Wiedmer: C.M. Newton an irreplaceable basketball legend

In this March 26, 2012, file photo, C.M. Newton speaks during a news conference ahead of the 75th Anniversary NIT Championship at Madison Square Garden in New York. Officials at Alabama and Kentucky say that Hall of Fame former administrator and basketball coach C.M. Newton has died. He was 88. The schools announced his death Monday, June 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)

Every now and then, especially during basketball season, I'd reach out to him, needing to pick the brilliant brain of the sweetest, toughest, brightest, most fair-minded man that college hoops has ever known.

He often didn't immediately answer those calls, but within 24 hours I'd hear the following recording on my answering machine: "Mark, C.M. Newton here. Sorry I missed your call. Hope you and Julie and the kids are doing well. I should be home for the next couple of days."

And he would be. And when we finally connected, he'd talk in that easy, reassuring Southern voice of his for as long I had questions that needed answering.

On Monday, that voice fell silent for good. Newton died of natural causes at the age of 88.