The A-Line It is what it is, unless it is not
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2005
22
Aug

The Power of Blue

The hits just keep on coming from Hooville. It has been a crackerjack year sports-wise on Mr. Jefferson’s Grounds. The spiritual descendents of TommyJ have developed quite a flair for comedy. There must have been some lost manuscripts of Poe’s dug up from the Lawn that indicate that old Eddie was not only a master of the macabre, but slapstick as well. The Hoos are keeping us all in stitches as they bound from one madcap adventure to another. They have finally hit their zenith with a summer blockbuster.

Hoo AD Craig Littlepage had cut his comedic teeth on stand-up, polishing his act in rooms such as the conference one at ACC headquarters, where one-liners like “Dr. Casteen will not hold up an ACC expansion that does not include Virginia Tech” left fellow ACC AD’s pounding the table in laughter. He then moved on to song and dance, playing to a packed Bulls and Bears Club, dazzling the crowd of Main Street Richmond Hoo millionaire lawyers with a tap dance accompanied by a stirring rendition of “Brother, can you spare a few million to finish Terry’s arena?” that had them jostling each other out of the way to toss coins into the tin cup held by Craig. Since then it has been on to bigger and better things.

The year started with ‘Dead Petey Walking,’ proving Littlepage to be the master of black comedy. Then came the sidesplitting ‘Waiting for Tubby’ immediately followed by a version of ‘Hiring Ricky’ adapted for Hooville. The best was saved for last. Late last week the Hoos announced amid much fanfare Craig’s latest adventure in hilarity, ‘algroh’s Millions.’ Eat your heart out, Mel Brooks.

Yes, algroh has received a huge raise, having his pay doubled to $1.7 extra-large. I bet he is the first coach to be so richly rewarded for walking off the blue field in Boise a loser. Most schools set their sights a little higher than a loss in the Potato Bowl, but that obviously is not the Hoo way.

We all remember the last time the Hoos laid out big bucks for a coach who had achieved modest success. Petey got immediately to work trashing the Hoo basketball program, not resting until he had them at rock bottom, last place in the ACC. Given the Hoos’ track record in handing out big contracts, one does have to wonder when Vegas will establish an over/under for the number of years before Craig is again asking Carl Smith to cut another buy-out check.

Littlepage flashed his trademark humor in announcing algroh’s fat raise, saying, “We believe we have a coach with a unique set of credentials…” That’s one way of putting it. algroh’s inventing of the NFL is certainly a head-turner. So was the braggadocio displayed when the Great NFL Legend was hired, when algroh pronounced himself smarter than either Bobby Bowden or Frank Beamer. algroh promised the Hoos the MNC; so far he has delivered Boise. It would seem that a track record matters little to Littlepage. His statement of “We think that we’re headed in the right direction” indicates that north by northwest is acceptable.

Of course, whether algroh actually backs up all of his big talk doesn’t seem to matter to algroh’s Idiots. They love him and remain willing to stick their faces into the nearest fan whenever he beckons. It is always that way for algroh, one of the most beloved figures in the history off football. He has always engendered great affection, such as the loving tributes paid here by players coached by algroh when he was an assistant under Bill Dooley at North Carolina. Yep, they really liked the Urinator at Carolina.

BTW, that page is part of a site dedicated to former Carolina coach Bill Dooley in his days before he decided there was only room for one coaching legend in Blue Heaven and it wasn’t going to be him, leaving for Blacksburg to bankrupt the entire Tech athletic department. There are lots of names there from Tech’s football history, such as Billy Hite, the late Pat Watson and my old Buddy Tom Fletcher. Over the years I have discovered that there are quite a few assistant football coaches who share my fondness for sitting around bars talking football, especially bars in fairly close proximity to Hargrave. Tom was the first with whom I made that discovery. But I digress.

The big raise awarded to algroh for losing on the blue field is having repercussions being felt at the state’s other Division I-A football program, the one where blowing the Potato Bowl is not considered grounds for a doubling of salary. Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer is currently in negotiations with jimmy for a new contract. Uh-oh, here we go again.

Frank used the occasion of the release of ‘algroh’s millions’ to curry favor for his new deal. The Tech coach claimed that no new agreement would be signed until sufficient monies were pried out of jimmy to pay for raises for the staff. Frank vowed not to accept a nickel of that $800k raise for himself until pay envelopes of his assistants were fattened by $20k or so per man and their collective salaries amounted to at least half his own. Apparently, this is the way to generate loyalty among one’s staff, as nobody ever leaves Frank’s employ unless ordered to by the Vick family.

That more salary for the staff is even a topic of conversation during contract negotiations could be considered yet another struggle between the two dominants for Alpha Male status in the Athletic Department. We know who won that one five years ago. Frank might not have a lot of leverage with which to frank jimmy this time around.

I’m sure Frank’s natural impulse at contract renewal time is to give Chapel Hill a call, or Boston, or Atlanta, or any of the other places he has dallied with in order to obtain more for his Tech program. That might not work this time. For one thing, I seriously doubt DickieB would even pick up the phone. Big John Bunting did get the Heels to a bowl game last year, and did it on a salary that is considered coordinator’s money at Tech. The Charlotte game provided a nice interlude for the Carolina fans before Roy got down to the really serious business over in Dean’s dome and will keep them happy until the next time they lose to State, coached by somebody also making a heck of a lot more $$$ than Big John. Somehow I doubt DickieB would send another plane to Blacksburg. I also find it hard to believe that after what happened in 2000, any other athletic director is going to risk being made as big a fool as DickieB came across. That would seem to limit Frank’s ability to frank.

Any ‘negotiations’ being conducted in Jamerson is simply the athletics equivalent of chest thumping by silverback gorillas. After a suitable display of aggression, jimmy will concede domination of the habitat, sign off on the raises and harmony will again reign in the troop. There is no Mickey, Minnie or Minnis Mouse around to gum up the works this time around, either. Tech fans should worry a lot more about State’s defense.

When the Tech coaches receive their raises, ranging from the modest to the Franktastic, they should ponder the events that led to the extra cash. The series of comedies produced by Craig Littlepage this year along with the media play the last received at exactly the time Frank was in contract negotiations will have provided some support. A bowl loss by the Hoos on the blue field of Boise will have indirectly resulted in the Tech coaches getting raises. The zany antics of Craig Littlepage and the Hoos are good for more than just laughs.

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