Thursday, March 30, 2006


Special thanks to the folks from Indiana

I know it's time for the Weekly Bottom One, which I usually try to post on Wednesdays or Thursdays. We'll get there, I promise. In the meantime, I wanted to sound off about a newsbyte from the world of sports. If you're sensing that I'm just stalling because I either a) don't have a Bottom One; or b) don't have one that's very new or interesting . . . well, you're not wrong. I have one, but longtime readers might feel as though I'm beating a dead horse.

So I'll beat a sick one instead. Perhaps we'll end the post with two dead or dying horses. Stay tuned.

Anyway, if you follow the world of college basketball at all, you may have heard that historic Big Ten powerhouse Indiana University hired Kelvin Sampson this week to replace Mike Davis (who replaced legendary semi-lunatic Bob Knight) as head b'ball coach. It's an interesting move for IU - one that might be quite good, but that certainly isn't without questions.

More to the point, though, it's a really big favor that IU has done for Our Man in LA.

Let me digress here for a second. As some of you know, I'm not exactly objective when it comes to Indiana. The Hoosiers rank fairly high in my internal hierarchy of teams, the college football and basketball squads I root for most often. Like a lot of fans, I have a fairly complete understanding of what school I root for, and when.

Basically it boils down like this. Northwestern, my undergraduate alma mater, is on top. I root for them in football and basketball above all other teams. The fact that they're usually terrible in basketball and fair in football, though, leaves room for other teams to sneak into the hierarchy.

Number two by a small margin is Texas. The Mighty Mighty Longhorns are my next favorites, and they have (to my knowledge) never played NU in any of the big sports. Wouldn't be pretty if they did. If my two faves were ever to match up, I would hope that the Wildcats would kindly at least show up, and that Texas wouldn't blow them out by 70 points. Otherwise, I'm cool with any outcome.

Those are the top two by a wide margin. I root for those guys against just about everyone. My number three is Ohio State, my dad's school, which got into my internal fan structure the earliest. I have a lot of good memories of visiting Ohio Stadium as a kid, and so I still root for the Buckeyes, except when they're playing NU or Texas.

Then comes Indiana, alma mater for my mom and just about every other relative that I have. Sure, I've like IU more in basketball than in football for obvious reasons. For a long time, I was a Bobby Knight apologist when he was the Hoosier coach. I still believe that if the General didn't exist, you'd have to invent him. He's a voice for college sports that's funny in press conferences and outrageous, worthy of discussion, and so on. That said, the guy's been more than a little nuts since the mid 90s, and probably shouldn't still be doing this. And I still root for the Hoosiers without him.

After that, it gets hazier about the teams I follow. I've got some lesser loyalties to North Carolina and UCLA, which serve as my teams in the ACC and Pac 10. I've taken classes at UCLA and my brother-in-law went to UNC. I would normally have put DePaul, official alma mater of Our Woman in LA, in with those schools, but alas, she doesn't care much about Blue Demon b'ball, so it seems stupid for me to.

There ends the digression. Which brings us back to Kelvin Sampson, new Hoosier coach. He's an interesting choice. Currently being investigated by the NCAA for recruiting violations, he could bring some postseason sanctions with him to Bloomington. And it's kind of ironic that the only time he's made it to the Final Four is the year that he got beaten by the hated Mike Davis and his Indiana team.

That said, he's also one of the best coaches in the Big 12, home of the Mighty Mighty Longhorns. And that brings us to the favor that IU has granted me.

See, the Longhorns, long a football power, have gotten good at basketball the last few years. And Sampson's teams were among the Horns' toughest competition in the conference. With Sampson gone, it's a longer, straighter highway between Austin and wherever the Final Four is in a given year.

As a Longhorn fan, I'm not worried about Baylor, Texas Tech, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas State (even with crazy Bob Huggins), or even the much improved Texas A&M. Missouri's a few years away, Iowa State's not great, Okie State's nothing special.

Which leaves us with Kansas and Oklahoma. Tough competition.

With Sampson gone, one down, one to go. I'd make a joke about KU coach Bill Self in here, but my friend Rob (a Kansas alum) can do it better - he's got a million of them.

So thanks, Indiana. We Longhorns salute you. Bye, Kelvin. Won't miss you.

So that's my IU coach post, and I'm sticking to it.

The Bottom One for the week? It's the TV show LOST again. I know lots of folks thought last night was all great and everything, but to me it was just another nail in the show's coffin. I've taken to reading while it's on so as to cut my anger levels at the show's incessant teasing with a fact here and a fact there.

Why didn't I like it? Mostly because just about everything that was interesting was in the trailer - which was 30 seconds long. Am I wrong to be glad that Katey Sagal dumped Locke in the flashback? Am I wrong to be angry that psycho torture creep Sayid and psycho bad actress Ana Lucia were right about the tool that they captured, even though he didn't apparently do anything wrong other than lie?

And again, who gave psycho junkie hobbit bastard Charlie a gun? Was that in the script, or did he just bring it to the set that day?

I'll grant you that the poker scenes between Jack and Sawyer (two of the only characters on the show that I still sort of like) was entertaining, but was it worth all the other garbage? Am I wrong?

That's fine if you think so. I just need some TV methadone. Said it before, I'll say it again.

Mister, you know a clinic where I can get clean of LOST?

I had a couple of other Bottom One candidates, by the way. But they lost some steam. Thought I'd lost my wedding ring the other day. Freaked out, looked everywhere, opened up all the pipes to all the sinks in our house, releasing a terrible odor. Found the ring in my hamper.

Am I wrong to blame Locke and Sayid for this?

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