‘Tis the Season

January17/ 2000

… Swallows return to Capistrano, The Masters signals Springtime and NC State fans celebrate their Winter pagan ritual of What About Herb … Well, “It’s that time again”… Can it go on forever like Joe Paterno’s GoodBy Season?  Is THIS the year that an ACC Tourney run is not the 11th hour reprieve from Governor Fowler?  This fan madness transcends the man.  Pitchforks and torches and profane letters to Bobby Purcell … 

   We never like to see a good man get roasted by fan lynch mobs.  John Bunting is a “good man” and he twisted in the wind for most of two years … and still feels a breeze on occasion.  Herb Sendek is a “good man”.  He is not Jimmy V or Dean Smith or Norm Sloan or Rick Barnes or or or.  He is a knowledgeable basketball man with a solid career resume.  He has exhibited nothing short of outstanding personal and professional integrity without the slightest hint of the “alleged” improprieties that seem to hang permanently over the head of his counterpart on the football side. 

   None of that really matters.  He is now graded on his tenure as NC State BB coach for the past 9 years.  Last year his team was 2nd AND he was COY. Actually mostly on his current nightly ups and downs. And by the on-going successes of the nearby programs to which he is doomed to eternal comparison.  Therein lies the factor that is sending the annual Herb Question to new levels of intensity.

   Herb’s first few years at NC State were given a pass as he took over the scaled back post-Jimmy V program that Les Robinson had kept on life support.  Then State’s primary rival 28 miles to the west went into its unprecedented “Doherty death dive”.  Wake had its Duncan Dynasty but that was generally considered a short-lived anomaly.  Over in west Derm the “satanic rodent” continued to reside permanently in the Top Five or higher … but Carolina was sucking swampwater so Herb-Hate just simmered.

   Despite roller coaster Januarys and a few catastrophic Februarys, Herb usually managed a surprise ACC Tourney run that defused the Lynch mobs.  The adults among the WuffNation have always appreciated Herb’s image of clean recruiter and academic emphasis.  Except for some Damion Thornton misdemeanors a few years back, Herb has run a very clean sports ship. That matters to a solid citizen like Lee Fowler and to the solid citizens that  control the WuffNation.  Some rabid Wuffs might consider “a clean ship” a sign of weakness and scoff at the notion.  Witness their worship of the roguish rascal Amato.


   The goggle-eyed, battery throwing Trinity Road F-bomb squads have never been the majority of Wolfpack fans … simply the most lauded and loathed by rival fans.  State and Carolina rate just about even steven in two ignominous categories of “Bad boy jocks”, and Lunatic fans that embarrass their respective institutions.  

   Do I “support Herb” because I want NC State to have mediocre BB which benefits my alma mater?  The Meez and The Dickster would love to give Ol’ BobLee the same treatment they are giving Cornelia Spencer.  My business is writing interesting and provocative columns not hanging laundry in the rafters of the Dean Dome.  No, that’s not why I “support Herb” if indeed I do “support Herb”.

   I recently wrote a column praising Skip Prosser so much it made his mamma blush.  I am on record as liking most everything about Coach K EXCEPT his unnecessary sideline obscenities.  All his other supposed “sins” are Franklin Street BS.  Of course I am a big Ol’ Roy fan assuming Roy doesn’t get “the big head”.  If I hear of that happening I’ll have to take the necessary steps to correct it! … I generally support any coach that does not flaunt his disrespect for fair play and “the rules” and that runs a tight player behavior ship.  Herb Sendek does that.

   Two years ago Herb’s Wolfpack were arguably #2 on Tobacco Road … now it’s 2005 and Mike, Roy, and Skip are The Big Dogs on Tobacco Road and Herb is #4 with a potentially widening chasm between them and the other three.  That reality resonates beyond the howler monkeys all the way to the sane adults in the WuffNation.

Imagine Van Gogh living next door to Rembrandt and Da Vinci … and being the 3rd best painter on his block!

   As the sun sets on January, Herb has four games coming up with UNC and Wake plus however the ACC Tourney breaks down.   I’m saying he needs to win two of those four games.  One point victories count as much as one point losses.  He needs 2 Ws out of the UNC and Wake series.  Not inconceivable. Just like in Football … it all eventually comes down to BRAGGING RIGHTS in the head to head backyard battles.

   As the Wuff cagers continue this torture of embarrassing losses interspersed with the occasional upset win, even the hardcore loyal fans have tired of the “broken record”.  Every adult Wuffie I talk to says he is “tired of the never ending controversy”.  

   Lee Fowler understands his job.  He knows that constantly evaluating key personnel is part of any top executive’s responsibilities.  Unlike the more rabid of his fan base he knows the legal and administratives process that must be followed in such evaluations.  He will do what he has to do with the support of his up-line administrators.  Changing BB coaches is not a perfunctory move that Peaches, Smedes, and Wendell will read about after the fact in the alumni newsletter.

   Those who live and die on recruiting data say Herb is bringing in solid talent, more each year.  That would be fine except that Mike, Roy, and now Skip are in high gear relative to reloading their talent.  Hellfire … Herb Sendek could be (may be) the 10th best coach in America and it wouldn’t matter since three of the very best are his employer’s biggest rivals.  It will be the same for whoever succeeds Herb.  Jim Valvano is dead and buried … not a cryogenic popsicle in Amedeo’s ice box.

   The howler monkeys love Rick Barnes from Texas.  If a change is made they will go stark raving nuttier suggesting every great coach in America … Bill Self, the Illinois guy, the Wisconsin guy, Rick Patino (it’s a law, his name HAS to be mentioned), Tubby, Phil Jackson, Red Almighty Auerbach, and, of course, the Wuffie alums Nate McMillan and Sidney Lowe.  In other words most of the same names the Franklin Street howler monkeys ranted about.  OK, Nate and Sidney were not mentioned for the UNC job (substitute George and Larry).  Don’t be surprised to see Steve Spurrier and/or Bill Cowher on a few posts.  These are howler monkeys folks … it’s a universe Monty Python would run away from.

   The only difference between the “Get Rid of Herbs” and Bunting Bashers is that the Herbs “fans” have been building up steam for 5+ years.  BBs were Carl Haters and Matt Haters during those first 2 years. It took a few months for the Franklin Street lynch mobs to retool and print new t-shirts.

   So what am I predicting?  Unless he takes two of the upcoming four from UNC/WFU, Herb could very well sleep with the fishes by April.  If he does squeeze by again … we will repeat this column a year from now when we could be celebrating this ritual all over AGAIN.


Swagger’s Stumper

What was the name of Murphy Brown’s fictional TV show?


   Our recruiting exposes made some fans “uncomfortable”.  We expected that.  The reality is most fans only care about winning and beating their rivals.  Keep the players off the police blotter; but beyond that is “the sausage factory” that no one wants to know about. … conspicuous gluttony will prevail. Billy Phenom can’t read; but Lordy, look at that boy tote that pigskin. … Run Billy Run! 

   DUANE THOMAS of The Dallas Cowboys made The Ultimate Game quote in the mid 70s.  It’s the only record of Duane’s voice.

Temple curmudgeon John “Postal” Chaney has erupted again (remember he threatened to KILL John Calipari).  This time he HATES the entire state of Ohio because they allowed Bush to win.  Looks like Fruitcake Freddie has a new 2nd favorite all time coach.  Lotsa rage in that crazy old man.

I’ve been studying Deacon fans lately.  GUESS WHAT!  They think all sportswriters and sportscasters are MORONS (including their own Billy Packer!) … they think all media (Reuters, the BBC, AND Pravda) are conspiring against them (including Billy Packer!) … they hate anything connected w/ UNC and any shade of blue …  they appear quite ANGRY most of the time.  Like BobLee always says … “ain’t no difference … fans is fans is fans”.

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