The Great Zebra Debate

January17/ 2000

… Did I not call this one?  I said John Clougherty would get “maybe” a 30-day grace period before “the fit hits the shan”.  While casual fans continue to blame Freddie Barakat, the cutting-edge whack-jobs (aka “THERE’S A CONSPIRACY AGIN OUR BOYS”) have officially updated their whines.  BobLee introduces you to a little-known but sure to be prospering occupation known as “a Blame Whore”.  Franchises will be available soon in your area.

    “The media”, “the refs”, “The NCAA”, “the Tri-Lateral Commission”, and “The Knights Templar” are somehow all connected … God Luv’em!  Whatever would America-2006 do without sinister cabals hiding behind potted palms and dedicated to denying you, your team, and “folks like you” all the victories and spoils to which you are divinely entitled “because” …  

OK … upfront … let me replace the plate glass walls in my own house with Lexan before I commence to throwing rocks in anyone else’s direction.  I believe the “mainstream media” (aka “the antique media”) has a decided “liberal bias”.  It’s not “a conspiracy” and I don’t whine about it 24/7. Whether you agree with me or not on this matters not a whit to me.  This is NOT going to be “a political rant”.  I simply wanted to state that there can be “opposing forces” at odds within any arena.  Just as there are opposing viewpoints, there are opposing sports fan perspectives.

John Clougherty (aka The “New” Fred Barakat as ACC Basketball Official Major Domo) recently unleash a tsunami of speculation and controversy by suspending the three referees who worked last week’s Duke v FSU game.  I did not see that game so I’m not up-to-speed on the incident that sparked Clougherty harsh response.  It involved some pushing and shoving between an FSU player and Duke’s Sheldon Williams, specifically the assessing of technical fouls over the incident.  It was a very close game and that decision no doubt influenced the rest of the game, which Duke won in overtime.

John Clougherty would generally be considered the #1 official in college basketball over the past 10-15 years based on his being chosen to work so many high profile games including numerous Final Fours.  His knowledge of rules, application of those rules, and understanding of the pressures and “human element” in the “refereeing business” has to be unmatched.  He has dealt with every situation and been called every nasty name by players, coaches, and jackass fans all across the country.  There ARE some personalities in the referee ranks that have a decided “persona” when they step on the court in their striped shirt.  John Clougherty was never “one of those” when he was an active referee for 25+ years.  In my opinion, he is IDEALLY SUITED for his current administrative position.  The ACC, its member institutions, and its fans are damn lucky to have him agree to wear this bullseye on his chest.

The era of the “celebrity referees” has long passed.  Characters like Lou Bello, Charlie Eckman, Lou Eisentsein, Lennie Wirtz, and Red Mahalick would not be tolerated in today’s high pressure environment.  Yes, there are hardcore fans who study “refs” and no doubt keep extensive dossiers on them relative to fouls called “against us” and “for them”.  These people are related to the same folks who visit Dealey Plaza with tape measures and stop watches and get their pictures taken crouching behind “the grassy knoll”.  Hey … whatever floats your boat!

THE single most difficult aspect of life is “accepting responsibility for one’s own actions”.  I know a bevy of otherwise fine folks who I believe have never uttered the phrase “it was my fault. I screwed up.”  I personally scaled that ego Matterhorn about 18 years ago and became this “incredibly enlightened guy beloved by legions of fans”.  

My team” simply got beat because “their team” was better in that particular game” is a concept totally foreign to quite a few sad souls.  Simply an extension of “it can’t be our/my fault … sinister forces must be at work.”

Once I “accepted my fallibility” (said “I screwed up. It was my fault”) I apparently joined a very select group of human beings.  What we do is hire ourselves out as “Blame Whores”.  You call 1-800-MY FAULT and our receptionist Irene (a dead ringer for Jessica Walters … hubba hubba!) gets the specifics of your screwed up mess and assigns one of us “Blame Whores” to show up and accept responsibility.  Pay us in cash up front and you can “blame us” for nearbout anything you want to.  No, we don’t allow kissing on the mouth.

   “Death Row Mammas” hire us a lot when their “wonderful, albeit misunderstood, boy” is caught dead to rights.  We do NOT serve prison time for our clients. Yes, Mamma Vick DID call us, but we turned down that gig based on Hokie Jim’s advice.

I specialize in Print Media (the NYTimes is my primary client).  Tom in Des Moines works “traffic violations”.  Meg in Scranton does a great job in “being late w/ weekly or monthly reports”.  Bruce in Biloxi just does “minority hoodlums standing over a dead body holding a smoking gun”.  We just added a whole Household division to handle “caps on toothpaste tubes, toilet seats, and unmatched socks”.  My buddy Heidi works beauty pageants.  She plays “that no-talent bimbo who musta slept with all the judges in order to win“.  Does she EVER have some GREAT stories!

I’m trying to get certified to be a Blame Whore for Democratic political candidates.  That market segment has really exploded in the past six years with forecasts for a busy next two years for sure.  I met the guy that was assigned to Algore in 2000.  He has retired from his earnings and now lives in Fiji.  John Kerry’s Blame Whore is writing a book on his experiences post-2004.  Hey, let’s blame “talk radio” and Fox News for JJ hitting so many 3s … why not?

In the “jobs nobody wants” sweepstakes, Blame Whores now outrank septic tank cleaners and vets who give suppositories to cats.

Back to our point here … I was recently asked to chair a committee to study opportunity for Blame Whores in college and pro sports.  Recruiting violations, “bad boyz”, and charging and blocking fouls offer unlimited opportunities for us.  Play calling In The Red Zone could also be lucrative.  We would charge more for BCS games and “intense rivalries”.  

Blame Whores normally work on commission.  Everytime any version of “it was that no-good sorry cheating (insert Blame Whore) that costs us the game” is written or said, that surrogate “my faulter” gets paid.

Blaming Refs/Umpires is as American as cussing traffic cops, hall monitors and any form of authority figure.

Refs and umpires are as impartial and well-intentioned today as ever.  If any thing has changed its technology.  20 camera angles with zoom and stop action all accessible in seconds … seconds and angles that the ref or umpire did not have when he made his call.  Employing “fulltime” officials would have the same impact that replacing Barakat w/ Clougherty has had … NOT A BIT!

The ONLY whining from UNCers I will tolerate on this very stoopid subject must FIRST acknowledge that Duke is not getting any more “preferential treatment” than Ye Olde Legend got in his heyday.  Check the discrepancy in fouls and free throws of UNC vs opponents during the 80s … YIKES!

Now you can say “two wrongs don’t make a right” and giving “preferential treatment these days to K” is “not right” assuming it is true … but not even my closest and most mature Tar Heel fan/friends can bring themselves to admit that “we got the benefits” for decades … until they do, the “two wrongs” argument is moot.

Be careful who you use to inflame your passion on this issue.  I receive dozens of pieces of bloviating crap from Junior Journalists determined to be the Woodward/Berstein heroes in uncovering The Great ACC Ref Conspiracy.  Junior Woodchucks and 45 y/o Little League rightfielders always raging against “an unfair world” … yawn.

   My faves are the ones that start out … “my cousin’s dental hygienist knows Dick Paparo’s old lab partner from Jr High. He says Dick has ALWAYS hated people named Dean.  That’s not right … BobLee, you know Swofford. He needs to know about this!  Yep, I get’em!”

If you really want to demote college sports to the level of “scripted entertainment with pre-determined outcomes” then lets bring in Vince McMahon and Stacy Keibler to replace Little Johnny Swofford and Billy Packer respectively. 

Notice how I cleverly end this with everyone of you agreeing with me … replacing Billy Packer w/ Stacy Keibler … WOO HOO!

     I know not what course others make take … but as for me … give me John Clougherty and Little Johnny Swofford and I’ll take my chances.  BobLee trusts’em.


Swagger’s Stumper

Clougherty and Krzyzewski are misspelled 98% of the time.

Can you correctly spell the last names of … 

(1) Dean’s faithful longtime assistant …  Bill _____

(2) A Tar Heel BB great from Black Mountain NC … Brad ____


    Jackie Coogan played Uncle Fester in the Addams Family TV show.  Christopher Llyod played Fester in the movie.  

    A Tar Heel FBer and some Duke FBers got into a fracus Sunday night in Chapel Hill.  Imagining the worse, it is “no big deal” … which can be said for 90% of the “bad boyz” incidents with Triangle-area college athletes.  If NCSU’s infamous “Twinkie Bandits” shoulda been “banned for life” then “fighting in a club” certainly merits public disemboweling.  The blatant hypocrisy of my fellow Tar Heels in such matters continues to sadden me … sigh, sniff, sob.

    Hal Hunter leaving UNC FB staff was a given with the Cignetti hiring.  Being “passed over” leads to calling a headhunter in every occupation … coaching is no different.  Timing it to the advantage of all concerned is also “how it’s done in the real world” too. 

    Ol’ Roy and JJ Redick are both very very good at what they do.

    Bad year for monkeys … we forgot to add Mack Brown’s to Ol’ Roy’s and now Bill Cowher’s.  The Wrigley Field Monkey is about the only one left unless you count “Clemson winning in Chapel Hill” which is beyond any normal monkey shines.

    Get up-to-speed on this Mohammed Cartoon bruhaha … it has some pretty far-reaching implications waaay beyond “something rotten in the state of Denmark” … waaaaay beyond that indeed.

    John McCain appearing in a recent cameo on “24” is also deserving of some thought.  Trying a little image management there are you Senator ???

   OK … for PATL, ELB, and all others with zero clue who Stacy Keibler is … she’s a Wrestling Diva on WWE.  Look her up on Google … lots of pictures that Mizzus won’t let me show here.

[email protected]

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