Senior writer Jack McCallum is working on his transition game. McCallum, who was our SCORECARD editor for the past 12 months, spent the eight years before that covering the NBA. This season he moves to college basketball and, as he discovered while barnstorming the Big East for the cover story of last week's preview issue, he's stepping into a whole new arena.
"I was watching practice at Boston College," he says. "When I got up to leave the gym, a freshman named Chris Herren stopped in the middle of a drill and yelled, 'Goodbye, Mr. McCallum. Thanks for coming around.' That's when I knew I was no longer in the NBA. Sure, Barkley might have stopped practice—if he even noticed I was leaving—but it would have been to make fun of my pants or something. And nobody in that league ever called me Mr. McCallum."
His college education continued this past week with a trip to Springfield, Mass., for defending NCAA champion Arkansas's season opener against UMass, and then to Memphis, where the Razorbacks met Georgetown (page 48). That's a long three-pointer from the glamorous NBA circuit, and already there have been scheduling glitches. One day McCallum was about to board a flight bound for Tobacco Road when he noticed that his interviews with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina coach Dean Smith were set for the same time. Thanks to the schools' p.r. offices and a rental-car-facilitated fast break, McCallum was able to have lunch with Smith and then catch up with Coach K.
We don't expect any traveling violations from McCallum, who crisscrossed the country one summer with his wife, Donna, and their two sons, Jamie and Chris, now 17 and 15, reporting on far-flung sporting events. He's approaching his new assignment with a sense of adventure. "I was at the Final Four in 1982 when Michael Jordan made his big shot," he says. "I can't wait to see who makes the big shots this year."
Neither can we. So, hit the road, Jack, er... Mr. McCallum.