Hoops season starts tonight, for me at least. Although the big KU coverage controversy was cleared up yesterday, my cable provider hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, so I’ll be sitting here at my desk, listening to the game on Yahoo. It’s better than no coverage.

I admit I’m part of the problem. I spent 45 minutes watching helicopters hover over the Santa Barbara airport yesterday, waiting for Michael Jackson’s jet to arrive. I felt dirty, yet I couldn’t stop watching. Unfortunately, I had a conference call scheduled when Miguelito was whisked into the county jail in handcuffs. I love how Jermaine Jackson came out and said this was a modern lynching. Really? If these allegations turn out not to be true, Michael will survive just as he did ten years ago the last time this happened. Maybe Jermaine is unfamiliar with what happened when Blacks were lynched in the past, but they generally didn’t have an opportunity to repair their lives afterwards. You see, J, they were dead. I also love the masses of people who are turning out to publicly support Mike. I recall really thinking OJ was innocent for most of the summer of 1994, until more and more evidence came out making it clear he was responsible for the murders in Brentwood. Even in that interim, though, I wasn’t out protesting his innocence. And we’re talking about child molestation and sexual abuse here. If Joe Schmo gets accused of that, we automatically assume the worst until proven otherwise. But Michael, who has given us far too much evidence over time to think this is probably true, has people running out in the street for him. Amazing. Finally, Michael dubbed himself the King of Pop. He hasn’t created anything musically significant in over ten years. If the media insists on calling him that, please add “the self proclaimed” in front of the title. We don’t have kings here. Is this Russia? This isn’t Russia!

I’m not sure how I feel about TCU getting waxed last night. I was kind of hoping they won out so they either stole a BCS spot from a big conference (and forced them to really look at the system after the contract runs out, even if it cost KU a bowl game) or that they could get screwed despite being undefeated. Are they deserving of a BCS bid? Not really, but going undefeated in division 1-A football is pretty impressive. Think about what TCU has accomplished, though. It’s a small, private school playing in a bad football conference. Yet in recent years they’ve turned out one of the best players in the NFL and after losing ten games in 1997 have won ten games three straight years. Being in Texas sure helps, but you have to get the players first, keep them eligible second, and finally get them to perform. What they’ve accomplished as a program is extremely impressive.

Speaking of TCU, is it cooler to go to SMU or TCU? I’ve been to SMU, and it seemed pretty swanky. Is TCU on the same level, or is it a step down, for kids whose parents aren’t quite in the top tax bracket and can afford SMU tuition and a BMW lease in Dallas for four years?

An obligatory ER note. I can’t believe they killed off Rocket Romano. He had become a bitter, evil man this year, but the discomfort he added to each scene was one of the few things that kept the show strong this year. His overtly racist and sexist treatment of people added an edge to the show. While I think the resolution of those actions would have become either overly moralized or stereotypical, I don’t know that there’s not a better way than dropping a helicopter on his head to wrap things up. Does anyone know what Noah Wylie is doing this year? Carter had evolved into a complex, extremely interesting character, and now he’s only used in occasional, 30-second shots. I hope he’s making some sweet movie. I said earlier this year that they should just end the show and spin off Carter and Kovac roaming Africa. Saving lives, fighting tyranny, going on adventures. The two episodes that took place in Africa are the best things ER has done since the mass exodus of original stars began five years ago.