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Letter from the Editor

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I'm writing this column later than usual on Tuesday morning, because I had more important things to do earlier — namely, filling out my March Madness brackets for the Flyer's office pool.

Years ago, I won an office bracket pool by picking nothing but the favorites. So now I usually enter two brackets — one that's conservative, favorite-oriented, and predictable and another one that's decided by coin flips, hunches, wild guesses, and blog rumors. I never win.

Some people spend hours factoring in the locations of the games, injured players, momentum, bench strength, and relative conference records. They will never win, either. It's a total waste of time. The winner of your office pool will be the sister of that new guy in accounting, the one who made her picks on a cell phone after slamming a pitcher of margaritas at ¡Chiwawa!

Some people pick games based on coaches' records in the tournament. This is also pointless. For example, Michigan State's Tom Izzo is seen in many quarters as a tactical genius, while former Memphis coach John Calipari is widely disparaged as a hack. Yet, Calipari's Tigers beat the living crap out of MSU in the tournament a few years back. What difference did coaching make? Bubkes.

It's also said that teams reflect their coaches. Bunk. If so, then why aren't all Duke players sour, pinch-faced ferrets, like Mike Krzyzewski? Why weren't the late Coach Rick Majerus' teams composed of massively overweight loners living in a hotel room? Former Indiana coach Bob Knight won a national championship using nothing but blistering rage, profanity, and intimidation. I doubt that his players "reflected" him. They were just terrified he was going to hit them with a chair.

Memphis' Josh Pastner is the anti-Bob Knight, a relentlessly happy warrior who spouts positive coach-speak to anybody within earshot. He doesn't drink, smoke, or curse. He believes fervently and repeatedly in "positive energy." He loves Memphis. He loves Tiger Nation. He loves you. (Yes, you!) His team won 30 games this season. If we are lucky, we will get to see him coach against the genius of Tom Izzo in the second round. I have the Tigers losing that game, but what do I know? I hope I'm wrong. I usually am.

In closing, those of us who fill out brackets should remember the words of the late, great Eugene McCarthy, who said, "Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."

Bruce VanWyngarden
brucev@memphisflyer.com

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