Nightmares, Honeymoons & Pine Trees

January18/ 2000

… Way back yonder (aka 3-4 years ago) when that Machiavellian architect from North Wilkesboro, Oliver’s kid brother, was playing institutional Monopoly; he no doubt considered numerous “what ifs” … EXCEPT ONE! … uh oh!  …. …………. We’ve been playing a game around the expresso machine at SwaggerWorld HQ – When will Butch’s honeymoon end?  When will we hear that familiar screech “Baddour has hired another idiot!” …….   Lee Fowler hasn’t hired anyone YET (oops, he just did!)  …… All the pine trees at UNC will be cut down next Thursday … BobLee OFFICIALLY does not give a hoot WHO the football “National Champion” will be.

(NOTE:  Brief comment on Tom O’Brien hire in notes section.  More in-depth in future column)  

OK … back off the ledge Mary Lynn and the rest of you who hyperventilated over that comment about cutting down the sacred Kenan pines.  That was just a professional columnist’s tool to get your attention.  We are going to say a few words about “the proposed expansion of “THE prettiest football stadium in Orange County”.  But first, lets visit with Little Johnny Swofford in his mad scientist’s laboratory at Grandover Castle.

Proclaiming “The New ACC” was arguably Johnny’s finest moment since being introduced from the audience on The Ed Sullivan Show back in 1970.  As I recall, Ed said … “We have a REALLY big sheeew tonight.  We have Wayne & Shuster, Topo Gigio, and Senor Wenches … but first, in our audience tonight is an affable young fellow who 36 years from now will have to face some VERY angry Jacksonville city fathers and explain how LOWF (“Little Ol’ Wake Forest”) ended up in the ACCCG. … Ladies and Gentlemen, a big sympathetic round of applause for Little Johnny Swofford.”…. APPLAUSE …. APPLAUSE …. APPLAUSE.

Segueing from Ed Sullivan to Larry The Cable Guy … “I don’t care who you are” … Wake Forest’s dream season is a WONDERFUL sports story.  It’s Hoosiers, the Titans, the ’69 Mets, and John Daly at Crooked Stick.  NOBODY on the face of Mother Earth had Grobe’s hearty little band of Deacons in Alltel Stadium for the “06 ACCCG … and that was just fine with the city fathers of Jaxville.

Somewhere in the top five of The 25 Deadest Horses Beaten By Sports Dilberts is “it’s all about $$$$”.  That’s pretty much the answer any time anything happens in sports.  It’s why John Bunting, Chuck Amato, Mike Shula, Walt Harris and TBD can sleep late and not have to shave for a year or so. (By the way … have you seen Mike Shula’s wife? … HUBBA HUBBA! … I digress).  It’s why Ol’ Roy’s boys play 9 o’clock games on Sunday.  It’s why Greg Maddox is not a Brave and why David Stern is making King James play with a new ball this year. …….. and why “Old Gold & Black” ain’t the colors of choice on the banks of the St John’s River.


When all the institutional poobahs were sitting around a few years ago poobahing about “expansion”, a lot of “what ifs” were discussed.

  • What if … Donna Shalala forgets her booster seat? How will she see over the edge of the conference table?
  • What if … algroh forgets his Ritallin and starts yelling in a unknown tongue?
  • What if … Dave Hart forgets the donuts and Paul Dees starts eating the waxed fruit?
  • What if … Nan Keohane and Frank Beamer can not keep their hands off each other and it becomes “obvious”?
  • What if …  Danny Ford shows up and says HE is still the Clemson head coach and demands a name tag and a goody bag of free stuff?
  • What if …  Meezie asks The ACC to please give Dickie a plaque saying “He is too a very good AD” … and Ron Wellman says “if Dickie gets a plaque, then I want a castle in Bavaria and a Hummer”?

But NOBODY ever asked … “What if Wake Forest gets in to the ACCCG … and wins it … and goes to The Orange Bowl?’ …. Because EVERYONE KNEW that’ll never happen. ….. well, Danny Ford got his free stuff … Dickie did not get his plaque … and Wake Freakin’ Forest is ACC Champ and Orange Bowl-bound.  GO DEACS GO!

It’s not Wake’s fault that they are a small boutique school with a living alumni base less than the number of Tar Heel fans who claim they were IN CARMICHAEL when UNC was 8 down with 19 to play.  That number, by the way, is also greater than the number of actual votes John Kerry received below the Mason-Dixon Line in 2004.

Wake’s basketball arena, LJVMC, annually wins the Swagger Award for “best size arena” in The ACC.  Groves Stadium, with its recent aesthetic enhancements, is a very nice petite stadium.  Wake Forest may be the ONLY school in The ACC and maybe in The NCAA that (1) knows “who“ it is … (2) accepts “who” it is … (3) makes the very most of what it has to be a very happy “who” it is.  All of which might go completely to Hell if Ron Wellman ever leaves or steps off the curb into the grill of a Kenworth hauling hogs.

When no one ever asked “what WILL we do IF LOWF somehow ends up in The ACCCG?” understand that LOWF never posed that “what if” either.  The now quite pissed Jaxville city fathers never asked when they guaranteed mucho dinero to host The ACCCG in Alltel.  Like everyone else they KNEW either Miami, FSU, or VaTech would ALWAYS be there with a strong following so The Landing would be rockin’ and those “economic impact $$$” would be rollin’ … in.

When LOWF blocked that kick to beat Duke back in September, nobody much cared.  When Clemson ran back that blocked field goal, most folks said “stick a fork in LOWF, they’ll be 5-6 which is really good “for them”. ….. maybe one or two Jaxville civic leaders joked “well, no more worries about that busload of Deacon fans hitting town in December … hahahaha.”

Cut to the chase … Wake DID play in the ACCCG against GaTech …. Compounding “Swofford’s Uh oh” since GaTech has a “boutique” alumni following too.  So two schools with gold as a color play each other on a drizzly cold day on the banks of the St John’s River, in a scoringfest akin to soccer on ice, before a smaller crowd than will be on-hand for the opening round of the ACC BB Tourney in March … and even fewer viewers on TV.  …. And Ed Sullivan’s grim prediction came true.

I’ll leave you with one chilling thought before we discuss honeymoons and pine trees …  Let’s suppose … there is a game next mid-November involving Grobe’s Deacons.  IF Wake wins this game, they win their division again and “that same busload of Deacon fans” will AGAIN go to wherever The ACCCG is played.  Jaxville, Charlotte, Boise, or Bristol Motor Speedway.  If Wake LOSES this hypothetical game, then VaTech goes with its “traveling hordes of hospitable Hokies”.

It’s a close game … Wake is driving for what will be the winning touchdown.  Their’re on, lets say “the one” and there’s, let’s say, 30 seconds to play.  Micah Whoever their running back who missed this season is having a big day.  Everyone “knows” he will get the ball and likely score.

The ref’s cellphone goes off … “Hello” … “Hi, there ref, this is Tommy Hunt’s boss Little Johnny Swofford” … “Yes sir, Mr Swofford, what can I do for you?” ….. “I’m watching on TV and it looks like Grobe’s Deacons are afixin’ to score and win and take a busload of fans to The ACCCG again.” … “Yes sir, it looks that way” …. “I’m wondering, do you recall a game in Kenan Stadium back in October 2004.  Jim Knight was the Ref.” …. Yes sir, I was the Head Linesman in that game.” …. “Oh good.  Well if Wake wins this game and our ACCCG is a bust again, the first expense we’re cutting is Ref salaries.  If you allow Wake to win this game your per game pay next year is “a ham sandwich”. …. “I Got it Mr Swofford”. … “Carry on.”

Now “Little Johnny Swofford” oozes integrity.  He’s as honest as Brendan Wright’s arms are long … but, as every Sports Dilbert well knows … “It’s all about the $$$$.” …. sorry Deacs, it’s one and done.


   A few days ago, Butch and Tammy were relaxing in their suite at The Siena … “Ya know honey, these Carolina folks sure are friendly. … “Yes they are, Butch.  Not at all like those awful folks in The Dawg Pound in Cleveland.”  Enrique, the room service waiter, overheard them.

   “Excuse me Mr/Mrs Davis, I couldn’t help overhearing you talking aout how friendly folks are around here.   Mr/Mrs Cignetti said the exact same thing last July.  Oh, and I hope you won’t mind, but I scrapped off that W’04 decal and that Christian fish thingie on your car.  Trust ol’ Enrique on this one … no need you go asking for trouble.”

   I posed the question to my “Inner Circle” a week ago.  When will The Pale Rider hear the “Duelin’ Banjos” of CaroLoon discontent?  Carolina has dramatically upgraded their commitment to “big time” college football.  Carolina went and made “a Big Splash hire”.  Carolina is even enduring the oh-so-predictable slings and arrows of outrageous self-righteousness from Kindly Ol’ Bill and his disciples in Holy Academe.  But one aspect of Carolina Football hasn’t changed one bit.

The Carolina fanscape is still populated by roving bands of bottom-feeders with those kinky kinks in their DNA who still don’t know Jack … Squat … Bo … or Diddly about whatever they are ranting and raving about. …… It has been convenient that they’ve had “State’s latest coach search travails” to occupy their mischievous little intellects.  Multitudenous gut-busting hoots and hollers on the well-worn agrarian theme have dominated their chat parlours.  But that’s all about to end.

The Pale Rider has been on board for ten days now (Ten days during which no UNC sports team has lost a single game … a coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not!).  He’s been interviewed by everybody except Oprah and The View … including all those “hated media outlets” that “hate UNC because _______”.  Not to be confused with “all those hated media outlets” who “hate NC State because _______” which, incidentally are all the same “hated media outlets” of course. …. If one has highly trained sensors for such things, like BobLee does … you can feel it coming … like smelling an approaching storm … or milk going bad in the fridge … ya just know “Butch’s Carolina honeymoon is nearabout over.”   

It was always going to be over one of the two issues about which “the real fans” know ABSOLUTELY nothing … recruiting or staffing.  SwaggerSays predicts here and now … it will be about “staffing”.   They will give him hell about recruiting in late January.

Butch knows 100s of coaches across the country.  He knows their personalities … their specialties, their strengths, weaknesses, human frailties, their first wives’ maiden names, which Bond girl they always say is their favorite.  And, of some importance, how they will fit into the human mosaic known as Butch Davis’ Carolina Football Coaching Staff.  God luv him, unlike “The ol’ Blue-Bleeder“, this UNC coach has “been there”, “done this” and has a “I’ve hired two staffs before” t-shirt.

Since I’m preoccupied with bringing a lasting peace to the Middle East and waiting for Season Six of “24”, I’m willing to leave staff hiring entirely up to Butch.  But not …. SluggoDaHeel, FroggyFromHalifax, and HeelBoy6753 who can’t match their socks or read a stop sign without moving their lips … THEY KNOW who Butch darn well better hire if he ever expects to derail that Deacon Juggerrnaut over in Winston-Salem. ……. Despite what you say, I know most of you occasionally lurk in those cyber dumpsters so remember when the “Butch should _____” crap chatter starts up in the next few days … BobLee warned you.


 In Week One, Butch cleaned all the “godless gay commies” out of Chapel Hill.  Apparently in Week Two he’s ordered Prince Tassel Loafer to “cut down all those dumb pine trees around MY stadium.”  And Dickie of course said “Okee Dokee” and ran down to Lowe’s to get himself a chain saw.  Now it’ll take The Dickster AT LEAST 18-24 months to get the hang of that Poulan so we have a little time.  But “THE KENAN PINE TREES” are doomed. …………. Or maybe not!

OK, Mary Lynn, step back off that ledge.  I just gave you the worst case scenario.  “The prettiest stadium in Orange County” will likely undergo an expansion in the next 3-5 years involving the East End and “The Alamo” (aka Taco Bell, aka Morris Mason’s Field House, aka Where BL Swagger spent most of his undergraduate hours at UNC).  There will be 8-10,000 new seats added and some (drumroll please) LUXURY BOXES because, well because we don’t have any … which is the same logic that 14 year old skanky gals employ when they get their “tramp stamp” tattoo … EVERYBODY ELSE HAS ONE.

When I was up in South Bend, I discussed how Notre Dame’s Stadium was expanded with the upper deck encircling the lower bowl.  Notre Dame does NOT have LUXURY BOXES, nor does Charlie Weiss have a “tramp stamp” tattoo (But Brady Quinn’s sister probably does).  My ND buddy told me “when Michigan “expanded” their stadium, they did it with a paint brush.”  Meaning they simply squeezed more seat #s into the existing rows.  Sure, fans bitched, but they got over it.

Carolina is NOT going to repaint Kenan’s seat numbers no matter if SluggoDaHeel and his cyber cronies threaten to staple their eyes shut and gargle thumbtacks.

As for “those damn Kenan pine trees”.  The Dickster has lived and breathed UNC since he was 18.  He knows each one of those damn pine trees by heart.  He has names for them.  He bakes cookies for each tree on its birthday.  He will chain his little Baddourian body to a tree and throw himself (or Larry Gallo) in front of the woodsman’s ax before one loblolly leaf is harmed.  You are better off worrying about Butch screwing up hiring a special team coach than worrying about “those damn Kenan pine trees”.  

    The ONLY entity safer in Chapel Hill than “those damn Kenan Pine Trees” is Anson Dorrance’s job.  … (oops, forgot about that stoopid federal court thingie)

We will do an in-depth analysis of the Kenan Expansion … when we are REALLY REALLY bored …. and we finally learn how Jack Bauer gets off that freighter bound for China.


 “… a Kenworth hauling hogs” was immortalized in what song?


     Frank Solich is taking Ohio University to a bowl game … which even THE GREAT JIM GROBE never did … but Jim Grobe DID invent the Triscuit and MapQuest.

   BC’s Tom O’Brien as new NCSU Coach ??? …. well, he certainly meets the two criteria of (1) being Italian … and (2) having a quippy personality … ?!?!?!?! …. he qualifies as “The Next Sheridan” which is not a bad thing to be AT ALL. …… NOT “a big splash” hire which means 78% of hard core WuffLoonies are now laying down in the middle of I-40 hoping a “Kenworth haulin’ hogs” comes by real soon….. SPLATT! … For mainstream Pack fans it means increased integrity for FB program (that’s a GOOD thing!).

   Have you ever noticed … everybody (but BobLee) gets all torqued about “who’s going to play for the championship in whatever …”  Then as soon as The Big Game is over … nobody gives a damn except the fans of the team that wins.  Pittsburgh won The Super Bowl, St Louis The World Series, Miami The NBA, Texas the College FB thing, Florida the college BB thing … yawn, burp …. Florida, Michigan, Shmichigan, or freakin’ Slippery Rock … lets all watch CSI Miami, Boston Legal or Shark (if you haven’t seen Shark w/ James Woods … its “must see TV”)

   Want to e-mail BobLee?-  … [email protected]

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