No one can say Al Bohl didn't go down swinging.
When Bohl was deposed as Kansas University's athletic director in the spring of 2003, he blamed KU men's basketball coach Roy Williams, saying he was "crushed like a dove."
Now, Bohl has written a novel, and it's clear he still holds a grudge. Not that Williams is ever mentioned by name in "Back Porch Swing." It is, after all, a work of fiction, or so the author's disclaimer says.
There is a KU men's basketball coach in the book, but his name is Booth. No first name. He's just coach Booth. I don't know whether that's a proofreader's oversight or if Bohl, an avowed Abe Lincoln fan, scratched the names John and Wilkes.
Anyway, the novel is about a high school basketball player from a fictional eastern Kentucky town who is being recruited by Kansas, Ohio State and Kentucky.
Lance Stoler is his name, and he is about 99.9 percent pure All-American boy. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he doesn't chew, he doesn't swear, and he doesn't have a car. Heck, he doesn't even have a cell phone, if you can believe that.
Stoler's mom, dad, and younger brother and sister make the Cleavers look like the Borgias. Example: After coming home from soccer practice, Lance's younger sister asks mom if she needs any help in the kitchen before she takes a shower. Yeah, right.
Lance decides to make a recruiting trip to Kansas even though it's pretty certain he'll go to Kentucky and even though he has heard unflattering things about coach Booth. One of those anti-Booth rumblings came from a friend of his dad who lives somewhere in Missouri.
"They say that Booth has one huge ego," the friend tells Lance's pop. "Tries to downplay it with his ole country boy act. : Word is, he's one malicious (expletive) to those people who don't do things his way. He claims to be squeaky clean on NCAA rules. My guess is no one has really looked into his actions."
Then there's Lance's high school basketball coach.
"Somethin's not right about Booth," Lance's coach tells him. "The sucker wins, but : Napoleon Complex. You know, a little man with a great big ego. That's what Booth's got, a Napoleon Complex."
During his visit to Mount Oread, Lance takes in a football game and later reflects about Booth: "He had a tailgate for his players as if he were supporting football. But he acted like a king watching serfs clearing a field, rather than an enthusiastic fan supporting his school's team."
Finally, a family friend tells the Stolers about an incident when he was in the Kansas athletic director's booth during a football game and an American eagle that had flown around the stadium prior to kickoff was brought upstairs and displayed by the AD and his wife.
Next door, separated by a glass partition, is the KU men's basketball coach's booth.
"Well, I couldn't help but spot the basketball coach staring at them," the family friend said. "He was not a happy camper. It was like he thought the AD and his wife were trying to show him up. He appeared to be livid. I'll never forget the ugly glare on that coach's face."
If you'd like a copy of
"Back Porch Swing," go to www.allenbohl.com.