EDITOR'S NOTE: On occasion, we all need help. But where to turn? Fortunately, Rachel Nichols is here to bring us the special kind of advice that only the world's greatest athletes can dole out. Whether to take it or not ... well, that's up to you. Today's Ill-Advised experts: 1985 NCAA champions Ed Pinckney and Gary McLain, whose Villanova Wildcats beat Georgetown in the greatest upset in tournament history. Pinckney is now an assistant coach at Villanova; McLain is a motivational speaker. They gave their advice in separate conversations, but both are hoping to make it to St. Louis this weekend for celebrations honoring the game's 20-year anniversary.
RACHEL: We had so many people looking for help this week, we figured we'd bring in two guys to ignore their questions instead of the usual one. And not just any two guys. In honor of this being Final Four weekend, we're bringing out the vets.
You were on the only team to win the NCAA tournament as a No. 8 seed, plus you have that whole zany life experience thing now. So we figure you must give good advice.
ED: Is that how it goes?
RACHEL: Well, that's what we're going to find out. What's the best advice you've got?
ED: Never look back.
RACHEL: Wow. This could be a very short column.
ED: Maybe it's more, don't regret when you look back. You can learn something good or bad out of every situation, so don't look back and get all upset about something that didn't go the way you wanted it to.
RACHEL: Easy for you. Not so easy for Patrick Ewing. What about you, Gary?
GARY: Always represent your name and your family with truth and honor, and know that no matter what you go through, you can hold your head up.
RACHEL: Hold 'em high. OK, let's get to the bag-o-mail. First up is Chris Caldwell from Pullman, Wash. Chris writes, "As a Washington State guy, it was to my dismay I discovered my cousin's 9-year-old son has his bedroom painted in Washington Husky colors with the logo and everything. This is unacceptable. As a concerned relative, should I have an intervention? Or maybe just sneak in in the dead of night and repaint the room Cougar crimson and gray?"
GARY: If he decides to sneak in in the middle of the night, I think he should wear a bulletproof vest. Washington's a tough part of the country, and nowadays the kids are carrying early.
ED: No, he's got to let that kid celebrate being a Husky. A harmless celebration like that, you can't prevent. You've got to let that kid just live how he wants.
RACHEL: Well, what if you had cousins raising their kids as Penn fans?
ED: If I had a cousin that was a Penn fan, I'd be a little disappointed, but let's be honest, that's harmless. It's Penn. Now if he was a St. Joe's fan, I'd have an issue.
RACHEL: Ah, so then it's flak-jacket time. OK, now that you've dispatched the 9-year-old, what can you guys do for little Kevin in St. Cloud, Minn.? At least, I hope he's little. He writes, "My dad has started coaching our Little League team and he's terrible. All the kids hate him. The other day he actually got hit in the head with a ball. I'm not sure it was an accident. How can I break it to him, he's got to step down?"
GARY: In a serious situation like that, the best thing is to be direct. You just say You. Have. No. Skills. Or better yet, go down to Marshalls or Ross to get him a skirt to cheerlead in.
ED: Just send him back to where he was standing, line him up and hit him with some more balls.
RACHEL: Have you ever coached your kids?
ED: One summer, I coached my son's team. My son never came out of the game, I'll tell you that. The other parents hated me for that one. I had fun doing it, but I'd never do it again.
GARY: That's a no-win, being your kid's coach. Plus you can get hit in the head.
RACHEL: What about being a bracket coach? Ben Stoker in Middletown, N.J. writes, "By some gross twist of fate, I seem to be winning our office pool. Suddenly, senior vice presidents are coming up to chat with me, and a few of the cute girls now ask me questions about college basketball. The problem is, I'm a total fraud and picked my bracket pretty much at random but I don't want to give up the attention I'm getting. What are some handy phrases I can toss around to keep impressing everyone?"
ED: Just place a call and then say to someone, "Oh, I'm sorry. I must have hit the wrong number on my speed dial. I was punching up Joe Lunardi." Either that. or, "My cousin Rashad McCants tells me Carolina is the way to go this year."
GARY: Hey, I can't answer this question. That's flat-out lying, and I just can't imagine participating in that sort of thing. I mean, really.
RACHEL: You're all about the truth?
GARY: Sure. Right. Definitely.
RACHEL: Well, do people ask you guys for college basketball expertise all the time?
ED: Pretty much always, but after a while I try to turn the conversation around to talk about them.
RACHEL: Then you can definitely help Troy Percy in Dallas. He writes, "I was a star running back in high school who helped win our state championship. But that was 17 years ago, and it's STILL the first thing people in our town like to talk about when I haven't seen them in a while. Help me what other topics of conversation can I bring up when this happens?"
ED: Print out some shirts. Get some hats and shirts with all his accomplishments on the front. Just a list. Then on the back, they should say, "Next Question."
RACHEL: The new chic look at cocktail parties?
ED: I bet he'd be a lot happier.
RACHEL: Maybe. What about Leon from Dalton, Ga. He asks, "What's the best thing to spend your cash on, basketball shoes or jerseys?"
GARY: Always spend it on the shoes. A woman always looks at the shoes first.
ED: Jerseys. They have a longer-lasting life than some sort of Nike Pump or Pro-Keds or whatever. Get a Jerry Rice jersey, or something like that.
GARY: Oh, come on. Ed's a big man, and you know with big men you're getting misinformation about style. You've got to go with the point guard on this one. It's the shoes.
RACHEL: A debate for the ages, I'm sure. But what about the socks? Karen in Bluefield, W.V. writes, "I have a pair of really lucky socks. I wore them for every game West Virginia played, and our boys kept winning, but my roommate stole them before last Saturday's game because he's from Kentucky and wanted Louisville to win. Sure enough, look what happened. By stealing my socks, he stole our chance to go to the Final Four. What could I do to him for revenge?"
ED: Oh, I would definitely get a new pair of socks, I'd write his favorite team's name on them, and then dump the nastiest type of crap you get on them, and just put the new pair of socks in his room. Pickle juice, onion juice, maybe some mustard.
GARY: Definitely, definitely put his clothes elsewhere. Or one day, just spill some coffee on his favorite stuff and hide it away.
ED: Yeah, you could put it under the pillow, under the cover, maybe in his drawer. Payback is a must.
RACHEL: So as we wrap up, what's the best advice you guys have for the kids in the tournament right now?
ED: Relax and have fun. Stay loose.
GARY: Play it just like it's another game during the season. For me, being from New York, it was like just going to play another pickup game.
RACHEL: That's quite a pickup game.
GARY: Well, yeah. A pickup game with some pretty nice ramifications, that's for sure.
Got an issue or a question, or otherwise need to be 'Ill-Advised' in the future? Send it to Rachel Nichols right here.