The “Duke Being Good” Conundrum

November28/ 2013

Deal with it.  Duke Football is pretty darn good.  Not great but pretty darn good…. and not a fluke.  That’s a good thing for The ACC.   This Saturday’s Duke Comes To Kenan encounter is officially a very tough ticket despite being on national TV and on Thanksgiving weekend.  Go figger!

What could it all mean for FOUR fan bases?……. The incredible analysis that less astute others will pilfer and claim as theirs in the weeks to come.

The immediate stakes are well-known…… A division championship and historic 10 Ws for The Once-Woeful Wally Warriors.    A bowl upgrade (aka “Escaping Shreveport”) and recapturing of The Bell for The Surging Fedorians.  NOTE: I believe The Bell will indeed be recaptured and repainted around 3:30 Saturday but only after a humdinger of a game.

David Cutcliffe is the Sara Lee of coaches as in “…..but Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee”.   He is not brash Steve Spurrier or the profane Polak from South Chicago.  He is Good Neighbor David the legendary mentor of Peyton and Little Brother Eli.

He doesn’t spout dumb crap or let his players spout dumb crap. He turned down Knoxville mega-bucks to stay at The Gothic Rockpile in West Derm.  It’s 2013…. who does THAT?

He didn’t have to play Clemson or FSU (yet) but he played the schedule he was given with no more cupcakes than everyone else played.

He has built up the Duke roster player by player and actually has depth of talent in addition to more than a few kids who could start pretty much anywhere.  With the publicity Duke is getting, they might soon be able to compete nationally recruiting “Stanford-type kids”.

Of the four BCS schools known more for their academics – Stanford, Duke, Vanderbilt and Northwestern; Duke may now have jumped Northwestern and be tied with Vanderbilt behind only Stanford in terms of offering both a legitimate education as well as winning football.   OK, Duke’s roster is not over-loaded with brainiacs taking “real courses”.   Neither is Stanford’s.

There is a reason that TV player intros no longer give players’ majors.   No program can exist without convenient “eligibility majors” including Duke’s; but Coach Cut seems sincere in his in loco parentis appeal to prospective players’ families.  Archie trusted him with Peyton and Eli for a reason.

All Duke needs now is to blow-up & spruce-up The Wally.   Plans to radically upgrade that decrepit concrete mausoleum after next season will be a major impetus to the next decade of Duke Football.   Convert The Wally into “Cameron Outdoor Stadium” and it’s a very appealing package.

…… so what does that mean for other regional programs?

The Triangle is a very crowded sports market without Duke Football being good.   The hotly-contested rivalries are regional in nature and share a compact regional media market.   Only so much media-hype for X number of area programs.  Granted that traditional media now serves ever-dwindling niche audiences.

State v Carolina in Football is Lehigh v Lafayette to a casual fan in Sheboygan or Yuma, but it still means a lot in Gibsonville, Dunn, Henderson, Wilson, Wendell, Faison, Siler City, et al.

Duke v Carolina in BASKETBALL transcends this market but otherwise, we do what we do here under the Big Radar.   Recall that no one in Hickory’s Rotary Club has heard of Jennifer The Tutor.

Carolina & State have both enjoyed off-on periods of being pretty good in football if measured by regular invites to whozit bowls and players advancing to the NFL.   Games between the two have been on-field “thrillas” for sure with predictable sidebars of foolishness and bloviational stand-offs.

Larry Fedora & Company have shown to be solid in their two years.  Their November Surge against comparables proved their football acumen as measured against non-top twenty programs.   Circumstance now gives them a noticeable advantage in securing future talent to be more than just pretty good within The ACC’s upper tier.

Alas, the greater their success, the greater likelihood of a Fedorian exit to the next level.   Coach Cut, by comparison, ain’t going nowhere.

The growing concern is not “is Larry Fedora a very fine football coach?”.  He most definitely is.   But rather “is Larry Fedora too good and more than Carolina can afford in 2-3 more years” and then what?

DaveWho already makes $500,000/year more than Larry.   Ouch!  Bubba’s gotta resolve that somehow.

NC State’s football future is in TBD mode despite “the hope that ever springs eternal” within the hearts of it’s die-hards.  Bless their champagne wishes, caviar dreams and oft-broken lupine hearts.   DaveWho has, to be kind, stumbled out of the gate but he’ll have another coupla seasons to try on the mantle of Long-awaited Messiah Of The Carter before Frau drops her hammer.   He could “do it” or maybe not.   If only wishes made it so…..

Duke Being Good adds to The Plight of The Wuffs? They don’t go head-to-head but Duke W’s will be measured versus Wuff L’s.  And Cut is recruiting North Carolina more aggressively than his predecessors ever did.

The best hope for WuffNation could be for Larry Fedora to kick butt big-time the next two years then fly the Kenan coop for mega-bucks.   Each Fedorian victory hastening his inevitable exit… and UNC’s start-over again?

Oh the delicious irony of that quandary!!!

Meanwhile Ruff’s Purple People are moving back to the Eastern time zone for most of their games.   Wandering the wilderness of Conference USA is over.   They will be playing teams that most area fans have heard of at least.  TeamRuff obviously knows how to assemble players to fit his system and play exciting, crowd-pleasing, winning football.

Their documented success this year was not done “with mirrors” or by controversial ref calls or with hoodlums on work-release.   Ruff, like Cut, is in for the long term and a perfect fit for Dowdy-Ficklen.  In Coach Ruff, PirateNation may have its long-awaited messiah.

To the West….. Jim Grobe will win 4-7 games every year depending on injuries and without scandal or controversy.  A program that Deacon loyalists can be proud of; so long as being an upper tier ACC team is not their standard of measure.   Lightning struck once in 2006.  Maybe it will again.  Jim Grobe is also a “Sara Lee”.

Cut’s Wally Warriors may not, likely won’t, sustain 9-10 Ws seasons but a respectable consistent 7-8 Ws is not far-fetched at all.  Make The Wally a fun place to watch exciting football and look optimistically 4-6-8 years down the road.

So, does the long term football future looks brighter in Durham and in G-Vegas than it might in certain other high-profile regional venues?

Does having a stable proven-winner as one’s head coach trump bombastic fan bases, Blue Zones and board monkeys?

Stay tuned.  This should be “very interesting”.

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