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The Dumb Mailbag: The SMU goaltending call, evaporating home-and-homes, jersey numbers, and more

Here’s some shit that pisses you the heck off

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at St. Mary’s Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

This might shock you, but offseason pandemic content inspiration is hard to come by. So, we asked you, our dear readers, to do our work for us.

The answers came pouring in by the millions (dozens) and there were enough quality submissions that it made more sense to just do a mailbag where I could expend minimal effort to provide you with minimal satisfaction.

Away we go!


I’ll tackle the SMU incident here because I actually remember it. I’m coming at this from the perspective of a former self-hating UConn fan (now just regular fan) who was rooting for the AAC to fail because I did not deserve nice things. So I took a lot of joy in this moment, blissfully unaware that Mick Cronin would one day coach the winning team.

Here’s the play in question:

In real time, my first instinct was that the officials got the call right. Then I looked at it 682 more times — several on TV in the ensuing moments and even more the next day while I was trying to develop Takes For The Internet. For The Win summarizes why the call was actually wrong right here, using language from the NCAA men’s basketball rule book:

“Violations- Goaltending. (Rule 9-17.5). When the ball contacts the backboard and any part of the ball is above the rim on a field goal attempt, it is considered to be on its downward flight. In such case, it is goaltending when the ball is touched by a player as long as it has a possibility of entering the basket.”

Those last 11 words are key: “as long as it has a possibility of entering the basket.” By that phrasing, a ball that is clearly short, long or wide, but might hit the rim anyway, is not eligible for goaltending. Just, for example, think of a baseline three that’s woefully short.

Cool. We’ve established that. Here’s something that’s gone undiscussed, however: During the game, the debate over this call was so short-lived that they went back to live play before the broadcast was even ready for it. There was no 10 minute monitor review/discussion/poetry reading/whatever else they do. Remember those days? For Steve Alford’s next job, he should go from arena to arena with a baseball bat, bashing every monitor he sees.


This really annoys me, especially when there’s some sort of shooting competition happening during timeouts and the poor little kid who needs to make a free throw for a $50 gift card has to do so with the fear that he might hit Travis Ford on the back of the head with a miss. We all know the designated rebounders under the basket are horrible at their jobs. Let the kid shoot. You know what’s great about the college basketball sideline setup? There’s a thing called A BENCH. There are chairs. Plenty of them! And if you need some sort of semi-circular formation to draw up a play in private, with all your players relatively close by, you can do that by only extending a couple feet out onto the court.

THIS ISN’T ALL ABOUT YOU, COACHES! It’s about Timmy from Scarsdale who finally has a chance to hit a 15-footer in front of 4,500 people.


I could write 10,000 words on this, but I’ll resist the urge. Some one-offs are OK. It makes sense when UConn and Syracuse play at Madison Square Garden every once in a while or for Jerry Colangelo to fly a bunch of his friends to Phoenix for a triple-header. I’m good with that.

What we don’t need is Greg Gard deciding he’s too good to go to Saint Mary’s and instead bringing Wisconsin to [checks notes] Sioux Falls to lose in overtime. Make Wisconsin go to Moraga! That place is hell to play in — just ask Gonzaga — and makes for an awesome college basketball atmosphere. Scared you’re gonna lose? You should be. But how much does a loss really hurt you? Saint Mary’s is a perennial tournament-caliber team and a loss on their home court in November is a blip on a resume that will undoubtedly have a bunch of great Big Ten wins. Then you get Saint Mary’s in the next year for a game that fans will want to see! You sell out every game anyway, but now you’ll get one on ESPN and potentially a Quad 1 or 2 win.

Play more home-and-homes, cowards.


I actually like the “airball” chant. It’s fun to remind opposing players that they are Bad At The Sport and to heckle them in a way that does not insult their family members. Fun Fact: When I was little and going to games with my dad, he would sometimes change the “airball” chant to “hairball.” I used to think it was very funny. My dad absolutely killed in the 10-year-old humor demographic.


No he wasn’t.


What an idea! How have I never seen this two-year-old Reddit post before? I love it. Give up a basket? Your punishment is now taking the ball up the court against VCU’s press with a ball that will bounce wherever the hell it wants. Will you cross your guy over and break free or will it take an odd hop and fall right into his hands? Can you dribble out of the trap at mid-court or will you bounce the ball off your foot like a doofus? I’ve never felt so alive.

Tune in next week as I discuss this idea with a physics professor and we talk about how shooting mechanics would have to change.


Absolutely no games should be played on Selection Sunday. At all. The committee’s job is hard enough and you cretins are going to rip them anyway. Let’s at least give them a few extra hours to put a bracket together. We don’t need Dan Gavitt marching into a conference room on Sunday morning with 12 different brackets, each with a different scenario, needing to make sure he gets the right one to Greg Gumbel before CBS begins the Selection Show at 10 a.m. next year.


This is fine and it’s stupid that coaches mostly wear suits on the sidelines. Still not as dumb as baseball managers wearing uniforms, though. Imagine that happening literally anywhere else (picture Gregg Popovich coaching in a Spurs jersey and shorts!). Anyway, how would you guys feel about Mid-Major Madness Fashion Week where we tackle issues like this and why coaches should never wear shorts ever?


Let’s make Daniel and Connor fight to the death. Daniel’s right though.


This is so effing stupid. The reason is that officials signal which jersey number committed a foul by using their hands (1 on the left hand and 4 on the right for No. 14 for example). This made sense for a time, but this method was quickly made obsolete by the invention of the Spoken Word and college basketball has not quite caught up to the times yet.


As someone who had a ton of sex all the time in college yes sir do not question me no I’m not a tremendous loser, I agree this was stupid. College kids do each other. They also kill off their imaginary grandparents at will just to get a week-long extension on a paper. It’s all part of the college process and it must be protected.


If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know this one really grinded my gears. Ground my gears? I don’t know.

UTA let Cross go after three-straight 20-win seasons, during which time he also won 23 of his conference games. Supposedly UTA wanted more. The department saw itself as a potential Gonzaga and Cross hadn’t delivered an NCAA Tournament appearance. Listen, almost every school that is not Gonzaga should try to be Gonzaga. The Bulldogs have been great for a long time. But the answer wasn’t to fire the guy who had just delivered your first top-75 (or top 100) finish in the KenPom era.

To be fair, Chris Ogden appears to have things moving in the right direction and UTA should be competitive going forward. You know, like Gonzaga.


Just give us jump balls already. Holy Moses.