Sports Briefs: Shark Week with Jerry Tarkanian

(Sponsored by 3 Spoons Yogurt) 

Chris: I have never seen a shark wear a toupee, which implies only one logical explanation: the Discovery Channel's camera crew has yet to ascertain the location of a shark haberdashery. How much would a thick head of hair aided Jaws' short-lived movie career? How irresistible would Jabberjaw have been if he could have had a flowing mane to go along with his sense of humor? How many more NCAA championships could Jerry Tarkanian have won if he had shown up on recruiting trips wearing a strawberry-blonde coonskin hat?

Joe: Coach Jerry Tarkanian was a highly successful college basketball coach, despite the NCAA harassing him about his style and resulting in a winning lawsuit for Coach.

Ralphie: Tarkanian was definitely a good coach, but he was sort of a crazy guy.

Chris: Having first heard of Tarkanian during the latter stages of his UNLV coaching tenure, my interest was piqued by his ability to get talented teenage basketball players to want to play for him, despite his strong resemblance to a 90-year-old Uncle Fester. And while he may not have been able to illuminate light bulbs in his mouth, he did enjoy the taste and texture of cotton towels in his mouth, even choosing to forgo the use of a knife and fork.

Ralphie: He recruits with a sense of humor. I think the stories about his recruiting methods are funny.

Joe: Coach Tarkanian recruited like he coached - hard and very competitive. He did what it took to win. The coach had a fast, running style of play that would exhaust the opponent as they fell prey to his team. They swarmed on defense around the ball like sharks on a wounded prey. Simply playing the Running Rebels made you shark bait.

Chris: The greatest achievement that happened under Coach Tarkanian at UNLV, other than winning the 1990 championship, was allowing a person dressed in a shark costume into their basketball games. While not UNLV's official mascot, that shark actually predated the country's first official shark mascot, San Jose's Sharkie. This led to nicknaming the gymnasium the "Shark Tank" and, eventually, selecting one player from each visiting team that lost to UNLV and giving them their choice of either being forced to watch "Jaws 3-D" on loop for 24 hours or being thrown into an occupied shark tank at center court after the game.

Joe: Coach Tarkanian is similar to a shark in that he would bite a towel during the tense moments of a game. He had a mean and vicious look that earned him the name of Shark.

Ralphie: The way he circles and studies his "victims" a.k.a. recruits is like a shark. He could have done a Circle the Stadium promotion to see if they could get enough fans to circle the whole stadium.

Chris: After Tarkanian resigned from UNLV, the San Antonio Spurs signed him as their head coach, at which point I expected HemisFair Arena to schedule a "towel night." Hand towels seemed to be a better promotional giveaway than dispersing small buckets of chum to each patron. The Spurs also refrained from giving away a two-pack of teeth: one actual shark tooth and one tooth from Tarkanian's game-worn dentures.

Joe: Sharks continually shed their teeth and can shed approximately 35,000 in a lifetime.

Ralphie: Sharks never get cavities!! Lucky!! That means they never have to go to the dentist!!

Try on a new pair of Sports Briefs with the Gab Four every Friday. Find out more about Joe, Chris, Brad and Ralphie, and read their solo columns on their individual pages.

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