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by Jeff Wilkin

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Shut up! Sit Down!

By Jeff Wilkin
Monday, March 26, 2012

Like a zillion other guys, I watched the celebrated college basketball tournament games this weekend.

This time of year, there are generally a bunch of good games. While all fans of the game appreciate an enthusiastic slam dunk; a quick, smart pass; and a dead-on-target jump shot from the far corner ... some fans are getting sort of annoyed with the acting on the sidelines.

Those would be fans like me, mostly. It seems that college coaches like Rick Pitino at Louisville and Jim Boeheim at Syracuse — just to name two — must go to acting school to scowl and stare down referees. It’s happening all the damn time. A call goes against a team, and a goggle-eyed coach gives the ref the evil eyes, the stare of death, the open-mouthed, silent scream of the tormented. I thought Roy Williams was close to tears a couple of times on Sunday, as his North Carolina Tar Heels were fading against Kansas.

These guys could give the great William Shatner tips on the art of the emote. What do they think is going to happen? Is the man in the striped shirt going to tremble with fear, rush over to apologize and reverse the call? That’s not the way of referees, at least not the ones I’ve been watching for the last 40 years.

It happens in baseball, too, but not as much. A close play at the plate or one of the bases might raise the ire of the boss man, and there will be hooting and hollering on the field and maybe a toss from the game. That’s part of the baseball scene. And for the really important calls, I guess they can go to instant replay. Same thing for football. They throw a flag, challenge the call and take their chances.

But college basketball? Damn — what misery! What drama! What tragedy! Oh, the humanity!

One of the these days, a coach is going to dispute a foul by throwing his arms to the sky, falling onto his knees, rolling over like a harpooned mackerel and flopping around like a madman. All this between sobs and cries of anguish. I’ve seen coaches jumping up and down because things aren’t going their way. Even Fran McCaffery, who made so many friends at Siena College, has had tantrums at Iowa that have made national news.

If it were me out there calling the game, I’d shake hands with both coaches before every show. I’d say something like, “Boys, we’re going to call ’em the way we see ’em. We’re damn honest .... we might miss one for you guys, and miss one for the other guys, but they will be honest mistakes and it will all even out in the end. Stomp around, wave your arms like that crazy Hawk at St. Joe’s, scream like a maniac or give me that nutty dagger vision ... and I will call a technical foul on you faster than a hot knife through a goose!”

It’s just a game. Wish all these coaches would sit back, take off their suit jackets, loosen their ties and just watch the guys play.

 
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