…. “If you look right over there you can see Pilot Mountain” said Nicole to Mizzus and me Saturday afternoon. …. We were on the 6th floor of Deacon Tower at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem. Nicole is a charming young lady with The Deacon Club. No, I’m not turning in my Choo Choo Blue for Old Gold & Black. …. We were guests of a longtime BL Buddy. For me a solid reminder of how/why I do love “the color & pageantry”.
A humdinger of a game in a great environment on a perfect Fall afternoon and, since I had “no dog in the fight” I could simply soak it all in and ENJOY. Yikes …. ENJOY a college football game without cussin’ the coach …. callin’ for the disembowelment of a coordinator …. or wonderin’ if the crooked refs would get out of town alive. Just a delightful afternoon on a beautiful day in a most pleasant situation, meeting new friends and laughing a lot. Even the occasional polito-comment was among like-minded souls.
It’s my custom here to never “out” my friends to the point they could be targeted by “unfriendlies” for being BobLee Buddies. This particular long time e-friend has a well-recognized and unique first name so I’ll just call him Deacon Buddy. Those who need to know know. He a proud member of Wake Forest’s elite Moricle Society which is THE rarifiedest air in DeaconWorld. He is very proud of WFU’s new Deacon Tower and wanted to “show it off” to that crazy UNC guy with the website.
Unbeknownest to me, the word was out that “that BobLee guy from The Internet is here today“. When Duke Asst AD Mike Sobb came up to say “I heard you were coming today” …. THAT was eerie.
I’ve always had a warm spot for WFU. It was #2 on my list waaaay back when and while my UNC days were a positive experience for sure, I’ve often wondered what a small school experience woulda been like. Oh well ….. ever onward.
Ya’ll know how much I admire Jim Grobe and how his unique coaching attitude fits so well in Camel City. I’m also on record as thinking LJVMC is the ideal size for a college BB arena. At 15,000 big enough not to be a band box but small enough that the cheap seats (!!) are not in a different zip code from the court. Hence my rule that I turn down any Dean Dome freebies “above the frost line”. ….. and maybe just maybe you’ve detected a smidgen of my admiration for The Greatest Athletics Director in The History of Mankind …. Mr & Mrs Wellman’s son Ron. Deacon Buddy surprised me with a personal audience with my new BFF …. Ron Wellman.
Ron and I pretty much resolved the major issues with college athletics in our 10 minute chat. A fine fellow well-met who has a sincerity about him that oozes genuineness. By comparison, most ADs (not named Ron or Norwood) have a “please don’t hit me or hate me” look in their eyes. Tuff bizness! One-armed rattlesnake milkers have an easier life.
On the touchy subject of stadium bling bling …. (you sorta know my feeling on that one, huh?) …. The timing for funding and construction of Deacon Tower could not have been better. It was all done in around two years and is nearabout perfect for what it was intended to be. …. (and done before Wachovia stock prices went “kerplunk”). A modern media facility and a comfortable game environment for Deacon fans with the wherewithal to enjoy it. Built with private funds for the enjoyment of those that built it. Deacon board monkeys (every school has’em) didn’t contribute (duh!) and don’t have access.
WFU actually went out and studied other similar facilities and profited from their design mistakes. WOW, what a concept NOT to assume you know it all.
Was it a sedate “cheerwine & cheese crowd” in “The Tower”? Not at all …. Lots of cheering and “in to it” fans as the score ebbed and flowed. Now no one took off their shirt or screamed F-bombs but I count those as positives. There are other improvements scheduled that have and will improve the spectator experience for the mainstream fan segment.
Prehaps no school in the NCAA understands WHO it is as well as Wake Forest. No “sleeping giant” crap among the Deacs. No flatulence about “our manifest destiny”. No unreasonable never-satisfied expectations heaped upon its coaches. That they found perfect fits like Grobe and the late Skip Prosser is a testament to Ron Wellman knowing what to look for in his key hires.
Ron told me that even during Prosser’s last two seasons when early outs left him talent short (and victory short) that he (Ron Wellman) did not receive a single nasty-gram from their lunatic fringe. Apparently WFU’s “lunatic fringe” consists of a single loonie named Dirk who works the graveyard shift at Krispy Kreme. Other than “Dirk”, Deacon fans are reasonably normal by 2008 standards of fan normalcy.
By comparison …. Dickie B. and Lee Fowler get 100 nasty grams if the lines in the stadium restrooms get longer than five deep. The death threats start when the paper towels run out.
Speaking of Ol’ Horace “Bones” McKinney ??? …. They have this very very cool new bronze statue in front of Deacon Tower of Mr Deacon in a mad dash to somewhere. Its all kneecaps and elbows that I swear Bones posed for. It’s really cool and looks like its in motion.
It’s no bigger a deal than Wolf Mountain at Carter or Kenan’s Choo Choo and the giant ram but it’s neat just the same. It IS neater than Wally Wade’s bust outside The Wally.
I’ve been in numerous other “club levels” and VIP areas in arenas and stadia and speedways and they can be as elaborate as the powers that be choose to make them. Deacon Tower seems to have struck an ideal level of “wow, this is very nice” and not “who was the designer – Liberace or P-Diddy?” known in decorating circles as “Vegas Whorehouse”. Deacon Tower is tastefully done with a combo of contemporary style and function. I’m pretty sure it was designed to impress the people who use it and not 18 y/o BlueChippers with a 4th grade reading comprehension.
The ONLY post-construction oops (and it is correctable) is that the glass windows on the 4th floor are not openable so the sounds and smells of the color and pageantry are sealed off. That creates a bit of a sterile feeling. It’s fixable and I betcha Ron will fix it.
BobLee and Mizzus give Deacon Tower a BIG HUZZAH.
Well done Deacons ….. Well done!
The game ‘tween Wake and Duke was an OT nailbiter. Wake is still dealing with The Swank Factor that has doomed them to a good but nor real good season. Duke remains more than “just competitive” thanks to minimum serious injuries. Coach Cut’s rebuilding in West Derm has to be a full season ahead of schedule. Coach Cut and Coach Grobe will be a threat to win any game they play.
Speaking of great games …. Didya catch Mack v Mike in Lubbock? Hard to ever top that one for color and pageantry and thrills aplenty. It looked like Mack was gonna get a major butt whoopin’ to the delight of Mack-bashers but he and Colt weren’t buyin’ it. That game winner was a 1/100 completion but the 1 was all it took. All the rock star coach buyers are headed to Lubbock with blank checks made out to M. Leach. I bet he stays.
Speaking of staying ….. Phil is officially OUT at Tennessee …. but neither Butch nor Spurrier will be going there.
I betcha the actual BCS Big Game decision will not be as complicated in 4 weeks as it seems right now. I see Oklahoma and Florida as the two “best teams” this year. Not sure how that could be The Game but we’ll see.
I’ve been to Groves/BB&T Stadium numerous times but always recall my first game there …. When a certain UNC QB had a career day in total offense that stood as a record for over 30 years. Who was he?
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