-12 titles and the right to move to March madness has created high heat when they meet.

42 of the last 58 Pac-12 titles have gone to one of these teams. The intensity of their battles only increases.

Today we hear the magnitude of that rivalry from two who were in the middle of the spotlight.

Don MacLean played at UCLA from 1988 to 1992.  They won the Pac-12 championship in the ’91-’92 season. He thrived on the rivalry.

Matt Muehlebach played at AZ from 1987 to 1991.  His teams never lost a game at home. Ironically, that streak would be broken by UCLA and MacLean.

MacLean was a pot-stirrer, especially on the court.  Listen to Matt talk about that while Don tells you how that went over with former UCLA coach John Wooden.

Matt speaks to what it was like to be on each of these raucous home courts when the two great basketball programs went head to head.  He’ll tell you about the “offer the hand and take it back move” made by Don to one of Matt’s teammates.  

Enjoy the story of an epic basketball rivalry through the memories of two who helped create it.

Don MacLean with Coach Jim Harrick

Further Listening:

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2002 World Series | Giants vs Angels | Ep 5

They had been teammates on a World Champion Dodger team.

Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia had a history that went back even further than that 1981 Dodger team.  Scioscia viewed Baker as a vital mentor in his career. Baker saw in Scioscia the drive to win and work at getting there-the kind of drive Baker has to this day.

Now they were a dugout apart. Baker managing the National League Champion Giants and Scioscia the AL champ Angels in the 2002 World Series.

2002 World Series

Would they talk before the Series? What were they thinking when they looked across the field at a lifetime friend they were each trying to beat.

The Series would go 7 games and the Angels would be World Champions, but this was a contest between two powerhouses where every decision mattered.

Would either have done differently if they had a redo on those decisions? What are the memories for each manager that first come to mind about this Series?

After all these years, they will recount the moments they felt most important and they will remember every pitch as though thrown moments ago.

Dusty will tell you about his 3-year-old bat boy son almost getting run over at the plate only to be saved by J.T. Snow.

Scioscia will tell how why he told his coaches not to talk to Dusty before or during the World Series and why he himself did not.

Most amazing, you are going to hear these two discuss with each other this World Series for the first time!!! They have never set down to talk about these games-never.

Each does so here, honestly, with an underlying respect for one another that shines through.

Enjoy, This is a piece of baseball history you will find nowhere else.

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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1984 Tigers vs Blue Jays | Ep 4

Jack Morris is a Hall of Fame pitcher who never intended to leave a game he started until it was over.  In 1984, he helped lead the Detroit Tigers to a World Championship

Buck Martinez was a catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays (later to be their manager).  He never intended to lose to the Tigers or Morris during the 1984 season’s race to lead a then 7 team division.

They were the two teams that would finish 1 and 2 that year and both teams were loaded.

This rivalry between the Jays and Tigers, Morris and Martinez, is the subject of our latest The Sports Rivals Podcast.

While the Tigers went on to win it all that year, Toronto stayed close until September when this rivalry heated up even more. Buck and Jack will let you in on how those games went down in front of packed ballparks.

How intense was this rivalry? Morris confirms a rumor that he placed a clubhouse call to opposing Jays’ pitcher Dave Steib, who was preparing to come out of the game before the 9th, telling him to get his butt back on the mound because they weren’t done yet.

Martinez refuses to let Morris soften the extent of the rivalry between the teams, as they both conclude there was no love lost.

The names of their teammates are legendary in baseball:  Kirk Gibson, Lance Parrish, Alan Trammell, George Bell, Lloyd Moseby among them.  Martinez and Morris will give you their teammates’ place in this rivalry.

Good old fashion hardball gets played when the talent level is high and the stakes are a ring.

That was the case in 1984 for these players and these two teams. The memories are fresh and the emotions vivid in this remembrance by two who lived the feelings. Enjoy.

Further Reading:

If you’d like to read more from Buck himself, check out his book Change Up: How to Make the Great Game of Baseball Even Better.

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

Also

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TEASER | 1984 Tigers vs Blue Jays | Ep 4

This rivalry between the 1984 Blue Jays and Tigers, Buck Martinez and Jack Morris, is the subject of our latest The Sports Rivals Podcast.

Check out the full episode here.

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Sports Rivals Episode 4 Teaser

Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry | Ep 3

In 1978, the Red Sox blew a 14-game lead to the Yankees and the teams ended up in a one game playoff for the division title.

That season and that playoff game are major blocks in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, one of the most enduring in sports.

The Yankees’ Lou Piniella and Boston’s Fred Lynn played against each other that year and you are about to discover some insights into that year, that playoff game and this rivalry from two legends of the game.

Who clocked Fred in the head in an earlier brawl between the two teams?

What was the tension in each clubhouse that year?

How do they feel about playing in NY and Boston-is it tough for players?

How deeply embedded are the memories from that season for each player?

Fred and Lou did not hold back.

Enjoy.

Read up on the series on Wikipedia to brush up on your history.

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1985 American League Championship | Ep 2

The 1985 American League Championship Series

1985 ALCS: The Blue Jays hold a commanding 3 Games to 1 lead over The Royals in what is now a 7-game series for the first time in League championship series history.

But what could possibly go wrong for the Blue Jays?

Mark Gubicza of the Royals and Rance Mulliniks of the Blue Jays look back at this gut-wrenching 1985 American League Championship that launched The Royals to their miraculous 1985 World Series Championship.

Read up on the series on Wikipedia to brush up on your history.

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

Also make sure to check out Episode 1 if you haven’t listened already.