The referee signaled the TV timeout and the players skated to their benches. On the scoreboard, the NCAA Public Service Announcement began uttering the now all-too-familiar words while showing the now all-too-familiar images for the bajillionth time.
The crowd responded. Over the course of the day the grumbles had given way to a smattering of boos, but by now the smattering had become a crescendo that even Michael Moore would have acknowledged.
The NCAA PSA had told the fans that there are 360,000 student-athletes participating in various sports. It had told the fans over and over and over and over and over and over and over. One began to wonder if the plan was to show the spot once for every student-athlete.
As a result, this writer offers the following Top 50 Alternatives to the NCAA PSA in the event that it makes its unwelcome presence felt again and again and again on Saturday. Stopping at 50 is, of course, completely artificial. One could make a list of Top 1,000 Alternatives. Or even Top 360,000.
But without further ado, here’s the list of conversation starters, questions and observations just in case you hear those opening lines that could otherwise force you into years of therapy, electroshock treatments or a frontal lobotomy.
50. Ya know, I’d kinda like to hear that Michigan fight song again.
49. Geez, I’ve never, ever heard what NCAA hockey team won the last back-to-back championships.
48. I was going to tape this game, but I used up all my blanks on the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
47. Whatever happened to Madge of Bounty “quicker picker upper” fame?
46. Did anyone ever really care about ring around the collar?
45. Name a coach with better hair than Don Lucia.
44. Now that Ron Mason has retired, name the best coach in the gray hair division.
43. Name a coach who is shorter than Blaise MacDonald.
42. Ginger or Mary Ann?
41. Farrah Fawcett or all the other Charlie’s Angels put together?
40. Boston Baked Beans or Buffalo wings?
39. Same question, only this time your gas-prone roommate is doing the eating.
38. True or false. Minnesota sold its soul to the devil when it recruited out of state.
37. True or false. The devil gave Minnesota its soul back as unusable when the Gophers recruited an Austrian.
36. I can’t get enough talk about Western regionals on campus sites.
35. “Mork and Mindy” or “Laverne and Shirley”? If you picked “Laverne” please stop reading. Please stop breathing. You do not deserve to live.
34. True or false. Girlfriends and wives could easily talk only during commercials, but choose not to only to tick their men off.
33. True or false. If given a choice between “talking about our relationship” and listening to the NCAA PSA for 360,000 times, men would unanimously choose the PSA.
32. Discuss the finer points of mascot etiquette.
31. Zamboni water. Hot or cold?
30. Whaddya mean, lukewarm?
29. Name your favorite co-host school of this tournament, Canisius or Niagara?
28. If the WNBA falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really exist?
27. What exactly is a Big Red?
26. Is there a better all-time double entendre than “Does she or doesn’t she?”
25. And did “only her hairdresser knows for sure” make it better or worse?
24. True or False. Slap Shot got robbed when the Academy denied it the “Best Picture” Oscar nomination.
23. Tampa Bay Devil Rays or Detroit Tigers?
22. Who led the nation in empty-net goals?
21. Adam Sandler as Happy Gilmore: philosopher, poet laureate or putz?
20. What is the school record for quickest rendition of the “M – I – N – N – E – S – O – T – A” cheer?
19. And has anyone been removed as leader of the cheer for spelling it wrong?
18. If a hotel’s fitness center has only one working bike and there’s absolutely no hot water for a 10:00 a.m. shower is it a Hyatt or a Motel 6?
17. If referee Steve Piotrowski visits the state of Maine, does he “put on the foil” as a precautionary measure?
16. Who would you choose to sing the national anthem: Britney or U2?
15. Same question only you could use earplugs without being unpatriotic.
14. If Tony Soprano were a college hockey coach, what would the team nickname be?
13. True or false. The 2004 Frozen Four in Boston is to the 2005 Frozen Four in Columbus, Ohio, as Tom Cruise is to Steve Buscemi.
12. Is there a player who gets more out of buying a vowel than Minnesota’s Garrett Smaagaard?
11. True or false. Reading the NCAA hockey rulebook for pure enjoyment is indicative of a serious problem.
10. True or false. Reading the NCAA recruiting handbook for pure enjoyment is indicative of a serious problem.
9. True or false. Reading this stupid article for pure enjoyment is indicative of a serious problem.
8 through 1. Minnesota’s eight skating cheerleaders. (They’re the answer, stupid. There is no question.)