Tark the Shark, and Bama/Notre Dame

Two outstanding stories out today that are worth your time:

1. Sam Borden in the New York Times on Jerry Tarkanian. I covered one game Tark coached in. It was 2000, when he was at Fresno State. St. Bonaventure played at Fresno's season-opening tournament, beating Tark in the title game. I don't remember many specifics about the game - I remember it being a coming-out party for then Bona-freshman Marques Green, and I remember briefly getting into it with Tark in the post-game press conference (nothing major at all. He just dodged a question of mine, so I pressed him a little). What I do remember, and what's vivid now, is how much of a coach in exile he felt like in Fresno.

(I also remember being excited to learn the story of Tark's towel. I was 23. Things like that excited me.)

Anyway, the story is sensational not only in its detail now but in how it assesses Tark's career and legacy. It doesn't shy away from the bad stuff, but addresses it from his point of view. The Calipari comparison is interesting - flawed, to me, only because Cal is now at Kentucky and Tark never had a job with college basketball royalty. Otherwise, it's a great balance of reporting

2. I'll admit it: Pat Forde had me when he discussed sociology in a sports column. But his look at Alabama's fans' long-standing hatred of Notre Dame is fascinating. I love it when a writer is brave enough to tackle the issues like class, religion and sectionalism and go beyond cliches in doing so. What makes Forde so strong as a columnist is that his columns include real reporting, not just bloviating.