Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008 | 3:50 p.m.
Editor's Note: Legendary UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian is sharing his thoughts exclusively with the Las Vegas Sun through the course of the college basketball season in the form of columns, podcasts and television interviews, about what he’s up to in his life, what games he’s attending and his general musings of the sports world.
Watching Fresno State play UCLA in the Rose Bowl on Saturday made me think of my college days at Fresno, when I lived with two other basketball players, four football players and a cheerleader.
That cheerleader was Sid Craig, one of my best friends for more than 50 years who passed away this summer. I gave a eulogy, as did Dick Enberg, at his funeral.
What a super person. I told stories of how we met and the things we did in college. Of all of us in that house, Sid was the only one who had money. He’d get a package every couple weeks from home, and we’d all wait for those packages.
He was our social director. We didn’t have any money to go anywhere, and we lived in Converse warm-up suits, and Fresno State sweatshirts and T-shirts.
Every function was at our house. If we weren’t having a party, Sid would drive down to the drive-in and bring carloads of girls back to the house for a party. Sid was a promoter. He was just that way, a great dancer and cheerleader.
Jenny, his wife, took it hard. She sent me a wonderful note. A great, great lady. A saint.
People have asked me about my health, and my legs are still sore. My spine is pinching a nerve between the fourth and fifth vertebrae. I’ve gotten it checked out, but doctors say the only way it will get cured is with back surgery.
I will live with the pain as long as I can, until I can’t go any longer. If I’m still around, I’ll have the surgery. I want to postpone it as long as I can.
Before I talk about the football games I’ve been to, I want to comment about the Rebels football team.
I am very happy and excited for the job that Mike Sanford has done. I’ve only met him socially, when I ran into him. He had been taking some heat in the papers, but people forget he had that quarterback from USC, Rocky Hinds.
He got hurt and never really played, and that set them back a few years. People forget that. If that kid played the way he should have played, Mike would have had a hellacious team.
I sent him a note. I was so excited when they beat Arizona State and felt so bad when they lost to Reno. That’s the way it goes.
I went to Arizona to watch Georgia play ASU. God, I thought Georgia was so good. It was the most amazing thing down there.
There were 20,000 Georgia fans in Phoenix. It was hard to get a rental car. Restaurants and bars were half full with Georgia fans everywhere.
Someone who works for ASU told us Georgia fans bought 12,000 season tickets to Sun Devils games so they could get tickets to that one game. They gave the rest away for charity. Isn’t that something?
I thought Georgia was great, but Alabama just killed the Bulldogs. Alabama was so good. They just picked them to pieces. It wasn’t as close as the final score, either. Alabama had them down 31-0.
I’m going to Tuscaloosa in three weeks to see Alabama play Ole Miss and am looking forward to it, since I’ve never been there.
Saturday, I thought the Bulldogs would blow the Bruins out. I was there with my brother, Myron. The only problem was it was so hot.
Pat Hill has done a great job coaching Fresno State. I called him to congratulate him. He was an assistant at UNLV when I was there and I got Harvey Hyde to keep him on the staff.
They do well in big games. The problem is that, a lot of times, in league they don’t do as well. It’s amazing. As much success as they’ve had against BCS teams, they’ve never won the WAC outright.
I also went to San Diego to watch that Monday night game between the Chargers and Jets. The Chargers played a great game. I’m the all-time Chargers fan, and I saw quite a few Vegas people there.
I never thought I’d see the Chargers on the road, but a bunch of us, all Vegas guys, are going to be in Miami on Sunday for the Dolphins-Chargers game.
We’re leaving Thursday and will go to the Florida State game at Miami, against the Hurricanes, on Saturday. They’re going to take us to Joe’s Stone Crab. Best in the world, they say. We’ll see.
Then I’m going to Mobile, Ala., to give a speech, for Danny Sheridan and Mike Gottfried, Monday.
I won’t plan the speech. I never have. If I write something down, I screw it up. That’s not me. My wife gave me a planned speech once, but it wasn’t me. When I get up, I never know what I’ll say.
I just talk. Generally, I do real well.
Next time, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on UNLV basketball. I know you all can’t wait for the season to start. Me, too.