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I knew Majerus as a local media member at KSL-TV with the usual practice, post-game interviews. But I got a different look at the man when I was calling WAC and MWC games on ESPN.
I remember riding in a rental car to Mobey Arena with Rick at Colorado State because he offered to give me a ride. We had a good talk about basketball, his views on coaching, motivating young men and the love for his mom. He cracked jokes about his weight and how he liked to order one of everything off the menu! That was my one and only private talk with Rick. And it left me wanting to know more about the coach who lived in a hotel room at the Marriott.
I was invited to roast Rick for a fundraiser. I'm no comedian and when I sat down to write one-liners, I realized I didn't know a thing about this guy. I called around asking for insight and actually used jokes from a joke book I bought. I got through the night with a few laughs, but again I left wanting to know more about the coach who lived in the hotel room.
I covered the Utes at the 1998 Final 4 in San Antonio. What a run. But Doleac, Miller and the Utes had nothing left in the final 6 minutes against Tubby Smith and Kentucky. The loss took a toll on Majerus. His health was in question. I left for CBS and Rick continued to win.
In 2001 I was calling NCAA tournament games in Boise when talk about Rick and his harsh coaching tactics were beginning to surface. Along with accusations that he was losing his players. Some stayed, some left. I was asked by a national media writer what Ute fans really thought about the guy. And I truthfully replied, "Some love him, some hate him."
Those words got back to Rick and he wrote a letter to KUTV refusing to come on the air if I remained a co-host with David James and Dave Fox. I called Dr. Chris Hill to talk about the situation, but I never heard or came in contact with coach Majerus again.
That letter, his reaction has always bothered me and it sunk in even deeper last week when I heard of his passing. What started off as a friendly ride to Mobey Arena turned out to be a long journey to nowhere. Sadly, coach Majerus is gone leaving many us wondering who the man in the hotel room really was.