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Flashing my cool

March 26, 2002|BY BOB MAGINNIS

Move it on over Barbara Mandrell.

So what if you've been country before country was cool.

In some countries it still isn't ... when was the last time you've seen anyone in France or Italy doing the Boot Scoot Boogie.

Please, Babs, head to the back of the stagecoach. You haven't even begun to suffer.

You see, I was Kent State before Kent State was en vogue.

I'm throwing open the cellar door and climbing out of the basement. March had become time to say proudly, I GRADUATED FROM KENT STATE IN 1980.

While all you basketball junkies spent the last three weeks falling in love with the Golden Flashes to fan the eternal flame of hope in your NCAA brackets, I've bitten my lip. I admit I didn't fawn all over them like Dick Vitale and some of the others.

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I snicker as my alma mater replaced Benji and Lassie as this year's lovable mutts of the tournament. Kent went out and out-zigged the Zags.

Still, my emotions have been dulled by the bad, old days.

You see, I'm used to being the guy who "graduated from that Ohio school where they shoot students which is located southeast of the 'Mistake by the Lake.'" Never guess how many times I was reminded of it. It's amazing what amuses some small minds.

I haven't been much for wearing any KSU garb, though, as I did when I was younger. I quietly watched the Flashes make their move while some of my former classmates have been hyperventilating to me via e-mail.

If you must know, I have a Kent State basketball pedigree. I went to Kalamazoo and back with the Flashes as the team's manager from 1976-80 (I'm a three-year letterman).

I was there when a Michigan transfer named Burrell McGhee became Kent's all-time leading scorer, a mark that stood until Trevor Huffman claimed that spot this season.

Those were the lean years for athletics. The basketball team toiled to reach .500 while the football team floundered, just trying to win a game.

We were everybody's favorite home opener. Big Ten teams like Illinois and Iowa did everything but fly the plane to get us in town ... we were the cream center when it came to cupcakes.

My Kent teams had their moments of glory, but they were far and few between to those of these Flashes.

So, pardon me while I gloat.

First Kent KOed OK State. Then it put the slammer on Alabama. And it finished it up with knocking Pitt into the pits.

All were top 25 teams and Kent did it with poise and precision of offensive execution. Teams from the so-called mid-majors like the Mid-American Conference are supposed to tumble like a deck of Hoyle's.

It came down to the Golden Flashes being out-Hoosiered by Indiana to end the magnificent run. That Elite Eight game was the dime store special, between the five and 10 seeds.

It ended what was nine days in the spotlight for the Flashes. Maybe it might help the world forget the darkness of one day in May some 32 years ago. Back then, a different kind of "guards" were being noticed on my campus.

So, congratulations Maryland. You may have made it to the Final Four, but you were supposed to be there and it would have been a disappointment if you would have been exited before next weekend.

But, my Flashes conjured up some fond memories for me this week as they lived up to their name.

They were Golden. And if that isn't cooler than country, I don't know what is.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears regularly. He can be reached at 301-733-5131 ext. 2310 or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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