… I don’t “know” Lee Fowler well enough to defend him or condemn him on his job performance. I have ample reason to believe he is “a good man” with “good intentions”. Apparently such “good men” pave those streets of Hell with those “good intentions. Where has Lee “gone wrong”? …… and over in Derm the local nitwits give way to an OFFICIAL “Crazy Bastard”, Malik Zulu Shabazz, has arrived on the scene determined to get lots and lots of camera time.
I often try to bring a sense of perspective to the fan fervor that ratchets up so quickly “around here” over key sports personnel issues. Rarely if ever am I successful but like Sysphus rolling his stone, I persevere as such is my mission in this life.
With its two large state supported “big time sports” institutions (and one elitist Ivy-wannabe about to be attacked by racist thugs) within a 20-mile radius, there is NO OTHER circumstance in America that rivals the rivalry that exists in this market. Oh, there are more “storied” rivalries in sports and certainly more of greater national interest. But whether or not Clem in Ottumwa Iowa gives a rats’ petoot about Herb, Dickie, Lee, Burly John, Ol’ Roy, Chuck, Mike et al really does not matter … because nearbout everybody here at Ground Zero cares a lot about them … and that’s all that really matters if you do live around here.
What makes this sports market so “unique” is …
1. The schools themselves are physically so close to each other
2. All three schools must share the primary media sources … newspaper, TV, radio.
3. So many UNC and NCSU alums settle in the immediate area upon graduation.
4. The “Canes” notwithstanding, there is no local pro sports “tradition” to siphon off fan interest. That actually applies across the state despite pro sports arrival in the past 15 years.
5. The two state supported schools traditionally represent contrasting warring stereotypes … the Frat Boys versus the Farm Boys (plus the elitist Jewish Yankees …). That the stereotypes don’t hold the validity they once did is irrelevant. They were long ago set in stone.
6. Despite overall series numbers which go back a century, the competitiveness of the three schools is remarkably close when viewed over the past 30 years. We acknowledge the remarkable “ability” of the respective loonie factions to “cook the books” to prove unequivocably that the Earth is flat and “we faked the moon landing”.
NC State’s protracted BB coach search is really NOT a “big deal” beyond a 200 mile radius and/or outside the respective fan bases. The Duke Lacrosse Mess is a MUCH bigger story across the fruited plain. But that does not lessen the for real anxiety here at Ground Zero.
Has the coaching search gone the way that Lee Fowler expected it to? No, of course not. Do lots of such personnel matters take on a wayward life of their own? … Ol’ Roy 1, Matt Mess, Ol’ Roy 2, Carl In – Out – Back In – Back Out, Beamer/Bunting??? What makes this current durm and strang “different” … the main reason “it’s different” is because we are smack dab in the middle of it right now and today’s toothache hurts a lot more than that toothache years ago. We are engineered not to remember extreme pain, but we can definitely sense pain “in the moment”.
Is Lee Fowler’s current dilemma all that different from those halcyon days when Little Dickie was flying all over creation trying to (1) find anybody who wanted to coach UNC FB and (2) be a moving target and therefore harder to hit by irate Tar Heel vigilantes who had placed a bounty of his little tasseled loafered self. Yes, it’s true … Little Dickie Baddour, the only Triangle-area AD who is not currently in a Federal AD Protection Program, was once maligned, beleagued, and embattled. Does this reminder do anything to lessen the Lupine Mob plotting the emminent disembowelment of Lee Fowler … no.
Being a “big time college AD” will be the next “worst job” documented on The Discovery Channel. It out ranks rattlesnake milker and crocodile dentist. It is tied with Hillary Clinton’s proctologist … but given the chance to switch jobs, that “view” might be better than what Lee Fowler is seeing these days.
Where has Lee “screwed up”? He went after Rick Barnes with a blank check … he went after Calipari with a blank check … he may/may not have gone after various and sundry other names du jour with mega bucks. Like when me and dad were “pier fishing” on the Triple S, somedays they just ain’t biting.
Here’s what you’ve been waiting for … Where I think Lee “screwed up”. Lee Fowler went into this situation with no margin for error. He had zero markers in his pocket relative to the rank & file mainstream of the Wolfpack fan base. If he had just listened to me for the past five+ years.
IMO, Lee Fowler sees WuffWorld as just two segments … (1) “the lunatic fringe” and (2) “the inner inner circle” of the WPC. He is wrong. He thereby eliminates the most important segment … the mainstream “rank & file” fans. WuffWorld certainly has its share of human hairballs aka howler monkeys aka InterNutz. Are “those sad sacks” all that different from any “big time college’s” howler monkey faction … not really just in a few unique eccentricities.
Just as NC State Admins have over-reacted to the F-Bomb Alley issue (blaming all its fans for the miscreancy of a handful) … Lee Fowler has over the course of the past 4-5 years lost the confidence and support of the Red&White’s rank & file. That “Wendell likes him” is fine … and the handful of other “Fat Wuffs” who get their names on various facilities. But via various ill-timed comments and a public persona that has never become “one of The Pack” he did not personally cultivate fan loyalty … and now that he needs that support, it isn’t there.
Does Lee see his job simply as “keeping the trains running on time” … a bureaucrat analyzing spreadsheets. Would he have been better off learning a few “how many Tar Heels does it take to screw in a light bulb” jokes? Has he ever really understood that beating Carolina in “anything” does indeed matter more than any other wins. Does he think that singular obsession is silly and he won’t buy into it … MISTAKE, LEE.
All the BEEZARRENESS over the Phil Ford KABOOM failed to note that one of the most popular figures at NC State has a Chapel Hill degree – WPC’s Bobby Purcell. Willis Casey had one too. It CAN be done if you “understand the territory”. Todd Turner never “converted” and his legacy is what it is. Lee did not come from “the darkside” but he does not seem to “get it”. Herb never “got it” either. I would be curious how often Lee eats at Amedeo’s. Once a week should be a minimum.
Lee will eventually hire “somebody”. My brickyard moles say it will NEVER be Whittenburg due to bitter memories about an old loan never repaid. “Whoever” Lee does hire might indeed be Moses to lead the wuffies to their assumed destiny as a BB superpower. Kansas hired an unknown #2 assistant (not even a #1) about 19 years ago and he turned out OK. Hopefully whoever it is, Lee will not further insult “the rank & file” by saying “this is who we wanted all along” … No No No … anything but that!
There are schools where a detached perspective would work for an AD … neither NC State nor Carolina fit that category. Little Dickie, bless his heart, knows nothing else BUT Carolina. His lack of knowledge of others ways to skin sports administrative cats has hamstrung him on more than one occasion.
Remember my “advice” to Lee when Herb bailed out so very very long ago … Ignore the Lunatic Fringe but listen to and cultivate the mainstream fans. NCSU’s actual Lunatic Fringe is hopelessly and terminally constipated. Both their “thinking process” and gastro-intestinal tracts are pitch black and hard as concrete … but they represent only a vocal minority.
The committee that hired Herb Sendek failed to realize that his personality went against every success tract in NC State history. Whoever hired Lee Fowler apparently neglected to mention … Rank & file “State fans”, bless their hearts, require a certain level of TLC and empathy. Share their passion (and paranoia), or be an accomplished enough actor to “fake it” successfully and they will be there for you when you need them. Lee Fowler needs them now but it is too late.
Being AD in a situation like NC State is not “a job”
… it’s a “mission”.
BobLee intends to be on-site on Monday when Malik Zulu Shabazz leads his beret-wearing racist thugs (New Black Panthers) on to the Duke campus to “carry out justice Black Panther-style”. I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen 100 crazy bastards in full crazy bastard mode. I take that back … I attended a KKK rally in Lenoir County in 1965 for the same “I want to see for real crazy bastards” reason.
Don’t confuse this Shabazz clown with either Rev JJ or Ol’ Sharpie. JJ and Al are certified snake oil salesmen for sure but they ain’t crazy. For all their theatrics, they know there is a time and place for them to rant and rage. Now ain’t it.
Shabazz is definitely one crazy bastard but he’s not dumb. He watched “the Duke Lacrosse Mess” unfold and saw that President Dick is naught but a eunch puppet for the Duke faculty squirrels. If President Dick “had a pair” he would be standing at the entrance of Duke on Monday like Horatio At The Bridge … daring these crazy bastards to set foot on the campus he is supposed to protect.
(See Update Column on Shabazz’ Visit To DUKE!)
But alas, the same cock-eyed mindset that says Castro, Saddam and Gorbachev are great humanitarians will order President Dick to grab his ankles and give the crazy bastards whatever they want. Will Reyn Bowman be there with gift baskets of local jams and jellies for each crazy racist thug? As pathetic as that would be, I’d pay cash money to see it.
I have already predicted that “Derm Will Burn” and I reinforce that prediction. There actually was a point at which this gawdawful mess was resolvable … then Mike Nifong answered his phone and everything went haywire.
How did every Ozzie & Harriet Show end?
Clint Eastwood co-starred with Lee Marvin in Paint Your Wagon.
That Thomas Wolfe column found its way to the Executive Director of The Thomas Wolfe Society … one of the guys that has actually read the book. He liked BobLee’s comments.
CONGRATS to Mario, Manny, & Mc … All 1st Rounders … damn fine accomplishments. Of course UNC had FOUR 1st rounders in the last NBA draft … but who’s counting. Wuff loonies claiming “this trifecta” is “better” than beating UNC on the field … I told you they were nuts. CaroLonnies claiming signing a blue-chip QB (Greg Paulus’ little brother) is “better” than having 3 NFL first-rounders … I told you they were nuts too.
In case BobLee doesn’t make it back from Derm on Monday … it’s been an awesome privilege being your Internet Legend for the past five years. 100 crazy bloodthirsty racist thugs and one cyber smart-ass … sounds fair to me. …. Let’s Roll!
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