It's time to show true colors
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

AUSTIN, Texas -- For the past week, I embedded myself on the campuses of the Final Four schools, taking in every bit of college life except for student debt.

I wore the school colors and toasted the success of every university. I drank at the campus institutions and ate in the dorm dining halls. I sat in on classes. I visited fraternities and sororities. I pulled multiple all-nighters, going 48 hours during one stretch without going to bed. I read the student newspapers. I listened to war debates among student activists. I cheered intramural champions.

I stood in the snow with Syracuse fans who camped out overnight for tickets. I discussed the finer points of the Rock Chalk chant with the Jayhawk mascot. I prayed for peace with the Jesuits at Marquette. I worked out with the ROTC unit at Texas.

And my itinerary still is incomplete. There is a peace rally at UT before Saturday's games that is still on my schedule.

Revisit Jim Caple's week on the road, visiting the campuses of the Final Four schools:

  • Day 5:
    Looking for hoop love in Texas

  • Day 4:
    Journey to the heart of hoops at Kansas

  • Day 3:
    Winter wonderland at Syracuse

  • Day 2:
    Al lives on at Marquette

  • Day 1:
    Toga party at Marquette
  • Now, however, comes the most difficult task of all next to filling out my expense report: Deciding for whom to root.

    At each stop students asked me who I thought would win, and I never hesitated in my answer. Whichever school I was at, that was the school I said would win. And the odd thing is, I was telling the truth. Whatever school I was at, that was who I wanted to win.

    Enjoying my first toga party late into the night at Marquette, I was certain I would root for the Golden Eagles. Then I savored The Varsity's delicious pizza on a cold snowy night in Syracuse and pondered whether I should wear Orange. Then I had a drink at the 84-year-old bar where Phog Allen used to take the Kansas basketball team and I was ready to join in the Rock Chalk chant. And then I talked basketball with the intramural champs at Texas and my fingers began curling into a "Hook 'em Horns" sign.

    Jim Caple
    The pizza from the Varsity makes it the easy pick for best campus restaurant.
    So now that the games are about to begin, where do my loyalties lie? Well, before I get to that, let me empty my laundry bag overflowing from a week on the road.

    Best campus: Kansas. A curving, tree-lines main drive, classic stone buildings, the stirring Campanile war memorial -- who knew Kansas could be so beautiful?

    Best campus hangout: The Varsity restaurant at Syracuse. Just a block off campus, filled with tradition and history -- and great pizza slices for just $1. Runner-up: Real Chili at Marquette. Spring for the cheese topping, it's only 56 cents extra.

    Best student intramural center: Texas in a landslide. Forget university campuses, it might be the best fitness center anywhere.

    Most impressive building: Hall of Languages at Syracuse. The school's signature building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and deservedly so.

    Jim Caple
    Texas will outfit you with the widest variety of memorabilia.
    Best arena: Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas. Do you really have to ask?

    Best student newspaper: Not too surprisingly, it's at the school with a great communications school: The Daily Orange at Syracuse, which is completely independent of the school and is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

    Best memorabilia store: Texas Co-Op. If you can't find it here, you don't want it. And you don't need it.

    Best place to watch a game: The Annex, Marquette. It has all the requisites -- plenty of room, school memorabilia, a large-screen TV, reasonable prices -- plus it has a TV at every booth and a bowling alley. Sheesh, with all that, who needs to watch the game?

    Jim Caple
    Few sports venues anywhere can match the tradition of Allen Fieldhouse.
    Most memorable fan: Scottie Lingelbach, still a passionate Kansas fan 62 years after she was a Jay-Jane cheereleader at KU. She left Kansas after her freshman to work for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during WWII and then went on to raise a family and have two successful careers as a teacher and realtor. Listening to her memories of Roosevelt's D-Day press conference produced bigger chills than walking into Allen Fieldhouse.

    Most disturbing sight: The Red McCombs School of Business on the UT campus. McCombs, a slick car salesman who made it big enough to buy the Vikings, donated $50 million to the school -- the largest donation in the university's history -- for the honor of having his name put on the building. Runner-up: Budig Hall on the KU campus, named after the former Kansas chancellor and do-nothing American League president.

    Best fans: What, you think I'm going to even come within 10 feet of touching this one?

    So who am I rooting for?

    Jim Caple
    Forget objectivity! Page 2's Jim Caple will be wearing his Marquette gear this weekend.
    A championship wouldn't mean enough to Texas, which remains a football school. Kansas has been there so often that the Jayhawks don't need another banner for Allen Fieldhouse. Syracuse has done its penance -- that Keith Smart shot still hurts -- and those folks certainly earn a championship by enduring miserable winters, but my heart is with someone else.


    Why Marquette? The school's 1977 championship remains one of college basketball's finest moments. They've been waiting a long, long time for a return to glory. They're an underdog. And I'm a sucker for small Catholic schools.

    So I'll be wearing my Marquette T-shirt and cap today. But good luck to all four schools -- I've truly enjoyed visiting them all and wish I could have stayed longer at each

    And if I'm not supporting your team this weekend, don't worry, my opinion is worthless on this matter. Remember, I began this tour of Final Four campuses by buying a ticket to Lexington, Ky.

    Jim Caple is a senior writer for



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