SPORTS DIGEST by Bill Byham

Sports announcer, writer Bill Byham and famous for "That's 30" signoff

Sports announcer, writer Bill Byham and famous for "That's 30" signoff

SUPER BOWL 43 – I have to admit that a ton of emotions marched through our home during the Super Bowl game as the Steelers found one more touch of whatever to come back to win the ball game over the Cardinals.

When it was over and the Byham family started to clean up the chili bowls we talked it over. We noted, among other things, the luck that goes with the skill for one team to walk off the field a winner. There are so many plays and happening where we amateurs say to each other, ” Boy! That was lucky!”

But then there is the skill and the winning score had both elements deeply involved. Big Ben’s pass, when it left his hand, appeared to be thrown too far and too high but he and game MVP Santonio Holmes have practiced those types of plays literally hundreds of times. Holmes showed an awesome skill level when he leaped, caught the ball and somehow got both his feet down in bounds.

His heroics and honors gained over the season has produced a maturation of a young talent that was almost lost during his youth right there is his home state of Florida.

The many interviews coming out over this past week included one with Holmes when he admitted a time when he “made a living selling drugs in my home town.” It was a scary time for Holmes and his mother and told how they moved to another town and selling drugs gave way to his playing football in a championship r\program.

Now he is one of the most talked about athletes in the world \. Quite a story!

THE SINGLE WING IN FOOTBALL – The December 1st issue of Sports Illustrated carried an article entitled The New Hot Thing: Old Single Wing and it was Written by Tim Layden.

As I checked out the article I reminded myself that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of people living close by who have no idea what a single wing is. Unless, maybe, if they associate it with a chicken, turkey or some other bird type.

This single wing is a football offensive formation that was very popular almost from the beginning of organized football. I really don’t have the means in this space to diagram the basic single wing formation but go back to a bird visual and look down on its back. Now remove one of its wings and note that the bird is now flying with just one wing. In football the single wing offense takes on that same look.

In the NFL last year Miami was heading toward a totally losing season. The team was winless when they played the powerful New England Patriots. Miami won the game 38-13 in a shocking upset and it was broadcast all over the place that six times during the game that running back Ronnie Brown lined up where a shotgun quarterback would normally be. He took a direct snap from center and ran the ball, passed the ball or handed the ball off. All three of those moves are all standard part of the single wing. Brown, in this case, was playing the position known in single wing football as the tailback. Layden writes, “The Patriots played like they had never seen such football and, in fact, they had not.”
The Layden article traces the history of the single wing and if you want to know all about the formation find the article and take notes.
The article raced my mind backward to times when I had my own single wing history. I played for Paul Montgomery (father of former Williamsport coach, Tim Montgomery) in the 40’s and we used the single wing and the double wing.(You had to know someone had to take the formation and extend it.)

When I came to Bloomsburg State Teacher’s College, the late Bob Redman, with South Williamsport natives Rod Morgans and Will Swales on his roster, had coached the Huskies to one perfect season using the single wing. Redman went on to coach Bloom to a four season history making period of winning football games, all while using the the single win. Old timers might remember Milton’s Bob Lang who ended up as a great running back out of the wing for Bloom.

After six seasons of pass happy Ches-Mont League football I came to South where Morgans was now the head coach and where his Mounties are living off the single wing with success.

Layden, in his SI article, makes a point that several colleges are using a form of the single wing but they have dubbed their use of the formation the “wildcat offense” and maybe the best you saw it used was with the Florida Gators during their national championship game.

As the article notes. All coaches, in any sport, “steal” from other coaches but to have today’s coaches coming back all the way around from football as it was played a hundred years ago and bringing it back into play today is a really interesting story.

MOOSE SUPPORT – You may recognize the name – Tom Verducci. He is the Sports Illustrated writer who worked with Joe Torre on the book that is now on the market and creating a lot of stir about what Torre’s life as the New York Yankee manager.

But it is another area where Verducci’s name has come forward. In the December 1st issue of SI where he wrote a short statement supporting a day when Mike Mussina’s name would come for a Hall of Fame vote.

His first line catches you when he writes, “Mike Mussina perfected imperfection” Quoting Verducci he notes Mussina missed a perfect game by one strike (2001), a world’s championship by two outs (2001), the Cy Young Award in the nine years he received votes and a 20-win season twice by one win.

Verducci goes on by noting that five years from now baseball writers with Hall of Fame votes, including himself, should enshrine Mussina on what he was and not on what he was not.

THAT’S 30

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