Head Coach of State: Imagining College Basketball’s Biggest Names on the 2016 Debate Stage

As we spin deeper and deeper into the 2016 election cycle, we’re further subjected to the lunacy of political debates. We watch as a buttoned up old foggies do their best to shout the loudest and zing one another all the way to the White House. 

When I watch, I can’t help but think about who else might be fun to throw into that ridiculous setting. Naturally, I think of what some of our favorite (and least favorite) college basketball coaches would look like up on that stage. 

So….

fox-news-gop-debate-stage

ANDERSON COOPER: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the first, and hopefully last, college basketball coaches debate! We’ve brought together some of the biggest faces and voices in the college hoops world to discuss the biggest issues facing the sport. Without further adieu, let’s bring out our coaches.

[APPLAUSE]

ANDERSON COOPER: Each of the coaches will be given 30 seconds to make an opening statement, and we start with Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan, who doesn’t even coach any more.

BO RYAN: Thanks, Anderson. I’m here because I believe in the values this game was founded on. Fundamentals. Passing. And of course, hard work. And now that I mention it, know what else I miss? The shorts used to have belts. Remember that? None of this fancy elastic. That’s for showoffs. I want players in belts, and I want them taking set shots. That is my basketball.

ANDERSON COOPER: Ok, moving on. Coach Calipari?

JOHN CALIPARI: Personally, I love this game. I love it just the way we play it at this level. The NBA players may be better, but the quality of our game is so much higher. I don’t want that to change. I think it’s important for players to learn this style before going off to the NBA. The NBA’s age limit has helped so many players that it would be devastating to let them jump right to the NBA or hamper them by making them stay longer. The one-and-done system works. I call them “one and funs”!

[MILD LAUGHTER, LOTS OF EYE ROLLING]

ANDERSON COOPER: Next up, Tom Izzo, from Michigan State.

TOM IZZO: THANKS ANDERSON, HAPPY TO BE HERE.

ANDERSON COOPER: Coach Izzo, why are you screaming?

TOM IZZO: THIS IS JUST HOW I TALK. GET USED TO IT. IF YOU DONT LIKE IT, YOU CAN GIVE ME 10 PUSHUPS OR RUN A SUICIDE. THATS THE KIND OF DISCIPLINE THIS GAME REQUIRES.

ANDERSON COOPER: Are you going to use the rest of your time?

TOM IZZO: I’M OUT OF BREATH AND MY LUNGS ARE BLEEDING.

ANDERSON COOPER: Alright, then let’s move on to Coach K.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Thanks, Anderson. So great to up here on stage with so many great coaches who have all amassed amazing win totals…(whisper) but all less than my thousand wins.

And so many of them have national championships, (whisper) but I have four.

They are able to recruit top high school stars and mold them into the great players we all know and love (whisper) but I can do both of those better than any of them.

I wish them all the best this season (whisper) but I know that I will crush their dreams.

ANDERSON COOPER: From one of the legends on stage to our youngest participant,  National Champion Jay Wright from Villanova.

[FEMALE AUDIENCE WOOS AND WHISTLES]

JAY WRIGHT: (winks)

ANDERSON COOPER: (fanning himself) Whew, ok. And finally, to Coach Pitino.

[CROWD BOOS]

RICK PITINO (as boos dissipate): Folks…

HECKLER IN THE CROWD: TALK ABOUT YOUR TEAM’S SEX SCANDAL!

RICK PITINO: Heh, well…

OTHER HECKLER IN THE CROWD: TALK ABOUT YOUR OWN SEX SCANDALS!

RICK PITINO: Well, Anderson. I think I’m just going to get going. That OK with you?

ANDERSON COOPER: That’s probably best, for you and for this blog post.

RICK PITINO: See you, fellas.

JOHN CALIPARI: …And that’s why I’ve won 8 of my last 9 against Louisville.

*RICK PITINO begins to growl as he’s held back by Louisville’s mascot and dragged off the stage*

debate-coaches

ANDERSON COOPER: OK, let’s move on then. There are a lot of issues facing college basketball right now. We’ll start with the most pressing: scoring. Points per game were up this year, after changes to freedom of movement and of course, the 30 second shot clock. Gentleman, are you in favor of the new rules? Do they go far enough?

JAY WRIGHT (standing with National Championship trophy): Hey, they work for me.

BO RYAN: NO! The 30 second shot clock is an abomination. It’s an aberration. 30 seconds? I propose longer! 30 MINUTES on the shot clock!

ANDERSON COOPER: Coach Ryan, each half is only 20 minutes…

BO RYAN: Irrelevant! You can’t tell me or my boys when to shoot. No one can. That’s an infringement on their God given rights. They’ll shoot when they are good and ready, after twelve or maybe eighteen passes. We’ll shoot when we want and we’ll win 8-6, but we will win.

ANDERSON COOPER: Coach Ryan, as we already stated, you don’t even coach anymore.

BO RYAN: It doesn’t matter! Our boys are being forced to shoot and pass when the government says so! And the out of bounds line? Doesn’t it mean anything? Students and mascots charging onto our courts. Stealing our hard earned hardwood for themselves. You can make all of your rules and fines and regulations. I know how to truly fix the problem. At each gym, we build a wall!

ANDERSON COOPER: OK, I think we’ve all heard that one. Let’s let someone else talk. Coach K?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You know, I’ve coached with all kinds of shot clocks. I’ve coached Duke, Team USA, all kinds of teams. Make the rules anything. I don’t care. I’ll figure it out. And I will crush you.

JOHN CALIPARI: I agree. Make the rules anything, and we’ll make do. Shot clock, court storming, uniforms, fouls, non-fouls: who cares? Change all the rules…except one. Gotta make these kids to come to college for at least a year before heading to the NBA. Those three elective classes they take are experiences they’ll never forget.

TOM IZZO: I CAN’T SAY I AGREE. I’M NO BO RYAN, I THINK A LITTLE SHOT CLOCK KEEPS THE GAME MOVING. WE GOTTA KEEP EVERYTHING MOVING. MOVE, MOVE, MOVE. LET’S GO, LET’S GO. WOO! I AM SWEATING. WE GOT A HOOP UP HERE? LET’S DO SOME MIKAN DRILL.

ANDERSON COOPER: Boy, this debate is off the rails.

JAY WRIGHT: Hey, Anderson. I just want to say that my team is more talented this year than it was last year, when we won the championship.

ANDERSON COOPER: Why are you bringing that up?

JAY WRIGHT: Just worth remembering (winks).

ANDERSON COOPER: Ok, let’s get back to business. Should college players be paid?

JOHN CALIPARI: More than we already-

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Shut up, John.

MOST OF THE COACHES, ALL AT ONCE: Student-athletes! Amateurs! Values! Love of the game!

izzo-bo

ANDERSON COOPER: Ok, ok. Next topic. Where do you stand on the current NCAA Tournament format and selection process? Coach K?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: I like it in the years we won the championship. When we lose to Mercer or Lehigh, I can definitely see it’s flaws.

ANDERSON COOPER: So what is the issue then?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We didn’t win.

TOM IZZO: WE LOST TO A 15 SEED THIS YEAR, BUT THAT’S WHY THE TOURNAMENT IS GREAT! I WANTED MORE. I BURST INTO THE MIDDLE TENNESEE LOCKER ROOM AFTER THEY BEAT US AND OFFERED MY SERVICES AS A PRO BONO ASSISTANT FOR THE REST OF THEIR TOURNEY RUN. I’D DO THAT EVERY YEAR. IF MY TEAM LOSES, I JOIN THAT TEAM, IF THEY LOSE, I MOVE AGAIN. I JUST COACH AND COACH AND COACH UNTIL THE NETS GET CUT DOWN, THEN I RETREAT TO THE FOREST FOR A FEW MONTHS UNTIL MY WINDPIPES RECOVER.

BO RYAN: I miss when the NIT used to mean something! That was special. And enough with the football stadiums for the Final Four. We should be playing in a church basement or rec center. I’ll grab a mop at halftime. I’ll work the snack bar! I’ll baby sit your kids. Teach them how to throw bounce passes like men. How to box out your family Labrador. Yeah, I’ll do that.

JOHN CALIPARI: I…am not so sure anyone should let you babysit their children.

BO RYAN: Zip it, greaseball! Ever since I ended your undefeated season, you haven’t respected me!

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI (grinning): Who won the championship that season?

JAY WRIGHT: This year? (wink)

TOM IZZO: I WON A CHAMPIONSHIP BECAUSE MATEEN CLEAVES AND I USED TO WAKE UP AND WATCH FILM AT 4 IN THE MORNING EVERY DAMN DAY. THEN WE’D EACH EAT A BOX OF WHEATIES, DO WIND SPRINTS UNTIL HE HAD CLASS, AND THEN WHEN HE’D COME BACK HE’D START RUNNING AGAIN.

JOHN CALIPARI: Wait, would you still be running the whole time?

TOM IZZO: I NEVER REALLY STOP MOVING, IT’S PROBABLY A SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION.

BO RYAN: You’re such a damn go-getter, Izzo. You have any eligibility left? I’d take you as a walk-on for my team.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: You don’t have a team! You retired.

BO RYAN: That’s enough out of you, Polack! We’re talking real basketball here.

TOM IZZO: YOU WANT TO GRAB A FEW BEERS? TALK ABOUT 1-3-1 ZONES, AND MAYBE CLOSE OUT THE NIGHT WITH SOME BOX OUT DRILLS?

BO RYAN: You read my mind, Tommy Boy.

ANDERSON COOPER: Ok aaaaand their leaving. I can’t imagine anyone is actually watching this debate anymore. How’s about we wrap it up?

JOHN CALIPARI: Anderson, we didn’t settle anything tonight, did we? Did any rules change?

ANDERSON COOPER: No, this is just a debate.

JAY WRIGHT: You can still recruit all the one-and-dones.

JOHN CALIPARI: Ok, good. Just double-checking.

ANDERSON COOPER: Ok, before anyone breaks any NCAA rules and before Tom Izzo rips off his sweaty shirt, we thank you for taking part in tonight’s debate. Tune into college basketball halftime and pregame shows all season long to hear analysts debate the sport’s most important issues, with the NCAA never changing any of them. I’m Anderson Cooper, goodnight.

**

Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. He has also contributed to SALTMoney.org, Rush The Court, ESPN.com, and USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain. If you have any suggestions, tips, ideas, or questions, email them to palestraback@gmail.com.

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