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  More than any other sport, college basketball is defined by its coaches. As flashy players zip in and out of town, blitzing through on their way to supposed NBA bling, universities are ultimately identified by their balding, paunchy middle-aged coaches.

College basketball history is full of memorable characters, from Alabama's Wimp Sanderson with his screamingly plaid sports jacket, Michigan State's Jud Heathcote with his tendency to bounce basketballs off his forehead and, of course, infamous Utah coach Rick Majerus, a jolly fat man who lived in hotel rooms and once implied (jokingly, one hopes) that he had, in fact, never slept with a woman.

This stands to reason, of course. While the players are interchangeable, free profit centers for Nike-sponsored, CBS-addled universities, the coaches can stay at their jobs for years, putting on lucrative coach clinics and yapping it up on ESPN around the clock. Carmelo Anthony may have won a national championship for Syracuse, but Jim Boeheim will always be the face of the franchise -- and will always rack up the speaking fees.

Coach K and Roy Williams might be the teachers of men, but they're no fun: The true glory of the NCAA tournament is watching the goofy eccentrics who, by hook or by crook, are probably the highest paid employees of their respective universities.

If you are looking for the true stars of the NCAA Tournament, they are the coaches. Here are the goofiest ones in this year's bracket.



Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

Before winning the national championship two years ago, Boeheim was considered a grumpy fogey professor-type, the type of guy who would complain about you coming in after curfew for about half an hour, long after you'd already gone to bed. But with Carmelo Anthony's dominance and his first title, Boeheim has loosened up and become a sarcastic crank. He does yearly tournament predictions with Tony Kornheiser, he makes jokes about being bald,


and, most notably, he even has a sense of humor about his wife, a blonde who is 20 years his junior and looks even younger.
Signature move: Arms crossed. Head shaking back and forth. Glasses falling off his face. The scold of the parent whose kids know he won't really spank them.



Tom Brennan, Vermont

Only in college basketball could Tom Brennan exist. He has become a Phish-esque legend in Vermont for two reasons. First: He has coached the Catamounts for 19 years (this year will be his last). Second (and the real reason): He is the most popular radio disc jockey in the state. He co-hosts a drive-time show in Burlington on WCVP-FM (88.9), a


classic rock station, making funny noises and cracking wise about that night's game. (He has been known to prank call his own players.) He's retiring after this season, ostensibly to become the next Dick Vitale. Because we desperately need another one of those.
Signature move: Slapping ESPN's Chris Fowler and Digger Phelps on the back before whispering a request for a reference in their ears.



Bob Huggins, Cincinnati

Last year, Huggins -- who has been plagued by scandal throughout his tenure at Cincinnati and is notorious for his teams flopping in the NCAAs -- was arrested for a DUI. This is not funny, in and of itself, and can even been perceived as irresponsible and dangerous, if you lean that way. But Huggins, a chubby man with a tendency to huff and puff himself into something resembling the Snoopy balloon during the Macy's parade, secured his place in fan's lore via the videotape of the arrest. You


can see vomit on his car door, and the police ask him to recite the alphabet from E through P. His response: ""E, F, G, H, I, K, L, N, Z." Then he falls over.
Signature move: The stumble, of course. It's worth noting, by the way, that Huggins, when he was pulled over, was returning from a recruit's house.



Bob Knight, Texas Tech

What more can you say about The General? He has somewhat cleaned up his act since leaving Indiana for the open spaces of Texas -- save for that time he almost attacked the chancellor of the University -- but his place in the line of loony former military guys who think they're enlisted is secure. (To be fair, Knight is, by all accounts, an incredible coach. So don't choke us, please.) True story: One time, the author, while a student journalist at the University of Illinois, asked Knight a question at a press conference.


Knight looked at the author, blinked, snorted and looked away. "Any more real questions?"
Signature move: Kicking something. Anything.



Bruce Pearl, Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Considered by many to be an up-and-coming major college coaching candidate. Potentially, even, at Iowa, the university where, as an assistant coach in the early '90s, he accused then-Illinois coach Lou Henson of giving Illini forward Deon Thomas $80,000 and a Chevy Blazer, a truck that was once very cool. The NCAA proved the charges to be entirely unfounded -- though they did chide Pearl for secretly taping phone conversations -- and Pearl was so hated by Champaign faithful afterwards that he wasn't allowed by Iowa


head coach Tom Davis to make the Hawkeyes' next trip to Assembly Hall. Pearl disappeared for about a decade and slowly rebuilt his coaching career before finally making it back to the tourney last year. He is recognizable by the long black trenchcoat, fake mustache and tendency to whisper.
Signature move: Stealing your girlfriend when you're out of town. (Note: The Author is still a bit bitter.)



Rick Pitino, Louisville

Pitino has rebuilt his career by returning to the college ranks after a disastrous stint as head coach of the Boston Celtics. He is most famous for his slick, Ricky Roma style; one gets the sense that if basketball had never been invented, Pitino would be in some Midwestern widow's foyer, explaining just why it is so important for her to buy this vacuum. Has inexplicably fostered a generation of Pitino impersonators, most notably Florida coach Billy Donovan, who appears to have a Single White Female-like obsession with his


former coach.
Signature move: Always. Be. Closing.



Bruce Weber, Illinois

Weber is relatively new to the upper echelon of recognizable college basketball coaches, mainly because his spent two decades studying under Purdue coach Gene Keady before leaving for Southern Illinois and having the Illini gig fall into his lap when Bill Self left for Kansas. (The Illini faithful were devastated by Self's exit, to the point that last year Weber, bizarrely, held a "mock funeral" for Self at a practice, complete with coffin.) Weber, whose mother tragically died in


the middle of the Big Ten Tournament last week, has a nasally, whiny voice and a mouth that, when moving, vaguely resembles that of an overgrown duck. He is tremendously popular in the Central Illinois area where Champaign is located, but helps foster the mindset among snotty upstaters in Chicago that everyone downstate is a rube. Unlike Self, Weber has embraced all that is glorious and cheesy about Illini Pride, including donning a bright orange jacket that, when worn, is so brilliantly intense that crops sprout up in the dead of winter. That he is equally popular among inner-city Chicago kids and John Deere-hat wearing guys named Rex is a feat that most underappreciate.
Signature move: Quack. Arms folded. Quack. Foot stomp. Quack. Arms flailing. Quack.


Will Leitch is a managing editor of The Black Table. Go Illini.