UNO Hall of Fame induction of Floyd, Gaille, McCalebb, Schmidt, Craig deserved
The University of New Orleans carries the name of our city.
It is truly a reflection of our community, with the preponderance of its graduates making their homes in and contributing to the economy and the betterment of our metropolitan area.
Athletics at the University of New Orleans have enjoyed a rich history, led by the likes of Ron Maestri in baseball, Ron Greene, Benny Dees, Tim Floyd and Tic Price in basketball, Burzis Kanga in tennis, Bob Brown in golf, Joey Favaloro in women’s basketball and many more.
There have been many great administrators, athletes and coaches over the seven decades of Privateer athletics.
Growing up here, I was blessed to attend baseball games on the main campus, where Maestri had a temporary facility with a snow fence and built a national power, transitioning to Privateer Park in 1979.
I was fortunate to attend games at the Health and PE Center, affectionately known as “The Chamber of Horrors,” where Greene, Butch Van Breda Kolff and Don Smith’s terrorized opponents before packed houses.
In 1982, I got on board doing University of New Orleans basketball and baseball telecasts on WYES, WGNO and Cox Communications.
In 1986, I became the play-by-play voice of the Privateers on radio, doing so with the exception of one season, through 1992 and continued doing UNO games through 1994.
In 2001, I was offered an opportunity to return to UNO in a senior administrative capacity while returning to do play-by-play on radio, doing so through 2006.
The experience allowed me to view the many successes and greats of the respective sports.
Tonight, four of those greats, along with a wonderful contributor, are being inducted into the University of New Orleans Athletic Hall of Fame.
I am blessed to know all five, to have covered the three athletes and the coach, along with working with the special contributor among them.
Tim Floyd arrived at the University of New Orleans in 1988.
UNO had enjoyed success under Benny Dees, making the NCAA tournament and winning an NCAA tournament game and there was an NIT season after Dees departed for Wyoming.
Floyd came in, hired great coaches, recruited well, coached extremely well and established the consistently high success rate on the Division I level that the program had been seeking.
Floyd spent six seasons at UNO, making five postseason tournaments, including two NCAA tournament appearances in his tenure.
I was blessed to spend a few of those years calling his games and hosting his radio show.
Floyd was demanding and personable, at the same time.
He loved and still loves fishing.
As good as Tim was and he was simply superb, one vivid memory is how he would always forget ties and sports coats on road trips. Of course, the tie would never stay in place throughout a game, anyway.
Floyd loved New Orleans and loved his job at UNO under Maestri.
It was an incredibly difficult decision for him to leave for Iowa State, one which he initially had decided to turn down and stay.
Though he went on to great success in the college game and served as an NBA head coach of the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets, Floyd truly left his heart in New Orleans. He poured his heart and soul into his work with the Privateers.
Rick Gaille was a great friend of mine.
I was humbled and choked back tears when asked to speak at his funeral in 2018.
I came to know Rick after his golfing days at UNO, first, as an assistant football coach at Chalmette, then at Rummel before he went to Tulane and Bonnabel. Rick found his calling as a brilliant head coach at St. James, taking the Wildcats to three state championship games in 19 years.
When he was undeservingly let go, I immediately contacted Rick and got him involved in my radio shows, with our website, now CrescentCitySports.com and with our television shows on WHNO.
Rick attacked the media industry with vigor, candor and consummate professionalism. He was a very intelligent man and a true voice of reason. Rick believed in tradition, honor, disciple and excellent and coined the “THDE” phrase at St. James, which the school still carries on today.
Gaille loved his faith, his wife, Elaine, football and golf.
The latter was his calling at UNO, where he was the first scholar-athlete to ever sign with UNO and he was a brilliant performer from 1969-72.
Rick was a 3-time All-American and led UNO to a pair of national championships. He went on to win the Louisiana Open and the New Orleans Amateur championships.
Had he wanted to, Gaille had the ability and the competitive nature to become a professional golfer and I have no doubt he would have been a good one.
Instead, he pursued his passion for football and was the ultimate student and teacher of the game, particularly the fabled Wing-T offense which he worshipped.
It was emotional for me to be asked to do the video for Rick’s induction.
Bo McCalebb was a freak of nature.
Listed at 6-foot tall, that was a bit generous. Bo was small in stature. Throughout his basketball journey, people doubted him.
He developed an attitude, an amazing competitive nature and was determined to prove those wrong. That is exactly what happened.
McCalebb was a scoring machine. He could get where he wanted, when he wanted and knew why. He simply knew how to score and could do so on anyone. Amazingly, Bo got to the rim and finished, most often against taller, much taller players.
Though his brilliant career ended at UNO in 2008, McCalebb still remains the leading scorer in UNO and Sun Belt Conference history.
On so many occasions, calling his games, “Look at Bo go” or “Bo knows basketball” entered into my vocabulary trying to describe his exploits.
McCalebb was as good as, if not the best player I ever saw for his size calling college games.
Augie Schmidt was an amazing player for a great program and team.
His 1982 team narrowly missed going to the College World Series, something the Privateers and Maestri would achieve two years later. UNO was 49-16 that season and it was a pleasure to cover the Privateers, who lost to eventual national runner-up Wichita State in the South Regional at Privateer Park.
Unlike McCalebb, Schmidt looked the part. Augie was a big shortstop, who had good range and a very good arm. Schmidt could really hit.
UNO made three straight NCAA tournaments with Schmidt on hand from 1980-82.
In his junior season, Schmidt hit .372 with 14 home runs and slugged .676 and was named first team All-American by every major entity.
Schmidt then captured the Golden Spikes Award, symbolic of the nation’s top college baseball player.
Augie was a tremendous player and was drafted second overall in the 1982 Major League Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
A testament to his greatness, Schmidt was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
Scot Craig is the contributor. Born and raised, the Brother Martin and University of New Orleans graduate is immensely proud of both fine institutions.
Craig entered the restaurant business and has done a masterful job with Katie’s in Mid-City, Francesca’s Deli, Pizzeria and Catering and Bienvenue on Hickory.
Scot and I have become good friends, with UNO, high school sports, food, and the St. Louis Cardinals as common interests and loves of our lives.
It is always a blast to do our Three Tailgaters Show with Ed Daniels, Scot and me from Francesca’s.
Scot also hosts our Ken Trahan’s Original Prep Football Report show Friday night’s at Francesca’s.
More importantly, Scott has championed the University of New Orleans for many years as an ardent supporter, attending games regularly, feeding players and coaches enthusiastically and sharing the gospel of Privateer athletics with all he encounters. At Katie’s, you can order the “Oysters Slessinger” in honor of the current UNO men’s basketball coach while the “all you can eat catfish” honors Dean.
This morning, UNO held a brunch for the honorees, with Floyd and McCalebb attending. I was grateful to be invited and it was great to visit with great friends, including Maestri, Dean, Slessinger, Kanga, Mike Bujol, Will Peneguy, Ro Brown and others.
New University of New Orleans Chancellor Kathy E. Johnson, Athletic Director Tim Duncan and Assistant Vice President of Athletics Steve Stroud were on hand and deserve credit for the Hall of Fame activities. Current men’s basketball coach Mark Slessinger and current baseball coach Blake Dean were there as well, transitioning into Lakefront Arena in 1982.
It was the kickoff to Homecoming Weekend for the University of New Orleans, which concludes with the UNO men hosting SUNO tomorrow at 4 p.m. in a game you can listen to on NASH ICON 106.1 FM.
Due to my commitment to our six hour Ken Trahan’s Original Prep Football Report tonight on 106.1 FM and at www.nashfm1061.com, I cannot attend the Hall of Fame ceremony.
While I am truly sorry and disappointed not to make it, I am thrilled to have seen my friends earlier today and to play a small part in the ceremony with the video for Gaille.
As I walked into and out of Lakefront Arena today, images of my old office, broadcast position, taking my wife to games and having our daughter and then, our son, Travis roam the facility regularly and attend baseball and basketball camps there appeared in my mind’s eye. Travis obtained his Masters degree from UNO. It has served him well.
The university has served so many in this community well.
It has served me well.
The five honorees served it very well.
Privateer Pride lives on.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…