Golf, a game for any occasion

Golf is an amazing sport.

As I sit and write this blog, I’m still thinking about the game I just completed.

On Monday morning, my dad and I tried to hit the course. The rain delayed our round a couple of hours, but we still played.

As a late Father’s Day present, my dad and I played nine holes in overcast and wet conditions. The last nine was played in sunshine and perfect conditions.

Only two days before, golf was again at the center of my festivities.

It was Saturday morning and we still had a few hours before the big day began.

My friend, who was going to be married a few hours later, decided he would like to play a round on the morning of this monumental event.

He and I have been friends for most of our lives and throughout our friendship, golf is at the center of most of our memories.

It was only fitting a day like this would begin on the course.

Although he wouldn’t admit to it, I think his nerves played a role in his score — which was a little higher than normal. That, of course, led to a rare victory for me. He later used that as an excuse to explain his emotions at the altar.

We had a great foursome that morning: the groom-to-be, the best man, the groom’s father and myself. It proved to be a great start to a truly memorable day.

A few weeks earlier, we were on the same course — the course we grew up on — for his bachelor party. It was one of the few times I’ve played since I moved to Worthington, and it brought back memories.

My friend and I reminisced about the “good ol’ days” when we used to have our parents bring us to the course because we weren’t old enough to drive.

On the long par 5 that led back to the clubhouse, we had a small bet. On the right side of the fairway was an old tree. Whoever hit it to the tree had to buy the round of Mountain Dews at the clubhouse.

Looking back, that tree wasn’t very far at all.

We laugh about it now, but those are memories we’ll have forever.

On Saturday, we made new memories. We’ll forever talk about this day — and the round that preceded it.

And coincidently, whenever he celebrates his anniversary, I’ll be celebrating one of the few times I have ever beaten him.

Big Red in the Big Ten

Hey Nebraska, how about the “Golden Corn Cob?”

The Big Red is about to join the Big Ten, which makes for Big Headlines.

And the Huskers are going to need one of those cool-looking trophies that all Big Ten rivals fight for.

You know, like the Old Oaken Bucket (Indiana/Purdue), Paul Bunyan’s Axe (Minnesota/Wisconsin), the Little Brown Jug (Michigan/Minnesota), the Floyd of Rosedale (Iowa/Minnesota) or the Old Brass Spittoon (Indiana/Michigan St.), just to name a few.

For what is sure to instantly become one of college football’s greatest rivalries — Iowa vs. Nebraska — I can’t think of a better trophy than a giant ear of corn.

The Cornhsukers against the Tall Corn State. Herbie Husker vs. Herky Hawkeye.

Up and down the Missouri River that splits the two states, allegiances lie with either the Hawkeyes or Huskers.

That’s why Husker and Big Ten fans should be ecstatic about Nebraska’s conference shuffle. Silly Colorado.

Those Buffaloes went and joined the Pac-10 on the eve of college athletics’ biggest transformation in 15 years.

CU tried to beat Nebraska to the punch, but that’s like Betty White compared to Mike Tyson.

Fine, Colorado. Leave the Big 12, and take your NCAA infractions, allegations and sub-par academic standards with you. I’m sure the conference doesn’t mind.

Now that the dud’s fizzled, let’s get to the real fireworks.

Nebraska just might have killed the Big 12 by deciding to ditch the Texas-driven conference for the Big Ten.

Of course, the separation won’t be finalized until UNL’s board of regents meet today, but that’s like trying to put a rubber stamp on an e-mail. In today’s Internet media cycle, that ship has long left the harbor with Nebraska AD Tom Osborne piloting.

It’s a good thing the former Husker coach spent a few years in Federal Congress, because this isn’t sports anymore — it’s politics. And if there’s anything I learned from that hard-earned political science minor (that I’m obviously putting to good use as a sports reporter), politics means money.

Almost twice as much money — as in, the conference revenue Big Ten schools receive compared to their Big 12 counterparts, largely due to the “Big Ten Network.”

In NCAA athletics, money means football. So we’ll stick with the pigskin, with no disrespect to every other Division I sport that is unfairly overshadowed by the Saturday crowds of 80,000.

One crowd in particular, that Sea of Red down in Lincoln, has a huge reason to be excited about this move:

Rivalries.

That’s something Husker die-hards have been thirsting for, ever since the Big Eight expanded to the Big 12 in 1996 and put Oklahoma and UNL in different divisions.

The Sooner/Husker rivalry is now just a legend, a fabled myth to the newest generation of college football fans like myself.

It’s not a big deal if you only play twice every four years.

Where are those who bleed Husker red supposed to whet their appetite? Colorado?

Please. Those Buffaloes hate Nebraska more than they love their own program. For UNL fans, the biggest struggle in Boulder is finding a place to park where their tires won’t get slashed. The Huskers’ departure from the Big 12 means no more trips to Colorado, no more dodging beer bottles, and no more entire CU student sections being ejected for harassing Husker players.

Missouri? I doubt it. It was the Tigers who started this whole mess months ago, when Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon all but begged the Big Ten to take his state’s university.

But the Big Ten wanted Nebraska more, and one D-I athletic director even told OrangeBloods.com that now Missouri is “getting the cold shoulder from the Big Ten.”

No, it’s time for the Huskers to look toward the East, at the other nationally-relevant program in the region.

Iowa/Nebraska has the potential to become the Big Ten West’s equivalent of Ohio St./Michigan (if the conference splits that way).

The two are intertwined by more than just geographic location, too — Husker coach Bo Pelini got his start as a graduate assistant under Iowa legend Hayden Fry.

I know this isn’t the reason UNL is making the move. The Huskers want more cash, and to be part of a more academically-sound, research-driven athletic conference like the Big Ten.

If that means severing ties with the rest of the Big 12, so be it.

No hard feelings.

Now, how about bronzing that corn cob?

Top 10 sports movies of all time

It was a sad moment when I learned of the passing of Dennis Hopper.

As an actor, he’s very accomplished. But, the role I will most remember him for is Shooter in “Hoosiers.”

A feel-good inspiring story based on a true story, “Hoosiers” is a great basketball movie — one of my favorites.

Hopper plays Shooter, a father to one of the players and for a brief time, the assistant coach to Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman). This movie follows the small-town team of Hickory in its pursuit of greatness.

Based in Indiana, where basketball is supreme, the state tournament was a one-class system, pitting the small towns against the large ones.

It’s not unlike the story of Edgerton in 1960, when the Flying Dutchmen won in a one-class system.

But reminiscing with some friends about “Hoosiers” and Hopper, the conversation quickly turned to the best sports movies of all time. Since then, I have done some thinking, and I believe I have come up with my 10 favorites.

Of course, this is just my opinion; feel free to share your thoughts.

10. “The Blind Side”

A relatively new movie, but I believe it will stand the test of time. Based on the true story of Michael Oher, it tells the story of a football player’s rise to greatness. But it’s about more than football. It’s about compassion and hard work. From being homeless to becoming drafted, Oher’s story is an inspiring tale.

9. “Miracle”

A true story based on the U.S. 1980 gold medal hockey team, “Miracle” takes the viewer through the good — and the bad — of the journey. With Kurt Russell as legendary coach Herb Brooks, this movie recaptures the magic of the amateur players turned champions.

8. “Field of Dreams”

“If you build it, he will come” has to be one of the best and most recognizable movie lines in history. A man, Kevin Costner, plows under his corn to build a baseball field in Iowa. His field allows old-time players one last chance to play. Of course, I’ve seen the field in Iowa, and have always had a soft spot in my heart for this one.

7. “Remember the Titans”

A movie with a sports undertone, “Remember the Titans” is about more than just football. It’s about the struggle of an integrated high school and how the football team helps ease that transition. There was nothing easy about the team coming together, leaving a classic story and movie. Also based on a true story, Denzel Washington gives a great performance as Coach Herman Boone.

6. “Rudy”

I still get choked up when I watch this movie. Also based on a true story, Sean Astin gives an inspiring performance as Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger. I would be hard pressed to find a more emotionally-charged scene then when he is carried off the field after playing his one and only game.

5. “Major League”

A great cast makes this movie. A baseball comedy, the Cleveland Indians are forced to play with less than all-stars as the owner is trying to relocate the team. Between a washed-up catcher (played by Tom Berenger), an ex-con (Charlie Sheen) and a speedy rookie (Wesley Snipes), this movie is pure entertainment from beginning to end.

4. “Rocky”

Sure, they’ve made six “Rocky” movies, but nothing beats the original. A true underdog story, Sylvester Stallone is inspiring as Rocky, who is given a chance to be a boxing champion.

3. “Bull Durham”

Kevin Costner’s speech in this movie is perhaps some of the best writing in any sports movie on the list. A veteran minor-league catcher (Costner) is brought in by the Durham Bulls to help tame a wild pitcher (Tim Robbins). Great baseball, great writing and memorable lines make this a classic baseball film.

2. “Hoosiers”

The aforementioned movie based on a small-town’s basketball team. A film I could watch over and over and over again and never get tired of.

1. “Caddyshack”

My favorite sports movie of all time, hands down. Perhaps it’s my affinity for golf that leads me to this, or the performances by Bill Murray and Chevy Chase, but either way, it’s a classic. Murray’s eccentric ways create a comedic sub-plot, but from beginning to end, “Caddyshack” is my all-time favorite.