Butch Davis & The Sunflower Kid

April22/ 2008

This is a column that might upset more than a few of you.  It’s going to get passed around and REALLY upset folks already predisposed to not care for BobLee too much.  So be it. … This is about Carolina’s pair of $2,000,000 Rock Stars – “Butch Davis & The Sunflower Kid”. 

(We all know “the rule”.  If “our” coach, our school, or our politician of choice makes a boo-boo, regardless of significance, it MUST be deleted from the daily news cycle immediately.  Any mention beyond 6 pt type on page 12 is “piling on”  and UNFAIR.  ….. If our opponent, however, gets a single verb syntax incorrect; then erect the tallest flagpole and let’er wave proudly forever.  Consider this “rule” as another one we disregard around here.)

It was an unfortunate confluence of THREE incidents that individually or even as just two of the three was worth about a ten-minute spirited debate among the Tar Heel faithful.  But, as a Trifecta, it has elevated to an unfortunate “perfect storm” and “the odd stuff that even mainstream fans never ever forget”.  Like hanging Dean in effigy …. Chris Washburn’s SAT score …. Coach K’s back surgery …. and Kevin Joyce out-jumping Lee Dedmon.

#1 – The Kansas Massacre of two weeks past was simply a nightmarishly bad game.  Every team and every coach has such at most inopportune times.  Cry a little, cuss a lot … then move on. 

#2 – “Sticker-gate” 48 hours later was simply an ill-timed trivial sentimentality that was never intended to irritate any one …. BUT IT CERTAINLY DID.  Perception trumps Intent every time on any public stage.

 #3 – Ol’ Roy’s predictably defiant “POPEYE” explanation  – I Yam What I Yam.  That would have been OK for either #1 or #2 but NOT for both.

   It was obvious that the UNC Ath Dept was catching MAJOR incoming heat for “massacre plus sticker-gate”. Within 48 hours they had young Adam Lucas churn out one of his patented Willie Wonka columns sprinkled with enough blue-powdered sugar to rot the teeth of every complaining Rams Clubber east of I-95.

 The “Sugar and Spice …. That Darn Roy Is So Gosh Darn Nice column sent the Tar Heel Loon Faction into predictable euphoria “like a herd of feral cats chasing a leaky milk truck”.  Adam’s list of apocryphal “That incredible Ol’ Roy works so gosh darn hard” stories was nothing short of embarrassing.   Yo Adam, EVERY one of the top 50 coaches in America works like that.  Ask their wives and children.  As for Roy’s charity involvement …. once again, EVERY one of the top 50 coaches has a similar involvement with tragic imponderables within their fan base including Petino, Calhoun, Self, and even Rosemary’s Other Baby.  Yes, tis true. That’s not to belittle Roy’s sincerity but rather to correct Adam’s naïvite that Roy Williams is somehow truly greater than all the rest.  

Roy is as successful as he is, and deservedly so, because he does what ALL very successful coaches do.  He works hard (and is paid lots of $$$ to do just that) …. Jeeezzzz. 

People who make $2,000,000/year based on quantitatively measured achievements tend to work very hard.  I know folks who make more than $2 Mill, and a bunch of folks who make less than $2 Mill who work incredibly hard and long hours, take few/no vacations and expect their families to simply understand that such is the price one pays for luxury creature comforts beyond the basics.  Goggle-eyed loonies and naïve young writers are perhaps not so attuned to the realities among high achievers.

    Adam Lucas, a very polite young man and a gifted writer, is paid by the University to lay it on thick and syrupy about UNC Athletics for Tar Heel Monthly and TarHeelBlue.com.  This is especially easy as, by his own recent admission, he knows absolutely nothing about any other program in college athletics. ….. Which is just fine with that faction of the UNC fan base that truly believes the sun rises and sets above The Old Water Fountain any way.

How universally well known is Ol’ Roy’s affection for KU?  The Tonight Show’s Jaywalking segment scored an all-time high of 98% correct answers when asking notoriously mindless pedestrians in Burbank …. “What school does Ol’ Roy Williams love 2nd best?”  Proving that when one says something 9,853 in the span of one week, most people do “get it”.  The previous highest correct response was in July ’06 when 13% of Jaywalkers correctly replied “mouth” to Jay’s question “what is just below your nose?”  


TRUE STORY …. Monday was my 10th annual appearance at Hootie & The Blowfish’s Monday After The Masters celebrity golf event at Myrtle Beach.  I had the opportunity to chat with two fellow celebrities.  (1) The Head Ball Coach at The Univ of South Carolina (and yes, he WAS wearing a visor!) …. and (2) The Choo Choo of KU – the legendary Gale Sayers.  Both were familiar with “sticker-gate”.

   Steve said he was watching the KU-Memphis game and when Roy popped up at halftime with the little jayhawk on his shirt, he remarked to Mrs Spurrier “Uh oh, he’s gonna catch hell for that.  When I got my tail kicked in ’96 by Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl I hid in the house for a week.  I did not show up grinning on national TV.  I irritate fans with crazy stuff I say or do …. but I just irritate OPPOSING FANS, not our own.  Fans have very long memories for stuff like that.”  

   Gale Sayers’ comment was “Yes, I know Roy and yes he made a mistake.  It’s been five years for heaven’s sake. What was he thinking?”


       I am on record for writing a collection of “I love Ol’ Roy” columns including one just last month.  I stand by every praise for the silly Huckleberry.  I’ve always considered his “fire, ready, aim” approach to the slightest criticism as kind of charming.  Of course I also got excited when I read the first report of a wild party at 610 N. Buchanan Blvd in Derm on March 13, 2006.  I like covering trainwrecks and predictably unpredictable individuals.  

Ol’ Roy is a coach that Forrest Gump’s Mamma would love.  Roy is “like a box of chocolates”.  You’re never sure what you’re gonna get but “something nutty” is the safe bet. ….. Roy Williams, facing public criticism, is (as earlier described) a boy, a rock and a plate glass window.  You just know there’s a crash coming. He yam what he yam ….

Several years ago the ACC signed an exclusivity agreement with Pepsi.  In exchange for lots of $$$$, the ACC agreed that Pepsi would be the only soft drink visible at official ACC functions including televised press conferences following games.  It’s not a difficult concept to understand. No Coca Cola logos PLEASE …. Period.  DUH!  The rawest rookie on a NASCAR pit crew understands product placement exclusivity.  It’s really not brain surgery!

Here comes Ol’ Huckleberry with his Coke can. ….. pssst, Coach, pour the coke in a cup.  Ditch the Coke can.  No biggie just do it.  KABOOM!  Ol’ Roy goes ballistic and gets all froggy about it.   No one cares if Roy drinks battery acid mixed with pig urine.  Just pour it in a blank cup.  And spare us that story about the dime on the window sill …. PLEASE!

For their mega $$$ Pepsi came across as the “heavy” as Ol’ Roy blurted out “I got to have my Coca Cola”.  Little Johnny Swofford had a catatonic seizure.  Manny being Manny …. Roy being Roy …. But it was not Roy that got his ears blistered by Pepsi. A $2,000,000 man needs better instincts than that.

 Prone to mistakes (duh!) Woody Durham heard 3rd hand that Coach K made a slam remark about “Roy using injuries as an excuse”.  Not bothering to confirm the source of the imaginary comment, “prone to mistakes Woody” gigged Ol’ Roy with the combustible non-quote on his radio show.  Roy went KABOOM AGAIN with his fiery “…. coach his own damn team” retort.  The UNC Lunatic Fringe swung from their tire swings in glee.  Someone finally checked.  Coach K NEVER said it.  Did Ol’ Roy do a public “my bad“?  Uh, No!  A $2,000,000 man needs better instincts than that.  

At $2,000,000/per Roy Williams is expected to consistently win a very high % of games and run an exemplary program void of embarrassing incidents.  High Salary = High Expectations!  He does that incredibly well as regards Ws and his players.  Roy might need a walk thru the Arboretum with an authority figure relative to controlling His increasing tendency to urinate in punch bowls at the gosh-darnedest times …. but what UNC authority figure is willing to put that bell on that cat?

The expected to know better bar is set a bit higher for the Roys of the world than they are for Little Cletus in Lillington (aka Ramalamma on “the board”) at his job as field technician for Roto-Rooter. Like me, Roy does not mind “offending” certain people but we don’t want to offend most people.

   What SHOULD Roy have done in the wake of “sticker-gate”?  By the end of the week it was obvious that fan base concern was WELL BEYOND just the “loonie fringe”.  He should have issued a short carefully worded statement to the effect of …. “I regret that my recent well-publicized support of KU has upset many Tar Heel fans.  That was certainly never my intent.  Had I anticipated this reaction I would have been much less overt in my actions.  Let me reassure all Carolina fans that …. Ol’ Roy is a Tar Heel born, a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I’ll be a Tar Heel dead …. Go Heels!” …. PERIOD.  (He could STILL do this on the Rams Club Tour, by the way)

   UPDATE:  Roy DID deliver a version of these comments at each Ram Tour event.  Not verbatim but close enough …. and with “NO BUT”.

   No “but ….” on the end.  Any apology that includes “but ….” is wasted.  Roy, like most proud men with egos, has a tendency to “show his ‘but’ (one “t”).  The above statement, delivered sincerely, would have (1) satisfied the solid mainstream fans …. and (2) confused the loonies who have no idea what “overt” means.  Appease the mainstream and confuse the “loonies = win – win.

  In addition to being a very fine coach, Ol’ Roy is an “odd duck”.  He will   probably “fire -ready – aim” again in the future.  I’ll discuss it when he does.  Because I, like Roy, “yam what I yam“.

   About 6-8 months ago, I wrote something in a column that upset some folks.  It was all true; regardless, it should not have been written.  I quickly deleted the offending comment acknowledging my thoughtlessness.  Come on Coach …. If BobLee can do it, so can you.  It’s “the right thing”.


   Any one else noticed that there are only FOUR Rams Club Spring Tour Stops coming up in late April?  Used to be 6-8-10-12 of’em, didn’t they?  How come it’s down to just four considering that The Pale Rider is DEMANDING $150,000,000 worth of facility upgrades ASAP if UNC expects him and his band of well-paid mercenaries to win more than four games/year and beat Duke by more than a 3” field goal miss.  

With Butch’s $290,000 “ransom bonus” ($73,000 per W!) still sitting uneasily in many Tar Heel craws; prehaps Jimma “The PuppetMaster” Sexton figures even more outrageous demands will get the “now what?” stack of outrageousness so high we’ll stop paying attention?  Jimma doesn’t know BobLee very well, does he?

Super-agent Dee-Lux “Jimma” Sexton says BCS Butch won’t do more than four meet & greets …. UNLESS he gets paid A LOT for any extra ones.  

  Is “a lot” like an extra slice o’ pie?  Yeah, right! “Jimma” don’t like pie and “Jimma” gets a slice of “extra $$$” that he finagles for Butch. 

  Do Butch & Roy share Cocoa Puff’s view that people in small towns are bitter, twisted and maybe even kinda re-tarded …?  Mingling with the Tar Heel untermensch is not Butch’s nor Roy’s preferred way to spend a spring evening.  Yucky yucky fans with their yucky yucky Internet …. YUCK! 

   $2,000,000 X 2 doesn’t buy “team players” but rather “rock stars”.  Welcome to the World of Rock Star Coaches Tar Heel Style 2008.

College booster club staffers have a very tough job.  The Rams Club is no exception. They catch hell for the slightest perceived insult to any donor regardless of modest level.  By declaring Hell no, we won’t go ….” the twin rock stars make that tough job that much tougher.

The Tar Heel yahoos out in the hinterlands don’t expect “Butch & Roy” every year just like the GGO doesn’t expect Tiger to show up each year.  But golly gee willikers how’sabout every 3-5 years.  The fine folks in Hickory and New Bern and Lumberton et al ante up their $$$ for Butch’s upgrade demands and don’t even get a cardboard cut-out of either of Carolina’s $2,000,000 men.  Sigh, sniff, sob.

It would be nice if Butch’s speech-in-a-can was not quite so generic.  I dare someone to ask Butch, on one of the upcoming “just FOUR” stops, what is the name of our alma mater song OR the name of the Confederate soldier statue in McCorkle Place.  The what … where?  

Unlike with Roy, I am NOT prepared to annoint Butch as more than a nicely-packaged mercenary who definitely knows how to build a football program but will never shed his “just here for the time being” status.

I simply can not OD on the Kool-Aid like many of you can do.  I buy my own UNC game tickets and I’ve never asked for, nor been offered, media privileges (aka free chicken fingers in the press box).  Preserving my right to be objective.  I am “a lifelong Tar Heel fan” and I appreciate a great deal about UNC Athletics; however ……… UNC has a pair of $2,000,000 rock star “emperors” parading down Franklin Street needing some wardrobe advice.  Their egos and their britches don’t seem to fit these days.


What is the significance of Roy as 

The Sunflower Kid


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