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David McKnight

I encountered one of my best Final Four Fan lines when Larry Brown was coaching at Kansas. Thanks to Tom Talks, I can finally use it twenty years later.

Oklahoma and Kansas advanced to the title game of the 1988 Final Four in Kansas City. Duke had made it to the semifinals, which is one reason I was traveling out that way. I was "driving around" in Oklahoma and Kansas looking for some good sidebar pieces on fan reaction to that neighborly geographic matchup in Kansas City. (I used to go out West on vacations and "drive around" looking for interesting stuff to write about.) So I wound up on the Kansas-Oklahoma line and made stops in Coffeyville, Kan., and South Coffeyville, Okla., to chat with local hoops fans about the title game. I thought that Coffeyville and South Coffeyville reaction would be geographically poetic or at least in the humorous tradition of the Old West that Will Rogers always enjoyed talking about.

And thus s an Oklahoma enthusiast, in predicting a Sooners victory over Larry Brown's Jayhawks, who provided a vivid if philosophically "flavored" assessment of basketball and life across the line in Kansas.

The Sooner backer asserted: "Ain't nothing over there but scalawags and sunflowers."

Of course, Brown and the Jayhawks won that NCAA title game. And naturally, neither my free-lance story nor the choice quote from South Coffeyville, Okla., ever saw the light of day back in North Carolina because I had violated the first rule of UNC Tar Heel journalism:

Never say anything unpleasant about the state of Kansas.

Now some of us are trying to convince the UNC journalism community that it should not be an ethics violation to say something nice about the Show-Me State of Missouri. After all, Frank McGuire, Larry Brown and Roy Williams all won NCAA title coaching victories there. And if that isn't enough, don't forget that Tyler Hansbrough and Ed Williams are from there too.

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