Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum Final Game Press Conference
March 2, 2010
Final Game: Auburn vs. Mississippi State on March 3, 2010 - 7 p.m. CT
"It was a lot of fun because we had played in The Barn for so long. It only held two or three thousand people, then we moved in the big coliseum and there were several thousand there. The most memorable was Coach Lynn told me that my job was to guard Pistol Pete Maravich, so that was a big memory for me there and a big thrill for me to get to guard him because he was the best around. We didn't practice much in the new coliseum before we played them, but we put a pretty good whipping on them. We beat them 90-something to 70-something, so that was a thrill. There have been a lot of games in there since then that I really enjoyed. I'm going to be down there Wednesday night and I'm anxious to be down there again.
(On the Tartan surface) "It was hard on our knees and feet because it was so much different."
(On what he remembers about the first game in the coliseum) "I think it was right before halftime we lined up on the free throw line and Pete (Maravich) was beside me and I looked over at him and told him we were going to have to slow down and he looked at me and said, `We are just getting started'. I said it's going to be a long night tonight. He hadn't even broken a sweat hardly. It was enjoyable playing against him and playing in the new coliseum that first game because there were so many people there and we weren't used to that. We were just used to a couple of thousand in there and then we moved to that place and it was huge. We hadn't practiced in it. We were just getting started. I was so tired when the game was over that I could hardly walk, but we won and that was the big thing about it."
"It was exciting to move over there (Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum). It was really exciting to play LSU because (Pete) Maravich brought in droves of people by himself. The fact that we were playing them the first night made it more special. I heard the other day someone say that he scored 46 down there. Wally (Tinker) said, `No.' That was the most that a player on the opposing team had ever scored in the facility. There was a lot of history made there in one night. I remember one thing. We came in, we were practicing in the old barn and they just got that thing (Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum) ready and they said, `Hey, Y'all come on in and play tonight," so we went over there and played."
"Of course, the original floor was an old Tartan surface that was a knockoff of what Tennessee had up there at Stokely Athletic Center. It drove our feet up into our knees. We had shin splints and it was tough to deal with for a few days after that. You didn't know what board to jump off of because in The Barn you had special boards that would give and boy, you could jump on them. It was a fun place to play. But again, it was exciting over there."
"Wally (Tinker) would take Maravich and we ran a switching man-to-man. Every now and then he would get close to me and I would have to guard him. I would sure try to push him back toward Wally (Tinker). Wally Tinker was the epitome of a teammate that any person could ever have in college basketball because he was the most unselfish player we had on our team. I think Wally would rather give you an assist than he had to make a basket. It was very fitting that Wally made the first basket in the coliseum because the most unselfish player got to do it, so it was a big highlight for all of us because Wally got to make it."
(On whether he has toured the new arena and if moving to the new arena is a bitter sweet thing) "I've seen it to some degree. It is an exciting day for Auburn basketball to be able to go into an arena like this. This is a new day. Even though we have the memories of (Beard-Eaves) Memorial Coliseum, it's so exciting for Auburn basketball and for the future as far as what we can build. We think this will catapult us into a competitive SEC team. It is exciting to move on and it is a part of life. I'm excited for our basketball program."
"The first memory I can give you is when I started there I was a little bit vocal and used a little bad language, so after Coach (Pat) Dye got done cussing out the football team they would all come over to the basketball arena and line up outside the door to hear me cuss the basketball players."
"The other thing that happened was a great memory for me. My mother never saw me coach a game until she came to a game at Auburn. She was being interviewed by Phil Snow right after the game. He asked her what she thought about me being a coach and she said she didn't think much of it. She thought I ought to get out and get a real job. Phil asked her on the air if she wanted to come back on sometime and she said, `I'll think about it.' She hadn't seen a television much less been on one."
"I would say memories of games would be the first win over Kentucky, the first win over Alabama, and the first win over Tennessee. I always wanted to beat Tennessee being from Tennessee. One of the first times we played them the referees didn't show up. It was an afternoon game and the referees didn't show up. They showed up for a night game, so we played the game at night and we beat a very good Tennessee team on a last second shot by Alvin Munford, a guy that normally wouldn't be taking a last second shot. I think something that jumps out to everybody is the number of last second shots we lost to Kentucky by or last five to ten seconds where we lost games to Kentucky. I think the game that Charles (Barkley) got kicked out of on the jump ball would probably be another highlight. There are so many."
(On the new Auburn Arena) "I think that this is a great day for Auburn basketball because everybody else in the conference has either built a new place or refurbished their place. It's not that Beard-Eaves is a bad place to play basketball, but the perception is there that it is a bad place even though it isn't, that it's too old, it's not a great home court advantage, but a lot of those things were changed by some of the things that Cliff (Ellis) and his staff did to make the arena more intimate and a better home court advantage. I think it is badly needed and I think it's going to change recruiting at Auburn and I think it's going to be a big boost for Jeff Lebo."
(On having the record for most wins as a coach in the Coliseum) "Well, I can sip some Grey Goose and talk to Sonny and Cliff and everybody else and be on top of the mountain. But it's important to the players. But it's also important to the players it's a good feeling but when your coaching it' a relationship. The most underrated part in coaching is motivation because players are going to do what they believe not what they are told. So you have to make them believers and they're motivated by the success of your other teams. Sonny and I will probably rip one another on Wednesday but it's a good feeling knowing that you've accomplished something in an era of twenty five years."
(What was your best Auburn team?) "One of my favorite teams was in '87, which didn't make it to the final four but I thought they opened a door for us to believe. And that was when Helene Baroody was our point guard, and she just made us a complete team. And I think from '87 on even with Mickey Jackson who really was our first top recruit out of Franklin Louisiana Helen Maroody made us believe that we really could win at the highest level and then obviously with the '88, '89, '90, and '91 teams we should have been in five straight final fours."
(Do you have any sadness with this last game) "Oh yeah, with all the memories in there, I haven't even been to the new arena, and I don't know when I'll walk into it but this place is special, this is home, I even remember the one challenge when they put these offices in, we practiced down there among all the sledgehammers and I became really good friends with the foreman on the job, yeah I called him enough names, in Italian though, but we had several discussions about how every time I walked out on the floor there was a whole lot more noise than when Cliff would walk out onto the floor."
(What did you call the Russian official that night?) "I just addressed the fact that I had some vodka that I wanted to share with him and he called me an English name, I didn't realize he knew that much English. A lot of you don't know that but we had an international official in here one night playing a Russian team that brought a Russian official. And I had a conversation with him all night long and as I would try and ask him something he would run past me saying 'no understand, no understand' so at halftime he blew the whistle to signal halftime and he put his finger on me and called me a derogatory name in English and then I tried to take his finger and put it (somewhere else), and I was reprimanded by the SEC office. That was a good experience."
(Didn't you score 42 points in your last game at Beard-Eaves?) "No, my career high was 40 at Vanderbilt. I became Auburn's all-time leading scorer in my last game at Beard-Eaves."
(That was a close game. Did you hit a big shot or something?) "Early in the game, sometime in the first or second quarter, was when I became the all-time leading scorer. Then we rested and had our laurels and they closed the game. Eventually, they tied it up and then Mike Jones took a shot at the end and I tip-dunked it back in to win the game."
(On his experiences at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum) "It's a great place. My first memory of that was when I came to a basketball camp in 1979. I was finishing the ninth grade in the summer before my sophomore year and I came to camp to compete on the floor with some of the Auburn players - Alvin Mumphord, Bubba Price. It was a good time for me. I think Bobby Cattage was just coming off of appendectomy surgery, but he was there and he was my favorite player at the time. That was a big thing for me."
(On which games stand out in his memory) "The Kentucky game when they were ranked No. 1. It was one of the largest-watched cable games of that time. They had a great team and we upset them at our place. Not only did we upset them, but we beat them pretty good. It was at least a 15 point lead. Just to see how close our team became after that game was incredible. You had Charles Barkley on the team, myself, Greg Turner and Darrell Lockhart so it was a special time for Auburn."
(On his experience playing in Beard-Eaves) "One thing that I remember is that the fans really came out at that time to support us. I don't know what the numbers were, but it seems like they were always there to support us. My first year, we didn't have a great year; I think we went 15-13. But I remember coming out and the people who were there were really loud and great fans in a good way. I remember that support. The support was something special for me. It was a family atmosphere and the arena wasn't so big that it was overwhelming. You could really enjoy the fans. It was such a special time for me to have fun with the guys I was playing with. Gerald White and Frank Ford were probably the most two important people in my life when it came to playing at Auburn.
"Those guys were born leaders. They were meant to be there for our team. They really sacrificed a lot of themselves for me and other guys who went on to play in the pros. They really fought for that team and, even to this day, we still remain close."
(Are you sad to see Beard-Eaves come to an end or excited for the new arena?) "I'm sad just because it's such a historical place that has seen all the great players come through there. So many people went through there and had an impact on Auburn athletics and Auburn basketball. On the other side, I think it was time for Auburn to venture out into a new complex so they could grow the sport of basketball. I think it needs a shot in the arm to get this thing back on track."
"For me, that was one of the best years that I had while I was over there. I think it was just the excitement of the fans, everybody coming out every night we stepped on the floor. In the arena, it was ten thousand plus. It was standing room only. A lot of people weren't able to get in. I haven't seen the coliseum like that in a while. My first and second year we started building a little bit of a fan base, but that year everybody came out to support us. There was so much energy. It was like that sixth man. Beard-Eaves Memorial (Coliseum) was just rocking and rolling. That was the best time. I will never forget that."
(On the night Auburn won the 1999 SEC Championship) "That was a very exciting game. Actually, the year before Vandy had beaten us up at their place. We were looking to try to get a little revenge. Also, we had an SEC title that was on the line as well that we were trying to win and trying to compete for a number seed in the (NCAA) Tournament. We just wanted to come out and try to impose our will on them. The fans were there, they were loud and they were rocking and rolling. After we got the victory, that's when the celebration began. Everyone stayed. I don't even think anyone left that night until we all left the coliseum. It was a wonderful experience and I will never forget it."
(On the new Auburn Arena) "I think it's going to be a good recruiting tool. A lot of other universities have updated or have gotten new facilities. I think it's going to bring a lot of kids that are going to be able to come in and see that Auburn is taking the basketball program seriously. They are going to want to experience it. They are going to find out that it is probably the best place you can be, the Loveliest Village on the Plains."
(At some point did you become conscious that you had a little bit of a streak going as far as seeing all of these games?) "It just sort of happened, for your information it goes all the way back to 1960. My father was selling tickets to old arena and as a short fat son I started going to games and never missed them from 1960 on. The first couple of years I was sitting in the stands, and then I started working here I was in a large family here and my dad told me to hurry. And that you better learn how to make your own money so I started working in the concession stands. While I was a student I continued watching games and still worked in concessions when I graduated school and went on to the real world I happened to get on with the table crew. Worked those eight years coming back and working while I had a real job, then came back here to work at the coliseum in 1990."
(On seeing every game since 1960) "I have seen every home game. I cannot remember missing a game to be honest with you."
(On the difference in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum and previous Auburn arenas) "The Barn was special if you had never seen a game in there. It was just such a unique place. I can remember sitting when Coach (Adolph) Rupp was here and he would do his press conference afterwards and we used to flood to behind to where he was going to be because we wanted to be around Coach Rupp. To hear him talk, he hated the place just because of the atmosphere that it created in there. It was a unique place. Everything about it was unique. It was a sad day when that place burned down although I'm sure it wouldn't be here now, but it was a sad day."
(On the Tartan floor) "It opened with a Tartan floor. We went through two floors. We tore up one Tartan (floor) and put in another Tartan (floor). It was a mistake. I couldn't tell you the date (when the first wood floor was put in Beard-Eaves). I was thinking Coach (Sonny) Smith was here. I can remember when we went to the wood floor; our first one was a portable floor. When Coach (Jeff) Lebo was here, we went to the permanent floor that is down there now."
(On the Tartan floors developing dead spots) "It did. It had dead spots, it was slippery and there was nothing you could do to get the slickness out of it. As a facilities person, it was a wonderful thing. You could do anything on it. We had elephants on it. You could do anything on that floor. Unfortunately, we also had to play basketball on it and it just wasn't a good surface. Sort of like Astroturf, people thought it was going to be the surface of the future for basketball."
(Did you attend any of the shows that took place in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum) "I attended some of them. I'm not going to tell you I saw every show that's been here, but either through working or as a fan of the particular band, I saw a lot of them."
(On his favorite event he ever attended at Beard-Eaves) "It's hard to say. If you're talking about a favorite event, my child walked across the stage graduating high school. That just always has a little place in your heart. I'll go back to one basketball game that always stands out and that was when John Mengelt scored 60 and I believe All Leapheart had 22 rebounds that night as well and we beat Alabama by a bunch. That was before the three-point line. I'm sure John missed a shot that night but it wasn't many. That was a special night."
(On the first game in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum vs. Pete Maravich and LSU) "To be moving from where we were playing into this facility, it was such a huge step for us. There was all that excitement, then you throw into that Pete Maravich being here and, if you never had a chance to see him play in college, he was such a special player that you couldn't pull against him. So, you throw both of those things in there, a new arena, a new step for Auburn basketball and Pete Maravich it was electric that night. Then, we won which was a good thing as well."
(On the best players he has seen play in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum) "Right off the bat, the first two played that night were Pete (Maravich) and John Mengelt. Coach(Bob) Davis had that crew with Eddie (Johnson) and Mike Mitchell. Those were fun players to watch and they were all good players, then, Coach (Cliff) Ellis' stretch there with Chris Porter and Doc (Robinson). Those were good teams to watch as well."
(On the transition to Beard-Eaves and how it happened right before the LSU game) "I wasn't here then, so I couldn't tell you for sure but I don't think the facility was totally ready. If you look at the pictures, the pull-out bleachers were still pushed into the wall, so I don't even think they were ready for use at that time."
(Are you looking forward to the new arena?) "It's a new step and it's a good step for our program. Our coaches want it and our coaches need it. I've been in this building a long time. I've told people before I've known this building longer than I've known my wife, but it's time."
(What year did you come here?) "I started full-time work in here in 1990. I had an extended college stay from 1972 to 1983. I worked here all through that extended college time. My dad told me you've got three little sisters, so you're going to put yourself through school."
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