Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Johnny Mac Calls It a Career

OK, I'm coming clean - I've never been to an Arkansas track and field meet. It's not that I don't like watching track and field. In fact, when the nationals come on tv, or olympic qualifying, or the olympics or world championships, I like watching. I'm not so much a 100 yard dash guy. I like the relays and the 400 meters and the 800 meters and some of the long distance events. I really have no good excuse for living here and never attending an Arkansas track event though.

So, when I heard that legendary coach John McDonnell is retiring at the end of this outdoor season, I decided right here and right now (hey, there's no tomorrow!) that I'm going to attend a meet before he steps into that green pasture for grazing and studding (sorry about the mental image).

(Right now, Double K regrets not attending a Razorback track and field event while the legend was still coaching)

But, my only chance is the NCAA Mideast Regionals that will be held here at the end of May. They just held the John McDonnell Invitational on Friday and Saturday, and if the old man would have made his announcement last week, I could have planned to attend it instead.

But, oh my green clovers, pink hearts, and purple horseshoes, look at these statistics about Razorback Track and Field since John McDonnell took over as head cross country coach in 1972 and head track and field coach in 1977:

42 National titles (more than any coach in any sport in the history of collegiate athletics)
5 National triple crowns (outdoor, indoor, and cross country)
20 Conference triple crowns
34 consecutive cross country conference championships (17 in the SEC) and counting
McDonnell was named national, regional, or conference Coach of the Year 140 times (yes, 140!)

Do you think Coach McDonnell has ever had some prima-donna track stud who thinks he knows more than everyone and has questioned how he's being used by Coach McDonnell. And then do think Coach McDonnell would take said athlete to some secret room somewhere, and shown him his 140 coach of the year plaques/trophies? If it were me, I would. But, watching and listening to him over the years, it probably never happened.

Since 1984:
19 National Championships in indoor track (12 in a row from 1984-95)
12 National Championships in outdoor track
11 National Championships in cross country
Since 1984, a total of 69 (that's what she said!) national titles have been awarded in those three sports and the Razorbacks have won 42 of them.

McDonnell's teams have won 45 of a possible 50 SEC Championships (90% for you mathematically challenged)

(A toast to ye old, unbelievable career, laddy. May Irish eyes smile always upon ye, Johnny Mac, while the sun shines on your face and the wind blows gently at your back.)

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