Remember Clem Haskins?
Oh, those days were good. The Golden Gophers were playing basketball all the way through the month of March. And things were easier. Players didn’t have to worry about annoying things like class. Nope, these men were full-time ballers, making the university proud, until the Pioneer Press made them red.
Leading the way was Clem Haskins, a mustachioed man with a name plucked straight from basketball heaven. Coach Haskins was a minor celebrity back then, getting props from Billy Packer and Gopher expats around the nation. I watched the Final Four run with a pack of Minnesotan skiers in North Tahoe. Before the loss, they bumped through mogul runs at Northstar Resort blaring gold and maroon hoodies. There was excitement about the team--and especially about Haskins. The expats were claiming this coach would lead them to a dynasty.
Well, he didn’t. But ESPN’s college hoops reporter Dana O’Neil caught up with the coach in Kentucky. She wrote a nice piece that shows a fallen hero leaving his past behind:
He lives on the same farm his parents worked. He's added to the 20 acres his father owned as a sharecropper such that the 3 Point Ranch, voted the finest in Taylor County in 2008, now covers some 600 acres.
It just so happens that Campbellsville, with its old-school values and adoration for the best basketball player ever to come out of the county, also is an ideal place for Haskins to heal and move on.
"I didn't sleep well for about a year or two [after the scandal at Minnesota]," Haskins said. "It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and one minute to knock it to pieces. I came back where people know me. They know what I'm all about and who I am. I'm home."
As O’Neil points out, Haskins turned down repeated opportunities to return to basketball. It seems he prefers the life of John Deere to the life of John Wooden.
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