How Zebras Earn Their Gripes

January21/ 2008

…. The “Meet Jimmy Sexton” column has circled the globe more times than Soyuz 7.  The name Sexton has joined Krzyzewski and Amato on the Tar Heel yuck ptui list …. BobLee gets into “the Referee Thing” …. FCA brings together luminaries …. The Rockwell Family got mugged at C-F (yawn!) …. And we resolve the “footing the bill for Butch” question.

The title of this column is so amazingly clever I can hardly stand it.  “Gripes – Stripes – Zebras – Refs” ….. get it?  Oh well, I think it’s clever.

There were no records of the first athletic contest that involved a judge, official, referee, head linesman, umpire, or whatever you want to call “that blind crooked biased person” ….. but surely by the 3rd or 4th contest, irate fans were calling “FOUL” and recommending the immediate demise of said official.  Don Denkinger’s ancient ancestor Euripedes Denkinger was the first sports official to have a flaming spear thrown on to the roof of his hut.  In the ensuing centuries it has gotten worse.  (OK, that’s a clue to today’s stumper).

I pay attention to the fans around me at every game.  With two columns/week, I troll for column fodder 24/7.   I am not sure how many incomplete passes T.J. Yates has thrown this year but I am sure that some Tar Heel knucklehead screamed “INTERFERENCE !!!” after every single one.

This is the Duke Buck Balk Rule.  My Ol’ pal Duke says it is a 100% GUARANTEE in any baseball game ever played that when the pitcher turns and bluffs a throw to second to hold a runner AT LEAST 36% of the team at bats’ fans will, in pure unadulterated ignorance, yell “BALK” and insult the umps’ mamma.  I think 36% is a low figure.  Conversely, no more than 2% of all baseball fans know the Infield Fly Rule.  John Rudisell, I’m sure, is among that 2% as am I. …. and Duke Buck and Brutha Dwight.

Couch potato ignorance of playing rules accounts for a high % of verbal assaults of sports officials.  The remaining % stems from total disbelief that “they” (the opponent) might actually be better than “us” on that given day.  Since “we” are thereby anointed as “better” the only way we could be denied our pre-destined triumph is by skullduggery from “blind, crooked, biased refs”.  Once one buys into the “better just because” and that “pre-destined triumph” stuff …. Reality loses out to Machiavellian conspiracies every time.

NOTE:  None of this applies to any East German official.  I realize “East Germany” does not exist any more but, according to local loonies, John Swofford hires former East German officials to work ACC FB and BB games.  Little Johnny denies this of course.  “East German officials” will forever be the poster boys for “crooked refs on the take”.  In their case, their lives and their families’ lives were at stake so, yes, they were a tad biased.

At this year’s UNC v VaTech game in Lane Stadium I was four seats over from a leather-lunged lunatic of epic ignorance.  This yahoo saw AT LEAST six Hokie felonies on every play and so informed the refs who were about a city block away from us in the upper upper deck.  I have no doubt that they heard him on EVERY play. …..  UNC v VT is not even a blood ‘n guts rivalry game.  Lord only knows how that leather-lunged lunatic got thru last Saturday in C-F.  Assuming he was still alive after Wake Forest.

The total absurdity of fan hatred of game officials defies any rational discussion.  Just as Gawd invented Dickie Baddour to be blamed for pretty much everything, He invented referees to be why “we” ever lose a game.

As with most all forms of mental illness …. The Internet has simply ratcheted up the assorted conspiracy theories and “something’s GOT to be done” mania.

As BB season arrives we will be reminded that there are more conspiracy theories involving Coach K & The Refs than there are with Lee Oswald and UFOs in Roswell.  John Clougherty replaced the much maligned Fred Barakat but the “the fix is in” theorists never skipped a beat.

All Time Great Story …. I was in The Horseshoe a few years back when NCState w/ PR played tOSU.  A Wuff Loon was a few rows in front of me.  3rd Quarter and he got wound up screaming that “those damn Big Ten refs are cheatin’ us.  We GOTTA DO SOMETHING!”  Finally a kindly Columbus gentleman caught the WuffLoon taking a breath and informed him that it was an ACC Officiating crew.  The Loon scrunched up his face and was quiet for about ten minutes …. Until he recognized the Ref was …. Yep, you guessed it – JIM KNIGHT.  This was pre-TA non-TD but Jim’s “fame” was already legendary.  The WuffLoon just flipped a switch and began screaming demands to “GOTTA DO SOMETHING ……”  I wondered if that rather illogically deranged fellow was an aerospace engineer or first in his class at NCSU’s Vet School …. Or an escapee from Dix Hill.

When the NBA caught their cheating ref last year, it simply guaranteed that no team no where at no time will EVER lose a game because their opponent simply outplayed them that day.  It’s always “THE CROOKED REFS’ FAULT”. 


    Tuesday night me and the Mizzus were star-mingling.  It was the Annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Banquet and us and 1,500 other sporty Christians were on hand to applaud our dear friend “Prince Albert” Long.  Albert has just been honored on the National FCA Wall of Fame.  It being alphabetical, his picture is now next to Tom Landry at the FCA National HQ in Kansas City.

All around us were notables aplenty …. The Clyde Kings, The Bucky Waters, The Danny Lotzs, The Jim Branches, The Leon Tuckers, AJ Carr, Johnny Evans, Josh Hamilton.

I was reminded of a Peahead Walker story.  ….. Peahead and his wife were attending some fancy coaching dinner in New York.  Peahead looked around the room and asked Mrs Walker …. “How many great coaches do you think are in this room tonight?”  Without hesitation she replied …. “One less than you think, Peahead.” ….. I decided not to ask Mizzus how many sports greats were on hand Tuesday night.   Congrats to my dear amigo Albert Long …. An honor well-earned.

Oh, Bucky asked me to remind everyone that Albert Long was UNC’s last 4-sport letterman“.


   The post-game reports are in and indeed ….. “The Rockwells” were mugged last Saturday at Carter-Finley.  Most of you know this annual drill.  Each year at the State v Carolina game a fan family from the visiting team is officially set upon by a marauding band of blood thirsty hooligans representing “all those no-good classless thugs from the home team ….”

This year it was UNC family Norman & Norma Rockwell, their daughter Sweet Charity and young son Yankee Doodle plus their pet bunny Mr Freckles.  All the usual over-the-top sympathy components …. Church-going salt-of-the-earth family …. Norman had worked three extra jobs to afford the tickets …. Norma took in wash …. Little Charity needs a spleen transplant and Doodle just lost an eye on a Habitat for Humanity site from an errant nail gun.  Blah blah blah …. As always, they were set upon by “at least 30, maybe 40” NC State sponsored terrorists who committed atrocities too horrendous to recount …. Although Norma’s letter to the Daily Tar Heel did recount them.  The “letter after the fact” is always written to the DTH or Technician since student papers love to run with such inflammatory crap.

The “we was mugged” letter did include the disclaimer …. “We shoulda listened to BobLee and avoided F-Bomb Alley.”

As it always does …. The annual “we was mugged” letter incited lots of “lets go over yonder and GET’ those so and so’s” rhetoric from people who always react that way.  No one went over any where of course and it’s all over for another year ….. except more proof positive that “All ____ fans are abuncha ____!”    


   I did not expect the global impact of my “The Butch Thing” series.  I really thought most all of you knew how this all was destined to shake out  How it will continue to shake out.  If you stop guzzling that Old Well Kool-Aid for a minute it’s not hard to figure out.

The angry fan mob DEMANDED that the BOT go out and hire a Rock Star coach.  It HAD to be a “big name coach” because of all that “sleeping giant” crap.  Mix in an unhealthy dose of “sleeping giant” crap and a double dose of “everybody falls in love with Chapel Hill” silliness and you got yourself a humdinger of a recipe for a “what do we do now?” ….. you pay out the wazzu …. and keep paying out the wazzu until ____ .

I’m not going thru chapter and verse again.  Read the last 3-4 columns.  It is what it is …. Which is not at all what most Old Well hugging folks expected it to be.  He’s not a “bad guy” …. just a VERY expensive guy.

Butch and Jimmy Sexton WILL get the extra $$$ and the assorted perks Jimmy is demanding.  I just hope UNC decides to spread the fiscal pain around where it belongs.  The angry fan mob wanted a Rock Star.  The whiney children wanted a pony.  Their BOT daddies bought them a pony …. But the childen should have to feed the pony and clean up after the pony …. If the whiney children want to ride the pony to BCS glory.

Let the angry fan mob PAY FOR the Rock Star.  Three little letters – PSL …. instead of the Fat Cats writing more really big bail-out checks like they have done in the past ….. put the pain in the pocketbook of “the real fans”.  Personal Seat Licenses or LTRs as NC State calls’em mean Joe Fan contracts to pay up to $5,000 for “the opportunity” to purchase season tickets …. In addition to the rapidly increasing cost of the game ticket.  In further addition to Rams Club dues.

NC State fans ponied up at the height of Philip Rivers-mania.  According to UNCers, those no-account “Peckers” don’t even have real jobs to pay for those expensive “seat rights”.  Since all UNCers are so high falutin’ it should be nuthin to kick in a few thou each …. Right?

Lets see how Big Time Football looks when “the real fans (cough cough)” are paying for it.  Tell Clint Gwaltney to kick those tickets up from $40 to $60-65.  No pain, no BCS gain.  Yee Haa …. Everybody line up to pay $5,000 for the right to pay $400+ for one season ticket.  Hell, lets jack the concessions up too.  $8.00 bottles of water seems about right for “BCS water”.  Jimmy Sexton will probably get 3% of that $8.00 but, hey, we’re “Big Time”.

And of course Ol’ Roy and Anson and Sylvia and Mike are all standing around The Old Well asking “does anybody love us any more?”

To quote a former rival coach ….. welcome to “the fast lane”.


   I am not anti-Butch Davis.  I am simply fascinated watching Bill Friday’s Doomsday Warning play out as he predicted.  Raining frogs …. rivers of blood …. and Jimma Sexton …. just like Kindly Ol’ Bill predicted.  ….. The “gotta have a Rock Star” mania won out over other viable options.  I’ve known plenty of otherwise logical folks who find themselves “house-poor” or “car-poor” or “spouse-poor” …. UNC is finding itself “BCS-poor”.  

   Here’s a kicker …. who did Butch replace and “clean up after” at Miami?  Who is now 9-1 and a strong candidate for Coach of Year in a dramatic one year turnaround in Tempe AZ? ……. Dennis Erickson ! ……. huuummmmm.  Bus in the JuCos and feed raw meat to the Sun Devil loonies …..


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