- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Allen's advice and opinions are trumpeted in the tones that brought him his nickname. During Phog's early coaching days at Kansas a student sportswriter heard him umpiring a baseball game and promptly dubbed him "Foghorn." Soon the label was bastardized to "Phog" by a scribe named Ward (Pinhead) Coble who decided he wanted "to doll it up."
Not so with Phog's fantastic record. Allen is the only college basketball coach anywhere whose teams have won more than 700 games—his over-all record standing at 752 won and 220 lost. He has won or shared 31 conference titles at Kansas, finished worse than second only nine times in 44 seasons. KU has been in six of the 16 NCAA play-offs since they started in 1939, reaching the finals three times, and winning once—in 1952.
It's not easy to find a satisfactory tribute for a man of Phog Allen's stature, but his friends in Kansas have worked out a couple of ideas. Last week the legislature passed a special resolution permitting Allen to remain on the KU payroll for three years past the mandatory retirement age of 70, which he reaches next November. Although the university is not sure it can arrange this extension, it has another honor ready. The new $2.5 million athletic plant, with its 17,000-seat basketball gym, will be christened Allen Fieldhouse, defying a tradition that no KU buildings should be named for living men. It is a reasonable concession to a man whose athletes have already worn out two gymnasiums during his coaching career.
They will tell you in Kansas that where Phog Allen is, controversy can't be far behind. So it was in 1944 when Phog first warned that gamblers were toying with college basketball. " Allen's hogwash," was the retort of Nat Holman, whose CCNY players were caught deep in the mire of the subsequent scandal six years later. While press and rival coaches accused Allen of losing faith in basketball and American youth, he stuck to his guns and had the sad satisfaction of being proved correct.
Lately Phog Allen has again raised the storm warnings on gambling. During a TV interview in Topeka he told of an attempt by "a big cigar" to fix the referee of a recent Midwestern game (the referee has since denied it). "Gambling is again rearing its ugly serpentine head and threatening basketball," Phog thundered over the air. "The same guys that used to be in this ugly business are back in it. They're just a little more coy and careful now. And there are teams right now that are in business for themselves, and nobody else."
Before he bows out of basketball, Phog Allen would like to see the colleges appoint an athletic czar to police such evils as gambling. "Unless we have enforcement," he has warned, "some more fine American kids are going to be dragged into the slime." Not that Dr. Forrest Clare Allen believes in babying athletes; after all, he sometimes gets his teams in the right mood for a game by showing them movies of a mongoose and a cobra fighting to the death.
INTO THE WILD BLUE