Hats & Horns & Trickarooskis

January18/ 2000

… I had to get that Dickie column out of the way.  I was going bonkers with all the “bleeding blue” bilge …  There are other points that need to be covered as this “situation” develops.  We got PLENTY of e-mails on Monday so I know what your concerns are, pretty much the same as mine.  Those “capable hands” are not mine so I don’t have all the answers but I can probably straighten out a few issues.  Here we go …

    The timing of John Bunting’s “dismissal” has some negative aspects to it.  This is a bona-fide crisis (if one is “a fan”).  In such times you usually pick the option with the fewest negatives because everything has a “fish hook” to it.  Announcing John’s end-of-season termination with five weeks to go can work.  In fact it COULD work to a simply delightful conclusion for almost every Carolina fan.  On November 26, John is no longer Head Football Coach at UNC … whether he runs the table or tanks, but it’ll be “better” if he’s smiling over a W in Wally Wade.

   If nothing had been done and the people empowered to take action had tried to buy more time, the pressure and the nastiness would have just gotten worse.  The Tar Heel team that slumped off the field last Thursday night had “loser’s limp”.  They looked like Napoleon’s army walking back from Russia thoroughly demoralized.

   Five more uninspired defeats were pretty much guaranteed.  That team of lost souls ceased to exist at 8 PM on Sunday night.

   This new team can start over with nothing to lose (but what pride they have left if that’s their choice) same with the coaching staff ……. They can say “lets just go out and PLAY FOOTBALL and HAVE FUN and HIT SOMEBODY!” … Yee Haa!

   IF I WAS JOHN BUNTING … I’d “scout my team” for the first 7 games and chart its “tendencies” then throw out all those tendencies and do all brand new stuff.  Now he can’t put in an all new “scheme” but he/they can mix up plays and do all sorts of “wild and crazy stuff”.  Lets do every “trickerooski” ever drawn up on a napkin by a half-drunk coach at 3 AM in a Holiday Inn cocktail lounge.

    Hey “Forty Point” tell everybody To “GO LONG!” … Tackle eligible … hell, Center eligible.  Statue of Liberty … “jump passes” … hook and ladder … onside the opening kick-off.  When John meets Jim Grobe at midfield in pre-game be wearing Groucho glasses.  I’ve got some other ideas for State on Nov 18, but I’ll save’em for now.

   Tell the players “give up and quit if that’s your character but know these next five games are your highlight film for the next coach.”

   Do not burn any redshirts … that’s not fair … BUT play every single eligible player in each of these five games.  Every goofy walk-on, every 5th teamer … let them get their game jerseys dirty with Kenan turf.  Have Kamikazi Kids going nuts on special teams.

   Play these games TO WIN and do NOT allow any showboating bull jive.  Any bull jiving and you stop the game and send that jackass to the tunnel while the whole stadium boos him.

   Everything Can Change Now … or we can stay that same loser’s course.  I vote we go full bore HATS & HORNS and TRICKAROOSKIS … LETS KICK BUTT and HAVE FUN! … you with me?


    Lets get serious for a few minutes.  Why did John Bunting not succeed as Head Football Coach at UNC?

   #1 … He had no prior “peer management” experience.

   #2 … He had no “major college” coaching experience

   Far and away, I believe #1 did him in as it would 99% of men in his situation.

   “Peer Management” means leading men of equal age and relatively equal experience to successful objectives with both you and them recognizing that you are “the boss” … “the leader” … “the man in charge”.  You make more $$$.  You have nicer perks.  You get the glory and celebrity … and “they” know that you DESERVE it.  Achieving that situation is DAMN HARD.  I know because I was/am miserable at it.

   I was an awful “peer manager” and I tried every style imaginable … laissez faire … autocrat … rah rah … drill sergeant … Mr Nice Guy … you name it.  The only role I flunked harder was “follower”.  I was bad at that too.  Can’t lead … can’t follow … better be a one-man band … OK … guess what … I’m pretty good at that.  Only took me 30 freakin’ years to learn.  But I know “good managers” when I see them.  I had a few.  Had a few bad ones too.

   Here’s the test … find a staff of ten men all within ten years of the same age.  They can be car salesmen, insurance adjusters, landscaping crew, whatever.  Sit them around a round table wearing casual attire.  Go in and just BS with them for 10 minutes.  No leading questions.  If you can’t pick out “the leader” then I bet you that staff is unproductive.

   Remember my comment about Missouri QB Terry McMillan.  Dress 80 guys in black slacks and gold blazers and watch’em walk off a bus and you’d pick out Terry The Quarterback EVERY time.

   Yes, there is a bit of “born leader” in some but even “born leaders” develop techniques and acquire personality traits that make them effective “peer managers” … BUT YOU DON”T DO THAT AT AGE 51.

   Bill Dooley and Mack Brown were 32 when they got their first Head Coaching gigs.  Lou Holtz was young.  Joe Paterno was young.  Bobby Bowden was young.  Don Shula was, I believe, the youngest of all.  By the time those guys were in their late 40s they had their leadership styles down pat.  It WAS their personality.

   John Bunting was 51 (I think my math is correct) when Dickie Baddour said “you want to be Head Coach at UNC?”  John said “yes”.  I would have too.  So would you.  And under our breath be saying “what the hell am I going to do now?”  John Bunting at his age with his background was A VERY HIGH RISK HIRE.  Was that John’s fault or Dickie’s fault?  OK, that was too easy.

   What did John do in his first 24 hours on the job?  He called James Webster, his old linebacker mate who he had not seen in 20 years and said “Hey Webster, this is John Bunting.  Guess what, I’m the new coach at Carolina.  You wanna come here and be my Asst Head Coach?”

   And James who had 20 years as a journeyman assistant said “Sure, why not, sounds like fun.”

   And I’m reading this and going “Ouch! and uh oh … I sure wish ‘dem boys well and all but that’s quite a odd way to get started.”  I believe I’d a called Mr Dooley down in Wilmington and said “Coach HELP!  I have no clue how to put this staff together but if you can hold my hand I’ll be a fast learner.”  I bet the Old Trenchfighter could have saved John, UNC and UNC Football fans some quite bumpy roads the past six years.

   I probably would not have called Coach Dooley either.  I would have been just as self-confident in my new windfall as John was.  Most of us would have … and we would have probably stumbled and fumbled and stumbled some more just like John has.

   The endless annual staff roulette.  Every one trumpeted as “one of the brightest minds in college football” … an aggressive recruiter … yadda yadda.  And Ken Browning just kept coming in each day and asking “what position am I coaching this week? … and who are these new guys?”

   And finally we tried to BUY the best … Marv and Frank … fine gentlemen I am certain.  We are paying them mucho so they must be REALLY good … THEY’RE THE BEST … aren’t they?  Sure … UVa – 23 … UNC – 0 … If it makes anyone feel better … Dan Snyder of the Redskins is paying both his OC and DC a cool million $$$ each and they are 2-5 and heading south.

   OK, has anyone been reading this and is saying … “wait a minute BobLee, what about Amato?”  HELLO!  Chuck had one advantage over John with his major college and recruiting experience, but also no “peer management” experience.  But, but, but wasn’t he Bobby’s Asst HC … yeah, that meant he picked up Bobby’s dry cleaning on Thursdays and took the lousy speaking engagements for the Civitans in Apalachicola.

   What consistent problems has Chuck had?  Continual turnover and continual “reports” of being “difficult to work for” and lets not even go to Doc Holliday’s opinion.  White shoes or Red Shoes … Chuck is still standing on two banana peels.

   With either John or Chuck, “ineffective executive manager” does NOT mean “bad person who hates children, puppies and bunny rabbits”.  It means “not very good at something that not many people ARE good at”.

   I don’t have to explain this much further.  The readers of SSays are quite a savvy bunch.  You know what I’m saying.  45 y/o Little League rightfielders have no clue … which is why, at 45, they are still playing right field in life.

   Not everyone is suppose to lead his peers and be “a boss” … “a leader”.  Audie Murphynever meant to take over his platoon in battle and never did anything like that again.  Same with Sgt York.  Check tombstones in any cemetary.  They say … Good Man … Faithful Husband … Loving Father … Loyal Churchman … A Soldier … Was Tall, Had Nice Hair … but most of them don’t say “Was a good peer manager” because most dead people weren’t.

   Maybe if John had left Glassboro State and moved up the ladder, then after 3-4 years gotten a Div 1-A gig and had a loyal staff that he could manage effectively.  Maybe when Dickie walked in 

   And said … “Hi, I’m Dickie Baddour,  I understand you played at Carolina a long time ago.  Wanna come back with me to Chapel Hill and be Head Coach?”  

   And John called Dawn … “You won’t believe this.  Some little nimrod just offered me the Head Coaching gig at Carolina.  Sure, he’s nutz but apparently he is legit.”  

   And Dawn said … “Nutz, smutz … sign something binding and lets get the hell out of Nawlins before that nutty little nimrod checks your background”.  

   And John says … “Thank you Mr. Baddour. I accept.”  

   And Dickie said … “One other thing.  Do you bleed blue?” … 

   “Yeah, sure whatever … Does the Porthole still have those great rolls?”

   And 99.99% of us would have done the very same thing … and it would have probably ended the very same way.


Does “The Porthole” still have those great rolls? 


    Little Johnny Swofford got his “prodigal Tar Heel” experience working for Gene Corrigan at UVa in the late 70s. 

   How about “the coaching search”?  It is going to play out in such a way that Dickie is NOT publicly humiliated and simply told to bring the doughnuts to the meeting.  Also, it is NOT going to be left up to Dickie.  If you can accept that and give the new coach “a chance” beyond “he was another Baddour pick!” then you’ll be OK.  If not, go join a message board and pout. 

   Mike Paulus will NOT be heading the search committee.  Luke Huard will.  We are operating “one messianic savior” behind.  ENOUGH ABOUT RECRUITS … the “right coach” can recruit 80 walk-ons next August and win 6 games.

   Want to e-mail BobLee?

[email protected]

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