Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Proud to see talent, and sorry to see it go

I wouldn’t pretend to be psychic, because supernatural forces are elusive and mostly foreign to me.
In other words, crystal ball gazing is an inexact science, and not to be dabbled in by amateurs.

But some things are so readily apparent and easy to predict that little risk is involved in making bold predictions.

I made such a prediction at the annual dinner of the Lake County chapter of the Kent State University Alumni Association when Darrell Hazell was introduced as the new football coach of the team we lovingly call the Golden Flashes.

The dinner was at Hellriegel’s Inn in Painesville Township, and the lady of the house and I haven’t missed one of them in I don’t know how long.

Hazell spoke with enthusiasm about the team he would lead into the wilds of the Mid-America Conference.

“This guy is a winner,” I exclaimed to anyone who would listen. “He is going places. Kent State has a fine football program, but it won’t be long before he advances to a higher level.”

Not that the MAC isn’t high level. But the Big Ten (it must be the Big 12 or the Big 14 by now the way it keeps adding schools) is generally held in higher esteem as a more prestigious league when it comes to high grade college football.

The more Hazell spoke, the more I became convinced that Kent State would not be able to hang onto him very long. And he hadn’t even won a game yet!

But as the Flashes kept winning game after game last season, a terrific season that will culminate when they play Arkansas State in the Go Daddy Bowl a week from today, I kept trying to envision where he would land.

It’s gotta be the Big Ten, I mused.

And sure enough, before I could look into the virtually unused crystal ball and see the word “Purdue” in there somewhere, the announcement was made.

Darrell would be coaching the Boilermakers of Purdue next season.

That’s good for him, and for grads like Bill Bares, the retired Lubrizol CEO who is a Boilermaker through and through — and a most successful one at that.

But it will be Kent’s loss. Maybe the alumni association will bring the new coach to Hellrigel’s this year so we can size him up and try to figure out if he also is Big Ten material.

Meanwhile, I have a priceless — to me — souvenir from that last dinner. I shouted out the answer to a trivia question, and I became the winner of a miniature Kent State football helmet, smaller than a loaf of bread, autographed by Darrell Hazell in silver writing on a blue background, and under a plastic cover.

It sits on the front edge of my desk. It is not for sale.

Let’s hear it for the WRJSL

I was rummaging the other day on my desk (an excellent place to rummage) and I found, well down in the stack, a note from Carolyn Blackwell.

It was about the 50th year of service to the community by the Western Reserve Junior Service League. Carolyn is one of my favorite singers (she was bold enough to suggest a few years ago that we sing a duet in the Red Stocking Revue, a pipe dream that never materialized). She was looking for some publicity on the league’s anniversary.

I didn’t recall ever seeing it in the paper. I called and asked her if it was. She said it wasn’t.
Well, let’s — right here and now — do something about that.

In its 50 years of service to the community, the WRJSL has raised and donated more than $1 million to local charities and organizations.

It is an outstanding organization that works mainly behind the scenes doing good deeds in the community and which is best known for its Red Stocking Revue (members call it “The Follies”) each odd-numbered year, and its Candlelight Ball held each December at Kirtland Country Club.

So I am delighted to toot the horn, so to speak, for the WRJSL and wish its wonderful ladies the best of everything in the next 50 years, including next year’s Follies.

Carolyn signed off by saying: “Thank-you for your continued support of us, and we hope to see you on stage again this spring in the 2013 Red Stocking Revue.”

Perhaps, Carolyn, perhaps. I am no great stage talent, but I will say this: I did a much better job a few years ago singing “Just a Gigolo” than either Bob Patterson or Dan Dunlap.

In fact, it wasn’t even close.


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