April 09, 2008

It's a crying shame that CBS Sports ran out of time and couldn't follow its rendition of One Shining Moment with the Rockapella's re-mastered version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Well, he sneaks around the courts from Champaign to Oral Roberts,He's a slippery coaching cowboy from Tulsa up to Lawrence.He'll take you for a ride to San Antonio with Kansas. But tell me ...Where in the world is Bill Self gonna go next?

Maybe next year.

Nonetheless, we're still picking on Bill Self, if only because the last two national championship games have been played amid heavy speculation that a participating coach -- last year, Billy Donovan; this year, Self -- would bolt for another job as soon as the season ended. To a certain extent, we've grown to enjoy these kinds of controversies. You know, because calling coaches traitors and snakes has become as much a part of the American lexicon as baseball and apple pie. So, whether Self deserves the criticism or not -- and he probably doesn't -- he's next in line to explain just how loud money can talk when hungry athletic directors prompt it to do so.

Self's situation, though, is anything but the traditional song and dance. In nearly all instances, coaches are lured from their comfort zones to "better" jobs by the prestige of top-shelf programs. In fact, this was the exact reason rumors swirled about Donovan leaving for Kentucky, and actually, why Self migrated from Illinois to Kansas in the first place. Usually, coaches take steps "up" to get more money, not the other way around.

And that's why this is different. Leaving Kansas for Oklahoma State would be a clear challenge to conventional wisdom. In essence, Self would be taking a step "down" to a "lesser" program, but still get a hefty raise thanks to the deep pockets of T. Boone Pickens. It'd be an odd paradox of sports: a coach accepting a job for MORE money and LOWER expectations. That's one hell of a deal. (Where does Isiah Thomas sign up?)

Of course, you can't fault Self for being a successful coach, nor can you blame him if he's mildly interested in a steep pay hike. (Yeah, like you'd scoff at 3.5 million bones per year.) That's certainly his prerogative, and nobody should hold it against the guy if decides to cash in. But you also can't blame us, the general fandom, for poking fun at the looming situation, knowing full well that more pay with fewer expectations is every working man's American dream.

Without a doubt, this figures to be a news story for weeks to come. In a pure battle between loyalty and prosperity, which do you think will win? I think I know the answer. Though sentimentality factors in when alma maters are involved, this will ultimately come down to a monetary decision. You don't honestly think he'd leave Kansas for less money, do you?

And if he does decide to go, perhaps the last verse to Rockapella's re-written song will actually be true:

He goes from Okie to Lawrence to Okie to Oral [Roberts],From Tulsa, to Champaign, to Lawrence and back!

After we all waited with bated breath and offered predictions on the 2008 national championship "Nantz-ism," it was nothing short of disappointing to hear Jim Nantz deliver an absolute stinker:

"Rock Chalk, championship!"

Congrats, indeed, to Kansas. But, uh, Jim? We just watched six straight months of college basketball and that was the best you could do? I get the reference, but could you have humored us with a "Believe in your Self" or something remotely close to your 2005 zinger of "It began in March, ended in April, and belongs to May"? On the heels of last year's "Back to back and unforgettable," Nantz may be one more clunker away from reaching a dreaded point of no return, like that episode of Walker, Texas Ranger when Haley Joel Osmentannounced he had AIDS.

Campus Clicks scribe Andy Gray beat me to the punch (and unearthed this gem of a clip) by poking fun at North Carolina coach Roy Williams for his Amazing Technicolor DreamTie he donned on Saturday night, perhaps purchased from JaMarcus Russell's tailor. It's no wonder the Tar Heels shot only 36-percent from the field -- they couldn't concentrate. Makes you wonder if Kansas relied more on their scouting report of Tyler Hansbrough's low-post moves or Williams' color coordination before crafting their Final Four game plan.

(And Carolina fans, can we please stop it with the debate over Williams wearing a Kansas sticker to the national championship game? Seriously, knock it off. You should already be numb to all things Kansas after getting blown out of the Alamodome on Saturday night.)

With March Madness ratings dipping to its lowest level since 2003, it was nice to see CBS trotting out a dead horse from the past to drive better numbers. The plan? Introduce both teams with the same inflection you'd use to promote a monster truck rally. Works every time.

In an effort to pump up the viewing audience, America's "most watched network" (wink, wink) uncorked two chilling introductory spots before announcing the starting lineups. If you had your television on mute, you wouldn't have thought anything of it. However, if you were listening, you would've sworn the voiceover artist was calling an old-school commercial for Bigfoot and Gravedigger. I mean it. The only line missing was "SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!"

Instead of harping on why Kansas won Monday's championship game or how Memphis lost it (depending on your perspective), people should be talking about how, for the first time in a while, the absolute two BEST teams ended up playing for the title. It's a novel occurrence in any sport where tournaments decide winners. And to college football, well, it's practically other-worldly.

It's all too easy to look at the scores from Saturday night's games and say they were "boring," as some prominent media members -- the names don't matter; we're all friends here -- already have. But refreshingly, you can't say that either Kansas or Memphis got "lucky" and found themselves in the title game. Neither team just happened upon the opportunity while playing in the park.

The beauty of blowout victories is that they leave little wiggle room for doubters. North Carolina and UCLA each lost by double-digits. There were no fortuitous bounces or curious calls to blame. The best teams won fair and square. (And killed my bracket in the process.)

Send in your answers...

1. Better college sport? Basketball / Football

2. More disappointing Will Ferrell movie?Semi-Pro / Talladega Nights

3. Better four-syllable player? Wayne Ellington (North Carolina) / Darrell Arthur (Kansas)

4. Better dessert choice? Oreo / Fig Newton

5. Better basketball venue? Alamodome / Ford Field

6. More cost-effective "Swiss"? Ball / Army Knife

7. Better basketball team? UCLA / North Carolina

8. Better beachfront transportation? Rickshaws / Rollerblades

9. More extinct basketball occurrence? Consistent jump shooting / Traveling

10. Likelier 2009 contender? Florida / Ohio State

Ty Hildenbrandt writes Campus Quick Slants for SI On Campus. E-mail him at tyhildenbrandt@gmail.com with your comments, questions, and random observations.

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