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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Couch Slouch: Disdain grows for NCAA basketball

People often ask me, “Why do you ignore college basketball?” Really? That’s like asking a vegan, “Why do you ignore cattle farms?

Okay, let me emphatically state that I am not trying to equate college hoops to cattle farms here – actually, to be fair, the cows are probably treated better than the jocks, at least until they’re slaughtered.

Why wouldn’t I ignore college basketball?

They just round up the usual suspects every year, and, believe you me, these people are awfully suspect. The game is rotten at its core; it’s only cheating if you get caught, and if you get caught, you’re only liable if you’re losing.

Anyhow, when I used to pay attention, I developed a Stockholm Syndrome situation with ESPN’s ubiquitous bracketologist, Joe Lunardi. By Championship Week, I’d feel such sympathy for Lunardi, I once offered to share my Ben & Jerry’s and beanbag chair with him if he ever showed up in my living room.

Did I watch Selection Sunday?

Uh, no.

I wouldn’t watch it even if Chris Rock were hosting; besides, it’s about as rigged as the Oscars. What, I need to room with Jay Bilas to know that Kansas and North Carolina are going to be No. 1 seeds?

Plus, back in the day, we’d get the entire bracket in 30 minutes on CBS – it was the most efficient half-hour on television. Now, the whole shebang has bloated to 120 minutes. Hey, I’m not sitting there for two hours to see what the 8-9 matchup in the Southeast Regional is unless they throw in a good cassoulet recipe and El Chapo makes a surprise appearance on set.

(Column Intermission: We now present our annual literary excerpt from serial author John Feinstein, who has cleared more forests with more bad prose than any scribe in America. In his latest college basketball tome, “The Legends Club,” he writes, “Elephants – and coaches – never forget.” Here it is again in case you missed it the first time: “Elephants – and coaches – never forget.” Available in bookstores everywhere!)

So what have I missed in college basketball this season?

Best I can tell, there have been only two compelling storylines:

When’s the next class LSU freshman sensation Ben Simmons will attend and who’s the next player Duke’s Grayson Allen will trip.

I can’t blame Simmons; he’s just using the system that’s available. He’s turned one-and-done into, like, one hour-and-done. Seriously, if you gave him GPS, a photo of the campus library and sat him down on the library steps with a librarian, he couldn’t find the library.

Meanwhile, Allen – enabled by his coach, Mike Krzyzewski – twice tripped an opponent in games last month. After the second incident, the ACC gave him a “reprimand” – ooh, a reprimand! – and Coach K scolded critics, saying this wouldn’t be a big deal if it weren’t Duke. He’s probably right about that; in any case, Allen is scheduled to trip a third opponent during the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

But the players don’t bother me – they are like cattle, used for two percent milk and tenderloins until their services are exhausted. It’s the coaches that bother me – the See No Evil Hear No Evil Do No Evil Block/Charge No Evil shim sham flimflam riffraff sitting on the bench in those fine suits with their fat wallets.

Jim Boeheim? A bum. John Calipari? Bum. Rick Pitino? Bum. Roy Williams? Bum.

If these fellas are earning big paychecks from institutions of higher learning, institutions of higher learning must be in a different business than they once were.

Boeheim and Co. run the whole shooting match, and no matter what they do, you can’t run ‘em out of town unless they miss March Madness three straight times.

Which brings us to Larry Brown. He’s at his third college coaching stop – UCLA, Kansas and now SMU – and he’s three-for-three for NCAA infractions. If there were a Recruiting Violators Anonymous program, he’d be John Calipari’s sponsor!

As it were, his SMU Mustangs are barred from postseason play in 2016, so, like Couch Slouch, at the moment Brown will be ignoring college basketball.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Since Peyton Manning is now unemployed, shouldn’t he just enter the Republican presidential race? I can think of four states he would win off the top of my head: Tennessee, Indiana, Colorado and Nebraska. (Rob Richardson; Leesburg, Va.)

A. Among his reforms – to cut through the slog of Washington politics – Peyton plans to run a hurry-up offense during Cabinet meetings.

Q. Sorry I missed your preview of Major League Soccer’s new season. Anyhoo, do you think the Seattle Sounders losing star striker Obafemi Martins to the Chinese Super League serves to strengthen the “China is killing us!” plank of Donald Trump’s platform? (Dan Sheerin; College Park, Md.)

A. You lost me at “Major League Soccer.”

Q. Seeing that the “Ask The Slouch” portion of your column is often the best part, do you feel guilty for not paying a living wage to contributors? (Joe Bennett; Houston)

A. Pay the man 75 cents, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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