Thursday, January 11, 2018
Louisville women's basketball -- Last minute change meant everything -- Carfds and Irish tonight -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COJUPLE
McGUFF and MCGRAW...SURVIVORS
Many of us remember where we were when 911 happened. For me, it was a Walgreens.
I was working at the time and had just finished a sales call to a restaurant in Prospect, KY. It was a few minutes before my next appointment was scheduled and I had discovered earlier in the morning that I was out of shaving gel. My job at the time stressed that I have a "clean and well-groomed look" (a lot different than the guidelines for being the editor/owner of an Internet website...I might add) so I used the few minutes break to pop into the store and pick up my preferred whisker-removing gel.
Something was different when I walked in, though. This was back in the days when you could still get channels on TV with an antenna and without Hulu, Dish, Direct TV, Spectrum or Bill and Ted's Excellent Subscriber Service...and several people were gathered around a small TV in the cosmetics department. A plane, off track, had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York. I watched in horror as a second one hit the South Tower. As the events of the day unfolded, I went about my business in an almost surreal state of mind. Who? Why? What reason? Thoughts that crossed my, and many others, minds.
Muffet McGraw remembers it differently. She was recruiting, what college coaches spend a substantial amount of time doing. She was in the New England area with her assistant coach Kevin McGuff (now the head coach at Ohio State). She had originally planned to fly out of Boston on Tuesday morning. A flight on United Flight 175. McGuff mentioned that he's flying out of Providence to get back to Chicago. Why doesn't she join him on that flight instead of him having to drive her to Boston, through traffic to get her to her flight?
"He was pretty stubborn." McGraw says of McGuff. "Had it been another assistant, I would have gotten on Flight 175.
She resists. The Boston flight is a little more convenient for her. McGuff is persistent. Finally, she gives in and cancels her seat on Flight 175. They also run into Notre Dame's men's coach Mike Brey in Providence. They are waiting to fly when the tragedy strikes.
Flights are grounded. They get one of the last cars at a rental station and decide to drive back to campus. As they listen to the events on the car radio they hear something about Flight 175. At 9:03 a.m. the plane crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center.
Has anything in your life been changed that ultimately preserved your life? Has a decision you've made ultimately been one that allows you to keep making decisions? For many of us, the answer is "no". I had a friend years ago that was a Vietnam vet. I've lost track of him over the years...but he used to tell a story of action in a combat zone where he and two fellow platoon-members were ambushed by a Viet-Cong scouting party. With bullets racing all around him, he saw the other two soldiers die. He scrambled for cover, exchanged salvos in a fire-fight and then got bailed out when grenades from other platoon members eliminated the threat.
"I was five, maybe ten seconds from going to meet the man upstairs." Words he used to tell, maybe paraphrazed by me (it's been a few years and my mind isn't as sharp as it used to be). Then, they were gone. Life and death. Just like that. Maybe I'm still here for a greater good, greater purpose. Or maybe, I just got lucky."
Life can be like that. A second here, two minutes here and maybe the fate of what we are and know changes.
MCGraw is an enigma when it comes to coaching. Her success is coupled with her high- heel stilettos, Leopard-print skirts and exotic neck wraps. She can be fiercely intense one moment and then adopt a serene and calm court-side manner the next. She questions the game that she survived to coach. Cheating in the women's ranks? Yes, according to her.