Jerry Tarkanian had my attention early in his coaching career not just because he had exciting, athletic teams, was always battling with the NCAA and was fun to watch on the sideline with the unique way he would chew on a folded up white towel.
One of Tarkanian’s star players in the late 70s was Glen Gondrezick. One of his brothers, George Gondrezick, played at Colorado State and lived on the same dorm floor as I did so we had a vested interest in watching UNLV and the Tark.
From that point on I enjoyed watching the Runnin’ Rebels.
Little did I know about 25 years later I would be one of a few sitting watching a Billy Gillispie-led Aggie practice, with Tarkanian doing the same.
It’s frowned upon as a reporter to ask for autographs. But I had a great idea and I figured since I was there on my own time it wouldn’t hurt anybody, so I got one of the A&M trainers to get me a towel and I had Tarkanian sign it. I still have it in my sports room.
Then my latest link with Tarkanian was late last fall talking to A&M soccer star Allie Bailey, who was a great niece of “Tark the Shark.”
She told me then he was not doing well. In fact, it was the first thing she told me.
She also said he had come to a football game at A&M and just loved his time here.
But what meant a lot to her was when he attended one of the Aggies’ soccer games in San Diego.
“That was really special to me because I know that him and his family have been following me since I’ve been here,” Bailey said. “It’s always great to have any family members at my games. I know that since he had done so well in college athletics coaching and I know that he has been really proud of me.”
Bailey’s cousin, Tarkanian’s granddaughter, played basketball at Northwestern and Bailey added Tark would keep up with every one’s athletics.