Poobahs, Pies, Picks & The Pistol

January16/ 2000

It was a good day to be a Burney – Kendric Burney.  As electrifying a humdinger game as I can recall and I have Patti The Pistol’s thumbprint on my left bicep as a souvenir.  PLEASE don’t bust the myth; but Kenan’s Suite of Swells was rockin’ early Saturday evening ….. details forthcoming. ….. BobLee shares two “betcha didn’t know” Harrison Barnes’ stories and some other incredibly cool stuff …..

Yes, I did …. wear the Rush Is Right t-shirt .   But it was well camouflaged by less partisan outerwear.   There’s times you push the envelope and times you defer for civility’s sake.  Knowin’ when’s which time separates the grown-ups from the jackasses.  (More “Rush stuff” later in this column).

I shoulda learned after the first one, but who knew there would be THREE of’em.  On Kendric Burney’s first pick I was standing with Patti The Pistol (aka Mrs Popular Young Chancellor) as she was excitedly detailing the Valerie Ashby & Harrison stuff ( …. details later in this column) .   As Burney bobs & weaves down the far sideline, Patti slaps a deathgrip on my left bicep.   Some guys have an Eagle, Globe & Anchor or maybe “Mom” tattoo on their bicep.  I now have a Patti Thorp thumbprint embedded in mine.

Chancellor’s wives are suppose to hosts “teas” and gala receptions for Yo Yo Ma or such.  UNC’s Patti “The Pistol” Thorp ain’t your standard issue “Chancellor’s wife”.  As “Don The Trustee” noted sarcastically “BobLee, what can we do to help her overcome her shyness?”   Lord have mercy ….. if “they” can find a way to tap into that gal’s energy, they could run the entire campus off of Patti Power.

Throughout the game I was confabbing with assorted poobahs over a litany of issues relative to The University of The People as well as Western Civilization in general.  Surprising number of closet BobLee devotees among the assembled movers & shakers.  One senior official in particular shared my recent concerns as regards The Pale Rider.   We agree that the concerns ARE resolvable.  But somehow whenever young Kendric scored a pick I was in close proximity to The Pistol.

If she wasn’t death-gripping or bear hugging she was Patti-clapping.  A Patti Thorp clap is akin to a 30.06 resounding across an Alpine meadow at dawn’s first light.  How do her two little Hope Mills hands create such a thunderclap?  The entire suite was going nutz as the humdinger of a game grew in its humdingity with Patti orchestrating the whole chaos with screams, claps and a wild arm-waving thing that was darn near “pentacostal”.

Board monkeys routinely describe UNC poobahs as uninvolved, disassociated and largely negative towards Tar Heel sports.  Board monkeys don’t know crap.  But you knew that.

As much fun as experiencing The Pistol is observing the popular young Chancellor hisownself proudly watching The Pistol in her unbridled hootness.

A large liberal arts university is a hand grenade of controversy waiting for the pin to be pulled.   KABOOMS and goggle-eyed idiots abound.  As several Trustees and senior officials noted to me …… with “The Thorps” at the helm, UNC-CH is in about as good a shape as we could ever hope for.   Holden & Patti are “real”.  As I may have mentioned a time or two …. I like’em.


What juxtaposes a UNC poobah piece better than “relevant details” about a harmless little fuzzball?   My EIB buddy was “on the sidelines” in Indy Sunday night for Peyton v Brady.  Invited by a fellow broadcasting icon of the TV sports variety, RL was front and center in Jim Irsay’s house.  “Hearsay” was an outspoken backstabber during the recent hubba hubba over Rush & NFL.

I get a text ….. “Colt fans going nutz.  Wildest positive reception I’ve ever received at an NFL game. “  Irsay had to be grinding his teeth.   Pats owner, and fellow PB resident, Bob Kraft feted RL.

Humdinger of a game so “Hearsay” was happy at the end as was El Rushbo as EIB 1 winged its way back to The Southern Command Center.


Valerie & George Ashby ….. & Sweet Potato Pie …… you mighta heard ONE of these stories but likely not both.   Who knows what lies ahead as young Harrison Barnes of Ames, Iowa joins the pantheon of UNC hoop history.  Will he one day be enshrined high in the rafters?  That story is yet to be told.    But now we can share the story of Valerie & George Ashby… and Sweet Potato Pie.

Dr. Valerie Ashby is a chemistry professor at UNC.  She does complicated stuff with polymers.  I’m not sure what a polymer is.  The bowels of old Venable Hall contain creepy crawlies of a very scary variety.

Valerie was on the faculty of Iowa State 10-12 years ago.  Husband George was minister of a local church in Ames.  Valerie taught Sunday School at George’s church.  Among the eager youngsters in her class was a skinny kid named Harrison. Harrison’s mom became close friends with Valerie & George.   Harrison grew both as a gangly kid who loved basketball but also as a young man who loved The Lord.

It was important that Harrison go “off to college” where he can grow as a basketball player but also academically AND spiritually.  Enter longtime family friend Valerie Ashby.  Ol’ Roy has the basketball part covered ….. and The Ashbys have the spiritual part well in hand.  Valerie & George Ashby “sealed the deal”.

With due respect to Ol’ Roy’s occasional “salty” oops, he is hardly a lock for the Profane Hall of Fame as is a certain rival a few miles down 15-501.  It was never really as close a call as “the media” touted. …….  another irrelevant detail?  Luckily for Roy,  Harrison and his momma never met notorious UNC atheist Bart Ehrman or Religi-Loonie Emeritus Robert Seymour. 

Also ….. in his early discussions with Harrison, Roy made him a promise.  Roy swore off “sweets” subject to Harrison choosing to be a Tar Heel.  Ol’ Roy is notorious for his dozen Coca Colas/ day and gorging non-stop on desserts and sweets.  He must have a metabolism like a blast furnace.

For the past many months, The Blue Messiah has gone cold turkey on his addictive confections.   Harrison signed at 4:30 PM on Friday.  At 6:00 PM the afore-mentioned Patti “The Pistol” Thorp personally delivered one of her famous  Super Sweet Potato Pound Cake to Wanda (with LOTS of extra drizzled sugar frosting ! )  Roy’s sweet fast is broken …… and euphoria reigns in “the Southern Part of Heaven” ….. pun intended.


The #4 #5 and #6 teams in the country (TCU, Cincinnati and Boise) all play in stadia of modest capacity ….. 44,000, 38,000, and 32,000 respectively (about the size of Wake’s BB&T Field and Duke’s “The Wally”).   How can that be?  I thought the only way to recruit good players was to have a fancy schmanzy stadium with lots of expensive bling bling …… go figger!

Did you watch Pitt versus Notre Dame?  Did you note the John Bunting-esque irony in the game?   Pitt’s Off Coor is Frank “The Genius” Cignetti and ND’s Def Coor is, of course, Smilin’ John Tenuta.  Odds are Smilin’ John will be elsewhere come next September.

Two of the hottest teams in college FB today are Stanford and Pitt.   Wake beat Stanford and TO’B’s Wuffs beat Pitt.   Whattayaknow !!!!  Maybe the ACC ain’t so weak after all.


 This is Hate Sarah Palin Week for America’s dead&dying media.  There will be a piranha-like feeding fury to bash the former Alaska Governor as her book hits the stores.  The “Hating of Sarah Palin” says volumes about the ideological disconnect in America.

I can’t imagine Sarah ever as POTUS or VPOTUS but as long as she causes media heads to explode (AND SHE DOES!)  she’s providing a great service.  There is no higher honor in America today than being hated by the venomous vermin of “the dead&dying media“.  GO SARAH GO!


Michelle Wie is no longer a Victory Virgin.  The “Future of The LPGA” won her first LPGA tour event at the Lauren Ochoa Classic on Sunday.  But cynics never fear ….. just as Danica Patrick’s detractors never blinked when Danica won ….. Wie-haters will now whine “but she’s only won once”.    


We only met in person once …. in Kenan several years ago; but we e-chatted many many times over the past ten years.  We were both UNC undergrads in the late 60s and both of us had daughters with a Mizzou J-School heritage.   I forgot how he first found my website but he became a staunch BobLee Buddy as he wound up his career as an advertising executive with The Washington Post.

We usually agreed on all matters Tar Heel (he had “strong feelings” about a certain BB coach in West Derm!) and we even began to agree politically in the past few years.  He retired from WaPost a year or so ago and had moved back to Chicago.  My good buddy Don Woodall died on October 28 of a massive heart attack.   

Don is not the first BobLee Buddy to pass away.  There have been several (that I know of).   The bond between writer and reader is an unusual one.  I can’t speak for all writers but, by golly, I cherish every single one of you guys and gals.  You care enough about my silliness to take time out of your day to “let’s see what BobLee Says today”.   After ten plus years, and 1,300 columns,  THAT is STILL incredibly cool.


   We are still having “Hard Bounce” issues.  Many of you wonderful subscribers are not getting column updates.  My sincere apologies.  I am on the verge of a Coach K level meltdown about this.  Please bookmark the URL and go to it several times a week until you start getting the Alerts again. grrrrrrrr.
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