Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...
Dear Gary: Why would you not even mention the Kansas-Michigan State game in your Friday Look Ahead? I bet your employer was really happy about that. But it's not surprising because you hate Kansas ... Bill Self will prove you wrong again, just like always. Go Jayhawks!
This email obviously came Friday, and the shot about not mentioning the Kansas-Michigan State game is probably fair. Absolutely, I should've mentioned that game. But the point about my employer being upset is off-base, because that's not how things operate around here. Just so you know, none of my bosses have ever put pressure on (or even asked) me to highlight something because it's on CBS. Or to take it easy on the NCAA because it's a "business" partner? Or to do anything that might blur the line between how I report and what the network broadcasts, and I think that's worth mentioning because I do know such isn't the case for all writers who work for major media companies. But it is the case for me, and I'll just leave it at that.
And now I'll ask one question: Why would I hate Kansas?
Bill Self and his staff are among the easiest staffs to get along with. They're always accessible, always great, and I think you'd have a hard time finding anybody in my business who hates Kansas or that staff for the reasons I mentioned. But it is funny, the way fans fire off emails like this, and it comes from every region of the country, from virtually every fan base.
For instance, I got one from a Pac-10 fan last night who accused me of "East Coast" bias (even though I live in the South). I was sitting with Luke Winn of Sports lllustrated at the North Carolina-Wake Forest game, so I showed it to him, and we laughed about it, and he said he gets the same type of stuff daily. It goes with the job. But as we were sitting there waiting for tip-off, we started talking about whether there was really anybody or any program that we actually hate, and, swear to God, neither of us could name a single school that would fall under that category. We just don't think in those terms, as hard as that might be to believe. So though we all have coaches we get along with better than others, SIDs who are more helpful than others, and players who are more accessible than others, the idea that we have it in for any particular coach or program is just absurd.
My hate is used on other things -- like hotel rooms far from the elevator and rental cars with no outlet for an iPod.
Those things drive me nuts.
Specific basketball programs, not so much.