Lengthening Shadows / Lengthening Career

January17/ 2000

As a low autumn sun fell behind Groves Stadium, beleaguered John Bunting’s coaching future lengthened along with the shadows. ..Out of those shadows Darian Durant hurled his pass and a prayer to the corner of the south end zone.  ..Facing yet another “most critical game in his coaching career” the burly ex-linebacker rallied his young chargers for the fourth “nailbiter” in the past five games.  ..Swagger and his pals, as (almost) always, were on the scene. 

   Anyone who has witnessed Carolina’s last four (in-state) games since 6:30 PM on October 9 and does not enjoy the excitement of college football … is incapable of fogging a mirror.  You simply could not ask for more thrills, chills, and cheers than we’ve seen in the State, Miami, VaTech and now Wake Forest games. Even the last second loss to the Hokies was a barnburner and worth every penny of admission.

   BobLee and The Mizzus enjoyed the company of “Phineas T.” Teague and “Perfesser” Nathan.  Now “Phineas T.”, “The Perfesser”, and “Ye Old Internet Legend” only have about 70+ years of experience following college football from varying “inside” perspectives … hardly worthy of neophyte status compared to the average message board wuzzle; but we do plod along.  Fortified by The Mizzus’ deviled eggs (sans anchovies!) and fudge brownies, some Bojangles chicken, and assorted Bud Lights and Caronas … we joined the Tar Heel Traveling Army in the Southeast corner of “The Grove”.

NOTE:  “Phineas T.” gazed upon “Rita from Chester” for the very 1st time when Swagger spied the legendary “Tar Heel bizarro-ette” among the Carolina crowd at halftime.  “P.T.” claimed his eyeballs were “near bout seared from his head” at the awesome sight.

   “Perfesser Nathan” and I carefully documented each “most critical …” in John Bunting’s coaching career on Saturday beginning with the opening coin toss and proceeding thru Dawn Bunting’s post game rush to mid field.  We learned later that day that all our documentation was to no avail … as next Saturday’s Duke game has now been officially declared “The Most Critical Game In John Bunting’s Coaching Career”.  Lordy, Lordy, what’s a body to do?

   All right … here’s an eye-opening exercise for you.  Turn back the hands of time to 10:00 PM on October 9 … to the west goal line in Kenan.  Change JUST ONE PLAY.  No, not the “knee down” controversy … the next one … when Kahliff Mitchell met T.A. McLendon on the one yard line.  Have T.A. win that encounter … and keep every single event since that moment exactly as it has happened (Heels beat Miami, etc … Wuffs lose next three, etc.).  Change just that one play and State likely goes 6-5 and Heels relegated to 5-6. 

   Then is John Bunting STILL a burly mustachioed “phoenix” rising from the ash heap of multiple Ls … is Noel Mazzone STILL a totally incompetent target for character assassination?  Change just ONE PLAY and are Wuffies gloating and preening … are Heeloids mopping and pouring sugar in Dickie’s gas tank? … “Ah, for want of a nail …”

   For those Heel fans happily reviving their infamous “pompous arrogance” and contemplating “which bowl we’ll get” … just a smidgen of temperance might be in order.  BobLee had a 45 minute conversation on Friday with as most respected an authority of Duke Football as exists on this Planet.  The fellow that headed the search committee that selected Ted Roof.  

   Laying aside the Blue Devils dismal W-L record, he noted their overall competitiveness as the season has developed and the host of freshmen that are gaining experience each week.  He totally supports what Ted Roof is building in Wallace Wade … and this was BEFORE they beat Clemson.  Heeloids simply viewing the Dookies as an insignificant speed bump along UNC’s path to The Glory Road have once again slurped too deeply of that Old Well elixir.  It do tend to fog the rational mind … yes, it do! 

   So is the Duke game A MUST WIN for John Bunting.  I, personally, don’t think it is.  But remember, I HAVE A LIFE!  If John Bunting can field teams that produce the level of exciting football I have enjoyed over the past 6 weeks then he has certainly met my expectations.  For those who choose to measure any coach’s “competency” totally by “the scoreboard at 00:00” then John as well as any successor will always be living week to week … their professional careers forever in the hands of 18-21 year old young men making/missing finger tip catches, tightrope walking sidelines, jumping the snap count by a nano-second, and tripping over that proverbial “blade of grass”.  A “Fallujah insurgent” has a better chance at a long and happy life.


Swagger’s Stumper

What does one get for “two hours of pushin’ broom”?


Don Haskins (not “Clem” Haskins) coached Texas Western vs Kentucky in 1966.

Update on “Cheech, Chong & Puff” … “Cheech and Chong” are “goners” but Puff will probably return next season.

The Swaggers had a super time at Bogart’s Saturday night … “A tree-raping land baron”, two “gas-passers” and their three quite charming “trophy wives” completed the party.  We turned the evening into a “Post 11/2 Victory Party” so you gotta know there was plenty of ignorant religious zealotry agoin’ on.  

R.I.P. … Yasser Arafat … Scott Peterson’s future … Wuffie Bowl Hopes.  

Of these three, the only sympathy from this observer goes to my Lupine buddies for whom there will always be “next year”.

A perusal of the SwaggerSays Home Page will give you a clue as to BobLee’s “big surprise”.  The Internet is bracing for a mid-week launch that will “rock the world” of the Intellectual Elitists of The Mainstream Media.

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