Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hildebrand, Part V: Keeping watch on the officials

     (Fifth in a series)
      In the last 16 years of his working days, Tynes Hildebrand did what he did so often as a basketball coach: He watched the officials.
      He was a lot less vocal and a lot less critical, and in his role as evaluator and trainer of college basketball officials, certainly more understanding of the difficulty of their jobs.
Clinics or games, Coach Hildebrand watched closely.
      Those who know Coach Hildebrand, though, know he was direct and earnest in his evaluations, and offering what he thought was best for the game.
      If that meant criticism, so be it. He was known to speak his mind.
      The job -- eight years covering five conferences and then eight more years as one of four regional evaluators for the NCAA -- kept him busy for at least five months a year, with lots of traveling -- to arenas and campuses all over the country --  and paperwork.
        Mrs. Hildebrand (Julia) made many of the trips and, says the coach, "helped me with tons of typing and computer input." He added that she "has been a great story and has had a great career."
        In 2013, nearing his mid-80s, Coach decided it was time to relax for good.
        "There just comes a time when you have to stop," he said. "It wasn't my health; I'm doing great. But the travel, the  schedule, and the paperwork got to be too much."
        OK, but when the next basketball season started, "I was watching games on TV and I missed it. I told Julia, 'I think I made a mistake.' "
        But the retirement stuck ... unlike his previous retirement.
        In 1996, when he was 65 and retired from the athletic director position at Northwestern State University -- after 39 years of work in Natchitoches -- he didn't think he'd work again.
        "I stayed out one year," he said. "It was a good time. Julia and I enjoyed ourselves. We traveled some, and we liked it."
        Then, again, his many connections kicked in. He got an interesting call from Dale Kelley, a longtime college basketball official, one of the best and most respected in the game.
        Kelley, who lives in Huntingdon, Tenn., where he is the longtime mayor, also involved in state politics, and the last few years the athletic director at Bethel University, in 1998 was coordinator of officials for five conferences (among them Big 12, Conference USA and Southland). He wanted Coach Hildebrand to evaluate officials in those leagues.
        Done deal. In addition, Coach would give presentations and be an instructor in off-season officiating clinics.
        The structure changed in 2006 when the NCAA decided to hire four regional observers of officials. He was recommended by Kelley, Big 12 administrator John Underwood and Kansas senior associate athletic director Larry Keating (who was on the NCAA basketball selection committee).
        "I was on a working [basketball] trip, so I was interviewed by phone," he recalled. "Eight people on the phone listening in. The last question I was asked was about the play when a ball was going out of bounds and a player in possession and in the air could call time out. They were thinking about changing that rule [eliminating the time out possibility]. I didn't like the rule and said so, and I think I made a lot of sense."
        A couple of days later, he got a call telling him he had the job. "An interesting way to be hired," he said.
        So he had eight Division I conferences to cover.
        "I was observing 75 live games or more each season, plus another 20-30 TV games," he said. "We could observe outside our eight conferences, but we had to be sure that two of us did not show at the same arena for the same game."
        And so scheduling was tricky, and had to be coordinated. "I would do games in swings trying to get five games or more on one trip," he said. 
        When Hank Nichols, another longtime college official who had worked the biggest games and was NCAA coordinator of officials for 22 years, retired in 2010 and was replaced by John Adams, Hildebrand was the only one of the four regional observers retained.
        "I think my administrative ability helped me with the committee," he said. "I did a lot of things for the other three regional advisors. Nichols recommended to Adams that he keep me on."
        Hildebrand feels he "was really good" at the evaluations and training, but the coach in him still looks at it with reservations.
        "No doubt having three officials [in a game] has helped basketball officiating," he said, "but it has allowed some officials not to work hard. Traveling, palming (carrying) the ball and post play, in my judgement, is poorly officiated. Players move their feet after a dribble and stop, they move their feet after a pass and before a dribble in the post, etc.
        "Post play is still very rough. [For officials] mobility and getting when they can see the play is big."
        Coach Hildebrand was a co-founder of the Louisiana Association of Basketball Coaches (LABC), served as its first secretary and its third president. He also was president of the Louisiana Athletic Directors Association.
        Among his honors: Louisiana Mr. Basketball (1981), N Club (Northwestern State) Hall of Fame (1985), LABC Hall of Fame (1992) and the Dave Dixon Award (2014).
        He often was a guest speaker or master of ceremonies at banquets or meetings, with a folksy, comedic touch.
        "Tynes and I shared a passion for speaking at banquets and other events," said Jerry Pierce, "and we shared a lot of our stories and other material. If a joke fell flat during a talk, I always mentioned that I got it from Tynes."
Bruce, Julia, Coach, Tynes Jr.
      One reward Coach Hildebrand received for his work evaluating officials was that he had a prime seat for many NCAA Tournament games. He was part of the process of selecting officials for March Madness games.
        For many years, Coach and his sons -- Tynes Jr. and Bruce -- shared their love of the game with an annual trip to the NCAA Tournament Final Four.
        Now live games are mostly part of the past, and TV is the easy ticket. Julia and Coach are into their new life in their new residential facility in Shreveport, entertaining and traveling when they want to, and taking pride in their family.
        Tynes Jr., who played guard for his father at Northwestern from 1969 to '73, has his own CPA business in Atlanta. His son is a Clemson graduate; his daughter will be soon.
        Bruce, while at Northwestern State, was a reliable Natchitoches correspondent for The Shreveport Times sports department. He tried coaching for a couple of years; just after graduation, he was hired as head basketball coach at Neville High in Monroe.
        Then, after taking accounting classes, he became a CPA and now is chief financial officer for a bank in Abilene, Texas.
       He and wife Nancy, whose father Dan Poole was a longtime Natchitoches High coach, have three sons -- all Texas A&M graduates, all married to Aggies.
        Julia and Coach have five great grandchildren.
        Tynes Hildebrand reflects on his school days, his military success, his coaching and subsequent careers, and he says, "What a great life ...
        "You work hard in school and that leads to good jobs, good rewards, a good life," he says. "I have preached that to young people always, and I am still telling them that." 
Coach, with daughter-in-law Nancy (left), Tynes Jr.
(front) and Bruce (right)






  1. From Donnie Cox: I can not find words to express how much Coach meant to the athletic department at NSU during his tenure as athletic director. Times were tough, but Tynes was tougher. I came to NSU at the same time he became AD.
    Someway he held things together even though our budget was ... I can't think of a word to describe how bad it was!
    Any time I asked him for anything that I could justify, he found a way to do it.

  2. From Jack Thigpen: Enjoyed the stories of Coach Hildebrand. He coached at Natchitoches High School when I played at Ruston. We had some real battles -- played them in the state championship game in 1962. I was in Colorado Springs in 1972 when he was helping select the Olympic team. I saw him one day at the tryouts and introduced myself. He said that he remembered me and we had a great visit. I saw him on several occasions after that and he was always so cordial and friendly. Wonderful man!

  3. From Doug Ireland: I've known him since 1978, and I've known him pretty well since 1990. I've learned so much more. Thanks.

  4. From Nancy Poole Hildebrand: Just want you to know we love the series you did on Coach Hildebrand. Bruce said to say hey and thanks. It was so well done. I could hear him talking most of the time. So really thank you from all of us. [Two thumbs up] from that Aggies contingent.

  5. From Pesky Hill: Just a wonderful series on Coach Hildebrand. You did a wonderful job of capturing the man’s life/story. Thank you very much.

  6. From Marilyn McMurtry: Thank you for these fantastic articles on a fantastic man ... and his equally fantastic wife, Julia Hildebrand!

  7. From Dr. Leonard Ponder: I enjoyed your treatise on Tynes Hildebrand. Tynes was five years older than me and I distinctly remember the only time I saw him play in high school. I was in the 8th grade and rode the school bus with the cheerleaders and a host of other boosters to the state semifinal game at Northwestern. Pleasant Hill was ahead by four points at halftime, but eventually lost to Florien in a reasonably close game. What I remember best was a barrel-chested Tynes Hildebrand coming across the lane shooting and making one left-handed hook shot after another. He was a confident and very good player, both in high school and college. I did my student teaching in physical education under him while he was coaching at Natchitoches High.