Killing The Clock Before The Clock Starts

I’ll bet you think that writers just kill time all day, waiting for a 5:00 P.M. game. Not true. I spent most of the day watching other people kill time. It's a few hours before game time, but that hasn't stopped fans going to the arena. They aren't even allowed to go in yet, but they seem perfectly happy sitting on the grass in front of Reliant Stadium. Like everything in Texas, the stadium is big. How big? It’s slightly smaller than Rhode Island. One fact about the stadium that will probably surprise you is that it’s the only stadium with a retractable roof, and natural grass that hosts both an NFL team and the rodeo. Really? I thought the White House gym was set up like that, too. (By the way, now I’m seeing the players warm up, and they definitely are not playing on real grass).

It never seems like it’s a big sports event until I hear our national anthem. Okay, our second national anthem which is: “Who needs two? I’ve got two right here.” Well, I heard this called out many times by guys in dark glasses today, so this is officially a Big Event. There are rumors that another illegal activity takes place during the Final Four. People bet on who’s going to win, how many points are they going to win by, end even whether the two teams in the game will have a combined higher or lower score than the bookies predict. That last kind of bet is called, "under and over." I was just walking around for about an hour or so, and I have to tell you that the under and over for the temperature and humidity is about 182. If I were a betting man, I’d go for the over. This is a rare situation in which the fans who walk to the stadium might actually sweat more than the players.

As I watch Butler and VCU warm up, I can’t help wishing what so many other people have been wishing for ever since these teams made it to the semi-finals. Like most fans, I wish that it were possible for these two teams to meet in the Finals. That’s what America would like to see. That way, an underdog-ish, mid-major school would be guaranteed of beating the big guys. But Butler and VCU are on the same side of the “draw,” so one of them won’t be playing on Monday for the Championship. That dream Championship game can’t happen. Or can it? It was “impossible” for VCU to win one game, let alone be in the semifinals. It was impossible for Butler to get this far without their star from last year. So maybe something “impossible” will happen in the next couple of hours to make these two teams play for the championship. Maybe the NCAA will disqualify Kentucky and UCONN for some violation that nobody ever heard of.

Speaking of the NCAA, they always claim that they are open to suggestions and that they try to make the game better. Oh, really? Well, this year there are a couple of things that can cause so much confusion that I think the Competition Committee should consider changing the rules. First of all, three out of four of the teams have the same colors – blue and white. Isn’t that a big excessive? Is there any wonder that there are turn-overs? It also causes problems outside the stadium. Three-fourths of the people walking around town are wearing blue and white T-shirts. I have to look at their chests to see which team they’re rooting for. It’s gotten me some very dirty looks. VCU had the common sense to wear black and gold.

There’s another confusing T-shirt that people are proudly wearing. It says, “Coach Cal.” The question is, do they mean Coach Calipari or Coach Calhoun? Maybe they’re hedging their bets. Regardless, it is confusing. VCU fans wouldn’t have the same problem with their coach. How many “Coach Shakas” do you know?