Category Archives: Mizzou

The Animal

Why yes, I am a Redskin fan and I don’t believe in indian curses.  I think they were pounding their drums outside the stadium the last time we won the Super Bowl.  I was pleased when we drafted Iowa Hawkeye tackle Brandon Scherff as pick 5 in our first round draft choice.  Maybe GM Scot McCloughan knows what he’s doing.  Not sure on his wife.

Anyway, when the Redskins took Scherff, an outstanding college tackle, and converted him into a pulling guard, it made me think back 50 plus years when it happened to Mike Magac, the Animal.  Mike and I played football at the University of Missouri.  As I said, it was a few years back.

Mike and I grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois.  We referred to it back then as a tough industrial town.  In high school, we were not friends.  He was the quarterback at Assumption High and I was the QB at East Side High.  East Side never lost a game while I was in high school and we played and beat Assumption every year.  We were unbeaten in 42 games when I graduated and moved to MIZZOU.

Mike was 5′ 10″ and weighed 175 when he was in high school, but a year later when he arrived at MIZZOU, he was 6′ 3″ and weighed 225 pounds.  He still had the quickness and agility of a small guy, but the body of a really, really big guy.  Over his four years at MIZZOU, he became a terror and was All Big Eight (that’s right, back then there were only eight schools) his junior and senior years.  He also received All American honors.  Back then, there were no offensive or defensive teams.  We played both ways.  And Mike never left the field.  On a kick off, he crushed the ball carrier on the 15 yard line.  I think that was when everybody started calling him the Animal.  There was a local store in Columbia that would give a new pair of shoes to anyone who tackled a kick off return man inside the twenty.  Mike was real proud of his new shoes, but he had to give them back because of NCAA rules.

Mike’s sophomore year, he was having trouble passing ROTC.  Back in the 50’s all male students had to take two years of ROTC.  He and the other starting tackle, Norris Kelly, were flunking.  So the Athletic Department hired me to tutor Mike and Norris through the final ROTC exam.  One of the things you need to know is that all of the ROTC instructors were big football fans and wouldn’t want to be the reason that the Animal and Norris were ineligible.  The same test was given all day long, at 9 o’clock, at 10 o’clock, at 11 o’clock and Mike, Norris and I were scheduled to take the test at 4 o’clock.  We had a hot line setup to our dorm and the phone was ringing off the hook all day long.  By 3 o’clock we had heard all the questions and answers at least twice.

When we entered the exam room, we were assigned seats in the last row with me sitting between the Animal and Norris.  It was not necessary because they knew the answers better than I did.  In fact, while I was taking a break, one phone call came through that I missed.  So Mike and Norris got the question right and I missed it.  The question was what are the three ways an infantryman approaches his target.  Mike told me it was “walk, run or crawl.”  For some reason, it just seemed too dumb to me (something the Animal would make up).  Both Mike and Norris got B’s on the test and C’s in the course.  It’s just like Mike always said when asked how he managed to succeed – “Hard work, perseverance , and lots of study.”

Mike was a good looking guy, with tan hair and a few freckles on the pleasant face.  His body had the dimensions of a 150 pound wrestler.  He was just way, way bigger.  And he was quick like a cat. 

During practice our junior year, Mike and I got in a fight.  I don’t remember what started it, but once you arrive at that point, it is truly impossible to back down.  I stayed in close so he couldn’t whack me with one of those hams he had for arms.  It was right in the middle of practice and we were surrounded by players and coaches, so all I had to do was hang on until the players pulled us a part.  To me, it seemed a lot longer than it probably was.  We made up quickly and got back to practice.

Before my senior year, I quit the team, got married and started law school.  That had been my plan for some time.  Back then, a person could enter law school after just three years of undergraduate school.  So I went to law school and the team went to the Orange Bowl.  Before they left for Florida, the Animal and a few other friends dropped by the law library to say goodbye.  I suspected they were just pulling my chain, but it was still great to see them.  I was studying for first term exams and any distraction was appreciated.  As they got up to leave Mike said, “So long PJ, it was nice to meet you – – – again.”

Mike was drafted by San Francisco in the second round (the 16th overall pick – Don Meridith was the 32nd pick).  And like Brandon Scherff, he was converted from tackle to a pulling guard.  The Animal’s career lasted seven bruising years.  He told me the things that shortened his career were injuries and hanging out with Billy Kilmer!

Written by PJ Rice at

Copyright 2015

Fun Ball – MIZZOU B-Ball

What a fun season.  Fun, fun, fun.  Watching the Missouri Tigers play basketball is really fun.  The word “fun” when used with competitive sports usually sets me off.  When I hear a coach say, “I just want my boys to go out and have fun.”  I say, “Oh yeh?”  Fun is a code word for winning.

Think this through.  Is it fun to lose?  Is it fun to win?  Be honest now.  Well, there was the one coed volleyball game we lost in junior high.  Nah, it sucked.  If it is truly a competitive sport, how can anyone have fun while they are losing?  I’ll just mention in passing that during the three years I was in high school, we never lost a football game.  Old East Side High.  Fun.

So if MIZZOU is fun to watch, they must be winning.  But it is so much more.  It is all the things they do in the process of winning.  First, in the era where seven footers are bumping into each other on the court, MIZZOU’s starting line up is short.  They play a four guard offense.  The four guards range from 6′ 6″ to 5′ 10″.  Ricardo Ratliffe is the only decent size player on the floor.  He is 6′ 8″ and is leading the entire nation in field goal percentage.  Sure, a lot of his baskets are from around the bucket, but all these seven footers are also scoring under the bucket.  As soon as his hands touch the ball, it is in the basket.  No bouncing the ball, no faking one way and then the other, just fast as a magic trick.  Ratliffe was a two-year JUCO first team All American before he moved to Columbia.

Next, in an era when college basketball teams are permitted to have 13 players on scholorship, MIZZOU has seven.  Laurence Bowers would have been number eight, but he tore his ACL before the season started.  Well, I guess he is still #8, he just can’t play.  So in the course of the battle only two subs come off of the bench.  Coach Frank Haith, in his first year at MIZZOU, has done a great job of shuffling players so as to keep them fresh.

So they are small and there aren’t many of them, and right now, they are 23 and 2 and ranked 3rd in the nation!  Talk about fun!  On the one hand, they would have made great boy scouts because they are constantly helping others.  Exceedingly unselfish.  Then, on the other hand, they are a group of artful dodgers pilfering the ball with great skill AND turning in fast break points.

Michael Dixon started last year and has been relegated to “sixth man” this year.  He could have bitched and moaned, but he has just accepted the roll and has played a key part in some of MIZZOU’s victories.  He has Bobby Knight’s vote for the NCAA’s sixth man.  I didn’t know there was such a thing.  I wonder if there is a 7th man or an 8th man.  Did I mention the Dixon and Marcus Denman shoot over 90% from the free throw line?  Couple all that with the fact that we have five players who can hit a clutch 3-pointer (they average 8 per game and make close to 4 out of every 10) and you are beginning to see how much fun it can be to watch them.

Flip Pressey, our point guard, is leading the Big 12 in steals and second in assists. They are just an unselfish bunch.  Kim English opted for the NBA draft two years ago and wasn’t picked up.  Last year, he was nothing special, but this year the senior has won games with every aspect of his skills.

What lies ahead?  Well, teams lose and I expect MIZZOU will get upset somewhere down the line.  That won’t be fun.  They have to play Kansas in Kansas in a couple of weeks.  Then there’s the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA finals.  Regardless of what happens, it’s been fun.  MIZ-

Written by PJ Rice at

It’s Tough Being a MIZZOU Fan

I have a large magnetic helmet that I slap on the side of my car door during football season.   The helmet has a block “M” on it.  Periodically, someone will ask me when I went to Michigan.  What idiots.  There is probably no helmet more distinctive that Michigan’s and it certainly doesn’t have a block “M”.

It’s tough being a Mizzou fan out here on the East coast.  The Washington Post thinks any game played West of the Mississippi is a late start and they don’t post the score.

The NCAA tournament is getting ready to start and you can bet that the TV announcers will be showing the UCLA victory over Mizzou in 1995.  We are always the backdrop for some sensational or outrageous play.

In the UCLA game, we were ahead by one point and there were 4.8 seconds left in the game.  UCLA’s Tyus Edney got the ball under his own basket and raced down the court dodging Mizzou players.  He threw the ball up and scored just before the buzzer.  UCLA 75, Mizzou 74.  I’ll get to see that play at least five time in the next few weeks.  Hey, it was 14 years ago.  Give it a rest.

Did I mention that UCLA went on to win the NCAA championship that year.  Always the backdrop.  I got to thinking.  I’ll bet that damn thing is on You Tube.  Once you start thinking like that it’s kind of hard not to look.  Yep, it’s there.

In 1990, the Colorado Buffaloes were declared the college football national champions.  Would you like to hazard a guess as to whom they beat on the last play of the game, which happened to be their fifth down?  You are right.  It was Mizzou.  We got stuck with officials who couldn’t court past four.

After Colorado completed a pass and got a first down, the quarterback raced up and spiked the ball (down one).  They then ran a play and failed to score (down two).  Colorado called its last time out.  An official on the sideline failed to flip the down marker.  Colorado ran the ball again and Mizzou held (down three).  Then the QB spiked the ball again (down four!).  And, on the fifth down, Colorado scored to win the game.

My son, Paul, was at the game and he and many of the fans in the student section knew it was fifth down.  But who is going to listen to the screams of the student section?  It would have been nice if one of the Mizzou coaches would have known what down it was.  I refuse to look on You Tube.  It’s too depressing.

I’ve got to get this over fast.  Reliving these moments is not healthy.  In 1997, Mizzou is beating Nebraska and Big Red is down to its last play.  A pass is thrown to Nebraska’s Wiggins in the end zone.  Mizzou’s Julien Jones slaps the ball free from Wiggins’ hands.  Just before the ball hits the ground, Wiggins kicks the ball up in the air (you can’t to that) and another Nebraska player dives and catches the ball.  I thought it touched the ground, but there was no instant replay in 1997 and some official who was concentrating on getting the downs right called it a touchdown.  That tied the game and Nebraska prevailed in overtime.

In recent years, things have gotten better.  Our football teams have been winning (and beating up on Nebraska).  Mizzou’s basketball team is having a great year.  We are seeded third in the NCAA tournament with a 28-6 record.  We just won the Big 12 Tournament so I flipped open the Washington Post to see what it had to say about our beating Baylor for the championship.  The headline said, “Baylor’s Big 12 Run is Halted in Title Game.”  Well that’s the Washington Post.

I decided to go on line and see what the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had to say.  I needed something warm and fuzzy.  So, how does the Post-Dispatch headline read?  I couldn’t make this up.  It says, “It’s back to Boise for No. 3 seed Mizzou.  Tigers return to site of their heartbreaking loss to UCLA in 1995.”  Enough already!  Enough!

Mizzou Law Professors (Continued)

After writing my last article on my law professors, I thought I would get it out of my system.  I didn’t.  The thoughts keep flooding in.  Even though these experiences happened over 40 years ago, some are as vivid as yesterday.  And, each year, the stories enlarge and get better.

I mentioned in my last blog that Torts was also a six-hour, year-long course.  It was taught by Dean McCleary.  He had been the dean from 1939 to 1958 (I arrived in 1959).  Any number of times during the course of the year, he would hand out true-false questions.  Each time he would hand them out, he would say, “This is something I prepared for the boys coming home from the war [no, not the Korean War].  They might be helpful to you, but you will probably never see them again.”  I found out late in the second semester, by accident, from an upperclassman, that the true-false questions were always on the final exam.  All of them.  He told me the questions were always the same.  Sometimes the answers changed.

One day in class, Dean McCleary called on me.  I just didn’t hear the question.  So, I said, “I’m sorry sir, what was that?”  Dean McCleary didn’t hear too well and he responded, “That’s right, a question of fact,” and fired another question at me.  The good news for me was that as Dean McCleary asked each question, he would nod his head up and down or sideways.  All I had to do was observe his head and answer the question accordingly.  I must have answered a dozen questions, all correctly, without having a clue as to what he was talking about.

In the previous article, I mentioned Professor “Rosie the Goose” Anderson.  Rosie taught Remedies and his exams were notorious.  Upperclassmen told me that you had to make sure you inserted the magic words in answering his exams.  The trouble was, no one knew the magic words.  The day before the exam, he went to the chalk board to discuss it.  He wrote an 80 on the board and said, “There are 80 points in the exam.  If you get 60 of them, you get an “A.”  If you get 40, you get a “B.”  I felt like I was listening to a pitch man at the carnival.  “Come right up and knock over the pins and you take home a Kewpie Doll.”  I vaguely remember Rosie saying that 28 points will get you a “C.”

After the exam, I checked and Rosie gave out one “A” and two “B”s.  The rest of the class got “C”s and “D”s.  So much for the 50% “B.”  We were still looking for the magic words.

I participated in the light opera spoof of the faculty.  I was to play Professor Willard L. Eckhardt.  Professor Eckhardt was renowned throughout the state for his treaties on real property law.  He co-authored his books with Professor Peterson.  Professor Eckhardt wore a 1940’s type hat with a wide brim.  I needed to find such a hat for the performance, but wasn’t having much luck.  Then, a few weeks before the performance, Professor Eckhardt approached me and offered me one of his older wide-brimmed hats.  It was the real deal.

I played Eck and Hank Westbrooke played Pete (Professor Peterson).  We sang our song to the music of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore.  The issue addressed was who should be the dean.  Our lyrics went like this:

    I’m Eck, I’m Pete, Co-authors we
    The Keaton and Prosser of the Faculty
    If we keep on writing at our present pace
    We’ll outsell Tobacco Road and Peyton Place.

    Together we’re twice as witty and wise
    As any one of these other guys.

    We collaborate on our books it’s true
    But it’s not hard to figure where the credit’s due
    I work day and night and I never miss a thing
    Yes, watching the construction on the new west wing.

    Two deans is what this school requires
    Yes, one for the boozers and one for the dry’s.

Then came the Finale with every performer singing.

    Now you may question the propriety
    Of our castigation of the faculty
    And we realize with some remorse
    That the Dean and the professors have the last recourse.

    But, if we succeeded to amuse you all
    We really don’t object to flunking out at all.


Law School Professors at MIZZOU

It doesn’t take much to get a lawyer talking about his law school professors.  During that three-year law school experience, the law professors were bigger than life.  I have heard so many times a lawyer tell me, “I don’ think anybody can match the cast of characters I had as law professors.”  After hearing that often enough, I decided that maybe my situation wasn’t unique.  But, then I thought, they didn’t have Rosie the Goose or the Gray Fox.

Professor Anderson was referred to as Rosie the Goose.  It may have had to do with the way his head moved up and down when he talked – or perhaps the high pitched squawks that came out while he explained a point.  He taught Remedies and I never figured out what he was getting at.  One day while we were waiting for him to arrive, a third year student stepped to the front of the classroom and put a large egg in the professor’s seat.  I suspected it was a goose egg, but don’t know that I had ever seen one.  It was clearly too large to be a chicken egg.  The student ducked into the back of the room and in came Rosie.

He stopped as he got to his seat.  I guess examining the seat before sitting comes from years of teaching experience.  He starred at the egg.  There were snickers running around the room.  Not me.  I was holding my breath and hoping nothing bad would happen to me as a member of the irreverent class.  Rosie picked up the egg and examined it.  He then exclaimed in his high pitched voice, “I presume this was laid by the last professor.”  The class roared and that seemed to please Rosie.  When the class finally settled down, we returned to the study of law.

Professor William H. Pittman was the Gray Fox.  He was very distinguished looking with gray to white hair and mustache.  By the time I was a student, we probably should have called him the White Fox.  But, in fact, he was universally known just as the Fox.

The Fox taught first year Contracts.  It was a six hour course – three hours the first semester and three hours the second semester.  The problem was there was only one exam and it came at the end of the year.  So you would go the entire year without knowing how you were doing (Torts was the same).  It made for a long anxious year.

The Fox, like most professors of that time, used the Socratic method of teaching.  He would call on a student to recite on a particular case and then pose questions to the student until the student was unable to construct a thought.  When he called on me I was clueless.  The issue was what constitutes the acceptance to an offer.  I had done my homework.  I knew the facts.  I knew the court’s rationale.  And, further, I knew that the present day law was consistent with the court’s opinion.  But, the Fox kept showing me that the court’s opinion didn’t make sense.  I would agree with him.  Then, he would ask me what the present day law was and we would start the cycle over again.  Finally, he called on someone else.  I felt foolish, but relieved.

The Fox also could lean way back in his chair and while looking at the chalk board upside down, write clearly.  It didn’t help.  Contracts just didn’t make any sense.  We were told by upperclassmen that we would wake up on Easter morning and it would all become clear.  Easter came and went.  Nothing was clear.  How far could I get with “a contract consists of an offer, an acceptance and consideration?”

I went to see Professor Pittman.  I think I told him that while I was preparing everyday, it just wasn’t coming together for me.  He was very pleasant and we talked for about twenty minutes (he talking – me listening).  I think what he was telling me was that he considered his role in the classroom not to teach me Contracts, but to teach me how to think.  The problem was the the final exam would expect me to know Contracts.  I went out and bought a Contracts hornbook.

Sometime toward the end of the second semester, I was shocked when I heard a student tell the Fox, “Professor, that doesn’t make any sense.”  I never heard the Fox raise his voice.  He just quietly said, “What do you mean?”  The student said, “If the facts are one way and you get the results of this case, then if you change all the facts to the other way, you will get the opposite result.”  The Fox said, “Can you give me an example?”  The student paused, then said, “If you have a force moving in one direction and you get one result, then, if the force moves in exactly the opposite direction, you will get exactly the opposite result.”  The Fox smiled and said, “Try that on the door when you leave.”  The door only opened in one direction.

As I said earlier, I never heard the Fox raise his voice.  Plus, he would write on the board without leaving his chair.  His lay back approach to teaching law was noted when, in my second year, the students put on a “light opera” spoofing the faculty.  Here is what we sang about the Fox.  “Conserving strength for the days ahead, teaching all his law, like he’s tucked in bed.”

I graduated with very close to a “B” average.  But I never fooled the Fox.  He gave me all “C’s.”

My Last Undergrad Course at Mizzou

I mentioned in a previous blog that I went to college on a three and three program – three years undergraduate and three years of law school.  That meant that I graduated from undergraduate school at the end of my first year of law school.  The real trick was to make sure I got all my required courses completed during the first three years.  Each year, every course had to take care of some requirement – so many hours of math and science, so many hours of English and a bundle of hours in my political science major.  I really worked at it, because if I screwed up, I wouldn’t graduate.

It was tight, but it worked out.  In fact, that last semester, I had three hours left with no requirement.  I could take anything I wanted.  This was kind of a treat.  I sat down with the University of Missouri catalog of courses and just started in.  As you will see, if you don’t know what you are doing, it is not a good idea.  I found a course called, “Early Roman History.”  The synopsis sounded like a fun course, so I took it.

It turned out that I enjoyed the course.  The reading material wasn’t bad and the professor was a delight.  I did notice that many of the students asked a lot of follow-up questions.  I just assumed that they were enjoying the course as much as I was.  The professor was Dean Thomas A. Brady whom I had never heard of.  It turned out he was a legend among the faculty and in later years, the new student commons was renamed the Thomas A. Brady Commons (Brady Commons).

The course had two exams
, a mid-term and a final.  The mid-term turned out to be pretty straight forward and I thought I did OK.  When the grades came out, I had gotten a “D.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I hadn’t gotten a D in my entire life.  The fellow who sat next to me noticed I was distressed and asked me what was the matter.  Before we finished talking, I discovered that I was the only undergraduate participating in this graduate level History course.  Everyone else in the class was pursuing a masters degree in History.  Boy, did I feel dumb.

I shifted gears.  I really started studying Early Roman History.  I also checked out Dean Brady.  It turned out that in the previous semester he had taught a course in Early Greek History.  His final exam consisted of one question, “From whence cometh the Greek genius?”  Egads!  My one free course had turned into a nightmare.

The final exam was on Tuesday, June 2nd at 9:00 AM.  You ask how I remember?  Well, I was getting married on Saturday, June 6th.  I should have been excited about the wedding, but I was focused on aqueducts and the Roman Senate.  There I sat, hoping I was ready for the challenge.  I felt ready.  At 9 o’clock, the dean had not arrived.  By 10 after, everyone was wondering what was going on.  One female student mentioned that the dean’s office was in the same building and she would be glad to go over and check.  She was told to sit down – that it was the professor’s responsibility to show up.  I guess that’s stuff you learn in graduate school.  They all agreed that we only had to wait 20 minutes and then, we could leave.  I held my breath.  The time expired and everyone scooted out of the room.

I took my last final on Thursday and then dropped by Dean Brady’s office to find out my fate.  Dean Brady told me that he was sorry he had missed the final, but that something had come up.  I wondered whether they would let a student get away with such a lame excuse.  He continued by saying, “Mr. Rice, I have a grade for you.  You can either take the grade or take the examination.  If you take the exam, your grade may end up higher, the same or lower than the grade I have for you.”  I asked what grade he had for me.  He said, “It is a ‘C’.”  I said, “I’ll take it.”  I took it and ran (my Momma didn’t raise no fools).

When Law School Had a Cutting Edge

Yes, I did go to law school.  There was a time, before law schools existed, when a person would learn law by clerking as an apprentice in a lawyer’s office.  I’m not that old.  But, I have to admit the rules of admission to law schools were a lot different when I started.

Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT), what’s that?  There was no LSAT when I went to the University of Missouri.  All a student had to have to enter law school was 90 hours and 90 Honor Points (one hour of “C” gave you one Honor Point).  Easy to get in, hard to graduate.  Since practically anyone could get in, the school flunked out about a third the first year.

I remember a third-year law student talking to our class the first day.  He said, “Look at the student to your left and now, look at the student to your right.  One of the three of you will not be back next year.  That was scary, particularly since the people on my left and right looked pretty smart.

While most of my classmates already had a degree, I was one of those eager beavers who had entered law school at the end of my third year with 90 plus hours.  I had gotten all my required courses out of the way during my first three years.  But, I needed to pass my first year of law school to receive my undergraduate degree.

I had just gotten married, which was a good thing.  While it piled on more pressure, it certainly kept me focused.  I was still completing my fourth year of ROTC, and if I flunked out of law school, I suspect I would have been drafted and had no degree.  Maybe I could learn to be a pastry chef at Fort Lee’s Culinary Art Institute.  On top of all that, I had quit the football team to go to law school and the team ended up going to the Orange Bowl!

About half way through my first semester, we were instructed to report to a classroom to take an aptitude test.  We were advised that the test would have no affect on us as law students.  They just wanted us as a “base group.”  Looking back, I suspect it was some form of an early LSAT test.

There were 60 multiple choice questions and the test was to last one hour.  Being a math wizard, I figured out I had one minute per question.  The monitor explained it was not a good idea to guess, because a wrong answer hurt more than leaving the question blank.  I was amazed at how little I knew.  With about five minutes left, I had answered about 25 questions.  So much for time management.  I walked out of the classroom despondent.  If this test indicated aptitude to be a lawyer, I needn’t look to my left or right.

One of my classmates had his undergraduate degree in Agriculture.  That seemed strange to me.  While I had no degree, I had hopes that at the end of the year I would have a degree in Political Science.  But Agriculture?  Finally, I had to ask.  He looked at me disgustingly and said, “I’m going to law school because I couldn’t make the cut to get into veterinary school!”

The first semester wouldn’t tell me much.  Two of my courses (Contracts and Torts) were year long courses and I wouldn’t get a grade until June.  Because of ROTC,  I was only taking 12 law school hours.  At the end of the semester, I would only have grades in Civil Procedure and Legal Professions (an ethics course).  Neither would tell me much about aptitude to be a lawyer.

While studying in the law library, a bunch of my football buddies came by to tell me to study hard while they were in Miami.  While they were jerking me around, it still felt good to see them.  If things didn’t work out, maybe I could be a public relations guy for an athletic program.

At the end of a stress filled year of doubt, the grades trickled in and I had passed everything.  I graduated from undergraduate school and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Field Artillery.   Also, I was deferred from active duty for two years to finish law school.  No more thoughts about going to Fort Lee to become a pastry chef.  But the emptiness of the Orange Bowl will always be there.