On Bowden, Butch & Tyler

January16/ 2000

….. Bad news last week about the athletics program at Florida State.  The issues within that program over 20+ years ought to concern FSU alumni.  …… The Butch-blinging of Kenan Stadium has been tabled for the forseeable future.  Plus an issue with UNC’s athletic apparel provider ….. and, in the shadow of the rafters, Li’l Abner has his moment.

It’s no secret that I have “issues” with my alma mater over it’s overt ideological image …. and gleeful embracing of that image.  I gleefully promote my own partisan  image on the other side of “the aisle”.  The world somehow is big enuff for both me and UNC to co-exist.  “Image” has always been important to UNC and its alumni.  Is that the case elsewhere?

In the early 80s, Oklahoma, under Barry Switzer, personified every out-of-control aspect of “big time college football”.  Barry, the son of an Arkansas bootlegger, lived up (or down) to that lawless, spit in your eye, image.  He never apologized for his behaviour nor the outrageous behaviour of his players.  Firing AK-47s on the roof of the jock dorm became the symbolic image of Oklahoma Football.

I lived in Kansas City and Dallas in those days.  Dallas, surprisingly, has a number of Sooner alums due to the oil bidness.  I would ask my OU pals “does it bother you that Barry Switzer is the defining image of The University of Oklahoma?  Does it cheapen your degree from OU?”

They would shrug their shoulders in a “whatchagonnado” comment to the situation.  In a perfect world Barry would behave and not go out of his way to embarrass the non-outlaw aspects of SoonerNation but they resigned themselves to how it was.   I knew a few Sooner crazies who were every bit as roguish as Switzer.  Their attitude was “what problem?”

Only the terminally naïve claimed that Oklahoma’s rivals were paragons of virtue themselves, but they were better at controlling the odor from their athletic effluent than OU was.

A similar “image” situation developed in Tallahassee over the past 20 years under Bobby Bowden ….. with one key difference.    Papa Bowden always dances thru the Crim-nole mindfield draped in a pious image of his own making.

My FCA contacts all acknowledge Bobby Bowden as “a fine Christian man”.   As are his sons, at least Tommy.  So there has been this image of the Bowden Family sitting in a Tallahassee church pew singing “That Old Rugged Cross” while his “student-athletes” were out in the parking lot looting the cars and engaging in endless baccanalian revelries involving “likker, drugs, contraband and wild wild wimmen”.   

If it had been just one batch of bad seeds it might be explainable …. But 20+ years of “Crim-inoles” is history not coincidence.

No college football program is immune from overly aggressive young men coping with the temptations of campus celebrity, raging hormones and opportunity.  Most schools at least ask these human hand grenades to try not to get caught.  At FSU it seems to be “you boys have a reputation to live down to …… go for it.”

As with OU back then ….. no one says FSU primary rivals (especially Miami) has been any less out-of-control, but FSU has always seemed some how “proud” of its “Crim-inole” image.

Now in the twilight of Bobby’s career, as they sing the final stanza of “That Old Rugged Cross” the NCAA is snatching Ws off of Bobby’s record for the latest litany of grade-tampering infractions.  Everyone who follows college football made up their minds about Bobby Bowden years ago.   ….. ‘the evil that men do lives after them.  the good is often interred with their bones” …..

 In the shadow of The Old Well …… The ButchBlinging of Kenan Stadium has been tabled until …….. The necessary input of fan $$$ support to finance Phase II is not there.  That is not an indictment of The Pale Rider’s progress at UNC, simply an economic reality.  Reality and sports fans are mutually exclusive.

     UNC’s incredibly popular young Chancellor and its terminally embattled Athletics Director made the joint announcement last week.  There was also a statement from The Pale Rider acknowledging his understanding of the circumstance.  The goggle-eyed nitwit faction will still snort and rant that for UNC to put its academic survival above pursuing athletic supremacy is heresy of the highest order.

The Phase II check for $9.76 from InsideCarolina.com VIP Club members had not arrived at The Rams Club as of Monday’s mail.

The ante to play BCS Poker continues to match the Porkuclus giveaway in its out-of-control $$$$$.  Mid-level assistant coaches are now pulling down more salary bucks than university Chancellors.  Think about that …… a Tight End Coach overseeing 4-5 athletes making as much/more than an administrator overseeing a campus of 50,000 students, faculty and staff !!!   Not yet the case at UNC, but its headed that way.   Barry Switzer is laughing his butt off.

In a related announcement ….. UNC is ending its vendor relationship with Russell Athletic Wear over it’s action related to union shops and off-shore manufacturing facilities.  UNC joins a list of universities disassociating itself from Russell.  This decision does NOT affect the Nike deal.

Is this administrative pandering to the motley gaggle of student activists that hysterically protest pretty much everything?  Giving unwashed Che Guevarra wannabees a 6’ table and two folding chairs in The Pit is one thing.  Giving them a seat at the adult decision-making table is quite another thing.

I have been assured from “a friend who knows” that being in synch with the yelping yahoos is simply a coincidence.
In the great scheme of things ….. I don’t much care either way on this one.  You shouldn’t either.

    As #50 nervously addressed his adoring fans beneath the hallowed rafters at 6:32 Sunday night I could not help smiling while wondering how many said fans, after four years, still think his name is spelled HansbOrough and that he’s from “PopUlar” Bluff.

Likely the same “real Tar Heel fans” who could never spell Guthridge or Doherty either.

His Airness was on-hand with his new Cuban model squeeze.  A fact not lost on the CBS camera crew.

Four years ago I declared the raw-boned kid from Missouri’s bootheel to be a personification of Al Capp’s Li’l Abner.   If Abner Yokum had his druthers he would just sleep and fish.   There was nothing complicated about Abner, or Tyler.

His long-anticipated Senior Day speech was memorable in its ordinariness.  He is not a quipster nor an orator.  Whether he prepared remarks or simply looked at the bench and tried to mention each coach, who knows.  He was simple and sincere.  I think that’s just fine.

Tyler did not reference Obama, global warming, Eve Carson or his step-mother.   Many of you have noted “The Step-Hottie’s” absence over the past year or so.  I attribute that to Tami’s move to Chapel Hill.  No need to risk a bad scene.

Everyone has an opinion on Tyler’s future.  I see him as an NBA journeyman with a tenure somewhere between Eric Montross’ and Pete Chilcutt’s.  His distaste for flying and the issues white guys face in the NBA may shorten his NBA career.  He will make more $$$ over the next five years than any other Class of ‘09 UNC graduate ….. and, being a fellow of simple taste, it will be well-managed for him.

I see him at 30, happily married, father of two, back in “the Bluff” owning a fishing camp and playing ping pong with his brothers.  We should all be so fortunate.

Thanks for the memories, young fella.


Which Rafter Row will #50 hang from? ….. Why?


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