Freddie and The Vampire Hunters

January17/ 2000

… It was a standard press release from the ACC Commissioner’s office.  A senior staff member’s job description has been redesigned.  If you “have a life” it was a micro-blip on the news radar.  If your world revolves around Atlantic Coast Conference basketball, then this rocked your world.  Very very little unites the 11, soon to be 12, fanbases of the ACC member institutions.  Blaming Fred Barakat for the San Francisco earthquake, Chicago Fire, Ishtar, and your team losing a basketball game IS that commonality.  Caulton Tudor and the other hyperbolic screaming meemees around The ACC just lost their favorite scapegoat.

    According to Little Johnny Swofford, Fred Barakat’s duties as ACC Tournament Coordinator have gotten too complicated now that Boston College is a “member institution”.  Apparently dividing everything by 12 instead of 11 is much more complicated than any of us knew.  Fred can no longer do that AND recruit and assign supposedly incompetent and easily intimidated basketball referees.  After 25+ years of being “in charge of” ACC basketball referees, Fred Barakat isn’t “in charge” any longer.

    The press release didn’t say if Fred has to change physical offices or just white-out a line on his Official ACC business card.  What life changes it means for Fred ain’t nothing compared to the enormous mindset change this means for ACC basketball fans from Chestnut Hill to Coral Gables.  Actually the folks in Chestnut Hill never got a chance to blame Freddie for Eagle losses.  No doubt they will hear “the sordid stories” from fellow fans.  

    Freddie Barakat is a rather slight-of-stature and easy going fellow.  He does bear a slight resemblance to Dickie Baddour which may account for some of his scape-goatedness.  If you met him standing in line buying a Nutrageous bar at your neighborhood CVS store you probably would never associate Fred Barakat as one of the most malevolent evil demons in the civilized world of the past quarter century.  The same has been said about Ted Bundy, Richard Speck, John Wayne Gazzi, and Kevin Federline.

   Apparently Freddie has been in “cahoots” with each and every successful and/or semi-successful basketball coach in the ACC against all the other successful and/or unsuccessful coaches.  He is/was “in the pocket” of Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Gary Williams, Bobby Cremins, Bill Guthridge, Norm Sloan, Jim Valvano, Skip Prosser, Herb Sendek, Terry Holland, and now, of course, Ol’ Roy Williams.  Legend has it thar Fred ORDERED his officiating minions to ALWAYS favor those coaches and ALWAYS allow them to cuss and fuss all they want to, and ALWAYS give them the benefit in those iffy charge/block situations.   

   Now some of you are asking “how could Fred be “in cahoots” with that many rival coaches at the same time?”.  Wouldn’t “his referees” forever be asking “hey, Fred, which one are we MOST “in cahoots” with in tonight’s game?”  Such naiveté on your part shows you simply don’t get it.  Fred’s refs are simply ALWAYS against “your team” for all kinds of quite logical reasons.  

  • Logical Reason #1 … Fred instructed his refs to be “against” your team because your team is Carolina.
  • Logical Reason #2 … Fred instructed his refs to be “against” your team because your team is NOT Carolina.
  • Logical Reason #3 … Substitute Duke for Carolina in Logical Reason #1.
  • Logical Reason #4 … Substitute Duke for Carolina in Logical Reason #2.
  • Logical Reason #5 … Fred instructed his refs to always favor the four North Carolina ACC schools because he lives in North Carolina.
  • Logical Reason #6 … Fred instructed his refs to always favor the non-North Carolina ACC schools because he did not want to be accused of favoring the schools located in the same state where he lived.
  • Logical Reason #7 … Fred just hates schools whose colors are in the upper end of the spectrum.
  • Logical Reason #8 … Fred just hates schools whose colors are in the lower end of the spectrum.
  • Logical Reason #9 … Fred specifically instructs his refs to make decisive crucial calls against NC State because, like everyone else, he is part of The Great Everybody Hates NC State Just Because Conspiracy.

   I have followed ACC Basketball for over 40 years and EVERY year it is the same … “the refs are THE WORST THIS YEAR than ever before … blah, blah, blah.

   Oldtimers recall Lou Bello and Charlie Eckmann from the 60s.  Fine men, fine referees and also “showmen”.  Their flamboyant on-court antics were popular SO LONG AS THE HOME TEAM was winning.  In today’s climate of “interactive fan involvement” refs like Lou and Cholly would be stoned, shot or surely relegated to an ACC Referee Protection Program.

   Fred Barakat’s yet-to-be-named replacement will enjoy a grace period of about a week at best.  Some paranoid partisan wuzzle will claim the “new guy” is a neighbor of Paul Hewitt’s orthodontist and the conspiracy theories will spread like kudzu on a Carolina roadside.

   Sports fans have three basic needs in life … a beer, the TV remote … and someone to blame when their team losses … but they won’t have Fred Barakat to blame any more.

   Oh, there is usually about a three year lag time before all the wuzzles get “the word”.  Count on the phrase “that crooked no-account Fred Barakat and his crooked refs are responsible …” to keep popping up through 2008.  Even Caulton will still be blaming Fred for at least two more years.


 Swagger’s Stumper

 What was Al Bundy’s occupation?


 “The Marvelous Toy” zipped, bopped, and whirrrrrred. “I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will …”

   The Travels of Swagger had him in New Orleans this past weekend.  No one told him about The Huey Long Bridge … very long, old, high, and narrow … four qualities that BobLee does not appreciate in bridges he encounters.  Two round trips across that scary sumbitch were two too many. 

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