If the Cats make it to the Final Four (which, against all better judgment, I fully expect them to do), I cringe at the thought of what CBS will do with the Bobbi Olson story. It is an absolute orgy of insensitivity just waiting to happen. Maybe they'll surprise us and just concentrate on the basketball.
THE MOST DISCONCERTING news last week involved former Indiana coach Bob Knight. Word spread quickly that he was being courted by Texas Tech, a bit too quickly considering Tech still had a coach at the time and the Red Raiders were getting ready to tip off in the Big 12 tournament.
Tech lost the game; the coach, James Dickey, was fired after 10 years in Lubbock; and yet Knight still wasn't officially offered the job. It turns out that, as in many states, the job must be officially posted for 10 days before any official action (interviews, hiring) can be taken.
Isn't it amazing that in Texas you have to wait 10 days before you can hire a basketball coach, but there is no waiting period to buy a gun?
Also, the former coach is not to be confused with the poet James Dickey, who, in his novel Deliverance, wrote the famous line, "You shore got a pur'ty mouth." Coach Dickey did, however, spend 10 years in Lubbock, so he may have heard that phrase once or twice himself.
SO I'M DRIVING FROM THE gym to the Circle K on Sunday to get some sodas. I turn on the car radio to hear who's winning the Duke-North Carolina game and what do I get? Preseason baseball!
If baseball sucks (which it does), preseason baseball sucks geometrically. I really don't mind hearing a baseball game on the car radio on a hot July night. It's part of America. But the last week of the college basketball regular season and the three weeks of the tournament make up the most exciting sports month of the year, and we get spring training!
It's a double curse because they just do baseball and don't even sneak in a few basketball scores during the 45 seconds or so between each pitch as the pitcher is fondling the ball and the batter is adjusting his groin area. And the games are broadcast on what is essentially the only sports station in town. (ESPN Radio comes on for a few hours on KNST, 790-AM, late in the afternoons on weekends, but it's too little, too late.)
I'll bet that stuff gets negative ratings, meaning that more angry words are screamed into the radio by sports fans than what comes out.
THE HEADLINE ON THE front page of last Friday's Tucson Citizen screamed "UA Booster Shot." I swear to God my first thought was, "Oh no, somebody attacked Mr. (George) Kalil with a gun!"
What kind of headline is that? I suppose it was meant to convey the idea that the Cats' rousing victory at Stanford would energize the team and give it a higher seeding in the NCAA tournament. Well, they could have used smaller type and gone with "Booster Shot for UA" or something and saved me the heart attack.
I love Mr. Kalil. Back when I was sports editor of the Daily Wildcat, he invited me to a hospitality room at New Mexico and gave me some free fried chicken. And remember, "free fried chicken" and not "I love you" are the three sweetest words in the English language.
I'VE ALWAYS BEEN a fan of Dick Vitale, but he's just got to get off Duke's jock. It's embarrassing. One more gush of praise and his name will officially become Duke Vitale.
BECAUSE OF A MACHIAVELLIAN set of circumstances, the NCAA expanded the tournament this year from 64 teams to 65. The reasons behind the move are so bizarre that they don't even bear discussing.
Instead of cutting the number of at-large teams that get into the tournament from 34 to 33, they decided to have a play-in game featuring the representatives from the two lowest-rated conferences. When it appeared likely that those two conferences would be the SWAC and the MEAC, both of which have all-black colleges among their membership, a prominent SWAC coach threatened a discrimination lawsuit.
Let me get this straight. An all-black school is going to scream racism involving basketball. I've heard it all now.
THE GREASED POLE AWARD goes to North Carolina, which slipped to a No. 2 seed in the South after getting pimp-slapped around by Duke in the ACC tourney finals. If the higher seeds hold (which is certainly no guarantee), the Tar Heels will have to beat always-tough Princeton, rugged Penn State, Florida (a Final Four team last year), and then defending national champion Michigan State just to get to the Final Four!
But that's OK, because nobody really likes North Carolina, anyway.
IF NORTH CAROLINA GOT a rough road, it's nothing compared to what happened to the women's team from Washington University of St. Louis. Washington tied with New York University for first place in their conference. The two teams had split their regular season games. Only one team could get the automatic bid to the Division III NCAA Tournament, so it was decided by a coin toss!
NYU called heads over the phone and got the automatic berth. That stinks out loud.
FINALLY, MY FINAL FOUR picks are Stanford, Arizona, Boston College and Florida. Hey, they're probably just as wrong as yours, but I get paid to be wrong.