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Women’s Basketball Commentary: Miller no longer with SBT

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Women’s basketball is a little bit different this season.

It has nothing to do with the seniors who graduated, including Charel Allen, one of the best ever.

Nor is it the incoming freshmen, even though they comprised another top 15 recruiting class for coach Muffet McGraw and her staff.

The biggest change is one that the casual fan might not recognize.

Woody Miller isn’t writing for the South Bend Tribune.

Forrest “Woody” Miller has been covering basketball for the Tribune for as long as anyone can remember, including McGraw, who has been the head coach at the University for over 20 years. He is also the longtime Notre Dame baseball and South Bend Silver Hawks reporter for the Tribune.

It’s not hard to wrack up that kind of resume when you’ve been with the same paper for more than 50 years.

But the real shame in this change is that Woody was let go as one of the 56 employees cut loose from the Tribune because of the growing economic crisis. This is not to say the paper could have refrained from firing anyone, but by letting Woody go, they let go a piece of Tribune – and Notre Dame – history.

Woody was inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame in 2004, and started working with the paper in 1955. He has covered Irish baseball since then, including the team’s two trips to the College World Series (1957 and 2002).

Woody was there when Digger and the men’s basketball team knocked off No. 1 UCLA. He was there at the program’s Final Four in 1978 in St. Louis. He went back to St. Louis in 2001 to cover McGraw’s team’s win over Purdue for the NCAA Championship.

Despite his advanced age, he still has a great mind for basketball and for sports writing. His stories are remarkable in their consistency, and will always give you every fact you need to know. He knows the ins and outs of every team the Irish face, and would make as good a scout for McGraw as he was a writer for the Tribune.

Woody also didn’t have any trouble following the team. I have covered the women’s team the last two seasons, and Woody has faithfully shown up for every interview and every game, pen and pad in hand. And even while I sit at a computer watching the gametracker, Woody travels all over the country every game to watch the Irish. Not just because he has to, but also because he is a genuine fan of the team.

When the Irish played at Eastern Michigan on Dec. 2, Woody was still there, even if not for the Tribune.

“He came as a fan. He and his wife drove up. He’s a season ticket holder. I feel like he’s going to be part of the fan base and certainly part of the program for us,” McGraw said in a phone interview with The Observer.

McGraw said that, even though he was in Ypsilanti, it was strange not seeing him in the postgame press conference.

“He’s been there so many years, and traveling with us the last, I don’t know how many years,” McGraw said. “Just having him there was like having a little bit of home. You knew who he was and knew he was going to be there for us,” she said.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Jay Fitzpatrick at [email protected]