Speaking of Tire Bowls and Golden Domes

January17/ 2000

.. Tar Heel fans are migrating to Charlotte like Carolina Blue lemming…  Original plans to limit bowl tickets to “anyone still in the stands at the end of the Louisville game” were quickly abandoned…  Over 50,000 “I never lost faith in Coach Bunting” loyalists (!!!) are traveling as much as 4 hours to be on hand…  TeamSwagger will be there… This pre-game tailgate analysis provides a few morsels to chew on.

   That UNC is in a postseason game at all is an achievement well worthy of the celebration it is generating.  Everyone except the players, staff, and, of course, Rita From Chester gave this bunch the last rites after that aforementioned Louisville rout.  Anyone who claims otherwise is incarcerated in the same loonie bin with State fans who bought Sugar Bowl tickets at the beginning of Rivers’ senior season.  

   On October 8 John Bunting was already in “the Scott Peterson sentencing phase” … would he simply be fired or would he and Dickie fight a gladiator death duel with the survivor being beheaded at halftime of the expected embarrassing defeat to the Wolfpack.  Well, we all know how that turned out.

   October and November produced as exciting a series of football games as ever witnessed in the history of the Chapel Hill based institution.  Every football program has its “cardiac kids” seasons with great comebacks and thrillas … but these were “Russian Roulette games”.  Coming back from Utah, Bunting faced “the most critical game in his head coaching career” on four successive Saturdays.  The gallant loss to VaTech notwithstanding, Bunting’s team simply refused to live down to the expectations of the pitchfork and torch waving fan rabble.  

   Sports contests are crapshoots.  Close contests come down to “matters of inches” on dozens of plays even before “goal line stands” and “last second field goals”.  Contrary to delusional fans, “we” don’t win because “we” are “God’s chosen people” and “they” are no-account cheatin’ varmints.  Putting aside the foolish notion that every game is a passion play pitting “our good” versus “their evil” they are simply athletic contests resplendent with moments of great excitement.  Viewed in that mature context, from October 9 until today has been an incredible delight to view as a spectator.  Nothing that happens in Charlotte will change that nor will any decision by any 18 year-old high school kids wearing baggy britches and replica jersies.

   Carolina fans are as “good” or as “apathetic” or as “loyal” as 90% of the other schools in America … no better, no worse.  IF NCSU had finished 6-5 and UNC 5-6 and State was playing in the Tire Bowl, their fans would drive “all the way” to Charlotte from as “far away as Kinston” for a game in their backyard too.  “Driving as much as four hours” WOW! … heck, some Nebraska fans drive that far to their mailbox.  Kudos regardless to all Tar Heels coming to the game … I’m sure all 50,000 of’em would have jumped onto the bandwagon and traveled to Memphis or Mobile or the mythical “Boise” had we been in those Bowls instead … right?

   I do hope every fan has finally figured out the disgusting scam that every bowl organization pulls on ticket allocations.  It is NOT Dickie’s fault” or “the Ram’s Club Fat Cats fault” or anyone at UNC’s fault.  Blame the greedy bowl organizers.  The competing schools get crappy seat allocations because they represent a captive market.  The prime seats go to local corporate sponsors who end up passing them off to yahoos who could care less … just another travesty associated with the whole bowl situation.

Wuff Loonies are whining about all the pub that the N&O is giving UNC … UNC Loonies are crying conspiracy for whoever scheduled that Indonesian Tsunami just to deflect global attention away from the Tire Bowl.  Both groups of loonies assume a kid named Toney reads newspapers.

   John Bunting deserves every modicum of human kindness he is receiving.  He suffered through a period of public humiliation from the Duke loss in 2003 until the State win on October 9 that not a single one of us can “appreciate”.  He was insulted, cussed, and verbally abused by a mob of pot-bellied nose pickers and fuzzy-cheeked concave-chested cockamamies who can’t make it through their own annual job review, or exams,  without peeing in their pants.  Whatever cosmic convergence took place in mid October, John Bunting has to get full credit.  History will never note how many players and staff did lose faith in the “dark days” … but John Bunting stood resolute.  Whatever the future holds for the UNC Football program, surviving this 2004 season will forever stand as a landmark achievement for that man.


   Am I the only one to note the incredible parallels between the Notre Dame coaching circumstance and Affair d’Beamer?

  • A “fine man” coach was fired after only his 3rd season despite going 6-5 because …
  • The school was sure it had a certain “Big Name Coach” all lined up
  • The “Big Name” didn’t happen so “Plan B” was initiated.
  • There was “no Plan B” nor was there a top executive in place at the school.
  • The alumni/fans figured EVERY coach wants to come to “our wonderful school”
  • The alumni/fans were wrong
  • The beleaguered AD undertook an embarrassing national scavenger hunt
  • After seemingly “forever” an anonymous “prodigal son” surfaces as “the guy we really wanted all along” !!!
  • “Prodigal son” is a 50-ish career NFL assistant with Super Bowl credentials
  • At introductory press conference, “prodigal son” declares it’s his “dream job” 
  • Delusional fans immediately disregard all the supposed reasons the prior coach was fired as well as “Prodigal’s” total lack of Football CEO leadership experience. All that matters is “he’s got a ring”.
  • Dickie paid $600,000/yr for John Bunting’s one SB ring in 2001.  Kevin White is paying a whopping $2,000,000/yr for Charlie Weis’ two SB rings in 2004, making that 2nd one the most expensive ring in sports behind only Kobe’s “love offering” to Vanessa upon his return from Colorado.    

   It will be interesting to watch Charlie Weis’ “OJT” and the growing pains that surely await him.  Will “the newest Knute” be able to “deal with” the media?  Can he assemble AND MANAGE a staff of his peers?  Can he effectively delegate the frustrating but critical administrative responsibilities that can make or break a program?  Can he “close” on Billy BlueChip?  Can he schmooze the Fat Cats who control his fate? Does he have the patience and strong personal constitution when his harshest critics do not?

   I am not going to cynically predict Weis’ failure.  I will say that “managing a staff of one’s peers” and “overseeing the daily administrative functions” are the two critical aspects of any organization’s success that never attract the attention of the “opinions without consequences” loonie crowd … but can quickly turn “a dream job” into a nightmare.  If one is 50 and has never been “a real boss” one is in for a rough ride.

   If you ever get a few minutes with John Bunting, ask him whether his most valuable ongoing OJT has come on game days or those mundane days in between.   


Prediction:  If Carolina beats Boston College, look for Tar Heel loonies to be buying up all that leftover BCS Kool-Aid that the wuffies have been drinking the past few years.  Which mean two certainties … (1) the only difference in the two fan bases is the color of the jerseys … (2) a disappointing start next Fall will bring out those pitchforks and torches all over again.

   Our Cajun Cutie Lydia had a rough Fall but nothing like this latest lallapalooza … now she’s dealing with a broken heart … Saint Nick deserting Baton Rogue for Miami.  

   Ralph Fridgen, Chuck Amato, and now Al Groh fail to finish … would you really want to be a “big time” college football head coach? A disappointing season, unexpected key staff defections, and Philip Rivers holding a Charger clipboard all season … Wolfpackers will be glad to see 2004 come to an end I think. 


Swagger’s Stumper

What did Broccoli and Saltzman do at Pinewood Studios?


BobLee did get his Pergo floor and Clive Cussler yarn.  Kid and I gave each other copies of Rachael Ray’s “On $40 a Day”.  Kid enjoyed her 16th consecutive Christmas in the same house with the same traditions … how many kids can claim that.  I spent Christmas night repainting our master bathroom and moving our bedroom furniture all around … kinda like getting “new rooms”.  

Tons of positive responses to “Honey – Daddy – Friend”.  Our SSays audience shares many common bonds.

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