Ronde Barber is finally bound for Canton, and all seems right in our little speck of the universe.
Key word: seems.
Once the collective glee over Barber’s election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame subsides, many local sports fans will acknowledge a number of wrongs that have yet to be righted on the bay area sports landscape. Omissions and oversights still exist on various levels, from the preps to the pros.
So even as we cross Barber off our list of local snubs and slights, let’s examine those who have yet to receive their due.
Jon Cooper never has won Jack Adams Award
Though his resume elicits the sheen of two Stanley Cups, Cooper never has won the honor (presented by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association) awarded to “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.” The only thing we can surmise about this snub is that the Lightning’s 10th-year coach is being penalized for having great players.
Phil Jackson, who won 11 NBA titles and only one Red Auerbach Trophy (as coach of the year), suffered the same discrimination. If that’s the prevailing mindset among voters, Cooper’s gift of managing egos, eliminating complacency and knowing when to push which buttons are being egregiously ignored.
Neal Goldman’s name not on Jesuit High court
In recent years, a growing number of area high school floors and even gyms have been named in honor of highly successful coaches — some still active — who have become synonymous with those respective schools. Goldman, who became Tigers head coach in the Reagan administration, has won nearly 700 games and 15 district titles, and has led three teams to the final four.
None was more dominant than the 2012-13 squad (31-1), which won 30 games by double digits en route to the Class 5A state crown. The school probably should have emblazoned Goldman’s name somewhere on the Tiger Palace floor after that season. Ten years later, we’re still waiting.
Simeon Rice, James Wilder not in Ring of Honor
These two former Bucs — one an edge rusher, the other an every-down one — are widely deemed the most glaring omissions from the franchise’s most hallowed fraternity. Wilder, still the franchise’s career rushing leader, probably should be enshrined for his 1984 effort alone: The 2,229 total yards and 1,544 rushing yards he collected in that 6-10 season remain team single-season records. Rice, a first-team All-Pro for the 2002 season Super Bowl team, has three of the franchise’s five highest season sack totals (15.5 in 2002, 15.0 in 2003, 14.0 in 2005).
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Lou Piniella not in Baseball Hall of Fame
Those who have clamored for this Jesuit High alumnus to receive his rightful spot in Cooperstown can only hope the call arrives sooner rather than later. Piniella, who turns 80 in August, gets another shot in December, when the Hall committee that assembles the eight-person ballot for contemporary non-players (1980-on) convenes.
As a manager, his credentials are concrete: Piniella has a world title (with the Reds in 1990) and the 17th-most wins (1,835) of any big-league manager. Of the 13 non-active managers ahead of him, 12 are in Cooperstown. At this point, we can hardly blame Bittersweet Lou for being peeved over his omission.
USF women never seeded higher than 6th in NCAAs
For longtime Bulls women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez, the NCAA selection show has evolved into an annual televised slap in the face. Though regular NCAA qualifiers (six of the previous seven seasons, not including the COVID year), the Bulls never have been seeded higher than sixth, despite glistening resumes. In 2015, they won 26 regular-season games, finished 15-3 in the American Athletic Conference, and got only a six seed.
Last season, they went 24-8, defeated top-10 programs Oregon and Stanford in a five-day span, and were seeded ninth. Bottom line, the selection committee has zero respect for the AAC, and even less now that Connecticut has departed. The Bulls, who annually play one of the nation’s most daunting non-conference slates, are penalized as a result.
Jim Leavitt not in USF Athletic Hall of Fame
Recent evidence suggests this omission could be rectified in the foreseeable future. Leavitt, who built the Bulls football program from scratch before an ugly dismissal in 2010, attended USF’s Hall of Fame ceremony last fall and was received warmly all-around.
No need to re-litigate the circumstances around his firing or the ensuing wrongful termination lawsuit he filed; it’s not as if Leavitt is applying for a job at the university (though he did coach at five other Division I-A programs following his departure from USF). This is about recognizing his contributions to Bulls football, plain and simple. No one has contributed more.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.
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