When it comes to Big Ten basketball coaches, Purdue’s Gene Keady is one of the all-time greats. As a seven-time Big Ten Coach of the Year, Keady’s 512 victories is the most in Purdue history, where he managed to lead the Boilers to two Elite Eight appearances and five Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament before his retirement. In 2010, Keady took a job as an assistant coach with the St. John’s Red Storm. Watch now and learn why St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin refers to the Purdue legend as his “buddha.”
Sometimes it’s right there in front of you. Struggling to find the right word to describe freshman Earvin Johnson’s play in a 36-point, 18-rebound performance for Lansing Everett High School, Lansing State Journal sportswriter Fred Stabley Jr. settled on “Magic.” The choice could not have been more appropriate. Over the next 20 years, Earvin “Magic” Johnson would become one of the most celebrated and accomplished basketball players in the world, first at Michigan State University, then for the Los Angeles Lakers. “Magic” — the one-word handle became as distinctive as “Pele” or “Ali,” applicable to one man only and a metaphor for both an infectious style of play and unfailingly positive results. Magic Johnson had a unique gift for making the players around him better, leaving championships in his wake wherever he competed.
Thousands of athletes have distinguished themselves and earned acclaim for their schools in the storied 114-year history of the Big Ten Conference, but no individual’s accomplishments cast a larger shadow than those of Jesse Owens. In 1936, three years before the world went back to war, his fleet feet and indomitable spirit struck a telling blow against Adolph Hitler’s plans for worldwide Nazi domination.
It stands to reason that running backs would be distinguished citizens at Ohio State University, where “three yards and a cloud of dust” was the unquestioned football mantra through the storied Woody Hayes Era and for at least a few years on either side of it. Archie Griffin is the most distinguished of those citizens.
Tom Harmon transcends the overused term “football hero.” He was a hero in most every sense of the word. Seventy years after he last performed as a single-wing tailback for the University of Michigan, “Old 98” is still remembered as perhaps the most talented player in Wolverines history, a true triple threat on offense and a standout on defense. He was also the punter and the place-kicker. He probably would have taped ankles and passed out the orange slices at halftime had he been asked.