February 14, 2008

Last Sunday, I set my TiVo to record the second half of Clemson's rematch with North Carolina, only to learn that my DVR mistakenly grabbed the entire 2008 Grammy Awards instead. Disappointed, I gave the show a quick scan and was hooked.

I began to wonder if the ridiculous storylines found within the Grammys bested those found within this college basketball season.

So, I did what any responsible human would do ... I spent the next three-and-a-half hours charting the dramatic subplots of the show and comparing them to similar events happening on the hardwood. To my surprise, it was a closer match-up than I'd expected. In my typical "Get off the fence" fashion, here's what I found, with my favorites underlined ...

Amy Winehouse singing "Rehab" via satellite (due to a current rehab stint) vs. Bob Knight preaching loyalty, then quitting mid-season

Knight's abrupt resignation from Texas Tech ruffled many-a-feather on his staunchest critics, but his paradoxical exit is dwarfed by Winehouse's showing at the Grammys. Anyone else find it hysterically ironic that she was forced to perform her song (about resisting rehab) via satellite from London ... because she couldn't sneak out of her current stay in a rehab facility?

Rihanna yanking Jay-Z from Beyoncé after winning Best Rap Collaboration for Umbrella vs. Kelvin Sampson and Indiana snatching coveted recruit Eric Gordon from the jaws of Illinois

There's no evidence to suggestion that Rihanna's maneuver was the result of improper phone calls or even that it was premeditated. But it was high-octane intensity when Rihanna lassoed a reluctant Jay-Z and dragged him to the podium with her after winning for Umbrella. It would've been even better if Beyoncé and her scorned frown had pulled an Illinois and issued a vicious, pre-speech chest bump to Rihanna, fearing no repercussions or wardrobe malfunctions.

Herbie Hancock fumbling in the limelight vs. Kansas stumbling against ranked teams

After blowing teams out of the water, Kansas started to get noticeably flustered against ranked teams -- most recently conference rival Texas. But nothing can top Hancock's snafu after winning the Grammy for Best Album. Visibly shaken on stage, Hancock reached into his breast pocket for some acceptance notes, and unknowingly spilled what looked like some loose leaf music, his tax returns and the Dead Sea Scrolls onto the stage.

Kanye West wears a glow-in-the-dark suit and sunglasses (and a tail!) vs. Rick Pitino wears a snazzy white suit to fire up his team against Georgetown

Aside of portraying himself as a raging egomaniac, Kanye tried so intently to make a fashion statement that he made a fool of himself in the process. Pitino, on the other hand, at least looked classy in his attempt to take part in Louisville's "White Out" promotion, though his suit may have come from the same second-hand store that sold Vinny Gambini his red tuxedo.

Alicia Keys being the only artist to thank God in her acceptance speech vs. Kentucky losing by 16 (in Rupp Arena) to Gardner-Webb

Think the biggest upset of the year was the Wildcats losing to a team that sounds like a law firm? Nuh-uh. Apparently, God had more of a reduced role among this year's winners than ever before. In the most shocking twist of all, the only artist to thank the Heavenly Father in her acceptance speech was Alicia Keys at the very beginning of the ceremony. After that ... nothing. It's unprecedented.

Finding out the lady from the iPhone commercials is actually named "Feist" vs. Realizing that Butler, Drake and St. Mary's are top 25 teams

In terms of pure epiphanies, the sheer discovery that Feist was the musician behind the catchy "one, two, three, four..." jingle for Apple's iPhone ranks up there with learning the truth about Santa Claus. But as a tried and true sports fan, I find nothing more eye-opening, especially with the tournament approaching, than stumbling over a few mid-majors that sound innocuous but could actually win you some money in your bracket pool.

A lot's been made of the way Illinois basketball fans mistreated Indiana freshman Eric Gordon during last Thursday's game. But here's the real question: Why aren't more people talking about the way Illini basketball has abused its free throws?

After a recent stint at the Harrah's New Orleans Casino, I realized that at one point this season, the Illini were making free throws at a clip of 49.5 percent -- only slightly better than your chances of hitting a single color on a roulette wheel (47.4 percent), and WORSE than your odds of winning a coin flip. Think about this for a second. These are scholarship athletes; how is this possible?!? It's like a team of Shaqs minus the dominant low-post game.

Illini fans might be convinced that Kelvin Sampson and Gordon are the enemies, perhaps submarining their season from afar using Stewie Griffin's mind control device, but the fact of the matter is pretty obvious. The only reason casinos let people play roulette at all is because the house ALWAYS wins. That's kind of the case here. If you've got free points on the hook and you can't convert, that's your problem, Illinois, nobody else's.

Look, basketball officials aren't perfect, and their jobs are probably a whole lot harder than yours unless you're building spaceships or attempting cold fusion. But with that said, the least enviable man in all of sports right now is Art Hyland, the Big East's coordinator of officials, who stuck up for Bob Donato's egregious whistle during Monday's game between Villanova and Georgetown. The foul -- which occurred with less than a second left -- gift-wrapped the game for the Hoyas and handed them a controversial 55-53 win.

To say the least, Hyland's defense of Donato's call is as flimsy as Juno's best picture nomination at the Oscars. Justifying this mistake by saying "A foul is a foul," though noble, is borderline dismissive and somewhat ridiculous to anyone who actually watched the game.

1. Better awards show? VMAs / Grammys

2. Better tournament team? Texas / Kansas

3. Better 80s invention? My Pet Monster / Trapper Keeper

4. Better bubble team? Syracuse / Davidson

5. Hotter actress? Minka Kelly / Emmanuelle Chriqui

6. More valuable player? Michael Beasley / Tyler Hansbrough

7. More effective pill? Tylenol / Advil

8. More outdated rankings? RPI / BCS

9. More underrated instrument? Flute / Violin

10. Better Jay Bilas adjective? "Ball-friendly" / "Blowbyability"

It's been a while since we dug into the mailbag ...


There's a site called Despair.com that specializes in demotivational posters you can hang around the office. One of them says "Nepotism: We promote family values here -- almost as often as we promote family members." Don't you think this could be the new motto for the coaching community with jobs being passed down from generation to generation? We've seen this now at Washington State, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech. Why are people just letting this slide?

Michael E.Statesboro, Ga.

Excellent point. In my opinion, there is only a select group of people who should be allowed to pass their jobs down like family heirlooms: business owners and mafia kingpins. That's it -- under no other circumstance does being one's offspring qualify you for a job. Everyone else should be required to earn his stripes independent of his namesake.

Ty Hildenbrandt writes Campus Quick Slants every Wednesday. E-mail Ty at tyhildenbrandt@gmail.com with your comments, questions and random observations.

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