Reflections From the Road … Morning Cup O’Chiefs

From America’s Highways and Byways

Here’s hope that the weekend plus-one was a useful time for all and everyone took time to honor those who have helped make this the greatest country in the world.

As a road warrior for the better part of the last week, it’s interesting watching the gas prices along our wonderful interstate network of highways. In our travels the price of gas was between $3.53 to $3.97, with the average somewhere between $3.75 and $3.79 per gallon.

It’s remarkable how the same product can have such a range of prices within a rather small geographical area. A lot of the differences come from taxes, but that doesn’t explain a difference of 44 centers per gallon, or as much of a $9 difference for a full tank of gas.

A suggestion – if you are heading east and will cross into Illinois make sure you fill up before you hit the Land of Lincoln. The difference in price from St. Louis on the west side of the Mississippi River to the east side and Illinois was 25 cents per gallon. The further into Illinois, the higher the prices; the folks in Chicago are still paying $4 a gallon and the prices have come down lately.

Loading up the family truckster is no longer a cheap vacation.


Most of the national attention on NFL players going to Joplin came with Chiefs QB Matt Cassel and WR Jonathan Baldwin and their visit last Thursday.

That same day, the St. Louis Rams had five players, a former player and DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players no-longer a union, on the ground in Joplin. While Cassel and Baldwin were helping people dig out valuables from the rubble, the Rams were doing the normal PR thing, meeting with people at a shelter and then spending time throwing the football with kids.

The man behind the trip was OT Adam Goldberg, and he was joined by QB Sam Bradford, LB James Laurinatis, DE James Hall and C Jason Brown. Joining them was former Rams TE Ernie Conwell and Smith.

“We wanted to do something, being from the state,” Goldberg told the Joplin Globe. “We were having trouble with logistics, trying to get (t)here. It’s a six-hour drive, and over the Memorial Day holiday, we were running into scheduling issues. ‘De’ Smith got on board and kind of took the reigns. He said we’re going to get a charter, we’re going to fly you down there; we are just going to make it happen. With that initiative, we made it a reality.

“They are in desperate need of some smiles down here. We’re glad to bring them whatever happiness we can, whether it’s having fun with the kids or shake some hands and try to lift some spirits. Whether it’s signing an autograph for them, throwing the ball with them, playing Legos with them or giving them a pack of trading cards or just introducing them to the great Sam Bradford, we’re just really happy to be here.”

Smith said he was determined to make the visit happen.

“We always have our battles it seems in the business side, but every now and then something happens that reminds you about what’s truly important,” Smith said. “Being able to come down and at least for a couple of hours, to have a kid smile and have him forget a little bit about what they are dealing with and hanging around the best players, this is what it’s all about.”

More Rams wanted to make the trip, but the plane was too small.

“I asked how many seats we had on the plane, and he said a maximum of five guys,” Goldberg said. “Well, I’m one, and the first four guys I asked said sure, let’s do it, and they were super-excited and enthusiastic about it. The word got out that we had a charter down to Joplin, and my phone blew up. I had probably 25 calls and another five guys at practice this morning and all the O-line was like ‘why can’t I go?’ We’re going to need a 747 next time, but that shows the character of the guys on our team.”


About 30 years ago a book called Hollywood Babylon was published. Filmmaker Ken Anger put together a collection of Hollywood’s darkest and best kept secrets. Generally, the stories involved actors, directors and studio honchos involved in sordid sexual, drug and alcohol tales. It’s everything from Fatty Arbuckle, to John Garfield, Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield and Judy Garland. Most went unpublicized at the time they happened.

There are some college football coaches that wish their transgressions would somehow not be known for another 50 years. Because just in this month of May that ends on Tuesday, we might be able to start the first chapters of College Coaching Babylon.

On the road, it was interesting to listen to the chatter on two different coaching situations – Ohio State and West Virginia. Both have blown up in scandal in the last week.

Chugging through Ohio at the time that Jim Tressel “resigned” as head coach of the Buckeyes, the reaction was as if someone had died in a horrific accident. Tressel and his red sweater vest were revered in ‘A-high-ya” as my people in western Pennsylvania call their neighbor. He’s the only coach in the last 34 years to lead the Buckeyes to a national championship in football. That and his 9-1 record against Michigan made him an Ohio icon.

Tressel has been caught up in scandal for the last nine months involving his players receiving extra benefits and his decision not to provide what information he knew about the situation. Players traded everything from awards, trophies and playing equipment to the owner of a tattoo parlor in Columbus, getting money or tattoos back in exchange.

Plus, according to Columbus sports talk radio there is a growing investigation into the actions of Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor, who is already suspended for the first five games of the ’11 season because he traded memorabilia for tattoos. Of course I believe everything I hear on sports talk radio, but the fact that Pryor is under extra scrutiny is no surprise. It’s been that way since he played for the Jayhawks at Jeannette High School in Pennsylvania.

I would expect that Pryor has played his last college game and just may be available in an NFL Supplemental Draft in the next few months. Stay tuned, we will hear more and more on this. Pryor has always been a lightning rod and right now he’s in the middle of a very big storm.


In West Virginia, head coach in waiting/offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen has a problem – apparently the soon to be 40-year old divorcee likes the nightlife. And, apparently he can’t handle his brew; he’s imbibing way too much and too often. This type of behavior was known in the college ranks as he made his way up the ladder, from Texas Tech to Houston to his most recent stop, two years at Oklahoma State. Last year, he was honored with the Broyles Award as the best assistant coach in college football.

Some two weeks ago, Holgorsen was escorted out of West Virginia casino after 3 a.m. by police after he refused to cooperate with casino officials. He was not arrested or charged with a crime, but he apparently was over-served.

Isolated incident? Not according to the Huntington Herald-Dispatch, a newspaper in West Virginia. The news hit near the start of the Memorial Day weekend. Here’s what the paper reported:

“West Virginia University’s new football offensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting came to the state with a reputation of being a partier. But, apparently WVU wasn’t too concerned about Holgorsen’s character because it hired him to replace Bill Stewart in 2012 and gave him a six-year, $14.275 million contract.

Guess what? WVU officials care now.

Holgorsen has reportedly been involved in at least three and, perhaps, as many as six alcohol-related incidents in the last six months, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. That’s right, six.

The first five were hushed up, but the sixth incident at Mardi Gras Casino in Cross Lanes on May 18 has blown the cover off Holgorsen’s embarrassing antics. Nitro police were called to the casino at about 3:20 a.m. on May 18 to remove an apparently intoxicated customer who didn’t want to leave. Holgorsen was asked to step outside, sit on a bench and await a taxi. No charges were filed.”

The report went on to state that Holgorsen has been banned from the bar in the hotel where he’s currently living in Morgantown because of three of those six incidents.

All of this was enough for West Virginia president to tell athletic director Oliver Luck that if he saw Holgorsen’s name in the headlines for another off-field incident that both coach and AD would be fired.

How can this man ask players for disciplined behavior when he apparently can’t do the same thing? This man needs help. He needs a long stay in rehab.

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