A Tuna Melt and a Milk Shake

January18/ 2000

… So, at Beamer’s in Christiansburg, VA, just outside Blacksburg, Frank and Bud meet for lunch.  Bud says, “I see NC State has hired Tom O’Brien, and UNC has hired Butch Davis. What do you think Frank?” … Frank replies “I think ….. I will have a tuna melt and a milk shake.” … Bud looks up at the waitress “Make that two.” …. OK, maybe not EVERYONE is atwitter about recent new hirings among area colleges but Wuffs and Heels sure are.  Is Tom a “Herb” or a “Dick”?  He’s sure NOT a “Monte” or a “Chuck”? ….. BobLee previews The Butch & Tom Show. 

You can understand Frank Beamer not shivering in his brogans.  Frank is 12-3 alltime versus Butch/Tom COMBINED.  Ol’ Turkeyneck has stared at both of’em across the greensward and they’ve blinked lots more than he has, but Frank is the exception.  When measured against most Div 1-A Head Coaches, Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien score pretty darn high marks … now they are backyard rivals in a cozy little blood feud that means a lot to the locals.

Let’s get it out up front.  Kudos to the much maligned Lee Fowler.  Whatever labyrinthian path he took to ink Tom O’Brien and at what cost to his fragile “popularity” which tends to ebb, ebb, and ebb some more among the “rubber room faction” of WolfPackNation, Lee has brought a very capable football CEO to Mr. Murphy’s Center.  Lee will not expect accolades or an attaboy for his efforts.  As a modern day AD, just getting thru “a coach search” without even getting his yard TPed, much less the obligatory cherry bomb in his mailbox … that is thanks enough.  Lee is the first AD in “the new millenium” to conduct a “coach search” and not even have his pet poisoned.

   Tom O’Brien is an excellent selection for NC State on many levels.  We will touch on a few today.  Perhaps there is no finer endorsement for TO’B than that the really really really scary element within the NC State fan menagerie went completely rabid bat loco when the preliminary announcement was made Wednesday night.  When that bunch is ‘agin you, you MUST be good! …… so Howdy Do Coach O’Brien Sir.

Before we look to the future, and what we here at Ground Zero in the Triangle have to look forward to, let’s take one more look over our shoulder at what “was”. …. Aka “The Burly John Chuckles Show”.  Both ex-linebackers, both prodigal sons, both apparently “bled a lot”, both said a lot, both surely learned a lot, and both now being canonized as “good guys” … but, alas, when the eulogists start their effusive eulogizin’ it means that ol’ Charon the Boatman on The River Styx is toting two more banished souls to coaching Purgatory.

   I never met Chuck Amato.  I never got closer to the guy than about 20 rows up in Carter-Finley.  I “know” him only from his public persona and a few anecdotes from some WuffPals who were around him some.  Oh, I read all the slanderous gutter-chat from my fellow Tar Heels including that wonderful one where “Chuck Amato has Mafia contacts who will KILL anyone who reveals his dirty recruiting tricks”.  I always use that one when folks ask me “just how nutz are these loonies?”

I’ll never forget one of my Inner Circle Wuff Pals on the subject of Chuck’s eccentric sideline attire.  “BobLee, he simply has no sense of taste or style whatsoever.  Chuck doesn’t realize how garish and silly he looks.”  All of us who once owned leisure suits or a nehru jacket might sympathize with Chuck a tad.  I have this one shirt I really like a lot but every time I pull it out both Mizzus and Kid give me that “you’re NOT going to wear THAT tonight, ARE YOU?” look.  Maybe a wardrobe consultant would have saved Chuck … that and at least three ref calls I can think of off the bat … tOSU in ’03, UNC in ’04, and Akron ’06.  Oh well, adversity builds character.  And, of course, that little issue about him being a first-rate anal sphincter to work for.

Burly John showed up for his Welcome Back To UNC presser in ‘01, in his own eclectic attire and a somewhat dazed expression like he had passed thru a time warp and expected Coach Dooley, circa 1971, to slap him upside his helmet and remind him to “get low and deliver a blow”.  Maybe neither Burly John nor Chuckles ever really bridged that 30 year chasm from player to head coach. ….. “two loose cannons on a rolling deck”

Surely both men have a list of at least 30 things they would do, say, don’t do, or not say if one got “do overs” in these things.  Like with the Minutemen and the British on Concord Green, both sides say “the other side fired the first shot”, but when the smoke cleared that fateful day there were a slew of dead bodies and “a war had started”.  Was it “that signing day w/ A.J.” and a “welcome to the fast lane” quip, or did John fire a verbal salvo at Chuck?  Depends on who you want to believe I suppose.  Does it really matter now?

Two men in their mid 50s, who both should have known better, began a six year na-na-na verbal dirt clod fight that accomplished nothing but making each one a cult hero to his respective lunatic fringe and an ever-growing embarrassment to his mainstream fan base.

Both men could have benefited from Swagger’s Rule #5 – “No Coach can survive on Loonie Love or verbal committments”.  …..  There were “logo stompings” and “end zone prayer meetings” and endless insinuations of mutual nefariousness in pursuit of BillyBlueChips.  And it seems both guys were forever running a “short bus” up to “prep schools” for various student-athletes just a point or two shy of reclassification as “plant life”.

Pay close attention to what Butch and now Tom are/will say about “recruiting”.  If they reference running that “short bus” to Hargraves, I’m gonna do my own Iron Eyes Cody weep.  For an overtly aggressive Neanderthal to spend six months memorizing answers to the SAT test really does not prepare said overtly aggressive Neanderthal to be mainstreamed onto a modern college campus.  For every one “but whatabout ____” I can cite you twenty-five “has been dismissed from the team”s.

Neither Burly John nor Chuckles were adequately prepared for the demanding duties and responsibilities of a Division 1-A Head Football Coach.  A pox on those that approved the hiring of either man.  The responsibility for their inevitable failures must be shared by their respective upline admins.

Who knows what the next few years will bring to the respective programs and to the 365/12/7/24 rivalry that wages over a 28-mile DMZ.  Both Butch and Tom already know “something” about it and will learn various sordid details.  It’s no different from any “hated rivalry” EXCEPT the two schools are so doggone close to each other … and the alumni/fans tend to inter-marry and work and live all mixed up together.  As for “the farm boys versus the frat boys” that’s no diff than every liberal arts vs land grant insult-fest.  One side’s as gay as a florists convention and the other can’t be trusted overnight in a barn full of livestock … or so each side says about the other.

   “Beating them” is quite important to all the us’s.  Yes, both fan bases have lofty champagne wishes and caviar dreams but losing to “them” leaves a yucky taste that beating Georgia Tech or South Florida or Whozit A&M won’t ever dispel It matters, and it matters equally to both sides … despite “what the loonies say”.

Is TO’B a “Herb”?  Well, he looks kind of serious.  I don’t get the impression he’s too quippy.  He apparently is a quite smart man of minimal frills.  He seems to genuinely care about his players’ academic progress.  All those qualities are “Herbal.”  But if anyone says “He’s a Herb” they mean it as an insult … so, no, I’m not playing that game.

Is TO’B a “Dick” as in Sheridan?  I believe that’s a fair comparison EXCEPT TO’B has already enjoyed MORE success at the Division 1-A level than Dick Sheridan ever did or has.  Dick came up from Furman, TO’B comes in battle-hardened from many many 1-A encounters AND SIX STRAIGHT BOWL WINS….. oh, yeah, and some are saying TO’B is too old … duh, he’s two years YOUNGER than Chuck!

To say “will TO’B “be as successful” as Dick Sheridan” is an insult to TO’B.  That’s on a par with the Chapel Hill loonies who act like Ol’ Roy wandered in the wilderness for 15+ years before becoming a “big time” coach three years ago.  Neither Ol’ Roy NOR Tom O’Brien have to come to this little slice o’ piedmont Heaven to prove they know how to coach.  DARN IT BOBLEE … Nobody is laying it out like that!  Yeah, I know.

I chose to believe that both Butch and TO’B are quite sincere about a legitimate emphasis on academics.  And, if so, that will REALLY narrow the recruitable gridiron talent from Murphy to Manteo for both programs… eliminating all the knuckle-draggers destined for that afore-mentioned “short bus”.   The beneficiary of that will be Lou’s boy Skip down east.  We know JIM GROBE won’t waste his time with the cretins and as for Ted Roof, well, what difference does it make about Ted Roof.  What cretins get by Skip can go north or south as they choose, assuming they know north from south.  Heck, I’m willing to stop right there and shout HALLELUJAH and invite Kindly Ol’ Bill Friday to be honorary recruiting coordinator for both NCSU and UNC.

I got, maybe, 18-20 more years before I’m drooling oatmeal onto my Depends … do you think I might see the day that both teams rosters have legitimate student-athletes enrolled in legitimate majors that have for real application in the real world … not to imply that African-American Historians and Leisure Studies Communicators are not vital to our economy.  Maybe … hell, I’ll settle for just “a lot of’em”.  But the odds are a lot better with Butch and TO’B in charge than some SEC born and raised good ol’ boy named freakin’ “Jimbo” or anyone else that would have “Big Splash” appeal to the goggle-eyed crowd in either Rawlee or along quaint Franklin Street.  … DARN IT BOBLEE … Nobody is laying it out like that either!  Yeah, I know.

Two no-nonsense grown men who know who they are and know what they are doing … and I’ll be hornswoggled … both institutions have ended up with such men at the same time.  I’LL BE DAMN!

   “They” say dogs end up looking like their owners.  I’m betting fan bases will evolve to look and act like their Head Football Coaches.  No more “two loose bleeding cannons on a rolling deck”.  Oh, it’ll take both TO’B and Butch 3-4 years to really mold their teams in their images AND to mold their fan bases in their images. …. But even that molding process will be enjoyable … and just imagine … both The University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University having “big time” football programs that win a lot more games than they lose and do so in a manner actually befitting the image both schools like to think they deserve. 

And that’s why I am very glad that we have The Pale Rider and Tom O’Brien here ….. and you already know how much BobLee does so love The Blue Messiah.

   There’s just one little problem I haven’t solved YET … I need just the right nickname for Tom.  It can’t be The Pale Rider & “Tom” or even TO’B.  I need something just right.  Oh well, stay tuned, It’ll come to me.


Early on in The Burly John & Chuckles Show there was an infamous “party”.  What was the special occasion and what was the primary menu item?


    We aren’t sure if that Kenworth was hauling hogs or logs but it was part of CW McCall’s “Convoy” with Rubber Duck and the boys.

   Let’s see, “Bama done snuck up to West By Gawd Virginia and is trying to kidnapped’em a Coach Rich Rod!  But Rich Rod may stay … or go … or stay.  The Internet reaction from those lovable couch-burning retards in Morgantown is to spin around in a circle and fall down.

   A lot of you are asking about BobLee’s country club and chamber of commerce appearances.  Do I use that bully pulpit to cram my ultra right-wing political agenda down unsuspecting throats?  Heck No!  I don’t mention politics OR sports in those shows.  Some times I do cause the audience to pray, as in … “Oh God will he EVER finish!” … but mostly we talk about Victoria’s Secret, and visiting the DMV, and Treehouses & How Tall Walls … that sort of stuff.  “Regular people” eat that stuff up, who knew?

   Several 100 of you have e-mailed BLS on being dead on right about how quick the CaroLoons would start 2nd-guessing Butch on staffing.  Thanks, but it was an obvious call … totally predictable.

   Want to e-mail BobLee, you can … [email protected]

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