Skiing at Lake Tahoe – Mark Twain at Lake Tahoe in 1870 – New Pac-10 Commissioner – The Lessons of the Billy Gillispie Firing – Health Care in America – I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado
Coaches Hot Seat has bivwacked to Lake Tahoe for a few days of R&R after a pretty tough stretch of long days of work in the very challenging times that we all find ourselves dealing with. That sounds like a complaint, and complaints are a waste of time so back to the topics at hand. If you have not been to Lake Tahoe we can only say….”Get yourself there at least once in your life.” We are up here for some late-season snow skiing and any other things fun things we can figure out to do. With temperatures at Lake level around 50 degrees on Friday, footballs of course came out and a spontaneous and brutal flag- football game was played. After flag-football a short visit to the local casino and sports book to catch some of the afternoon PGA Tour golf (casino sports books usually have lots of TVs and when we arrived on Friday afternoon, the NCAA tournament, men’s golf replay, a spring training baseball game and several ESPN channels were on the large flat screens). Yes, Lake Tahoe is a special place and below are a couple of photos that were taken on Friday of a beautiful sun-kissed day above the Lake.
Of course, the great Mark Twain visited Lake Tahoe during his travels “Out West” and in his American classic Roughing It he describes a trip in 1870 that a friend and Twain made from Carson City up over a part of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains to the Lake. As usual with Mr. Twain, it is quite an entertaining read: (If you are bored by Mark Twain just skip down the page until you see Thank You Mark Twain)
Roughing It: Chapter 22 – “The Air The Angels Breathe”
It was the end of August, and the skies were cloudless and the weather superb. In two or three weeks I had grown wonderfully fascinated with the curious new country and concluded to put off my return to “the States” awhile. I had grown well accustomed to wearing a damaged slouch hat, blue woolen shirt, and pants crammed into boot-tops, and gloried in the absence of coat, vest and braces. I felt rowdyish and “bully,” (as the historian Josephus phrases it, in his fine chapter upon the destruction of the Temple). It seemed to me that nothing could be so fine and so romantic. I had become an officer of the government, but that was for mere sublimity. The office was an unique sinecure. I had nothing to do and no salary. I was private Secretary to his majesty the
Secretary and there was not yet writing enough for two of us. So Johnny K—- and I devoted our time to amusement. He was the young son of an Ohio nabob and was out there for recreation. He got it. We had heard a world of talk about the marvellous beauty of Lake Tahoe, and finally curiosity drove us thither to see it. Three or four members of the Brigade had been there and located some timber lands on its shores and stored up a quantity of provisions in their camp. We strapped a couple of blankets on our shoulders and took an axe apiece and started–for we intended to take up a wood ranch or so ourselves and become wealthy. We were on foot. The reader will find it advantageous to go horseback. We were told that the distance was eleven miles. We tramped a long time on level ground, and then toiled laboriously up a mountain about a thousand miles high and looked over. No lake there. We descended on the other side, crossed the valley and toiled up another mountain three or four thousand miles high, apparently, and looked over again. No lake yet. We sat down tired and perspiring, and hired a couple of Chinamen to curse those people who had beguiled us. Thus refreshed, we presently resumed the march with renewed vigor and determination. We plodded on, two or three hours longer, and at last the Lake burst upon us–a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! It was a vast oval, and one would have to use up eighty or a hundred good miles in traveling around it. As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.
It is always very cold on that lake shore in the night, but we had plenty of blankets and were warm enough. We never moved a muscle all night, but waked at early dawn in the original positions, and got up at once, thoroughly refreshed, free from soreness, and brim full of friskiness. There is no end of wholesome medicine in such an experience. That morning we could have whipped ten such people as we were the day before– sick ones at any rate. But the world is slow, and people will go to “water cures” and “movement cures” and to foreign lands for health. Three months of camp life on Lake Tahoe would restore an Egyptian mummy to his pristine vigor, and give him an appetite like an alligator. I do not mean the oldest and driest mummies, of course, but the fresher ones. The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be?–it is the same the angels breathe. I think that hardly any amount of fatigue can be gathered together that a man cannot sleep off in one night on the sand by its side. Not under a roof, but under the sky; it seldom or never rains there in the summer time. I know a man who went there to die. But he made a failure of it. He was a skeleton when he came, and could barely stand. He had no appetite, and did nothing but read tracts and reflect on the future. Three months later he was sleeping out of doors regularly, eating all he could hold, three times a day, and chasing game over mountains three thousand feet high for recreation. And he was a skeleton no longer, but weighed part of a ton. This is no fancy sketch, but the truth. His disease was consumption. I confidently commend his experience to other skeletons.
and trimmed the first log it seemed unnecessary to be so elaborate, and so we concluded to build it of saplings. However, two saplings, duly cut and trimmed, compelled recognition of the fact that a still modester architecture would satisfy the law, and so we concluded to build a “brush” house. We devoted the next day to this work, but we did so much “sitting around” and discussing, that by the middle of the afternoon we had achieved only a half-way sort of affair which one of us had to watch while the other cut brush, lest if both turned our backs we might not be able to find it again, it had such a strong family resemblance to the surrounding vegetation. But we were satisfied with it.
Roughing It: Chapter 23 – We Burn Our Possessions
fascinating, bewitching, entrancing. The eye was never tired of gazing, night or day, in calm or storm; it suffered but one grief, and that was that it could not look always, but must close sometimes in sleep.
must still have been twenty or thirty feet below the surface. Down through the transparency of these great depths, the water was not merely transparent, but dazzlingly, brilliantly so. All objects seen through it had a bright, strong vividness, not only of outline, but of every minute detail, which they would not have had when seen simply through the same depth of atmosphere. So empty and airy did all spaces seem below us, and so strong was the sense of floating high aloft in mid-nothingness, that we called these boat-excursions “balloon-voyages.”
We fished a good deal, but we did not average one fish a week. We could see trout by the thousand winging about in the emptiness under us, or sleeping in shoals on the bottom, but they would not bite–they could see the line too plainly, perhaps. We frequently selected the trout we wanted, and rested the bait patiently and persistently on the end of his nose at a depth of eighty feet, but he would only shake it off with an annoyed manner, and shift his position.
We never slept in our “house.” It never recurred to us, for one thing; and besides, it was built to hold the ground, and that was enough. We did not wish to strain it.
By and by our provisions began to run short, and we went back to the old camp and laid in a new supply. We were gone all day, and reached home again about night-fall, pretty tired and hungry. While Johnny was carrying the main bulk of the provisions up to our “house” for future use, I took the loaf of bread, some slices of bacon, and the coffee-pot,
ashore, set them down by a tree, lit a fire, and went back to the boat to get the frying-pan. While I was at this, I heard a shout from Johnny, and looking up I saw that my fire was galloping all over the premises! Johnny was on the other side of it. He had to run through the flames to get to the lake shore, and then we stood helpless and watched the
and then the roaring and popping and crackling was something terrific. We were driven to the boat by the intense heat, and there we remained, spell-bound.
Hunger asserted itself now, but there was nothing to eat. The provisions were all cooked, no doubt, but we did not go to see. We were homeless wanderers again, without any property. Our fence was gone, our house burned down; no insurance. Our pine forest was well scorched, the dead trees all burned up, and our broad acres of manzanita swept away. Our blankets were on our usual sand-bed, however, and so we lay down and went to sleep. The next morning we started back to the old camp, but while out a long way from shore, so great a storm came up that we dared not try to land. So I baled out the seas we shipped, and Johnny pulled heavily through the billows till we had reached a point three or four miles beyond the camp. The storm was increasing, and it became evident that it was better to take the hazard of beaching the boat than go down in a hundred fathoms of water; so we ran in, with tall white-caps following, and I sat down in the stern-sheets and pointed her head-on to the shore. The instant the bow struck, a wave came over the stern that washed crew and cargo ashore, and saved a deal of trouble. We shivered in the lee of a boulder all the rest of the day, and froze all the night through. In the morning the tempest had gone down, and we paddled down to the camp without any unnecessary delay. We were so starved that we ate up the rest of the Brigade’s provisions, and then set out to Carson to tell them about it and ask their forgiveness. It was accorded, upon payment of damages.
We made many trips to the lake after that, and had many a hair-breadth escape and blood-curdling adventure which will never be recorded in any history.
Thanks you Mark Twain.
With the announcement that Pac-10 has hired a new commissioner, Larry Scott (now CEO of Women’s Tennis Association), we have a few recommendations for Mr. Scott to both better the Pac-10, but also to advance the game of college football from the stone ages.
John McGrath of the News Tribune summarizing almost everything that we would be interested in seeing new Pac-10 commish Larry Scott deal with in his first days on the job, but below we add 4 items that should be on the new commish’s agenda:
1. TV Contract – The Pac-10 has a terrible TV contract in football and a mediocre one in basketball and we would recommend a quick move to leverage the great assets of the Pac-10 conference, not only football and basketball, but in all sports. Speaking of the “Pac-10”
2. “Pac-10” Conference Expansion – It makes little sense for the Pac-10 to sit idle while the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have built power conferences that produce not only a more attractive group of schools, but also allow for a conference championship game in football which is a big money maker for the conferences as well. We would move quickly to expand the “Pac-10” to the “Pac-14” by inviting the following teams:
If Colorado did not want to leave the Big 12, we would then invite New Mexico to join the new “Pac-14.” After the new Pac-14 was expanded to 14 teams we would divide the conference into “North” and “South” divisions which would look like:
Colorado (or New Mexico if CU stays in Big 12)
Now that would be a great collegiate sports conference. Who would the Big 12 replace Colorado with you may be asking… If Colorado left the Big 12, we would move to expand the Big 12 by adding TCU, SMU and Houston to what would be the new Big 14.
Now that would be two great collegiate sports conferences! Will it happen? Probably not, but bold people with big plans always make moves that may not make a lot of sense at the time but certainly will make perfect sense down the road. We offer the SEC, Big 12 and ACC as conferences that have benefited tremendously by expansion and the Pac-10 would be energized by adding 4 more schools to their lineup.
3. A Postseason Championship Tournament for college football already – The last thing that we would encourage the new Pac-10 commish to move on would be to work with the other BCS Boys (the willing one’s to start with that is) to set-up a postseason structure that will both recognize the importance of bowls in the history of the game of college football and a playoff format with at least 8 teams that would determine a legitimate national champion in college football. There is overwhelming support for a college football postseason tournament among college football fans and a tournament would also generate billions of dollars that are going to be badly needed by college athletic programs in the coming years.
4. Start the Pac-10 TV Network – As media continues to fragment and more and more Americans look for their entertainment beyond the main-stream media, there are great opportunities for sports entities to establish their foothold in this new media world. The Big Ten Network has led the way with a very high quality product for their first visit to the media rodeo and there are several other niche channels that are positioning themselves for great opportunities and growth as all of us look for very specific types and forms of entertainment. Some of those networks/channels include: The Golf Channel, The NFL Network, The MLB Channel, The Tennis Channel, ESPNU, and of course the Big Ten Network. The Pac-10 with its very strong group of core schools that also have very strong fan bases is ideally positioned to start a network for their conference and to broadcast anything and everything that the networks and large cable channels do not want. Another great feature of a conference network is the ability to extend the brand and reach of the conference far beyond the markets and cities that the schools and sports teams play in. Since the Big Ten Network has kicked-off we have learned a lot about all of the schools in the Big Ten and much about the other collegiate sports that are played in the conference. That exposure is invaluable to the Big Ten’s sports teams, but also to the individual schools that are able to extend their reach as they look to promote their school to potential future students, athletes or not. The Bottom Line: If we were running the Pac-10, or any collegiate conference for that matter, we would launch a conference network and hire the best people we could find the make that network a big success.
There you have our four main recommendations to new Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. As John McGrath in the News Tribune reports the new Pac-10 commish understands that the Pac-10 is not doing all that it can to generate revenue and to promote the conference when he said…
““I’ve picked up on the sense,” he said Tuesday, “ that some people find the Pac-10 may not be boxing at their appropriate weight, so to speak.”
The Pac-10 not only doesn’t box at its appropriate weight, but it also has lost its appetite to throw a punch .
Welcome to the West Coast, Larry. And welcome to “The Conference of Champions.” Now roll up your sleeves, and get ready to represent a conference that boasts everything but somebody with the conviction to champion it.”
Now that is well written John McGrath. Very well written….
Now get to work Mr. Scott!
The Billy Gillispie saga at Kentucky came to an end yesterday and Gillispie’s firing should be a great lesson to athletic directors and university presidents everywhere, because Kentucky violated the primary tenet when hiring someone for a key position:
Key hires must always fit very closely with the values and culture of the company or organization.
Anyone that has spent any amount of time around Billy Gillispie or got to see his style of coaching when he was at UTEP or Texas A&M knew that Gillispie was a terrible fit at Kentucky. In particular, the Lexington, Kentucky community has an inordinate amount of different strata’s of social status that the head basketball of UK would certainly have to embrace to some extent and deal with at a minimum. Don’t get us wrong, Lexington is a great town with some great people, but it is a very unique place, really unlike any other university town in this country save Charlottesville, Virginia and that uniqueness must be recognized by anyone sitting in the most important position in the town, the head basketball coach for the Kentucky Wildcats. No doubt, Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart will not make the same mistake twice and all ADs should keep uppermost in their mind when they are hiring people for key positions the following question: How would this hire fit in at my university? It’s not always easy to know a lot about someone in these days of coaching hires that often consider win/loss records, basic background and credit checks and an interview or two, but once a coaching candidate crosses the threshold of being qualified for the job, the MOST IMPORTANT THING is…
Does the candidate have the same values of the university?
Does the candidate have the save goals of the university?
Does the candidate understand and will embrace the culture of the university?
If the AD and other folks involved in hiring the coaching candidate with an affirmative to all of those questions, then that candidate must be scratched off the candidate list.
A coach that is hired that does have the same values, goals and understands and embraces the culture of the university will have a lot more running room from the administration and fan base and there is no better example of that then Rich Brooks. Brooks struggled in his early years as the head football coach at Kentucky, but turned things around with the support of the university. As we have written here in the past at Coaches Hot Seat, Rich Brooks is a rascal, but he is one of those enjoyable rascals that doesn’t take himself and the rest of the world too seriously. Rich Brooks’ experience at Kentucky should be a great lesson to both current head coaches and assistant coaches moving up through the ranks towards head coaching jobs. Being an ass, to alumni and fans, to the administration and even to the coach’s players is no way to go through life and if a coach hopes to build a strong program where he can coach at for a long time or move up to a bigger job that coach should make sure he builds strong relationships to all stakeholders in his program and that he also be a role model to the local community. A head coach of any sport does himself no good by making enemies of anyone, but particularly of the people that make the hiring and firing decisions at his university and of the fan base that pays his salary.
A head coach must recognize and understand the many different stakeholders that exist within and around every collegiate sports program and never be too far away nor alienate people that can help that head coach move his program forward in a positive way. Sadly, too many coaches make enemies for no other reason than slights or criticisms that are really just part of the job of being a head coach. It is very important that a coach’s ego not enter into the equation when dealing with the administration of his university or with the natural criticism that will arise from the fan base on the myriad of decisions that a coach has to make on an ongoing basis. A head coach should consider criticism as not only part of the job, but sweet music to his ears because that means there are people out there that are passionate and give a damn about the program that the coach leads. We should all be so lucky to be leading an organization that has thousands or hundreds of thousands and sometimes even millions of fans and followers. Yes, we should all be so lucky.
The Bottom-Line: Administrators need to make sure they hire coaches that fit the values, share the goals and understand and recognize the culture of the university. Coaches need to completely understand that there are a lot of stakeholders in the sports program that he leads, including the people that hired and could fire him, the alumni and boosters, and the general fan base of the school. All of these stakeholders are important to the success of the sports program the coach leads and they all should be given their due and recognized for their importance to the ultimate goals that the coach has for his program.
Sadly, Kentucky made a very bad hire in Billy Gillispie because he did not match the values, goals or culture at Kentucky and after getting hired Billy Gillispie showed to everyone that he did not give a rip about the stakeholders that have supported the UK basketball program for years and in fact paid Billy Gillispie’s salary. What kind of arrogant ass doesn’t give a damn about the people that hired him and pay his salary? Answer: An arrogant ass that is now out of a job and may find himself out of coaching permanently if he does not figure out in a hurry that world does not revolve around Billy Gillispie.
In our continuing comments here at Coaches Hot Seat on the policies being proposed by President Obama and his administration we address tonight health insurance. Before we address health insurance, we must first say that Barack Obama took a very brave position yesterday to send more troops to Afghanistan and to finish the job of destroying the people that attacked us on 9/11, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. It would have been very easy for a man in Barack Obama that campaigned on getting us out of a meaningless war in Iraq to expand the war in Afghanistan and in parts of Pakistan, but we believe that President Obama had no choice to move forward with plans to destroy Al Qaeda, to address the problems of the Taliban and to bring some stability to the region. The line below in President Obama’s speech shows to us that he both understand the risks of inaction in Afghanistan/Pakistan and the real reasons that we must fully engage both our military and diplomatic efforts in that area of the world:
“So let me be clear: Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said. “We have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”
The United States’ efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan will not be easy and it more than likely will get worse before it gets better, but we have no choice in this matter. We must find and destroy Al Qaeda and we must make sure that Afghanistan and the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area does not become a region of the world that allows terrorists a place where they can exist or plan harmful actions against our country. No, we really do not a have a choice in this matter, in engaging the Al Qaeda where they are at and to work to insure the stability of this region, and it is good to have a President in the White House that understand this very basic premise:
If you attack the United States of America we will hunt you down and remove you from the face of the Earth.
Yes, it is that simple.
Getting back to the topic at hand, health care and health insurance, President Obama made a statement at the White House a few weeks back, which we paraphrase:
“If we don’t do something about healthcare, it will bankrupt our country.”
A truer statement may have never been made in the White House.
The American people probably do not understand the very grim prospects that face our nation if we do not do something very soon to address the out of control costs associated with health care and we are only talking about Medicare and Medicaid, not the 40 or so million Americans that do not have health insurance or normal access to our health care system. Yes, this is very simple, either we deal with health care costs and the large amount of Americans that do not have health insurance right now, or our country will be destroyed by health care. Yes, it is that bad.
Let’s forget for a moment the skyrocketing costs of Medicare and Medicaid which must be brought under control by our government, and most certainly will be because there is no choice but to drive down costs in those two programs. Yes, let’s assume that our government will make policy decisions in the very near future that will bring under control the costs of Medicare and Medicaid and turn our attention to the most contentious issue, namely that our country must find a way to bring all Americans into our health care system through the universal availability and requirement for health insurance for all of our citizens. Yes, there is only one way that the extraordinary costs of our health care can be brought under control, and that is to get all Americans on board and as a full participant in our health system. From what we can gather about the proposed Obama health care plan the US government would both create a standardized health care insurance plan that all Americans could purchase or at the very least would set up a minimum level of health insurance that private insurance companies would have to offer to all American regardless of pre-existing health conditions. The government would subsidize in some way the purchase of either the government offered plan, which would compete along with private insurance plans in the marketplace, OR subsidize the purchase of private health insurance to Americans that could not afford to purchase health insurance.
From where we sit, something along the lines of the health care insurance plan offered by the Obama Administration must be adapted by our country because the current situation with so many people without access to our health care system because they do not have health care insurance cannot be allowed to continue. We also believe that if we can the vast majority of Americans into some type of health insurance plan, the government working with doctors, hospitals, and health insurance companies will be able to leverage economies of scale and the innovation of the American people to first slow down and then get under control the out of control costs that are imbedded in our health care system.
If our government can craft a health insurance plan that would allow all Americans, regardless of pre-existing conditions, to purchase an affordable health insurance plan for themselves and their family then our country will have taken the first step towards reforming our entire health system for the better. If our country does not address at this time the Americans that do not have health insurance and the skyrocketing costs of health cfare in our country, there will come a time when in the not that far too distant future when we will be forced to deal with health care, and at that time what our country will have to do to reign in the cost of health care will be very painful indeed.
Let’s hope our government can begin to address the long-run costs of health care in America and the 40 plus million Americans that do not have access in a normal way to our health care system. Yes, let’s hope so, because failure on this issue is simply not an option.
Next issue up: Energy, which is an issue where we part dramatically from the Obama Administration and the left in our country…
For those of us that spend the majority of our time around or on concrete, even if we live in the stunning beauty of the Bay area, there really is nothing like leaving the City behind to return to the mountains, to the country and to “real” life. To that point, John Denver’s…
I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado
Eagles and Horses
…and this appearance of John Denver with the sorely missed Johnny Carson….
Johnny’s Carson Final Show