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A Weekend of Cooking and Sports

The decompression from football season continues. There is life after Tech football for another year. It involves gourmet cooking, that ‘other’ brand of football, the staple of ACC basketball and lots of radio and television. Actually, it is not a bad way to soldier on.

Saturday mornings find me arising almost as early as necessary on Gameday. These January early weekend risings have me traveling to Durham for cooking class rather than Blacksburg for Tech football. After the most recent, I can no longer claim that I have never once in my life flambéed anything. The class teacher, a professional chef, seems to take his craft entirely too seriously, not appreciating my suggestion that instead of wasting good alcohol, lighter fluid be used instead. Somehow I cannot imagine Clota dumping a liter or so of Wild Turkey into a dish. Then again, a recipe that includes ‘after the flames die out’ might not be suitable for a tailgate.

The class ending at one pm and a packed house at my favorite Durham watering hole meant that the first half of Duke and Georgetown was listened to one the radio while driving north on route 86. Bob Harris of the Duke radio network is not exactly what one would call an unbiased observer. He and childhood pal Woody Durham have been vying for over thirty years for ‘Biggest Homer’ status in the Old North State. Needless to say, Bob was not thrilled with the game. Herbert Morrison describing the explosion and crash of the Hindenburg conveyed only a slightly greater sense of tragedy.

I bet few of the dukies saw this one coming. I doubt many of the True Blue glanced over the schedule at the start of the season and opined, “You know, I bet we get our first loss at Georgetown .” This is what happens when an athletic team can spread the floor on Duke and attack the Devils’ chief weakness, lack of quickness. It will likely be exploited again.

The Wake Forest-NC State game was only consumed in snatches, as it conflicted with my preparations for the consumption of dinner. The Teacher is certainly getting her money’s worth in those cooking classes. The tuna steaks with wasabi sauce and steamed asparagus seemed to go over well, as did the mustard vinaigrette on the spinach salad that was whipped up during the final two minutes of the Deacs and Pack. The flavor of the Bananas Foster was likely enhanced by using rum instead of lighter fluid.

Chris Paul may be gone from Wake but his spirit lives on. I shall await the brouhaha that erupts from Justin Gray reacting to the loss by flinging his chewing gum into the crowd at the Pork Palace , striking a State fan in the face. That would seem to make giving the finger to a bunch of WVU sister-lovers a hoot. I’m sure the ACC media does not want to appear to be applying a double standard.

The couple of hours between the end of State and Wake and the Tech-Maryland game proved to be enough time for dinner. A tip of the hat must be given to Little Johnny’s crack broadcast executives. It is the little things such as taking into consideration my dinner plans that really make the difference. Nobody in Mikey’s Big East ever took my plans into consideration. ESPN showing Syracuse and Villanova at six certainly made the decision to turn off the television an easy one.

The first half of Tech and the Terps was certainly good for digestion. Unfortunately, they played the second. So much for my hope that the first Tech basketball game seen by the Teacher since her final cheerleading one back in 1975 would provide the impetus for that first ACC win. The 0-fer continues.

As has often been the case during what is rapidly becoming a lost basketball season for Tech, the Hokies played hard and relatively well, then wore down as the game progressed. They do not have the horses. It is interesting to note, and somewhat disquieting, that Seth did not recruit a suitable replacement for Carlos Dixon. That he could not replace a player recruited by Ricky Stokes is not a positive sign.

Wynton Witherspoon, who seems to contribute one solid game every dozen or so, has not been a factor since the decision was made that he would not take a medical red-shirt. As Seth gripes on the radio about lack of production from the ‘3’ you really have to wonder about the wisdom of that decision.

The glaring ‘3’ problem will not be addressed any time soon. The most pressing need from the next recruiting class is the guy who didn’t qualify academically. That brings Seth’s substandard recruiting front and center.

One tokes player is gone and not adequately replaced. The two best players on this team are Coleman Collins and Jamon Gordon, both also Stokes recruits. The sixth man Markus Sailes was provided by Ricky. Seth’s contributions have been Zabian Dowdell, certainly a warrior but a guy that combines for a mis-matched backcourt with no true point guard, thus making it tough to maximize Collins. Deron Washington has a ton of athletic ability but thus far has been unable to harness it into a solid basketball framework. AD Vassallo lacks speed and quickness, what will be a serious liability in the ACC. The rest of Seth’s recruits are guys taken out of desperation or no longer on the team. Seth Greenberg has the toughest recruiting job in the ACC, but he simply has to step things up. Munson and Witcher are both going to have to contribute. In a little over a year, the last of Stokes’ recruits will be out of the program. Unless recruiting gets a lot better in a hurry, a repeat of the mess Greenberg left behind at Directional Florida will be at hand.

Sunday brought both NFL football and ACC basketball. The NFL might not be the most interesting football played, particularly when they offer up a couple of games something other than close, but it was the only game in town, or on the tube.

It was interesting watching the Steelers play what Tech fans call the Bud Foster Defense. The Steelers probably call it something else. Jake Plummer certainly called it trouble.

A few years ago Mick Mixon, the radio voice of the Carolina Panthers, wrote on a Carolina propaganda Web site that having the Panthers in the Tar Heel state was not a good thing. This was, of course, written when Mick served as Woody’s sidekick, struggling to get a word in edgewise alongside the loquacious Durham . I suspect Mick’s attitude towards the value of the Panthers has evolved a bit since.

He will certainly have time to reflect on it, as the Panthers’ season came to a screeching halt in the Pacific Northwest . It is hard to win when you have only one offensive weapon and the Panthers did not, or even come close.

Onetime partners Woody and Mick found themselves competing against each other on the radio dial. It certainly was a programming genius that decided to place the Panthers-Seahawks directly opposite the Tar Heels and Florida State . The strain on the batteries of remote controls around the state was lightened by Seattle blowing the Panthers out early. That made for an easier decision to watch Carolina the ‘U of’ make a strong comeback against the ‘Noles and steal a win. It also meant that the opening minutes of ‘Deadwood’ did not have to be missed. The Panthers were still losing badly after the Tar Heels came back and won and things were no better when Mrs. Garrett opened ‘Deadwood’ with a bout of morning sickness. Woody was a lot more excited than Mick or Al.

It was a weekend with no Tech football, as there will be until the Spring Game. Four basketball games and two NFL ones did fill the void, as did the Bananas Foster. Things will perk up this week when Duke travels to Tech accompanied by personal shill Dick Vitale. More on DickieV’s first trip to Cassell later.

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