I had a heckuva fun column all written in my mind late Saturday afternoon. The previous 24 hour had been a certified hoot (you know I do love Hoots!). BUT ….. as you and even your crazy old Aunt Clara probably know by now – Ol’ Man Usta Is Dead & There Is a Brand New ACC. Ergo a SPECIAL Double-BLSays.
I started getting “BobLee, what do you think about all this?” emails before I had gulped my first coffee Sunday. I’ll tell you what I think and in keeping with tradition – I might surprise you.
As of 7 PM Friday I had a seat “on the 45 – North Side – Row II amid Kenan’s pines”. For an overcast Fall Saturday that is “high cotton territory”. The cotton was fixin’ to get A LOT higher real quick.
Our old timey phone only rings for telemarketers and political pollsters. Except for Blondie’s mamma ….. and a certain scrappy little linebacker from Dooley’s Days.
“Hey BobLee, howsabout joining me tomorrow IN THE BLUE ZONE?” There it was – an official invite to Kenan’s much maligned Holiest of Zones. Scrappy little linebacker is a pal of 40 years so I would joined him in a I-95 Truckstop for pickled eggs had that been the invite. No “pickled eggs” in THE BLUE ZONE.
We met at The BellTower as it was Former Lettermens’ BBQ Day. No sooner had we commenced to catch up than two certified Tar Heel “hosses” walked up …. galloped woulda been more appropriate as it was #23 from Garden City and #44 aka “The Space Cowboy”. Their total career rushing yardage end to end woulda stretched from The Bell Tower to just outside Gibsonville. #23 knows BobLee and scrappy little linebacker always liven up a party so he pulls out two for THE FREAKIN’ POPE BOX for us. An embarrassment of riches for sure.
We decided to do 1st half in THE BLUE ZONE and 2nd half in THE FREAKIN’ POPE BOX. Yes, there are starvin’ children in Rawanda but no way could we get these tickets and the free food to’em in time.
OK, OK; I know you wanna know about that ACC crap. Chill!
THE BLUE ZONE is NICE. The lounge is spacious …. the Gameday buffet is complimentary and yummy …. all the hospitality folks are very hospitable ….. the stadium seats are cushiony …. and yes, there are Cupholders. Some had wondered about that. I set my cup in one. I cannot imagine a single appropriate creature comfort that is not at hand. There’s just one itty bitty teeny tiny problem …………. IT’s IN THE FREAKIN’ END ZONE! If you’ve been to Kenan lately you already knew that. Hard to miss that fact. Linebacker and I solved that problem. POPE BOX here we come.
Negotiating the security checkpoints and elevators (and getting our 3rd wristband of the day) we arrived just as the roast beef ran out ….. but another steamship round quickly arrived. Saying another small prayer for the starvin’ Rawandans we had our third opulent buffet of the afternoon.
No sooner did the linebacker and I walk in to the penthouse suite than all kinda Pope Boxers commenced to swarm us. Three former All Americans wanted my opinion on issues of the day and scrappy linebacker kept saying “Yes, I am Ricky Packard.” This would not be a 100% friendly crowd. I am a Man of Controversy of late as a public supporter of a certain administrator who was at that moment one level below us in The Chancellor’s Box. A few “evil eyes” peered at me but there were no incidents. Ricky whispered “BobLee, I got your six”.
Four different people told me that Butchie was at the game as the VIP guest of deep-pocketed oil transport tycoon – Don Stallings of Rocky Mount. Not the guest of BOTBob and not in the Freakin’ Pope Box. I already knew that but appeared surprised.
We took our penthouse seats smack dab “on the 50” for the 2nd half. Ricky & I were by ten years the youngest guys within 50’ except for two teenage girls there with their granddaddy. The Pope Box attracts a seasoned crowd. Each seat comes with oxygen plugs and a catheter tube. But it is ON THE FIFTY.
Are seats on THE 50 better than seats IN THE END ZONE? They ARE. The free food and hospitality are equal – both superb – but seats on THE 50 are better. Little Ricky and I know that for a fact because we enjoyed both this past Saturday amid Kenan’s lofty pines.
Meanwhile Life as we know it was forever changing at Grandover – in the office of ACC Commiss Little Johnny Swofford.
BobLee, is everybody you know nicknamed “Little _____”? No, just Ricky and Johnny. I don’t know Little Richard or Little Jimmy Dickens.
The ACC just avoided being “buggy whipped” and drowning in the grand tsunami headed straight at College Athletics. Assimilating the addition of Pitt and Syracuse to The ACC is all a matter of how you deal with the inevitability of change.
If you still bitch about the designated hitter ….. long baggy shorts …. fiberglass pole vaulting poles ….. and shopping malls being open on Sunday – aka The Lord’s Day. Then you probably aren’t thrilled about this latest change either.
Dr Danny does not own a cell phone or a computer. I will see him on Thursday. He does not embrace change well. He won’t like this at all. That said ……
I, BobLee, believe the addition of Pitt and Syracuse to The ACC IS AN EXCELLENT DECISION for 2011. I applaud Little Johnny and whoever were part of the decision process. They got it right. I went so far as to give my proxy to Holden late Saturday night.
I’ve made 368 jokes about “that valuable Boston market” and now we add “those valuable Syracuse and Pittsburgh markets”. But times are achanging faster than Bullet Bob Hayes on a fly pattern.
(NOTE: That scream you just heard was Blondie yelling that “Mags Bennet” just won an Emmy for her role in Justified – THE BEST show on TV. “Coach Taylor” from Friday Night Lights also won one.)
Pitt & Syracuse are PERFECT additions to the ACC at this time in the rapid evolution of college FB & BkB. While both schools have tremendous “traditions” in football, the glory days of Dan Marino, Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Larry Csonka and even Donovan McNabb are ‘yesterday’s traditions”. Fan bases are stubborn and hold on to such halcyon memories for centuries.
The epicenter of Big Time college football is The SEC and a handful of other “superpowers”. They will cherry pick the thug-aletes (the Marvins & McAdoos) and the rest of us will make do with the left-overs. Hopefully mostly semi-legitimate student-athletes. I’m fine with that. Many of you won’t be.
Pitt and Syracuse will offer solid competition for whatever ACC schools are left after the mad scramble is done in the next few months. At least two current ACC schools will, I predict, be elsewhere when the dust settles. Perhaps UConn and Rutgers will also be added. That will be OK too, all things considered. The ACC’s future is to the North. Not to the South.
Until Boeheim retires, Syracuse and Pitt are automatically two of the best five basketball programs in a once-proud league now reduced to UNC, Duke and the rest. How to schedule all this in a way that makes sense will be resolved and debated ad infinitum by the denizens of Board MonkeyWorld.
Hopefully ECU ends up in a revised “East” which isn’t “Big” any more. TCU will never play a single FB game as an “East” member. TCU will end up in some revised Big 12 assemblage as they should be.
Many of you will not agree with my opinion of this Big Deal. Many of you don’t agree with other opinions I’ve had recently. I’m OK with that. I hope you are too.
ANOTHER NOTE: UNC will release an official report today (Monday) that will propose restrictions on itself for “all that stuff that Don Stallings’ buddy, Butchie, knew nothing about”. Wink, nod, barf …..
Even if UNC proposes The Double Death Penalty on itself (it won’t) it is a GUARANTEE that every ABC bottom-feeder on Earth will be howling that “UNC is getting off easy because _______”. And that “the N&O is covering for them” ….. And that “Dean Smith is The AntiChrist” ….. And that “no two snowflakes are alike”.
The self-imposed penalties don’t really matter but ABCers don’t need a real reason to howl and declare “we’re being cheated AGAIN”. The sun rising in the East will usually set them off.
There will be a New Rimshots late Wednesday. A lot will happen ‘tween now and then. Courage my friends!