January17/ 2000

… Are there more miscreant bad boys in college athletics today than in the past?  Is the pressure to WIN causing coaches to take more latitude in recruiting “hard cases” …. ticking time bombs if you will?  Is it ‘roid rage causing more and more players to exhibit overly aggressive anti-social behavior?  Is it all Bobby Bowden and Phil Fullmer’s fault?  BobLee tackles a favorite distasteful subject.

   The issue of misbehaving student-athletes is every school’s problem … including “yours” whoever “you” are.  I recently read a comment from a UNC fan idiot razing Duke for JJ Redick’s marijuana incident THREE YEARS AGO.  Duh … three UNC FB starters were kicked off the team just 6 months ago for a marijuana violation.  UNC fans have a 5 year moratorium on leveling ANY criticism at any school on marijuana issues. … an incoming UNC FB recruit was sent home from summer school after being arrested for an assault, public drunkeness, false ID incident.  And this was not an urban rebel lashing out at a white society that does not “understand” him … this was a “clean cut” white kid from a nuclear family and from a private school in Charlotte.  So much for “profiling” bad boys.

   That infamous Willie Williams’ Recruiting Journal last year … that read like Ted Bundy’s national murder spree confessional.  The most dim-witted fan loon from Auburn, FSU, or Miami had to know this isn’t a “maybe” time bomb this is a GUARANTEED hand grenade with no pin.  

   Bobby Bowden recently repeated his well-known philosophy that “misdemeanors don’t count” in allowing two starting linebackers with unresolved arrest citations to avoid probation and play in FSU’s critical season opener vs Miami.  Bobby knows he catches some heat for this traditional laxity to demand acceptable behavior from his players.  He knows he will catch even more heat if the Noles lose #7 in a row to the Canes.  Bobby’s famous laissez faire approach to these off-field incidents by his CrimiNoles is legendary … going on regularly for 20 years with, obviously no sign of abating.  If Bobby cared what rival fan bases thought of him he might change … he shouldn’t, he doesn’t, he won’t.

   Does Bobby recruit “choir boys” who simply fall prey to the wicked ways of Tallahassee?  Not likely … he recruits highly talented athletes who apparently bring antisocial behavioral baggage to campus with them.  

   Does the Blue Ridge tranquility of Blacksburg have the same negative effect on the boy scouts that Frank Beamer brings in?  

   Coral Gables most definitely has led many a young athlete to a life of raucous debauchery.  

 Huuummm … Florida State, VaTech, and Miami … the top three football programs in the ACC and also the ACC leaders in “bad boys” ?  Could there be a relationship … just coincidence … ya think?  Just Win Baby … Just Win! … except in Columbia SC of course where Lou Holtz harbored thugs-a-plenty and still lost.

   Tennessee’s Phil Fullmer finally admitted his program “has a problem” after 20+ “incidents” in the past year.  His creative solution … he (1) added a fulltime bailbondsman to his staff and (2) wrote the SEC office that it was Alabama’s fault. 

    Steve Spurrier has ALWAYS run a very clean and tight ship … but rival fans hatred for him causes reality to be discarded when ripping him.

   Any coach who has been “in the game” for 10 years or more has a keen eye, ear, and instinct in identifying likely behavioral problem children.  Whether its Bobby Bowden, Roy Williams, Mike Kryzyewski, Phil Fullmer, Bob Huggins, Joe Paterno, Dean Smith, etc.  If you’ve been in and around the high schools and homes of these BMOC Blue Chippers for any span of time you develop a cop’s instinct for IDing smoke blowing BSers and “ticking time bombs”.  That the coach and whoever runs his program chooses to overlook the likelihood that “this XYZ kid is an ugly incident waiting to happen” is another issue.  

   Roy Williams will never have another “Rashad McCants type” in his UNC program.  He inherited him from Doherty and did a masterful job of making the best of the situation.  This spring on the rubber chicken circuit Roy was asked what criteria he uses in evaluating a kid.  His answer was (1) athletic ability … (2) character … (3) academics.  This prompted some faux concern from some fans.  Roy added “a kid who can do the classroom work but is a constant problem off-the-court and classroom will be a distraction for me and for his teammates. Give me a kid who might struggle in the classroom but behaves himself otherwise.”

    Looking at Roy’s track record you have to think he has quite sharp instincts that focus in the first time he shakes a kid’s hand and tries to look him in the eye.  He has his criteria … the handshake … the eye contact … the vocabulary … the home situation … the “swagger” … the posse … yes, even the piercings and tattoos that go into his data bank in assessing his interest in that prospect.  Check his KU teams and the lack of “issues” he had with players over 17 years.

   None of the current “Big Four” coaches in FB or BB seem to be bringing in “hard cases”.  UNC loonies keep saying Chuck does but the pesky old FACTS don’t bear that out.  Chuck’s list of “bad boys” is no longer, if even as long, than John Bunting’s.  No one accuses Bunting of recruiting “thugs” (except Wuffies of course, but that’s to be expected!)

   I believe that “every regrettable public action should have a punitive public reaction”.  Having to pay a public price for public misbehavior may/may not reform the perp … but how he is dealt with definitely effects his teammates.  Private “sunrise sessions” simply do not “embarrass” the perp like he “embarrassed” the institution.  An athlete is more vulnerable in his ego than in his muscles.

   Carl Torbush started down the road to failure as UNC’s Head Coach when he used selective punishment in the K Mays and Gang geek stomping incident just a few weeks into his Head Coaching tenure.  He made an anonymous walk-on the scapegoat and the high profile players all skated clean.  

   “Walk-ons” are not only sure candidates for public execution but in one sense an appreciated one.  When some no-name 210 lbs of slow practice fodder gets in any kind of trouble he can be “sacrificed” in the name of “running a tight ship” without an adverse effect on the team’s W&Ls.  Sacrificing walk-on bad boys is the reverse of the old trick of having 3 “legitimate students” as “walk-ons” on a basketball team to guarantee a few decent GPA averages.

    Justice is not blind when it comes to bad boy athletes.  It wears tinted glasses to the colors of “our school”.  When NC State had its infamous “Twinkie Bandits” a few years ago a great “hue and cry” (what’s a hue?) came from Brickyard Lupines … “Boys will be boys, EVERYBODY breaks into vending machines in college, etc”.  UNCers, of course, wanted’em buried UNDER the jail for crimes against snackfood. 

   When UNC’s Three Amigos were nailed on the marijuana rap the “hue and cry” came from Old Well partisans.  “Boys will be boys.  Change the drug laws.  EVERYBODY smokes grass in college, etc”  Wuffies, of course, wanted’em deported to a Turkish prison after being castrated.

   I fully expect to read any day now that “… “Boys will be boys.  EVERYBODY in college pistolwhips a store clerk, holds twelve bystanders hostage while bludgeoning his girlfriend senseless with a tire iron, and torches an entire block of downtown”. Chill coach, can’t he just run some wind sprints and still play next week against our big rival?

   Every school trying to play competitive Division 1 football is constantly walking on eggs awaiting “that phone call” … “Coach, this is Sergeant Doyle with (fill in blank) PD.  We have one of your players down here on an (assault, public drunkenness, drug, DUI, firearms) charge.  Did Ye Olde Legend have “an arrangement” with the CHPD that he was to be called before any charges were filed or any official booking?  Probably.  Being a local Deity has its perks.  Would any coach be wise to have such a “system” in place? Absolutely!

   Is every local police/sheriff’s department “out to get” the local college’s athletes?  Of course they are … and they are all employed by Halliburton, are on the take from the mob, and have a 3rd cousin who was in school with Woody Durham, Willis Casey, or Vic Bubas. UNC’s infamous Officer Swain is descended from The Knights Templar and gets his harassing orders from the Illuminati. 

   There will be more bad boy issues this Fall.  There always are.  The past 40 years of tracking “bad boy” incidents between UNC and NCSU have them running neck and neck, even figuring in the 100s of incidents that each fanbase SWEARS the other “hushes up”.  

   There are peculiar trends with each school … pizza delivery boys have always been “in season” on the State campus … and geeks and nerds on Franklin Street seem to always get their faces in the way of Tar Heel athletes’ fists.  Not sure why those trends exist, but no reason to expect them to change in 2005. 


Swagger’s Stumper

Who was Chet Huntley’s partner?


   BIG CORRECTION:  In our recent Name Game column we left out the one and only BATTLE WALL … our personal friend of 40 years.  Such the perfect football name that his high school coach, Ed Emory (yes, THAT Ed Emory) borrowed it for his son.

Every hard core UNC fan and media guide maven SHOULD have known that:

* Dick Crum ALWAYS vacationed on Big Bear Lake in Northern Ontario

* Dr Gerald Unks “cuisine” especially his lasagna was a UNC BBer staple in the 70- and 80s.

* Dean loved to discuss Kierkegaard with religion professors along “beautiful Franklin Street”.

  BobLee knew “the Ultimate Bad Boy Athlete” – John Matuszak … doing porn flicks at 18 … crushing the face of ROTC geeks at 20 … being an Oakland Raider at 26.  “The Tooz” was truly a legend.

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