February 20, 2008

Wouldn't it be something if we could introduce the wise guy that coined "It's not cheating unless you get caught" to Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson? Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation? And would the poor guy's head explode before or after he clubbed Sampson with a tack hammer? These are the things that keep me up at night.

We live in an era when everyone's cheat-meter is in overdrive -- when bench pressing your weight is only legit if cleared by a urine test. So it's utterly appalling that crooks like Sampson aren't trying a little harder. Doing things the "right way" and having integrity would be added bonuses, but I'm talking in much simpler terms.

With suspicions already racing ... man, just try a little freaking harder NOT to get caught. OK?

I'm sure, as a fan, I'm supposed to be outraged and deeply scarred by Sampson's "improper" phone calls to recruits. I'm sure I'm supposed to have some kind of opinion on whether he should keep his job or not. But I don't. Instead, I can't help but laugh at the guy, and I'm preoccupied figuring out if they should let him keep his brain.

Here's a man who got caught in the same cookie jar while at Oklahoma and STILL got a second chance with one of the most prestigious basketball programs in college athletics -- you'd think he'd focus his efforts elsewhere. And that's what doesn't make sense to me. Why would any rational human making millions of dollars go back to the scene of the crime when he KNEW he was being watched? Why tempt fate? Was this a double-dog dare? Some kind of immunity challenge? Was he being blackmailed by Nina Myers or the chick from Prison Break? Just what, exactly, explains his terrible lapse in judgment?Quite honestly, it's not Sampson's cheating that should offend us. It's his timing.

With Duke's loss to Wake Forest, the pollsters took full advantage of their power and elevated Tennessee to No. 2 in the nation, setting up a clash of titans this Saturday as the Volunteers travel to Memphis to square off against the top-rated Tigers. And just like the bimbo in your office pool who picks winners based on uniforms and mascot names, I'm using little or no logic and going with the Volunteers in an upset.

As I said a few weeks ago, you can still be the best team in the country even with a brittle schedule; however, that was before Memphis's recent struggles against Houston and UAB. It's fine to have unranked opponents on your schedule ... as long as you pound them into oblivion, which the Tigers haven't exactly done lately. So, it seems easier now than ever to brand Memphis as an "untested" team; and with the streaking Vols coming to town, now is the perfect time to make a quiet escape from the undefeated bandwagon.

Or stop and ask for directions ... or buy a Tom Tom ... or use the North Star as guidance. Or something! Because when you're scheduled to play an in-state rival in a major conference match-up, Texas A&M, it's always better to show up than not. And by "show up," I mean NOT lose by 27 points.

Regardless of this game, I'm curious to see how both Texas and Texas A&M fare in the NCAA Tournament. Both squads (especially Texas) are fresh in the minds of amateur bracketologists after successful runs in 2007, despite the fact that neither is as skilled or flashy without the Kevin Durants and Acie Laws of the world. So, you know some untimely, bracket-killing losses by the Longhorns and Aggies are probably in order, set to take dead aim on all of your tournament pools. Factor in an inevitable collapse by Kansas, and you'd probably be best avoiding the Big 12 altogether.

Let's say you're the fan of a random home team like, oh, the UAB Blazers. Your team squares off against another random, highly-ranked team like, say, the Memphis Tigers, and loses in dramatic fashion. Bummer. It makes perfect sense then that your normal human reaction would be to, umm, launch stuff at the opposing team. Just heave whatever is nearby. Because if hitting a player with a water bottle isn't intimidating, nothing is ... right? It's practically like shooting rubber bullets.

Yes, those "random" teams above aren't so random, and we saw some obnoxious behavior last weekend from the UAB student section, which clearly took its 79-78 loss to top-ranked Memphis quite hard. So hard, that they deemed throwing stuff as a plausible means of retaliation. Makes sense. And when the investigations are finished, the misdemeanor charges will make it all SO totally worthwhile!

I just don't get it. It's not like these guys are going to quiver with fear at the sight of your pompom flying towards them there are virtually no frightening qualities to such a maneuver. And, if you have a strong enough arm to do any damage, you should know that most future NBA stars are already insured for more money than you'll ever earn, and would probably sue you for your first born child if they really wanted. So, what's the point?

1. Better defunct shopping show?Supermarket Sweep / Shop 'Til You Drop

2. Better Big 12 team? Oklahoma / Baylor

3. More believable liar?Brian McNamee / Roger Clemens

4. Better scheme? Amoeba defense / 40 Minutes of Hell

5. More underrated "TGIF" sitcom?Family Matters / Hangin' with Mr. Cooper

6. Better Patriot league team?Lehigh / Lafayette

7. Better Nintendo character?Paperboy / Toadstool

8. Catchier coaching name?Thad Matta (Ohio State) / Dickie Nutt (Arkansas State)

9. Weirder actor? Daniel Day Lewis / Johnny Depp

10. Better Big East team? West Virginia / Marquette

Maybe it's just me, but is anyone else uncomfortable with Ryan Reynolds playing the role of Will Hayes, a political consultant and father, in the new movie Definitely, Maybe? No disrespect to Reynolds, but didn't we reach a point a few years ago -- after duds like Blade: Trinity -- when we agreed that he should play the token Van Wilder-type in every movie? Wasn't everyone cool with that?

Well, surprise, surprise ... Definitely, Maybe had a particularly underwhelming box office debut and finished at least $10 million behind such classics as The Spiderwick Chronicles and Step Up 2 the Streets. You can't blame Reynolds for branching out (and I'm actually a big fan of his), but this reminds me so much of the time they let Mark-Paul Gosselaar range out of his "Zack Morris" persona to become a detective on NYPD Blue. Did anyone ever buy him in that role?

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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