Scott Miller trailed Herbert Greene's family as they made the somber walk off the Lumpkin Center floor. Miller paused as he reached the words "Herbert Greene Court" in front of the home bench. It was as if he couldn't quite bring himself to leave.
"You saw that, huh?" Miller said. "I was hoping nobody noticed. But yeah yeah. I didn't want to leave. Didn't want to leave. I knew he wasn't there. I know where he is now. But still "
I know the feeling. These last two columns were supposed to be about college football. SEC football media days, to be specific. I had just seen Miller on Monday morning when, by sheer chance, we were sitting near each other for Gus Malzahn's turn at the podium.
Little did either of us know that a few hours later word would spread that Greene had suffered a massive heart attack in his home. It was a gut-punch to anyone fortunate to have known him, and that includes the media. He had that way about him.
It was especially painful to Miller, who had developed so much more than a working relationship with Greene. They travelled together and roomed together on road trips. Greene had been encouraging to Miller a few years earlier when Miller had his own heart issues, which required stents.
"We started as acquaintances, then became friends, then close friends," Miller said. "Then, we became brothers."
So as the family dealt with the shock and grief of losing a husband and father and grandfather and brother, there was no question who they wanted to deliver the eulogy in addition to his pastors, Howard and Lynn Meadows-White. But the Greene family worried about Miller's heart.
Miller was more worried about his knees turning to jelly.
"There was no way I was going to say no," Miller said.
"The biggest thing I worried about was I was going to screw it up," Miller said. "That's the last thing I wanted to do. So I worried about it all week. I was never comfortable with it. I was never happy with it."
The fact that he couldn't make it through a write-through or rehearsal at his kitchen table without breaking down in tears didn't exactly inspire confidence.
Through the years of calling Cougar sports, Miller has unfailingly risen to the occasion. The national championship in baseball in 2002. Back-to-back Division II women's Final Fours. Two Sweet 16 appearances for the men's basketball teams. And, of course, all of those Peach Belt tournament championship games.
One other trait Miller and Greene shared was their ability to ply their trades on a higher level than Columbus, but we were the fortunate beneficiaries that they found comfort here.
Friday, on Herbert Greene Court, we were reminded just how talented and professional Miller is.
He slept fitfully Thursday night and finally got up before dawn. Then he got an idea.
He asked his wife Peggy and daughter Lauren for a bag, but didn't tell them why.
Then he came up with a couple more ideas. In the ride to the Lumpkin Center, Lauren asked him how he was doing.
"I'm doing great," he lied, to himself and others. "I got my game face on. That's the way I'm looking at it, like we're getting ready to go play Kennesaw State."
"That," he said later, "was the first time I felt at ease with what I wanted to do."
The goal, he said, was to lead a celebration, much like the one six months ago on this very same floor when the words "Herbert Greene Court" were unveiled.
"What a celebration that was. I want us to celebrate the life of Herbert Greene. What a life it was. He loved life more than any man I've known."
Miller took the podium and looked ahead to the Greene family, and those in the audience who know Miller seemed to share one thought: How in the world is he going to get through this?
Miller did more than get through it. So much more. He delivered a moving tribute to his friend, one filled with laughter, exactly how Greene would have wanted it. He painted this beautiful picture of the time in Orlando that Greene was so upset with the team that he decided to walk back to the hotel rather than take the bus. He wouldn't even let Miller go with him.
"I want to be alone," Greene told him.
Nearly two hours later, Greene comes staggering into the room, so drenched in sweat that "he looked like he'd been through a car wash" then barked at Miller, "Scott, don't EVER let me walk back to the hotel again!"
Oh, the bag. Miller pulled it out from behind the podium and pulled out a CSU hat, one like Greene always wore while watching the team from the stands.
On the outside, Miller was flawless. On the inside? Not so much.
"At one point, I got a little light headed and I grabbed the podium," he said. "I stepped back and unlocked my knees a little bit."
Miller said he felt the prayers of many of his friends in the audience.
"I'm not sure I could have done it without the help of God and people praying for me," he said.
Many people afterward offered praise and kind remarks. For that, he was appreciative.
"I'm overwhelmed. I'm truly overwhelmed by the nice comments from people," he said.
"The ones I want to do it for were Jan and the girls. They all loved it. That was the best moment of the day."
Once again, Scott Miller came through in the clutch. Herbert would have approved.
-- Guerry Clegg is an independent correspondent. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org