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Kit Happens: The Best, Worst World Cup Uniforms

World Cup 2010 Logo

England Tops The List;
Slovenia ... Not So Much

One Great Season

The World Cup is the largest sporting event in the world, separated by four long, grueling years. In between you have qualifying matches, league championships, inter-league rivalries and friendlies, all of which afford you many opportunities to rock your favorite T-shirt, sweatshirt or cap while you cheer on your squad.

But the World Cup is the pinnacle of every nation's aspirations. First, you're lucky if your country even gets in the mix. And if your squad happens to be that lucky, it hires someone, or a team of someones, to take the colors of the country and design a home and away uniform for the national team.

BIO: Meet Bruce Sholl

Throughout the history of the Cup, there have been many iconic uniforms, objects of pride worn with heads held high. As often as not, these same kits are subject to ridicule and scorn, leaving you wondering just how people get paid to reduce the image of their country to fodder for global laughter in such a complete fashion. Other than an athlete's name, there is nothing more identifiable than the uniforms they wear:  Johnny Unitas eluding tackles on the field for the blue and white Colts, Babe Ruth  in Yankee pinstripes and the red and black that defined Michael Jordan

Team colors complete the image we associate with our heroes and, in an act which we think bonds us with our favorite players, we, too don the jerseys and team colors of our favorite squads, win or lose. Some famous athletes you wouldn't even recognize without their jerseys on, or wish you hadn't. Sometimes, you wish people would stay home and not support your team at all.

All of this to preface my picks for the best and worst kits in the World Cup:


England: From the land of Savile Row, these unis evoke a traditional feel worthy of the team that invented the sport. The solid red away kit is a throwback to the team that won it all on home soil in 1966, and fans are hoping these will help repeat the feat.

MORE: Meet The 2010 OGS World Cup Writers

Germany: Since Adidas is based in Germany, pride is on the line to deliver the best they can dream up. The home jersey has an understated black-red-gold stripe bisecting their patch, adding a touch of color without distracting. Well placed, it's a subtle way to inject the jersey with the national colors. The away blacks with gold numbering has a formal appeal, with red accents on the shoulders and neck. Tough to beat.

New Zealand: New Zealand may be best known for its stellar rugby squad, the All-Blacks. And keeping with this well-known look is a plus for what is sure to be one of the weakest eleven on the playing field. I'm a big fan of simple, solid color palettes and these do not disappoint.

Serbia:  I'm sure I'm not alone in my enthusiastic approval of the Serbs' home kit. A deep red with an offset white cross, and accented with a blue stripe on the sleeve, this look has to be a favorite for best kit. It's a perfect example of how a perfectly designed kit can draw in new fans for your team. Serb fans have something to look forward to when their team takes the field ... finally.

Ivory Coast:  Not quite sure if I love the textured image of the elephant on the jersey, but I can let it slide. Great use of color in both the home and away kits. The plain orange looks great and the green-striped aways are worth complementing. All around, the Ivorians rock a superb, well-rounded kit. The elephant in the badge is well designed also.


Slovenia: I'm not a fashion designer or expert by any means, but what kind of image does Slovenia want to project with these uniforms? Are the zigs and zags representative of something specific? Mountains? Is Slovenia mountainous? They're distracting and simply quite odd, like most Slovenians I know.

Chile:  The worst thing I can say about this kit is that it evokes absolutely no emotion from me. Kind of like that Chilean Rioja I picked up last night at the corner bodega: bland and left an unsavory taste in my mouth.

Honduras:  The big "H" plastered on the front seems odd to me. A smaller "H" somewhere else on the jersey would have served it better, giving the badge more prominence. I can only think it's so large because the Hondurans are trying to hide a larger, deeper secret: the Rain of Fish.

Japan:  I'm usually impressed with the Japanese. I love a good Ramen, flush with Udon noodles and fish cakes. Sushi and Sashimi are a staple in my diet, as they should be in everyone's, in my opinion. Akira Kurosawa was a brilliant director, "Seven Samurai" being one of my favorite films. Also, check out Battle Royale, a brutal tale of wayward kids in a battle for survival. Oh, and this kit is shameful.

Algeria: Maybe it's the shade of green that angers me, but I just can't find a way to like this kit. I do give the Algerians credit for not being afraid to exploit a national color, but I think they chose the wrong one. Perhaps the red in their flag with some subtle green striping would have been better. Anything would have been better.

For a fantastic look at the branding side of the uniforms, brand specialist Steve Susi wrote an excellent piece on who the real winners and losers are. Keep in mind that lots of time, money and testing went in to creating each team's uniform. Whether you love or hate the current look of your squad's kit, it's once again time to put personal taste aside and support your country. Even if you happen to look like this.


World Cup Pub Crawl: Where To Watch In 35 Cities

One Great Season

World Cup 2010 kicks off in just a few days, and if you still haven't figured out where you and your mates will be watching the footy for the next four weeks, have no fear.

With editors scattered across the country, the One Great Season research team has compiled a list of the top soccer bars in 35 of America's biggest cities. So enjoy the football, know when to say when and of course, please remember to tip your bartender favorite sports blogger (list includes the name of the bar in each city, a quick note about it found on a Website or review, address, phone and helpful links):

Atlanta's official US Soccer bar
273 Buckhead Avenue NE | 404.841.0066
Website | Google Map

Slainte Pub
Baltimore's 2010 World Cup headquarters
1700 Thames Street | 410.563.6600
Website | Google Map

The Banshee
10 flat-screen TVs, two floors of entertainment
934 Dorchester Avenue | 617.436.9747
Website | Google Map

Connolly's On Fifth
World Cup drink specials, including coffee for the early games
115 E. 5th Street | 704.358.9070
Website | Google Map

Bull And Bear
Serve-yourself beer taps at your own table
431 North Wells Street | 312.527.5973
Website | Google Map

Molly Malone's
Fill out a bracket and win great prizes
112 E. 4th Street (Covington, Ky.) | 859.491.6659
Website | Google Map

Parnell's Pub
Bloody Mary menu for all the early games
2167 Lee Road | 216.321.3469
Review | Google Map

Tommy Keegan's
Where soccer is home
456 S. Front Street | 614.221.9444
Review | Google Map

Trinity Hall
The soccer pub of DFW
5321 East Mockingbird Lane | 214.887.3600
Website | Google Map

The British Bulldog
Fine beers poured right, at a proper temperature
2052 Stout Street | 303.295.7974
Website | Google Map

Sean O'Callaghan's
Serving breakfast for all morning games
821 Penniman Avenue (Plymouth) | 734.459.6666
Website | Google Map

Eugene, Ore.
Taylor's Bar And Grille
Packed for every game
894 E. 13th Avenue | 541.344.6174
Review | Google Map

Hoboken, N.J.
The undisputed champion of Hoboken soccer pubs
159 First Street | 201.876.4101
Website | Google Map

The Ginger Man
Just celebrated its 25th anniversary
5607 Morningside Drive | 713.526.2770
Website | Google Map

Chatham Tap
Come early. Drink often.
719 Massachusetts Avenue | 317.917.8425
Website | Google Map

Las Vegas
Crown & Anchor
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
1350 E. Tropicana Avenue | 702.739.8676
Website | Google Map

Los Angeles
Cock-n-Bull British Pub
Serving breakfast and showing the 4:30 a.m. matches
2947 Lincoln Boulevard | 310.399.9696
Website | Google Map

The Monkey Wrench
Projector screen, 11 other TVs, drink specials, etc.
1025 Barret Avenue | 502.582.2433
Review | Google Map

Fritz & Franz Bierhaus
Miami's best beer selection
60 Merrick Way (Coral Gables) | 305.774.1883
Website | Google Map

The Highbury
Where shots bring goals
2320 South Kinnickinnic Avenue | 414.294.4400
Website | Google Map

Minneapolis-St. Paul
Brit's Pub
One of America's best soccer pubs
1110 Nicollet Mall | 612.332.3908
Website | Google Map

New Orleans
Finn McCool's
New Orleans' premier soccer pub
3701 Banks Street | 504.486.9080
Website | Google Map

New York
Nevada Smith's
Where football is religion
74 3rd Avenue (at 11th Street) | 212.982.2591
Website | Google Map

Best Of British Pub
The footie bar of Orlando
8324 International Drive | 407.264.9189
Website | Google Map

June 12: Philly's biggest World Cup block party
1500 Locust Street | 215.893.9700
Website | Google Map

Tim Finnegan's
Arizona's official US Soccer bar
9201 N. 29th Avenue | 602.997.2323
Website | Google Map

Piper's Pub
A taste of the British Isles
1828 East Carson Street | 412.381.3977
Website | Google Map

The Thirsty Lion Pub
Open for all the 4:30 a.m. matches
71 Southwest 2nd Avenue | 503.222.2155
Website | Google Map

Streets of London Pub
Irish coffee w/Jameson specials for early games
1804 J Street | 916.498.1388
Website | Google Map Review | Google Map

San Francisco
Kezar Pub
What a great place to watch games
770 Stanyan Street | 415.386.9292
Review | Google Map

San Diego
O'Brien's Pub
The hoppiest place on earth
4646 Convoy Street | 858.715.1745
Website | Google Map

The George & Dragon Pub
"Please do not plan weddings, births or vacations June 11 to July 11"
206 N. 36th Street | 206.545.6864
Website | Google Map

St. Louis
The Dubliner
World Cup watch parties, prizes and drink specials
1025 Washington Avenue | 314.421.4300
Website | Google Map

Tampa-St. Petersburg
MacDinton's Irish Pub
Showing all 64 matches live
405 South Howard Avenue | 813.215.8999
Website | Google Map

Washington, D.C.
Voted best sports pub in America for soccer
1520 North Courthouse Road (Arlington) | 703.528.8278
Website | Google Map

Thanks to the following contributors: Jeremy Brown, Sarah Courtney, Patrick Donnelly, Erin Holloway, Jack Morris, Wade Murray, Marcus Riley, Billy Robins, Patrick Rodgers, Mike Royer, Emily Stone, Steve Susi, John T. Thompson.


March Adness: Cheers To Dos Equis

If you're like us, you've probably got some opinions on the many commercials you absorbed (or ignored) in front of your television or computer watching the NCAA Tournament all weekend. That's why we thought we'd take a different route today and have once again asked Steve Susi, founder of branding consultancy Brand Spanking New York, to chime in with his thoughts on a few of the ads aired/streamed the most often during those many (oh, so many) timeouts.

Special To One Great Season

Of course, we all know the Super Bowl is the holy grail of football, and — aside from the self-absorbed ad industry itself — probably the only time and place where advertising is legitimately included in the main event. But long after the cocktail flu kept you home that fateful following Monday has faded, the month of March belongs to the high-profile NCAA Basketball Tournament, which has in its own right become a hugely important vehicle on the media calendar. For advertisers with new creative seeking a "captive audience" (if that even exists anymore outside of a jail cell) of college-educated, 18-to-59 year-old men to show it to, these few weeks of Madness represent the first reason to live since Drew Brees shocked the world with his admission that he was going to Disneyworld.

Over the course of this frenetic weekend, here are the five spots which appeared to be in heaviest rotation and their requisite critiques

Dos Equis, "Snow Monkeys", "Lady Luck", "Ice Fishing" (Euro RSCG)
Courtesy of Euro here in New York, the latest ad flight of the “Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign from Dos Equis stands as one of the few beacons of creativity remaining, seemingly, on earth. Or at least the American TV ad landscape. His mother has a tattoo that reads "son." How much fun is it to handle this account? Must be great. Excellent scriptwriting (by now a constant), tasteful shooting, and A-plus editing render this marketing push the best in broadcast by far today. And what often goes uncelebrated in rare moments like these is how smart and gutsy the clients are. Talented creatives can be found in agencies all over the country (and world), but it’s only because of great clients that spots like these see the light of day. (Client-side marketing execs, this means you.)

Miller Lite "Love – L-L-Love" (DraftFCB)
In stark contrast to the above, this beer campaign succeeds only in its achievement of greater levels of embarrassment. Someone please tell me what DraftFCB and their clients at Miller Lite are thinking, assuming they are. We all know that it’s been the currency of beermakers for decades to prey on the young single guy’s inability to commit to relationships as fodder for their ads. But what research is showing men are now being forced to choose between the two? Not sure about your college, but in my experience, they were often found together in close quarters. Anyway the campaign isn’t funny, and worse, what the hell kind of alcoholic is your target that he’s ready to sacrifice his dog, mother, and okay-looking girlfriend for a bottle of see-thru beer? Bad, half-brained, insulting.

Southwest Airlines "Battle Cry" (GSD&M)
The Texan discount carrier is betting that the US traveler is so against bag fees that he'll select the friendly airline famous for it’s Cincinnati-Who-concert-bumrush-style seating process. That might be a stretch in my opinion, but whatever. What certainly will be a stretch is the public’s tolerance of seeing this spot 20 times every basketball game. The five-second shelf-life of the humor of outta-shape Joe Sixpacks removing their shirts to reveal “BAGS FLY FREE” painted across their collective chests is so predictable, but not insulting or anything like that. It’s just, now that ad inventory has plummeted throughout the TV world in favor of more digitally focused media budgets, the traditional advertisers left standing see their spots rotating over and over again during any given program, guaranteeing viewer fatigue and annoyance and multiplying exponentially its lack of surprise. This one included.

Capital One, "Ivan Brothers" (DDB Chicago)
“What’s in Your Mullet?” has to be one of the most universally despised campaigns in history. (The “Hands in Your Pocket” spot that ran in Canada is the high point, and the David Spade units were OK, I guess.) For nearly a decade we’ve been treated to nitwit dads and buffoon desert island castaways performing low-quality slapstick before delivering the same rhetorical question/tagline. (I’ll give them that, though — consistency is key to great branding; unfortunately for the world’s largest credit card issuer, so is interesting, relevant creative). But this new “Visigoths” push takes mediocrity to brand new heights of dumb. Our country is so litigious that no one can target anyone as the butt of a joke anymore because the client might be sued or flamed by some watchdog organization, so agencies are left to create stories around fictitious “people.” (See also Geico’s “Cavemen.”) Sure, this alleviates legal risk. But how much longer are we going to be subjected to these idiot Vikings (including Ogre from "Revenge of the Nerds") with Cockney accents putting change in their laptop disk drives, sniffing rental bowling shoes, putting a mace through the airport metal detector, bringing goats to the ski slope, and raising bearded children? Who wrote these things, seventh-graders? Enough already. I speak for the world when I beg of thee: please, please stop. With sprinkles on top.

HP, "Let’s Do Amazing" (72andSunny)
I want so badly for this new $40 million campaign for the computer giant from 72andSunny — a departure from HP's agency of record, San Francisco’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners — to be great, what with the casting of Kiwi comic genius Rhys Darby of "Flight Of the Conchords" and all, but they’ve underwhelmed. Smacking of Cisco’s current campaign, which uses Ellen Page to go around her hometown and explore the awe-inspiration that is Cisco, we see Darby barge in on Dr. Dre during a recording session, bumble with questions at a UPS facility, and touch things he shouldn’t in The Venetian’s security office. That’s it? Come on, guys. When the best bit you write in for a hilarious dude like Rhys is his little beat-boxish noises at the end of the Dre spot (which I do find genuinely funny), you’ve wasted a massive opportunity to separate yourself from other tech concerns like, lo and behold, Ellen and Cisco. I pray we see you flex your comedy-writing muscles (or let Darby do it) soon.

Be sure to give Susi a follow on Twitter. He's at @BrandSpankingNY.


3 Myths About The NCAA Tournament

Thad Matta

One Great Season

It's lunchtime on Monday; by now you've surely filled out two brackets and plan to fill out three more. And you'll reason things the same way you did last year and the year before.

But did you win any money last year or the year before? I thought not.

If you abandon your familiar logic and consider a new approach, you just might look like you know what you're doing come Final Four weekend. Here are the issues you should think about:

+ Depth Is Key -- I've been back and forth about the depth issue for years, but I think I've finally got it figured out: It's overrated.


+ FREE ADVICE: Here's How To Win Your NCAA Office Pool
+ QUOTEBOOK: Selection Chairman Dan Guerrero Explains Himself
+ NCAA TOURNAMENT: First-Round Pairings Announced
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979
+ LIST: The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball
+ LIST: The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball

Syracuse and Ohio State will make nice runs in the tournament and they will do so without great contributions from their benches. Coaches adjust their approaches at least slightly during the tournament, and, especially in OSU's case, Thad Matta is keenly aware of his lack of depth. So he'll manage his games a little more.

Each half will be comprised of five four-minute bursts. Television timeouts are longer and more frequent in the tournament. Foul trouble certainly is a potential issue, but neither of these teams lost any of their games this year because of it. And injuries? Well, you might want to pray a little bit.

+ Freshmen Are Sophomores -- Every time you hear an analyst talk about how grown up some freshmen have become because they've now got 35 college games under their belts, you should send me a dollar. Make it ten dollars, actually.

But if the freshmen have grown up, so, too, have the sophomores, juniors, seniors and even fifth-year players against whom they'll be playing. Where the freshmen are still inexperienced -- perhaps immature (<cough>DeMarcus Cousins</cough>) -- is in the area of a high-pressure, single-elimination tournament. Don't buy the freshmen-are-sophomores line.

+ A 12 Always Beats A 5 -- It's always fashionable to pick one or two 12s over 5s because historically, this is just some inexplicable danger zone for higher-seeded teams. Since the field expanded to 64-ish teams, 12 seeds have won exactly 33 out of 100 first-round games, a markedly better winning percentage than 11 seeds. Two No. 12s won last year. North Carolina won the tournament last year as a 12 seed. Just kidding.

The bottom line here is that 12 seeds win more than they probably should. But trying to predict which of the four 12 seeds will win when the position only wins 33 percent of the time means you'll most likely pick an upset where an upset won't happen, and then you'll pick the seeds to play out where the upset actually does happen. And it's also a fact -- in that it is my opinion -- that this year's 12 seeds won't win one game.

So stay away from picking the 12-over-5 upset, but if you don't, if you absolutely must pick a No. 12 to win, please don't tell everyone you knew Cornell was going to beat Temple. At least give credit to Jay Bilas because he's the only reason you will have picked it.


5 Tips On How To Fill Out Your NCAA Bracket

One Great Season

You may have a co-worker who comes in to the office on Mondays during the fall lamenting having started this guy or benching that one on his boring fantasy football team.

Or you might actually be that annoying colleague.


+ FREE ADVICE: Here's How To Win Your NCAA Office Pool
+ QUOTEBOOK: Selection Chairman Dan Guerrero Explains Himself
+ NCAA TOURNAMENT: First-Round Pairings Announced
+ MARCH MADNESS: Tourney No Longer Leads To April Sadness
+ COUNTDOWN: The Top 10 Title Games Since 1979

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If you are that person, chances are good you're the same type of douchebag who likes to pick upsets galore in his office pool, knowing that for every 10 "this is the year a 16 beats a 1" picks, there's one Siena or George Mason that you might get right. And subsequently boast to those co-workers with logic you stole from Joe Lunardi's latest column.

So instead of trying too hard to look like the smart guy, why not just focus on winning the cash in your office pool?

If that's something you think you might be interested in, then just follow these five tips below:

1.) Don't pick many first-weekend upsets. Upsets are called upsets because they are surprises that are difficult to predict. Not many people picked Davidson in 2008 because they either hadn't heard of Davidson, hadn't heard of Stephen Curry or had no idea he was going to play lights out. When you pick some upsets, you'll get most of them wrong, and then the upsets you don't pick will actually hit, so it's a double-whammy, all for the sake of a few early round points that you don't necessarily need. The real value is earned in the later rounds.

2.) Don't pick the heavy favorite to win it all. This advice would have ruined you last year because everyone knew North Carolina was by far the best team, but this year might be a good year for you to try it. Everyone is understandably jocking Kansas right now, but are the Jayhawks as good this year as North Carolina was last year? No. If you're heading into Final Four weekend as a contender and everyone around you has Kansas, but you have Kentucky, guess who takes home the pile of cash and the loose women if the Wildcats win, which is hardly a ridiculous notion?

3.) Approach your bracket the way coaches prepare their teams for the tournament. Don't look at the empty white sheet and assume you have to have a bunch of bluebloods in the Elite Eight and Final Four. Break your forecasting down into two-game tournaments and think about the matchups within the matchups. Who wins the subregional? Who wins the regional? Who advances in the Final Four?

4.) Pick some upsets. I know this mostly runs contrary to the first point above, but you don't need to load up on one- and two-point wins on the first weekend. If you want to stay in the hunt for the loot, pick a couple of 3 and 4 seeds to beat 2 and 1 seeds on that second weekend.

5.) If you disagree with me so far, then I only have one tip left for you: Have the secretary who doesn't know anything about college basketball fill out your bracket. A gal I met recently told me one of her girlfriends won $10,000 -- yes, $10,000 -- in her office pool last year despite knowing nothing about the sport.

If you have some tips to share with the tens of thousands of One Great Season readers, please click here to share them.


The Top 6 Sports Movies Of All-Time

The Top 6 Sports Movies Of All Time

One Great Season

In honor of Sunday's Academy Awards, I've compiled a list of the six best sports movies of all time.

Anyone can do a Top 50, a Top 20 or a Top 10. If you do a Top 50, you don't really miss out on anything, leaving your readers no opportunity to write in and tell you how stupid you are. I like to take those chances.

I've seen dozens of sports movies and there are many I would have liked to have added to this list. Hundreds have been made over the years, and surely you'll disagree with this best-of countdown, but after recalling some of my favorites, I feel confident in calling this the only list you need to heed:

WEIGH IN: What Is Your Favorite Sports Movie?

6. The Express (2008) -- Rob Brown's second sports movie has him playing the role of Ernie Davis, the legendary Syracuse running back who would become college football's first black Heisman Trophy winner at a time when the civil rights movement divided Americans in the 1960s. Syracuse coach Ben Schwartzwalder, played by Dennis Quaid in Quaid's fourth sports role, is set in his ways as he tries to make the Orange a top team in the east, but Davis teaches him as much about the world as the coach can teach him about football. Davis wins the Heisman, and his coach gets that elusive national championship.

5. All The Right Moves (1983) -- A great guy movie that has stood the test of time, as more than 25 years have passed since its debut and men of a certain age continue to quote from it regularly. Who can forget names like Nickerson, Salvucci, Spider, Mouse and of course Tom Cruise's lead character, Stefen Djordjevic? Ampipe's 6-2 stack monster was a formidable defensive front against Walnut Heights, but a late mistake cost the Bulldogs the key win and the season -- even the football-obsessed western Pennsylvania steel town -- seemed to unravel from there.

4. Slap Shot (1977) -- Also set in a poor steel town, this hockey flick is chock full of memorable guy quotes. But the story of a broke minor-league team picks up steam when veteran player-coach Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) finally decides to insert the recently acquired trio of the Hanson brothers, who in real life are still cashing in on minor-league appearances. What unfolds after the rejuvenated squad begins to lift the spirits of a downtrodden fanbase is hardly the Miracle On Ice, but the exciting, late-season surge leaves no viewer dissatisfied.

3. Rocky (1976) -- Nearly 35 years after its release, the music from "Rocky" still makes me want to run a few miles and bang out some push-ups and sit-ups. The movie is pretty inspiring as well, the feel-good tale of unheralded boxer Rocky Balboa, a down-on-his-luck meat factory thug who gets a shot at the heavyweight champ through a publicity stunt. Just as he begins an unlikely courtship with Adrian, Rocky starts to train for his fight with Apollo Creed, triggering a series of life-changing events depicted in many, many sequels.

2. Hoosiers (1986) -- The ultimate David-and-Goliath story shows rural Indiana's tiny Hickory High School overcome the absence of its star player, an unpopular coach and even a drunk assistant on its way to an improbable state championship in 1952. The movie was loosely based on Milan High School's surprising state title run in 1954.

1. Bull Durham (1988) -- Unlike "Hoosiers," this baseball classic wasn't officially based on a true story, but something tells me what happened here probably happens a lot in the minors. A journeyman catcher is brought in to mentor a talented but immature pitcher, and an eccentric beauty comes between them. In the end, though, it's logical wisdom that brings the two players together, allowing the young hurler to advance to the majors, leaving the catcher behind in the southern sun ... with the girl, of course.


No. 7: Syracuse vs. Kansas, 2003

Hakim Warrick

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. In observance of President's Day, OGS took last week off, but today's No. 7 is the 2003 title game between Syracuse and Kansas.

One Great Season


That was about my reaction when longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won that elusive first national championship.

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I'd become a fan of Big East basketball in the mid-1980s, shortly after the league's inception, and quickly began to favor the Orange. Boeheim came close in 1987 before losing a heartbreaker to Indiana, then lost again in the title game nine years later to a loaded Kentucky team. The third time in a national championship game proved to be the charm for Boeheim's bunch, which held off a late rally by Kansas at the Louisiana Superdome.

But it wasn't easy. Star freshman Carmelo Anthony carried the Orange throughout the season, but he was held scoreless in the final 13 minutes of the game. And the Orange let Kansas trim a 12-point deficit to just three in the final minutes, requiring a heroic defensive play to preserve the win.


+ No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982
+ No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999
+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

Syracuse led, 81-78, when Hakim Warrick missed two free throws with eight seconds left. At the other end a moment later, Kansas got a great look for a three-point attempt when guard Kirk Hinrich found Michael Lee alone in the corner. Lee launched his shot, but Warrick came out of nowhere to redeem himself for the missed freebies. He swatted Lee's attempt out of bounds with less than a second left. KU got another chance, but Hinrich couldn't convert and the Syracuse celebration was on.

That game also might be remembered for Bonnie Bernstein's insensitive postgame interview with then-Kansas coach Roy Williams, which you can read about here.


No. 8: Georgetown vs. North Carolina, 1982

Fred Brown, John Thompson

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. In observance of President's Day, OGS took last week off, but today's No. 8 is the 1982 title game between upstart Georgetown and a stacked North Carolina team.

One Great Season

It will forever be remembered by casual sports fans as the game where that one guy threw the ball to the other team.

But those who've followed college basketball closely over the years would say the 1982 national championship game between Georgetown and North Carolina was one of the best in the last 30 years.


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An imposing Georgetown freshman center named Patrick Ewing repeatedly was whistled for goaltending early in the game, but his coach, John Thompson, an intimidator himself, urged Ewing to keep doing it to send a message to the favored Tar Heels.

And eventually, Georgetown found itself in position to win the game until UNC's own rookie sensation, Michael Jordan, swished a baseline jumper with 15 seconds left to give his team a 63-62 lead. When the Hoyas brought the ball up to try to set up a game-winning shot, unpressured guard Fred Brown accidentally threw the ball to North Carolina's James Worthy near midcourt, and Worthy raced the other way until he was fouled with two seconds left.

The win gave legendary coach Dean Smith his first national championship, but Ewing and the Hoyas would play in two more title games in the next three years, winning the 1984 championship over Houston.


Fashion Week Special: The Top 10 Looks In Sports

In honor of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2010 Collections, which kicks off here in New York on Thursday, Steve Susi — founder of branding consultancy Brand Spanking New York, and video and photography director at the previous 13 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Weeks — takes a moment to list his Top Ten Looks in Sports for One Great Season. 

NOTE: To eliminate all bias, the author has excluded his favorites from consideration: Ohio State and all Ohio pro teams.

Toronto Maple Leafs

+ Coolest pro uniforms

Toronto Maple Leafs, hockey
*Honorable mention: San Diego Chargers’ powder blues

Not sure if it's our northern neighbors' penchant for understatement or the thinly veiled Canadian nationalism, but the Leafs' simple, unchanged-for-decades look is the definition of Walk softly but carry a big stick. And I don't care if you're a Montreal Canadien, you just gotta respect the fact they said Not on Tim Horton’s life are we going to use proper English and proceeded to mis-pluralize their mascot. Leaves? No way. LEAFS. Fantastic.

+ Coolest college uniforms

University of Michigan, football
*Honorable mentions: University of Texas, University of Iowa

Michigan Wolverines

So you may have read up top that I'm an Ohio State fanatic. How on earth then could I choose Meat-Chicken's uniforms as "Coolest"? Because I call a spade a spade. They're our archrivals, sure, but if those helmets and that basic contrast color combo generate half as much love in its fans hearts as it does hatred in mine, then it's done its job. Most certainly, U of M's Maize and Blue are the most recognized college colors on earth, and for good reason. They have more wins than any school in history, and way back in the days before Photoshop or Adweek, they knew that branding and visual differentiation could be just as important as winning in propelling a program to national prominence. When they brought all three together, it became nearly unbeatable. (Trying extremely hard not to bring up the fact that, as of this writing, it's been 2,270 days since the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes on the football field. Darn. I failed.)

Ana Ivanovic

+ Best-dressed female athlete

Ana Ivanovic, tennis

OK, ya caught me. She's smokin'. But whenever the press catches her in a bikini, at a post-match press conference or even picking up after her lap-dog on the sidewalks of Belgrade, Ana is absolutely stunning. A few years ago I scored third-row seats for her second-round match at the Open. I couldn’t feel my teeth for an hour. But there are a bunch of beautiful female athletes, right? Sure, but that alone doesn't win a gal the "best-dressed" prize. This one oozes elegance, style, and sex appeal like no one we've seen since Gabriela Sabatini. And unlike Anna Pornikova, she actually wins and stuff.

+ Best-dressed male athlete

David Beckham

David Beckham, soccer
*Honorable mention: Tom Brady, football

He’s got more product sponsorships than Tiger used to have, so maybe his look is the product of some stylist or something. If it is, or it’s his wife putting together his Garanimals, then my bad. But for a self-admitted dolt, Becks always takes a page out of Paul Smith’s book for a mix of Savile Row, Tanqueray bulldog, and "Snatch" gangmember. He just pulls it off — and even with that dumb faux-hawk phase he had a few years ago, his hairstyles seem to change all of Europe’s in about a day and a half. And Europeans don’t like anyone. Particularly the most-liked Europeans.

+ Best athlete-turned-fashion- designer

Bjorn Borg

Björn Borg, tennis

The Ice Man was the Anti-McEnroe during my 7- to 9-year-old age range, and boy did he piss me off. Never yelled, never smiled, never respirated as far as anyone knew. And when Mac finally beat him in the 1981 Wimbledon final, he calmly picked up his racquet bag, ignored the press, and walked away from pro tennis forever. The Swede was, in effect, a kind of character study for the Cold War — and for that matter Ivan Lendl, so I guess he was ahead of his time. As were his fashion label’s underwear magazine ads. I had a cardiac when I saw his line's first print spread. To this day I've never seen anything like them, and can't even link you to them online anywhere, so you can have a heart attack too. Suffice it to say they weren't kid-friendly, and focused more on what one does without underwear on than with it.

+ Best designer in sports

J. Lindeberg, golf

Finally someone broke down the barriers between golf and modern fashion. The dominant look for the younger and skinnier players on the PGA Tour is clearly European, with equal parts retro, techy and preppy that provides a fashion-forward contrast to Nike's boxy cuts, boring patterns and big fat logos. Sorry Craig Stadler, you're not invited to the J. Lindeberg party, and that's the point. Only the younger, fitter players can wear this stuff, which makes a brand statement all its own.

+ Best Athlete Brand-Named Shoe

Nike Mac Attack

Nike Mac Attack

John McEnroe, tennis
*Honorable mentions: Original Air Jordan, Michael Jordan, basketball; Stan Smith, tennis

Classic, cool, and for the first time ever, a mid-top shoe made specifically for tennis. This was the most American of designs from the most despised Yank on Tour. But their simplicity rendered them as acceptable on Centre Court at Wimbledon as easily as they could to a pub in King's Road. The original gray, white and black model even looked like it fell off a New York skyscraper. Great job, Mac. Now bring 'em back.

+ Coolest national team uniforms


Holland, soccer
*Honorable mention: USA Women’s Beach Volleyball

Until Puma took over — and summarily ruined — La Forza's kits, Italy's was hands-down the best kit in international sport. Now they're cheesy with tons of lines and shading all over the place. So now the mantel now belongs to the Dutch, whose famous orange and white uniforms (and occasionally the red, white and blue of the Netherlands' national flag) are instantly distinguished across the planet as the Clockwork Orange, a nod to their meticulous style of play. P.S. Hey Ivory Coast, get your own style, will ya?

+ Best-dressed coach

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona, soccer
*Honorable mentions: Mike Nolan ex-San Francisco Forty-Niners, football; José Mourinho, Inter Milan, soccer

This dude is as cool as he dresses — and he can back it up too. A native of Barcelona, he played for his hometown club FC Barcelona on a "dream-team" that brought home the team's first Euro Cup crown in 1992. He's now its manager, and prowling the sidelines in the coolest suits ever, he's only nabbed the Champions League crown, the European Treble and the UEFA Super Cup. And he's just getting started. Can't find the suit label he prefers, but they look like Brioni. I'd guess he wears only Italian suits, but then, Guardiola is such an all-things-Spain kinda guy, I wouldn't be surprised if they were Zara. Either way, he still looks like he could play 90 minutes without loosening his tie.

+ Coolest cheerleader uniforms

University of Southern California Trojans, football

USC Song Girls

Right on the cusp of too revealing for college cheerleaders (the tops are tight but not too tight; the skirts are short but too much so), the classic long sleeves and solid white with garnet and gold trim have become the trademark of the USC Song Girls, having graced the sidelines for decades without undue change or getting slutty. The founder of the Song Girls, Bothwell Lindley, summed it all up with a quote: "Have pride without arrogance and confidence without conceit." Sounds like good fashion advice to me.

Addendum: And because I was taught to keep my mouth shut if I couldn’t say something nice, I won’t approach Rafael Nadal’s capri pants, Oregon football’s taste in uniform design, CBC’s Don Cherry or the wardrobe selection of 90 percent of everyone on ESPN.

Be sure to give Susi a follow on Twitter. He's at @BrandSpankingNY.


No. 9: Duke vs. Connecticut, 1999

UConn wins the 1999 national championship

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. Today's No. 9 is the 1999 championship game between Connecticut and Duke, played in St. Petersburg, Fla.

One Great Season

Connecticut and Duke were the only teams to be ranked No. 1 during the 1998-99 regular season, so when the Huskies and Blue Devils won their Final Four semifinal games on March 27, expectations for a great title game shot through the roof of Tropicana Field.

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And the sides didn't disappoint two nights later. UConn won its first national championship, 77-74, over a seemingly unbeatable Duke team that was playing in its eighth title game.

The Blue Devils hadn't lost since November and were going for an NCAA record 38 victories, as well as the school's third national championship.

Connecticut, meanwhile, was a fairly new player in the elite class of college basketball. The Huskies got to the Elite Eight to open the 1990s, only to lose to Duke when Christian Laettner's buzzer-beater sent the Devils to the Final Four.

But to close the decade during which Duke won two national titles, Connecticut earned its first crown for coach Jim Calhoun by playing an up-tempo game that many thought would have favored Duke's more athletic players.

The Huskies, however, got 27 points from All-American Richard Hamilton, as well as two huge defensive stops late in the game.

Connecticut's Ricky Moore, one of the top defenders in the country, got great positioning to force Duke's sharpshooting guard, Trajan Langdon, into a late traveling violation. Moments later, UConn's Khalid El-Amin converted two free throws to stretch the Huskies' lead to 77-74 with 5.2 seconds left.

And when Duke looked for Langdan on its final possession, the fifth-year senior couldn't even get a potential game-tying shot launched because he fell near the three-point arc and lost control of the ball.

With that, UConn had its crown and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was left to ponder a sixth title-game loss.

The Top 10 National Championship Games Since 1979

+ No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

Nine Things I Hate About The Super Bowl

Chris Berman

One Great Season

I can't remember the last time I was looking forward to watching a Super Bowl. Though I didn't move to New York until 2006, there was some sincere excitement leading up to the Giants-Patriots classic two years ago.

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But overall, the hype is a bigger deal than the game itself, and our excessive culture seems to prefer it that way. Remember, we're the people whom folks from other parts of the world love to hate. You don't agree? Well, Exhibit A of our over-the-top gluttony will be on display after 6 o'clock ET tonight.

I hate many things about the Super Bowl, but these nine things in particular:

+ Two weeks of ridiculous hype -- Didn't the NFL try to go to the one-week format not too long ago? Why not stick with it? College basketball is the only sport that should be played in February.

+ Groupies in South Beach -- For many, the Super Bowl is a chance for tight-shirted women to try to sleep with meet celebrities on the party circuit. Truly disgusting.

+ Halftime music -- Regardless of how tired the acts are, since when did the pinnacle of American professional football go hand-in-hand with music? It's a sporting event, not a concert.

+ The "World Champions" tag that's handed to the winner -- Typical American arrogance. How does the National Football League crown a world champion?

+ Tickets -- The Super Bowl is almost like an NCAA Tournament first- and second-round site. Sure the seats are filled, but with how many true fans of the teams actually playing in the game?

+ Media Day -- The larger the stage, the more exposure journalists get for their annoying practices. How the fuck does a reporter who asked Tom Brady to marry him a few years back get credentialed?

+ Dwight Freeney -- A torn ligament does not heal in two weeks. But because it's the Super Bowl and those who play in it are macho, Freeney might play. Meathead.

+ Chris Berman -- I'm sure when ESPN's NFL broadcast team signs off tonight, this jackhole will use one of his many weak classic rock references. Nothing he's said in the last 10 years has been fresh. But that won't stop him from dropping a "What a long, strange trip it's been" note during the postgame when signaling the close of another great NFL season. (Bonus video: Berman's on-set meltdown)

+ Greatness -- I just heard a couple of analysts say Drew Brees has to win in order to be considered great. Oh, really? Well then, does that make obselete their analysis of him throughout the regular season and pretty much the last three or four years?

Follow One Great Season on Twitter @onegreatseason.


No. 10: Indiana State vs. Michigan State, 1979

Magic Johnson, Larry Bird

Each Monday until the national championship is played in Indianapolis on April 5, One Great Season will count down the Top 10 National Championship games since 1979, when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson squared off in Salt Lake City. Today's No. 10 is actually that 1979 game between Indiana State and Michigan State.

One Great Season

That Michigan State beat Indiana State, 75-64, is almost irrelevant.

The 1979 national championship is known as the game that really put the great sport of basketball on the map. The TV map, at least.

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Sure, there were great Final Fours long before Larry Bird and Magic Johnson led their teams to Salt Lake City, but this one in particular, thanks to those two, introduced the nation to what would become arguably the biggest sporting event in America: March Madness.

Contrasting styles made the Bird-Magic rivalry intriguing for a national television audience that to this day remains the most watched national championship game in NCAA history.

One was a hillbilly, blue-collar white kid from rural Indiana against a flashy magician with a million-dollar smile. One was a lights-out shooter, the other an assist king who practically patented the no-look pass. Each made his teammates around him better, and both filled up their stat sheets by being multi-dimensional.

Magic Johnson, Larry Bird

On the night that Bird and Magic closed out their brilliant collegiate careers, a great American rivalry was born and even more sparkling NBA careers awaited for them both. The fiery competitors would become great friends despite their three head-to-head NBA Finals matchups. Magic's Lakers would take two of those three and five championships overall, while Bird's Celtics won a total of three NBA titles. All 10 of the NBA Finals played in the 1980s included at least one of these teams.

In fact, when the Celtics edged the Lakers in 1984, the seventh game of that series drew the largest television audience in NBA history, and the second-largest audience to ever watch a basketball game, behind -- you guessed it -- that 1979 NCAA title game.


The Top 10 Play-By-Play Men In College Basketball

Brent Musberger

One Great Season

Wednesday we looked at the best television analysts in college basketball. Now it's time to consider the sport's top play-by-play guys, again, in no particular order:

Brent Musberger -- Whether it's a Saturday in the fall or any winter weeknight, he's no short of awesome.

Gus Johnson -- I'd much rather listen to him call the next 20 Final Fours than Jim Nantz. No one's energy is better than Johnson's. He's outstanding for March Madness.

Kevin Harlan -- Though most of his best work is done on NFL and NBA broadcasts, his reactions to big plays are absolutely perfect for the excitement of March Madness. "Eeeeeasy rider" and "With no regard for human life" come to mind.

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Verne Lundquist -- Much like Musberger; it doesn't matter if the ball is round or oblong, I'll listen to any game he's calling.

Dick Enberg -- He was at his best on NFL Sundays with Merlin Olsen, but I'm glad CBS lets him drop an "Oh my" or two every March.

Tim Brando

Tim Brando -- Proof he's a good broadcaster? He's busier than George Michael in a public restroom. The man gets a lot of gigs.

Ron Franklin -- Pushing 70 and still going strong, Franklin is partly why I've developed a crush on the Big XII the last decade or so.

Brad Nessler -- His folksy charm sounds Southern, but he's actually a Minnesota guy. Few tandems are better than when Nessler and Jimmy Dykes team up.

Dan Shulman -- Smooth, steady and knowledgeable, he gives ESPN a nice, calm balance sitting alongside the sport's biggest cheerleader, Dick Vitale.

Mike Patrick -- Patrick is to the ACC what Franklin is to the Big XII. Each has had an odd, on-air moment the last few years, but overall, these are two of ESPN's best and longest-serving veterans.

Also receiving consideration: Terry Gannon -- Hard to figure out his path, what with all the figure skating and other bad gigs, but when he gets a good game, he's always up to the challenge.

Would never receive consideration: Jim Nantz -- Rehearsed -- yet still weak -- lines like "The mecca of college basketball is in Storrs, Connecticut" and "You can leave it to Cleaves" after the 2004 and 2000 national championships make it hard for me to like him.


The Top 10 Analysts In College Basketball

Clark Kellogg

One Great Season

When you're young, you watch your favorite teams on television and you don't think of much other than whether your Cavaliers, Buckeyes or Bearcats won their games over the weekend.

But you get a little older, and suddenly your dad starts talking to you about those who call the games on TV and radio. And then you eventually find yourself talking about those play-by-play guys or their color partners as often as you talk about the games themselves. The broadcast has become as much of a game these days as the buzzer beater, the highlight-reel dunk and the final score. And of course the post-swat bicep flex.

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Consequently, we can't help but develop strong opinions about the talking heads, so I've come up with a Top 10 list of basketball analysts -- in no particular order -- for you to contemplate:

Clark Kellogg -- The Sade of college hoops analysts. He was once the best analyst in the game, but seems to rely on the same tricks he used five or 10 years ago. Still a smooth operator, though.

Doug Gottlieb -- Wish he did more games, but he's splendid in the studio. Always has excellent insights on both the game and many of its excellent players.

Bill Raftery

Bill Raftery -- What list would be complete without him? No one can pull off "Send it in, Jerome", "The kiss" or a high-pitched "Tootsies" the way Raft can. He's a college basketball staple.

Seth Davis -- A lot like Gottlieb. Smart, young, good-looking and always has strong stuff to share.

Jay Bilas -- Kind of a poor man's Kirk Herbstreit. I'm not crazy about his commercials, but he, too, is smart, and ESPN's Big Monday trio of himself, Raft and Sean McDonough always is entertaining.

Hubert Davis -- I think where many analysts shy away from speaking critically, Davis can be candid and I applaud him for it.

Steve Lavin -- The academic of the bunch. He and Brent Musberger often team up for ESPN's Big Ten tilts, and though he's half Musberger's age, Lav can drop a half-century-old pop culture reference better than any of his peers. Also observes the game well and articulates it intelligently.

Jimmy Dykes -- Seems like Dykes is the only one who regularly gets his hands dirty in the field before a broadcast, and whatever his angle is, it's always right on. Just last night, 5-foot-9 South Carolina guard  Devan Downey switched from a waist-high dribble to an ankle-high dribble to beat a defender in the Gamecocks' upset of No. 1 Kentucky. Earlier in the day, Dykes and an ESPN camera crew got some alone time with Downey and shot from interesting angles the high-scoring guard's very effective high-low bounce.

Stephen Bardo -- Doesn't do much glamorous and might not have an authoritative voice, but he's steady, knowledgeable and has made great improvement the last few years.

Len Elmore -- Hard not to love watching the Big East Tournament every March with the New York native on the call in his own backyard.

Also receiving consideration: Dick Vitale -- I don't hate him like many fans do, but he's a little too much of a cheerleader. In his mind, every coach is among the best in the country. He hasn't said anything critical since the days of Lawrence Funderburke, and that was a hot-mic-during-a-commercial accident. But overall, he and his passion are great for the sport.

Would never receive consideration: Digger Phelps -- Has cornered the market on talking and saying nothing. The only thing I hate about the month of March is hearing Digger say, "get it done" at least 400 times.

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