The matchup between Florida and Ohio State has brought on a milestone in my life. For the first time, I have to figure out what I'm going to tell my kids.
That might seem a bit strange. I don't have children. But I imagine it's a good idea to be ready for the really tough questions, like who are the important sports figures of yesteryear. Can't leave them to pick up such knowledge on the streets. The family name must be protected.
If my whippersnappers turn out anything like their old man, they'll be reading about the national championship teams of the old days and make all kinds of quasi-informed analysis about teams and players they never saw. They'll find interesting things in the annals and draw a few reasonable conclusions. If they're chips off the old block, that is.
If Florida wins, the Gators will be just the second back-to-back champion since 1973 (Duke in 1991-92 was the other), which could indicate greatness. If Ohio State wins, the ballyhooed "Thad 5" will go down as one of the best freshman classes ever, a title serving as proof of its legendary precociousness.
Both assessments feel wrong. Just don't seem right.
Neither team exudes greatness. These two don't inspire awe. Not once have the Gators or Buckeyes made any sober person wonder whether what they're doing is really happening. They're good squads, but something's missing from both.
Florida will have won two titles in a down period in college hoops (last season was, quite possibly, the worst in the past 25 years). The Thad 5 has been effective, but not captivating. Take away the hype, and Oden and pals wouldn't have earned their derivative nickname.
These are not teams to remember.
Or are they?
Young Jones asks Daddy about the Gators
YJ: Daddy, was Florida a great team in '06 and '07?
BJ: Not quite, li'l fella.
YJ: I'm a girl, daddy. Why do you keep calling me a fella?
BJ: Oops ... again. Anyway, Florida was very good. You have to be good to win two titles. But it means a lot to call a team great. There haven't been a lot of great teams.
YJ: Well, what teams were great?
BJ: Patrick Ewing and John Thompson's Georgetown teams were great. The UNLV teams in '90 and '91 were great. Rick Pitino's Kentucky teams in '96 and '97 were great. So was Duke in '91 and '92. When I watched those teams, it was obvious they were special. Georgetown just scared teams. UNLV raced up and down the floor and dared teams to keep up. Same with those Kentucky teams. Duke always got it done.
YJ: That's the team that makes you cuss a lot, right?
BJ: And they'll do it to you, too, if I'm any kind of a father.
Shoot, the '96 Kentucky team went undefeated in the SEC. Florida could have done that back in '07, but it got sloppy late in the season. Great teams don't do that. Florida looked bored most of that year. The year before, the Gators were really an afterthought coming into the tournament. They got a lucky draw and rode it to glory.
YJ: I thought you said great teams could turn it on when they needed to.
BJ: I did, but ...
YJ: Did those sloppy games hurt them?
BJ: Hurt could mean a lot of things.
YJ: So it didn't?
YJ: Hey, wait a minute -- didn't Kentucky lose the second time it tried to win the championship? UNLV lost to the same team it beat the year before. The Wiki says Georgetown only won once, too. Didn't Kentucky lose to Arizona, with a freshman point guard, in 1997?
BJ: Yes, yes, yes and yes. But ...
YJ: Didn't Florida have a lot of talent? Didn't three or four of them get drafted in the first round?
BJ: That's true.
YJ: The guy with the ponytail and the funny name that everybody boos. He was on the team, right?
BJ: He was, yes.
YJ: Didn't you say that people only boo if they have to worry about you?
BJ: What else did you want to know about the draft?
YJ: I read somewhere that the draft in '07 was deep. That's when Durant was drafted, right?
BJ: Yes, but there wasn't a lot of experience in that draft. There were lots of great young players, but GMs had been burned by young players for years. They would rather go for a known commodity.
YJ: A what?
BJ: A player with more experience.
YJ: Experience is good, right?
YJ: And Florida had a lot of it, right?
BJ: I mean, you could say that ...
YJ: So why aren't they great?
BJ: Look, of the teams that won championships between 1988 and 2007, Florida probably would have beaten only three of them: Kansas in '88, Arizona in '97 and Syracuse in '03.
YJ: Arizona beat that Kentucky team you said was great, right?
BJ: But it was in overtime.
YJ: But Arizona won, right?
BJ: Don't you have some homework to do?
YJ: This is my homework. My history teacher wants me to write a report about something that happened before I was born that I wish I could have seen.
YJ: Ohhh, I think I understand now why they aren't great.
BJ: Why's that?
YJ: They didn't play as a team, did they?
BJ: Why do you say that?
YJ: They had good players, but having good players isn't enough. They have to play as a team. You even taught me a word about good teams. They're cohesive. So they weren't cohesive, right?
BJ: They actually played really well together -- shared the ball and everything -- and the players said they were great friends.
YJ: I'm telling Mommy.
BJ: What did I do?
YJ: She told me that, sometimes, you just like to hear yourself talk. She says you just like to talk out of your back pocket. She told me she says that because she doesn't cuss. What does that mean?
BJ: Wh-when did she tell you ...
YJ: Mommy! Daddy's stuttering again!
Young Jones asks Daddy about the Buckeyes
YJ: Daddy, I just read something about the "Thad 5." It said that was the greatest freshman class ever.
BJ: No way. Most people on the street couldn't even name all five of them. Only four of them were freshmen, anyway.
YJ: Why weren't they the best? They lost just three games. They won a national championship.
YJ: Is it because Ohio State was good the year before?
BJ: It was good, but the team lost Terence Dials, and he was the Big Ten Player of the Year his last season for the Buckeyes.
YJ: So they were good?
BJ: Look, had you seen the Fab 5, you'd understand why this class wasn't great.
YJ: What do you mean?
BJ: The Fab 5 was a force. A phenomenon. All five started in the championship game when they were freshmen in '92. Chris Webber was a star the second he stepped on campus. Jalen Rose was a 6-8 point guard. Everybody could name the Fab 5's members.
YJ: So what? I can only name three of them -- Webber, Rose and the dude that signed that crazy contract. The Fab 5 never won anything, did it?
BJ: No conference or national championships.
YJ: Did it make the Final Four?
BJ: Kinda ...
YJ: And I wanna be 6-8 when I grow up, but was Jalen Rose better than Mike Conley?
BJ: Not really, no.
Anyway, only two of the Thad 5 were really good -- Greg Oden and Conley. The other three were overrated. Daequan Cook was supposed to be a star, but he disappeared as the season went on. He never scored more than 13 points after nonconference play.
YJ: So what? They won the national championship.
BJ: Yes. But that was barely the best freshman class of that season, let alone of all time. North Carolina's freshman class was probably just as good. Carolina had three freshmen on the ACC's all-tournament team -- Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Brandan Wright.
YJ: Why do you always make that face when you talk about Wayne Ellington?
BJ: That's because he dribbled too much and got beaten on defense too often in '07. I wish he hadn't played so much that year.
YJ: So, didn't Thad Matta stop playing Cook so much when he started messing up?
YJ: And that's what you wish would have happened with Ellington?
YJ: I don't understand -- why did you bring Carolina up?
BJ: Because it still hurts. Did you ever find out who the other guys were in the Thad 5?
YJ: One guy's name was David Lighty. Was he good?
BJ: As good as a guy can be when he averages less than four points per game.
YJ: Obviously, they didn't need him to do more, Daddy. They won a national championship. Was he a good role player?
BJ: He was the sixth man.
YJ: You didn't answer my question. You always do that when I'm right.
BJ: OK, he made a really important three-point play to make sure Ohio State beat Georgetown in the semifinals. It was the nail in the coffin.
YJ: Freshmen don't do stuff like that a lot, do they?
BJ: It's a pretty big deal.
YJ: So he was good.
BJ: Yes, he was good.
YJ: Conley was good, right?
BJ: Very good.
YJ: I know Greg Oden was good. I wouldn't have his poster if he wasn't good. But was he really a freshman? He looks way older than you.
BJ: He was a freshman that year. I promise he was.
YJ: So, has another team ever won a championship when its two best players were freshmen?
BJ: What's your point?
YJ: I'm right again, aren't I?
BJ: Wh-why do you ask so many questions?
YJ: Mommy! Daddy's getting ... what was that word you taught me? Defensive. Daddy's getting defensive!
Bomani Jones is a columnist for Page 2. Tell him how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org.