Richie Meade is practically a cult figure in lacrosse, a coach who is known and respected by everybody in the game, although the general public hardly knows him.
Meade is assistant to head coach Jack Emmer at Army -- now. With Richie, you have to keep posted. Changes in his career are frequent.
"You know me, I've been everywhere," he says -- and he's not exaggerating a whole lot.
Meade was head coach at the University of Baltimore for four years until that school dropped intercollegiate sports.
Then he was assistant coach at Navy from 1983 to 1988. He spent the next three as assistant to Willie Scroggs at North Carolina, Meade's alma mater. Richie is now in his second season at Army.
Despite its 12-11 loss at Yale last Saturday, which probably knocked West Point out of the playoffs, Army is an improved team. Meade has a lot to do with that. Coaches everywhere value his opinions.
And so, in a topsy-turvy college season like the present one, it's good to turn to someone like Meade for insight.
"We have unbelievable parity this year," he says.
True. Loyola was ranked No. 1 -- and lost three straight before pounding UMBC, 22-7, last weekend.
Towson State was undefeated -- but in its last two starts has been upset at Hofstra and crushed, 12-2, at Navy (which Army beat by five goals). Perennial power Johns Hopkins has lost three of its last four games.
With the playoffs approaching, about the only thing everyone agrees on is that Syracuse should be ranked No. 1. The U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association coaches placed the Orange there this week. Coach Roy Simmons' team received all 11 first-place votes.
Can Syracuse be beaten?
"Of course," says Meade. "They've been beaten already . . . by Hopkins [15-14]. Syracuse can be beaten again because they don't play defense."
Tony Seaman, Hopkins' coach, goes a step further. Says Seaman: "I've never seen a Syracuse team that played good defense."
Syracuse can get away with what it did last Saturday, when it gave up 13 goals to Rutgers. The Orange countered with 19.
* Correction: The defending U.S. Club Association champion Mount Washington vs. Maryland Lacrosse Club game, which was scheduled to be played tomorrow night at Norris Field, will not be played until late May.
The new lights at Mount Washington won't be ready until that time. If you're wondering how much the lights are going to cost, just be glad you're not paying the bill. Says Mount Washington team president Ray Little: "They'll cost close to $50,000." Next year Norris Field gets some new stands.
* D. Chester O'Sullivan, 87-year-old chairman of the State Athletic Commission, is back at work after missing seven weeks because of a broken shoulder received in a fall. O'Sullivan oversaw promoter Stu Satosky's successful fight show at the Pikesville Armory last week.
Says O'Sullivan of that card: "The best part is that none of the fighters were on dope when we tested them. That always makes it a success to me."
* Watching the America's Cup yacht competition yesterday on ESPN, with color commentary by Annapolis' Gary Jobson, I was reminded of the reaction of veteran Chesapeake Bay yachtsman Bill Klarner when he first glimpsed America's Cup racing on cable TV at someone else's home. Klarner called the cable people and said: "I have to have cable by tonight. This is an emergency." To his delight, he watched the Cup races at his own home that night.
Though Jobson's commentary is terrific, most of us would be more likely to identify with what the late Red Smith said 40 years ago about watching America's Cup races: "It's like watching grass grow."