By Tim Baffoe–
(CBS) Nary a sports fan is unaware that the Northwestern Wildcats have made the first NCAA Tournament in school history and will play Vanderbilt in the first round on Thursday. Much of that has to do with sophomore forward Vic Law, who’s averaging 12.4 points and 5.7 rebounds a game. And much of Law’s success has to do with me.
See, I was his English teacher for three of his four years at St. Rita of Cascia High School on Chicago’s South Side, and I can’t help but accept responsibility for molding and shaping Law into the young man he is today and key factor in the historic NCAA Tournament selection. Because he owes me so much, the least he could do was answer a few important questions for an old mentor.
Baffoe: So after first getting word that this was finally a reality, and the dust has settled a bit, how does this thing feel? And by that I mean the chance to be interviewed by me?
Law: “The tourney is such a good time of the year.”
How important was my influence on you in making this happen?
“I think your influence along with a lot of the other teachers at St. Rita gave me a good teaching lesson on responsibility and putting a lot of time and work into something. I know the Rita boys could be a handful at times, and it seems like you guys handled it very well.”
But I was the most important, right?
“You were one of my favorites. A lot of your students direct message me asking about you.”
Sorry about them doing that, but that’s the price of popularity. You’re on record as saying I’m your favorite and funniest teacher. (2:07 mark of the following video)
“You were the funniest. Also one of the hardest.”
Thank you for confirming that. Speaking of redheads that you’re partial to, what’s up with your Twitter relationship with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols?
“I (tweeted at her about our success) at first because she is a famous Northwestern alum who is somewhat outspoken about our team. So the first time I was just trying to get in touch but never thought she would respond.”
Who’s your favorite celeb Wildcat fan besides Nichols?
“Michael Wilbon, Mike Greenberg, and Darren Rovell are great.”
Wow, not Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the mother of your teammate, Charlie Hall?
“She is also a favorite. There are probably more I’m leaving out, but she’s awesome. She comes to a good amount of the games and is always so personable and funny to talk to.”
I don’t want you starting any team drama at this point by leaving her out. I’m a Cubs fan. Is Northwestern making the Tournament a bigger deal than the Cubs winning the World Series, and why?
“I just think they have parallels, and it’s great that both teams were able to break out of the norm.”
So my teaching in rhetoric class about not riding the fence and taking a side in an argument and defending it strongly did stick with you apparently. Actually, I have here a research paper you did for my AP Language and Composition class titled “Time Dies in Slaughterhouse-Five.” My comments include that you didn’t use enough secondary evidence. How can college basketball fans trust that you’ve grown from that?
“No comment. I’m a consulting major now anyway.”
Why aren’t you an English major like me or journalism or communications major at Northwestern of all places with such a great writing reputation?
“You know, it just didn’t call me. I loved the learning environment and career paths in my current major of LOC (Learning and Organizational Change program). Has to deal with the dynamics of the inner workings of a company and how the company adapts to changing markets.”
English is cooler. Your username on Turnitin.com, the electronic homework submission site we used for my classes, was “Torry Law.” Something the people should know about that? Anything you’re trying to hide?
“No, I’m not trying to hide anything. Come to think of it, my mom put that on my ID freshman year, and I never changed it.”
I appreciate you admitting your laziness and dependence on your mom. What should someone who hasn’t watched any Northwestern games, like me, know about the Wildcats?
“You haven’t watched any? I don’t know if you are still my favorite teacher.”
OK, I watch. I actually starting sending out electronic reminders to all my students when Northwestern was playing, but it seemed like whenever I did, you guys lost. Students starting calling me a jinx. Any thoughts on that? Should I not watch Thursday?
“You shouldn’t if you are bad luck. But, no, we love all the support we get, especially if it’s a fellow Rita man and coach. Coach Tim Baffoe.”
I’m a humble life coach, though. What do you know about Salt Lake City, where you’ll be playing your first ever tournament game?
“All I know is that there are a lot of mountains. And maybe a salty lake? But I’m just excited to be invited to the tournament, wherever we would have went would be nice.”
Those facts check out. This could be crucial bulletin board material, I know, but Vanderbilt is sometimes called “The Harvard of the South.” So what’s the nerdier school — Northwestern or Vanderbilt?
“Both are great schools.”
So Vandy then. You have about 8,000 fewer Twitter followers than me. How does that feel?
“You have more years on Twitter than me.”
I joined two months before you.
“I don’t know if we have solid evidence of that.”
Your page says that you joined May 2011, and mine says March 2011. Well, I’ll include your handle here to help you out: @Followthe_LAW.
See, I don’t stop helping my students after they leave my classroom. How much are you and your teammates motivated by trying not to wear out your head coach’s dad, Doug Collins?
“He gives us tremendous confidence even though you see how stressed out he is. He believes in us, and it’s always cool to have someone like that in your corner.”
Can your sister (former Loyola Rambler and first-team All-Horizon League selection Simone Law) still beat you in a game of one-on-one?
“She can’t really play anymore.”
What’s the best book you’ve read in a college class?
“Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game by Rob Ruck. The class I was in was very interesting and the book involves two things I’m interested in: sports and African-American culture. Even though the book was about baseball, my professor did a good job of showing how it related to other sports. And the book is just a good read.”
Since you’ve been a good sport about this interview, I’ll let you mention one thing you know about me that might embarrass me.
“You used to be a pizza delivery guy.”
Man, that’s not a secret or embarrassing.
“That’s all I got.”
Such a fine gentleman, scholar, and athlete, that Vic Law. No need to thank me, America. His success is my own reward.
Tim Baffoe is a columnist for CBSChicago.com. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimBaffoe. The views expressed on this page are those of the author, not CBS Local Chicago or our affiliated television and radio stations.