Life out here by Bret Kofford: March gladness

March 21, 2001

I am not one to get caught up in the frenzies that sweep the nation.

I do not tie yellow, red, purple or any other ribbons around my oak tree, my antenna, my lapel or my gargantuan head.

During Super Bowl week I am super bored with all the super hype. Then I'm super bored by the Super Bowl, super bored by the super halftime show and super bored again by the Super Bowl. I often take a super nap during the Super Bowl. Then I am super bored by the call from the super president to the super coach and super bored by whether the Super Bowl superhero will be going to Disneyland, a super place.

I don't watch the World Series because the damn Yankees are always in it and either Tim McCarver or Bob Costas is bound to wax poetic at length about George Steinbrenner but not once mention he needs a better rug.


I am so immune from national/international frenzy that I only get caught up in one of every three fads Madonna starts, although I am now going with the cowboy hat, wife-beater undershirt and low-belted, low-slung jeans look the Material Barrel Racer has been sporting recently.

Still, while I am largely immune from fads and national uproars, I am not immune from madness, specifically March Madness.

Yes, I am a college basketball junkie. Each year I start my fixing by buying Street & Smith's annual college basketball yearbook, which I study just to be prepared.

When college games start showing up on the tube, life around my house changes, I think for the better.

My wife will say, "Who's playing?" as she walks by and sees me watching yet another game on ESPN.

"It's the Austin Peay Governors versus the Murray State Racers. It could have implications regarding the Ohio Valley Conference championship," I will say.

"That's good," my wife will say as she leaves the room.

By March I am more than ready for the big tournament.

How into the tournament am I? I start joyously filling out my brackets the minute I can get a printout, even if I am not expecting to enter an office pool.

How into the tourney am I? We have a news meeting at 11 a.m. every day. Usually the meeting is a place to wind down from a pressure-filled morning full of deadlines, to discuss future stories and reporting roadblocks, to make inappropriate remarks about co-workers in the room. Often the meetings roam aimlessly until people start wandering out in boredom or frustration.

Last Thursday and Friday I kept a tight rein on the meetings because I had to catch the end of the UCLA-Hofstra and Gonzaga-Virginia games.

"Very funny story. Now get out," I said to reporters Friday as I spun around to flip on the television in the same room.

How into the tournament am I? I have been known to schedule my vacation around it.

I have won big office NCAA tournament pools and would have won loads of money if betting were legal. I am leading our little office pool this year, too, and would be looking forward to winning a small amount of money if betting were legal.

That might lead you to think I have some special knowledge, but one year our office pool was won by a woman who didn't know a jump shot from a jumpstart and asked, "What kind of name is Iona for a college? Is there another part to that name, like Iona brown car or Iona Labrador?"

So I may know little or I may know too much. Still, I'll give you some hints on how you might win some money in your office basketball tourney pool, if, of course, betting were legal:

1. Always take little Gonzaga and little Butler in upsets in the first couple rounds.

2. Big East teams are overrated because they are in the East Coast media markets with all those loudmouth sports writers and loudmouth sports anchors. Big East teams usually lose early.

3. Founding Fathers teams — George Mason, James Madison, George Washington, Barney Princeton — are competitive in first-round games but usually lose.

4. Teams with the funny names from the Northeast — Siena, Bucknell, Adelphi, Canisius, Drexel, Rider, Monmouth, Boston College — always lose.

5. Teams from the Mid-American Conference — Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, OhhowIwishagainIwasin Michigan, Kent State, Ball State, Miami of Ohio, Ohio University — usually get upset victories in the first round.

6. Always consider the TMWG factor, which tends to eliminate teams within the first few rounds. It already got Notre Dame this year and will soon get Gonzaga and Kansas.

7. Speaking of too many white guys, BYU always gets knocked out in the first round because it has TMWMG and is as stiff and uncomfortable as a white starched shirt on a hot summer day.

8. If it is not too late, take Arizona this year.

Now that I have gone through this public catharsis, I feel a bit of relief from my March Madness.

But the good thing about March Madness is it lasts a few days into April.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles