In Defense of Prince Tassel Loafer

January18/ 2000

…  The John Bunting Era will be over on Nov 26 … But does it surprise anyone that the current state of Carolina Football has so effortlessly morphed into yet another referendum on Dickie Baddour?  The diminutive administrator is, alas, always “the nail”, “the shoe”, “the horse”, “the rider”, “the message” …. et al as to why each “war was lost”.  …. As Dickie is slow-roasted over 100,000 alumni/fan campfires, BobLee asks “is Dickie’s “heinous sin” not shared by the very ones who scream for his head?” 

This column was in the works prior to “the announcement” at 8:30 PM on Sunday night that John Bunting will no longer be the UNC FB coach effective at the end of this season.  That was inevitable as reported here several weeks ago.  The timing and specifics were dependent upon the outcome of the UVa game.  We wish “Burly John” well and will have further comment on that later.

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THE TIMING OF THIS.  All the possible scenarios had negatives.  This was the best of the possibilities.  I will explain WHY in a future column.

BobLee Swagger has never been a recipient of a Christmas (“Holiday”) card from Dickie Baddour … nor a kind word beyond an e-mail six years ago in which he said something to the effect that I was “probably a decent guy”.  Of the dozen or so nicknames and euphemisms that Mr Swagger has introduced into the local sports culture, none is more well-known than “Prince Tassel Loafer”.  “F-Bomb Alley” is a close 2nd.  “Burly John”, “howler monkeys”, “The Blue Messiah”, “faculty squirrels” and “board loonies” are all popular but “Prince Tassel Loafer” is #1.  Even Dickie’s secretary uses it.

It was while speaking to the Statesville Rotary Club in 2002 that I first used this line “while driving thru Goldsboro a few months ago, I stopped by the Wayne County Courthouse.  I was curious about something.  I went to the birth certificate section for 1945 and under the “Bs” I found it … Dickie Baddour’s legal first name actually is “That Damn …”.  I use it in every show and it ALWAYS brings down the house.

With the slippage of Women’s Soccer, “Dickie-Bashing” is now the second most popular sport among Carolina fans, trailing only basketball.  If we can get the NCAA to recognize it, UNC will be a lock for the Director’s Trophy (Sear’s Cup) every year.

I say the above so as not to be labeled “a Baddour apologist”.  With all the other labels that get hurled at this Ol’ Internet Legend that one won’t stick.  I am on record as saying that Dickie should have retired following Matt Mess and again following Ol’ Roy’s net cutting in April 2005.  Not that I worried about the present or future of UNC Athletics but because his mere presence was/is a constant distraction to the programs themselves.  Fan vitriol regarding Dickie passed the DANGER level several years ago.

Despite his lack of success in winning games, criticism of John Bunting has always been tempered with “but John bleeds blue … yadda yadda”.  John graduated in 1972.  He next set foot in Chapel Hill in 2001.  Records do not indicate that he even joined “The Rams Club” during his 29 years roaming across America’s football landscape.  He did wear a Carolina blue t-shirt under his shoulder pads and had a picture of Kenan Stadium in his locker.  And now he is being martyred (and canonized) for “bleeding blue”?

Dickie Baddour came to Chapel Hill in 1963.  Other than a brief time in Hillsborough in the early 70s in the Orange County DA’s office, Dickie Baddour has lived in Orange County and worked for UNC for over 40 years.  Why do I never see “Dickie bleeds blue …” attached to the savage and profane discussions of his job performance?

NOTE:  That is a Gene Galin photo of John and Dickie.

The most valid criticism of Dickie Baddour relative to his performance as Athletics Director should be that HE BLEEDS TOO MUCH BLUE!  He knows nothing else.  Unlike a Michael Hooker or a Roy Williams or a John Swofford or a Norwood Teague or a Mike Fox … Dickie NEVER LEFT.  He has no concept of any other program, of any other system, of any other way to skin those confounding “cats” (i.e. administrative problems that arise managing a $40 million dollar enterprise).

As a supervisor of dozens of mid-level executive managers, Dickie never prepares his subordinates for career advancement or to “move on” in athletic administration.  To Dickie Baddour “why would anyone want to work anywhere else but for UNC in Chapel Hill?”

 Dickie Baddour does not simply “bleed blue”.  His every cell, molecule, atom, and DNA helix is “Carolina Blue” … yet a John Bunting is martyred for his blind loyalty and Dickie Baddour is savaged for his ?????

Certainly … Dickie Baddour errored in his handling of (1) Mack’s leaving … (2) Carl Torbush’s hiring and firing … (3) The Beamer fiasco … (4) The subsequent search that led him to New Orleans and “blue bleeding” John Bunting … and “most” (not all) of the Roy – Matt – Roy scenarios.  If Dickie had “do overs” on any of those I guarantee he handles every one differently.  One doesn’t get many “do overs” in life.  Unlike message board posts … admin decisions cannot be edited out and deleted.  Also unlike message board posts “Dickie’s opinions DO have consequence”. These events happened “on Dickie’s watch”.

Yes, John Bunting probably dreamed about being UNC Head Coach like I dream of getting Rick Reilly’s gig with SI.  But never in his wildest dreams did he ever expect it to happen or feel, in his heart of hearts that he was qualified … but Dickie Baddour felt he WAS because he could tell “that John Bunting bleeds blue”..  I dare say that Dickie Baddour was THE ONLY person who believed John Bunting was THE MAN for this job.  Yes, Dickie was wrong again.  But why did he offer the job to John?  Because John Bunting “bleeds blue” and to Dickie Baddour that is Qualification #1.  Why did he go to Matt Doherty (after considering assorted other former Tar Heel BBers)  Because Dickie believes “bleeding blue” is Qualification #1.

Do I agree with Dickie’s reasoning?  Absolutely NOT, BUT nor do I personally believe that UNC is the ultimate academic institution.  I do not believe UNC has the prettiest campus … the prettiest coeds … the greatest professors … the most beautiful stadium … that Franklin Street is wonderful … and all the other “Blue Blind” superlative yadda yadda that I see splattered all over those infernal massage boards by all those same “blue bleeding” howler monkeys who despise Dickie Baddour …. because of Dickie’s heinous sin of “believing that the University of North Carolina and its offspring are the best, greatest, and most qualified individuals on the face of the Earth.” . Dickie and his army of critics … both “guilty” of drinking waaay too much Old Well water.

And for his “sin” Dickie Baddour’s legacy will be as the single most vilified, maligned, beleaguered, cussed, and cussed some more employee of UNC in the past 50 years.  A faithful steward’s “reward” for forty years of well-intentioned service.

Yes, Dickie got the AD job partially to ensure that Dean’s Farewell would go as Dean wished it to go … and it did.  Dickie also “got the job” for his eight years of keeping Little Johnny Swofford’s administration financially sound.  It was never envisioned that before his new business cards were dry from the printer he would be up to his neck in major revenue sport hiring scenarios.  Dickie Baddour had never conducted an executive search and hire in his life before Mack Brown left.  If he had, he never would have let a bunch of 20 y/o jocks pick his Head Football Coach.  Who did not see that trainwreck coming?

The average Div 1-A AD might hire one FB or one BB coach in his tenure.  Dickie Baddour conducts “big time” coach hirings like most folks schedule haircuts.  He will NOT be heading up this next one regardless of what outward appearances might suggest.  He doesn’t do it very well … the same reason I have an accountant do my taxes … I don’t do it very well.

Bullsh*t about Dickie being part of some Machiavellian conspiracy to suppress football or that he was a puppet of Free Masons and TriLateralists bent on destroying UNC athletics is absurd.  “Board loonies” wonder why they are viewed as evolutionary mutants … duh!  And that bilge about “the sleeping giant of college football” … Dickie and his loonies lynch mob share a blue blind belief in that well-worn myth too.

This column will NOT abate Dickie-Hate among Carolina fans any more than “road rage” solves gridlock.  Few will even say … “gee, maybe we oughta cut the little guy some slack.”  “Blaming ‘That Damn Dickie Baddour’ is imbedded in Carolina culture like deviled eggs and pimento cheese sandwiches at tailgates.  But I got you to read this far so maybe 5% of this will stick.  I hope so.

Now as for Moeser … If anyone wants to defend that goofy sumbitch, they will do it without BL Swagger.  Get a rope!


   In upcoming columns BLS will discuss WHY John Bunting was unsuccessful as UNC FB coach and HOW the search process will proceed … and, of course, WHO BobLee would go after.  Don’t go pretending you know-it-all until BobLee gives you the ammo you’ll need to impress your friends and really piss off those howler monkeys.


Where did Little Johnny Swofford serve his prodigal son training before returning to UNC?


   Search Committee Update! … we reported earlier that Mike Nifong was on the short list to head “the next coach search committee”.  We have an update on that subject.  The committee will now be composed of “any/all “Blue Chippers” that have an opinion”.  …….  Apparently the single most overriding concern with UNC FB is how will 18 y/os with 4th grade reading comprehension feel about it.”  

   That is also the #1 concern relative to expanding Kenan Stadium, selecting music for the Jumbotron, deciding kickoff times, and whether or not to sell the entire university to Sean Puffy Coombs to convert the property into a hip hop theme park. …….. The search committee will hold its meetings at the pool hall down the street from Hargrave Military Academy since all the prospective members are familiar with that location.

   Kirk Herbstreit played QB for John Cooper at Ohio State.  I think I would like him if I ever get to meet him.  I did meet Chris Fowler once.  I liked him.

   Want to e-mail BobLee?

[email protected]

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