February 10, 1969
With its maddening matrices and problematic polynomials, ninth-grade algebra can be a mathematical minefield for first-year students at Valley Christian High in San Jose—especially when the most nervous freshman in class is the teacher. "At first I had incredible insecurities and self-doubts, but you can't let the kids know," says Bud Ogden, who last fall added six classes of algebra to his previous responsibilities as the school's boys' basketball coach. "Although I think I've gotten their confidence, it was a leap of faith for me."
Faith is why Ogden, 52, has chosen a new vocation at an age when many of his contemporaries are contemplating early retirement. After 22 years in commercial real estate, Ogden is a rookie teacher. "I felt the Lord pulling me toward teaching," he says.
Thirty years ago Ogden was a divine 6'6" forward at Santa Clara. Led by Bud—and younger brother Ralph—the Broncos opened the season with 21 consecutive victories and would eventually play mighty UCLA for a berth in the Final Four. The Ogdens played with a grit developed over countless hours of competition on the family driveway in San Jose. "Dad was merciless," he says. "He would put us into the garage door."
Bud's father, Carlos, had shown his mettle in World War II, entering as a private and returning as a major with a Congressional Medal of Honor. Bud's toughness emerged in a different arena. In 1966-67 he set the Santa Clara single-game record with 55 points at Pepperdine. In '68 the 22-4 Broncos lost to UCLA in the Western Regional final. Santa Clara headed into a rematch with the Bruins in March '69 with a 27-1 record, but toppling UCLA in Lew Alcindor's final game at Pauley Pavilion proved too difficult. The Bruins won 90-52. "To be that close to the Final Four—it was heartbreaking," says Ogden.
Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the 1969 NBA draft, Ogden was given the nickname the Medium O by teammates. ( Oscar Robertson had dibs on the bigger moniker.) He averaged 3.5 points over two seasons and then was waived. He now lives in Santa Clara with his wife, Annie, and has two adult children from a previous marriage.
Ogden expects his students, born around the time Alcindor was winning his fourth NBA championship as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, will have trouble processing his cover status of three decades ago. "I can picture the kids saying, 'What? Mr. Ogden was on the cover of SI?' " he says. "I can't wait to see the looks on their faces."