Reflections from good times past
Austin Bishop/The Meridian Star
Dec. 23, 2001
Scattershooting over the sports scene on a Sunday while seeking sightings of Archie Cooley …
I will never forget the day former Livingston University head football coach Sam McCorkle and I ran out of gas while he was on a recruiting trip.
Actually, I believe it was signing day and we were on our way back from Louisville High School, where he had signed cornerback Henry Coleman but come up just short on signing standout defensive lineman Vincent Carter, who went on to star at Alcorn State.
In an effort to do a first-person type story about recruiting, I had asked Sam to let me tag along and he wholeheartedly consented.
Somewhere between Louisville and Meridian without a gas station in sight, the car begins to sputter and the engine quits running. He looks at me and says "We are out of gas."
Hey, I said he was a football coach, not a rocket scientist. Sometimes, I guess, the obvious has to be stated.
Well, I figured this was going to be a long and interesting walk.
As we topped a hill the car's momentum still dragging us along there was a little mom-and-pop gas station and he just rolled it up next to the pump. After filling up the car, Sam got back and in and never missed a beat.
Actually Sam was very embarrassed about the whole thing and asked me not to write about it.
I said it wouldn't be in the paper anytime soon.
And it wasn't. After all, this was probably 10 years ago.
What made me think of the story was that Sam called me the other day to see how things were going and to let me know that Tennessee-Martin, where he coaches at now, was about to sign a local young man.
In fact, Frederick Knighten signed with the Skyhawks on Wednesday.
I got to talking to Sam a little bit and he told me how much he enjoys it up in Martin, Tenn., and how great the school is an about the support of the community.
He said after the season the police chief through a big get-together for the football team and fed them supper to show his appreciation to how well-behaved they were.
His team didn't have a great year, going just 1-10 in the competitive Ohio Valley Conference, but McCorkle said he was confident things could be turned around.
If anybody deserves to build a winning program it's Sam McCorkle. He really is a class guy and a man who loves the game of football.
One of the University of Tennessee-Martin assistant coaches is Wyatt Rogers, the former head football coach at Lamar School and Winston Academy. He is from Meridian.
Going into last night's game with the Knicks, the Washington Wizards were just above .500 with a 13-12 record.
That may not sound like much, but it really is.
After starting the year at 3-10 and being hit every day with the hoopla surrounding Michael Jordan's comeback, the Wizards began to play more like a team.
Washington won nine of the next 11 to get itself back into playoff contention.
You don't think 12-12 is a big deal?
Well, let me list the names of the teams who are behind the Wizards in the NBA's Atlantic Division. Try Orlando, New York, Philadelphia and Miami on for size. Other notable teams with worse records than the Wizards are Utah and Seattle.
And oh, by the way. The Chicago Bulls Jordan's former team are 4-20.
Got a phone call from a proud grandfather on Friday, letting me know how his grandson is faring in the minor league baseball world.
It seems that former Northeast Lauderdale and Ole Miss pitcher Joey Cramblitt just finished a strong season pitching for South Bend (Ind.), a Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
There is some more big family news, as Cramblitt plans to be married in early January.
You gotta' be
The Braves, who lost John Burkett to the Boston Red Sox on the free agent market, went and signed mediocre pitcher Albie Lopez.
My goodness, what is going on.
I am a big believer in the way the Braves have made deals to improve themselves over the years, but I'm certainly shaking my head now.
Lopez was 9-19 with Tampa Bay and Arizona last season. While he was a little better with the Diamondbacks than with the Devil Rays, Lopez does not appear to be Atlanta's answer to filling a spot in the rotation.
For his career Lopez is 42-52 with a 4.75 ERA.
What the Braves need is one more reliable arm in the rotation and a big bopper, preferably at first base.
Man, this really could be the year the Braves don't win their division.
Austin Bishop is Regional Sports Director of the East Mississippi Group and oversees the direction of four sports departments, including The Meridian Star. You can e-mail him at abishop@themeridianstar or reach him by phone weekday mornings at 693-1551, ext. 3234.