On The Road To The Sweet Sixteen

If this is Wednesday, then I'm in Philadelphia at least temporarily and brotherly love seems to be in short supply here at the airport where Larry the Lawyer and two of his Villanova alumni buddies spent a full 20 minutes explaining why the Florida Gators are lower on the basketball evolution chain than the pond scum that evolved into lower life forms. They are convinced the Gators will get hosed by Georgetown, which, they say, is a good thing because Nova would kill us.

I was sitting in the Jet Rock Café, Bar and Grill in the shopping mall that's between the B and C concourses at the City of Brotherly Love (I guess that's what they call it) Airport, doing some serious research to see if the difference in a Philly cheese steak on a hoagie roll in Philadelphia is markedly different than the ones served up in some of Hogtown's finest eating establishments. Well, I probably wouldn't have stopped except that Ginger the waitress asked me if I was from Florida (she's really quick … she probably would have figured this out even if I hadn't been wearing the polo with the Gator head and the blue jacket with a Gator head on the front and Florida in big orange letters on the back). When I said yes, she said she wanted to be a Gator someday but the out of state tuition was a killer so instead of UF she's doing it at a community college and hoping to someday transfer to Shirley Temple. So I had very little choice. I pretty much had to go inside, conduct my serious research and leave her a tip with the promise that she would put it in her UF out of state tuition fund. I'm relatively certain she hasn't told this story to anyone else.

Anyway, I'm sitting there having this conversation about quantum physics (or was it modern day psychological applications of Freud?) with the lovely Ginger when Larry the Lawyer comes in with his buddies Carl and Mark. They got my attention when they hollered "Yo!" and when I looked up they simultaneously give me a mock chomp and a "Not!" to which I raised an eyebrow and said something to the effect of "Let me guess … nobody ever told your parents there was such a thing as sterilization or birth control?"

Bad move on my part. That was the equivalent of giving a Slinky to a Seminole. They laughed really loud and suddenly I had their undivided attention --- attention that should have gone to poor little Ginger who is being forced to work her cute little fingers to the bone so she can save up money to fulfill her lifetime dream of getting a college degree so she can one day cure cancer.

Larry the Lawyer --- I know he's a lawyer because he gave me his business card that says he's a lawyer --- and his buddies were all decked out in their best Villanova gear. They came over to my table and proceeded to tell me that Florida has no chance against a Big East team and that basketball was practically invented by the Big East.

"Just check the number of national championships the Big East has won in basketball," Larry told me. "We've won TEN national championships and the SEC has only won eight."

I casually mentioned that the Big East has only won five national championships. I knew where Larry the Lawyer was going with this.

"Cincinnati has two … Marquette has one … Louisville has two … Georgetown has one … Villanova has one … Connecticut has two and Syracuse has one … that's 10 anyway you count it," Larry the Lawyer said.

Carl and Mark nodded their heads and then gave each other a high five.

I casually mentioned that Cincinnati was in the Missouri Valley Conference when it won its two championships, Marquette was an independent and Louisville was in the Metro Conference. I also mentioned that Kentucky has more national championships (7) than the Big East (5), plus there's Arkansas in the SEC with one. And I also mentioned that UCLA has 11 national championships, the ACC has 10 national championships and the Big 10 has nine.

Confuse them with the facts. That's always been my policy. It works well with Seminoles and seems to be having the same effect with Larry the Lawyer.

"Well, your Gators would get killed by even an average Big East team," said Larry the Lawyer.

I asked if he thought Syracuse was average and he said absolutely not since Syracuse had won the Big East Tournament.

Florida beat Syracuse, I told him.

"Well Georgetown's better than Syracuse," Larry the Lawyer said defiantly.

Those same Georgetown Hoyas that lost to Vanderbilt, the same Vanderbilt that the Gators beat twice, and those same Georgetown Hoyas that lost to the same Syracuse team that Florida beat in Madison Square Garden, I asked?

"Well Georgetown will kill you guys," Larry the Lawyer told me. "Roy Hibbert is going to sink Noah's Ark!"

Carl and Mark were giggling out of control over that one. Larry the Lawyer thought he had trumped me.

What happens if Boston College beats you like they did last year when they were in the Big East, I asked?

"It won't happen," said Larry the Lawyer. "Mark my words. You guys are on borrowed time. We'll kill you!"

Does that mean we beat Georgetown, I asked?

"No!" said Larry the Lawyer. "No way you beat Georgetown."

Then how will we play you guys if we lose to Georgetown, I asked?


Larry the Lawyer pauses, then says he'll see me at the Metrodome in Minnie Hapless. He leaves along with his clones.

Ginger asks me if these are the most unreasonable, illogical people I have ever met and I tell her one day she will meet Seminole football fans.

* * *

ON THE PLANE TO MANY SODAS: During the two-hour flight to Minnie Hapless, I sit by a young woman who is an elk farmer. I didn't know that elk are farmed. Little did I know that elk farming is profitable because ground elk antlers are used to make aphrodisiacs in Asia and here in the US, they are used in home remedies and other "natural" medicines.

I discover that compared to ground elk antlers, Viagra is like popping a couple of aspirin.

Elk, I am told, is rather tasty even though it is so lean that it burns rather easily on the grill. However, there is no great demand for elk meat so what elk farmers do is feed the elk (is elk plural or is it elks?) and wait for the antlers to fall off. When the antlers fall off, they walk around, pick them up and then sell them to the highest bidder.

You learn something every day.

* * *

SNOW AND SCIENCE: Many Sodas is Native American (see, I can be politically correct) speak which means COLD! It is colder than a well digger's butt here even though Ashley, the debutante who was my server at Hooters (it's right by the hotel, I didn't even have to drive), tells me the weather's pretty warm.

Uh, if it's so warm why is snow piled up about four feet high, I ask?

"Usually there's a lot more than that," said Ashley, who is a rather Nordic 6-0 tall blonde that some might consider stunning.

And the lakes are still frozen over, I mention.

"They should be thawed out by mid-April," she said.

But you said it's not cold (it was 39 at 9 p.m.)?

"It isn't," she said. "I didn't even need a jacket today."

I feel quite wimpy.

I ask Ashley who's going to win the basketball games this weekend.

"The state championships?" she asks. "I graduated from high school three years ago. I don't keep up with it anymore."

I tell her the NCAA regionals are being played at the Metrodome.

"Is your team playing?" she asks.

I answer yes and tell her it's Florida against Georgetown and Villanova against Boston College.

"Then your team will win," she said. "Your colors are pretty."

There you have it. It doesn't get much more scientific than that.

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