News From Terre Haute, Indiana

August 14, 2012

RAMBLIN’ RECK: Olympic debate: Phelps greatest of all?

Tom Reck
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Summer Olympic Games are history and many fans will be going to bed at their regular hour instead of staying up to watch the NBC coverage.

We didn’t watch every day but liked what we saw. NBC did a nice job.

The main issue that came out of the Games is where to rate swimmer Michael Phelps. Is he the greatest Olympian of all time and is he one of the greatest athletes?

By virtue of winning the record 22 medals in four Olympics, 18 of them gold, he has to be considered one of the greatest ever to compete in the Olympics, if not the greatest.

Swimmers, of course, have more chances to win more medals. But they first have to qualify for those events and then they must earn places to earn medals.

Phelps did both with hours and hours of practice and poise in the pool.

We consider him the greatest Olympian of all time but not one of the greatest athletes.

It was good to see the U.S. win gold in basketball again but it doesn’t seem the same as the time when only amateurs played in the Games. Those days are not likely to return.

We watched the closing ceremonies Sunday night and enjoyed most of the telecast.

It was a musical feast of sorts with Queen, The Who, George Michael, Spice Girls and others featured in the show.

Rio is the site of the next Summer Games and put on its own little program that featured the appearance of soccer legend Pele.

Pick ’em — ESPN The Magazine is the latest publication to offer picks for the college season.

Twenty in-house experts made their picks and came up with the following Top 25 headed by Southern Cal.

Top 10 — USC, LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Georgia, Florida State, Michigan, West Virginia, South Carolina.

Second 15 — Arkansas, Michigan State, Stanford, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Clemson, Texas, TCU, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Florida, Boise State, Notre Dame.

One of the early potentially interesting games matching ranked teams is Boise State at Michigan State. Another is Stanford vs. USC.

We’ll see.

Tom-Cattin’ It — Former Purdue cager Robbie Hummel will forego a possible NBA career to play in a pro league in Spain. He was a second-round draft pick of Minnesota in the NBA.

• Kevin Durant set a Summer Games record in basketball with 34 3-pointers, shooting 52 percent from beyond the arc.

• Jay Cutler did not play at all in the Chicago Bears’ game with Denver last week and Peyton Manning was in for one series as Denver won.

• Erica Hanrahan, formerly an assistant at Boston College, is the new softball coach at DePauw. She is only the third coach for the sport since it gained varsity status in 1996.

• Scott Sparks is the new women’s basketball coach at Lincoln Trail. He played at Vincennes Lincoln and Vincennes University. His dad is former VU coach Dan Sparks.

• Jerry Sichting has been hired as an assistant by the Washington Wizards.

• Creighton will play Wisconsin and Arkansas faces Arizona State in the Last Vegas Invitational for men’s basketball teams.

Butler and Illinois both are in the Maui Invitational. The Bulldogs face Marquette in the first round and the Illini meet Southern Cal.

In other games, it is North Carolina vs. Mississippi State and Texas vs. Chaminade.

• Motorcycles will be on the course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with four races in three days.

• Rachael Pruett of Linton qualified for the U.S. Women’s Amateur last week. She did not qualify for match play in the event loaded with international players.

• Cincinnati will retire Barry Larkin’s No. 11 jersey. He recently was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

• Three of the former contestants returning to an all-star edition of Dancing With The Stars are IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves, former football great Emmitt Smith and gymnast Shawn Johnson.

Tom Reck may be contacted by telephone at (812) 232-3231, by email at or by mail at 4284 South 5th Street, Apt. 3, Terre Haute, IN, 47802.