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Fun and Games

These continue to be great amusement to be found in college athletics. Within the last few days, we have seen chaos erupt in the Hills and David Cutcliffe decide to end his coaching career. And how about that hilarity in Hooville?

By now, it should go without saying that college coaching is a sleazy business populated in part by a collection of sleazy characters. What is amazing is that the behavioral bar keeps getting pushed lower. Just when you think the antics of a Butch or Nick Saban have dragged things down as far as possible, along comes some more guys willing to trench it out and plumb deeper.

Bobby Petrino finally decided that things just weren’t working out in Atlanta. Well, these things happen when your star quarterback shows up in court wearing prison stripes. Thankfully for Petrino, his decision to make a run for coincided with the rank inability of the Marshal Joffre of AD’s, Arkansas’ Jeff Long, to fill his coaching position.

Just hours after assuring Falcons’ owner Arthur Blanks that he would be with him for the long haul and faster than you can say ‘will the defendant please rise,’ Petrino was calling hogs in Fayetteville. This Little Piggy Petrino saw no need to inform his players that he was running out on them, instead having some flunky tape ‘Adios’ messages to their lockers. It was a nice touch of class.

This Little Piggy Petrino hogging the Arkansas job produced great chagrin among the handful of ACC coaches who had not yet used Jeff Long to leverage themselves a nice raise. If this had gone on much longer, I half-expected Frank to Frank again for old times’ sake and try to get involved. No doubt Frank’s agent has some explaining to do.

For all of the swinish behavior exhibited by This Little Piggy Petrino, Cousin Rich topped it a few days later. Barely a year after declaring that he would be the coach of the Cousins ‘forever,’ Cousin Rich bolted Motown for Michigan. Forever turned into fifty-three weeks.

This was not the first time Cousin Rich had Franked the Cousins. He had toyed with the Alabama job a year earlier, receiving a nice raise to remain in the Hills. An emotional Cousin Rich had then reaffirmed his loyalty to the Hills, claiming that he would finish his career there. Apparently the television cameras had cut the short the statement, right before Cousin Rich exclaimed, ‘unless I do not.’

While it can be claimed that Cousin Rich was doing nothing more than the same as tens of thousands of his fellow WVU alums, which was use their degree to get out of that miserable place. There is the loyalty matter. Cousin Rich showed a rather remarkable lack of it. To anybody.

It seems that there were none of the usual courtesies extended here, such as the Michigan AD informing his Cousins counterpart Fast Eddie Pastilong of his intentions. Cousin Rich didn’t seem to let anybody in on the secret. His assistant coaches had no clue, nor his players or anybody else. Cousin Rich did take a few seconds before leaving to actually tell his players he was running away and, BTW, good luck in the Fiesta Bowl. When your coach shows up at a team meeting carrying luggage, it’s probably not a good sign. Nice guy, huh?

Well, it should be noted that Cousin Rich didn’t leave everybody in the dark. While he couldn’t be bothered to tell his bosses or staff what he was up to, Cousin Rich did find the time to call his star recruits to encourage them to renege on their WVU commitments and join him in Ann Arbor. Enjoy, Wolverines. One thing is for sure: there will be a short learning curve for Cousin Rich in how to lose high-stakes end-of-season games to your big rival.

Rich Rod leaving home produced the predictable results among the excitable set that generally populates the Cousins’ message boards. While there were the cries of ‘traitor’ posted with the venom previously reserved for those times when the words ‘Virginia Tech’ popped up, there were a couple of posts wondering if Fast Eddie was not to blame for Cousin Rich heading for low ground.

Some might recall Cousin Rich’s first trip to Tech back in 2002. Newspapers in the Hills carried many quotes of Cousin Rich marveling at Tech’s facilities and how much he would like to have them. It should also be noted that while Franking the Cousins last year, Cousin Rich made a very big deal about facility improvements he had demanded and supposedly received.

It is also fairly-well known that with the Tech-Cousins series ended until at least some time in the twenty-third century, even longer if Bud’s attempts to attach himself to the familty tree bear any fruit, the Tech and WVU staffs made nice with a visit to Tech. Cousin Rich apparently wanted further instruction in Franking from the master, Frank. I’m sure he enjoyed the tour of Merryman and found Frank’s office especially plush. Cousin Rich would have gone back to the Hills with all sorts of neat ideas about sprucing up the Puskar Center.

Fast Eddie responded by announcing a new training facility for new basketball coach Bob Huggins. It would cost millions, although some savings could be realized when Huggins immediately cut from the plans a study hall. Cousin Rich was told the football improvements would be scaled back a bit and implemented as the financially challenged Cousins could afford them. I guess Cousin Rich sure showed them.

While the ‘Sleazeball Alert’ went up in Fayetteville and Ann Arbor, a little closer to home a decidedly lower profile football job was filled. David Cutcliffe announced that he would be ending his coaching career in four years by taking the Duke job. Hopefully he got assurances from Fulmer that he would be hired back like he was after the Ole Miss gig.

Once again, Duke tries again in football. Hopefully, Cutcliffe got assurances from Lackey Joe in writing concerning the improvements to that dump Wallace Wade Stadium. Those same assurances never quite seemed to materialize for Carl or Ted. Cutcliffe said all of the right things, much like Carl and Ted did and Barry and Mike and the two Steves before them. Cutcliffe even requested and was granted an audience with Coach K. This most unusual acknowledgement by Coach K that Duke even has a football program perhaps means that things will change, but it will be believed when seen.

Finally, there is little joy in Hooville. Tech’s latest smackdown of the Hoos seems to have resulted in a lot of bitter little people running around town without their muzzles.

Frist there was Hoo radio voice Mac McDonald claiming on the postgame radio Hoo Bitch Line that the reason Tech won all of the time was that Frank cheated. To get the ‘real scoop,’ listeners were invited to call Mac. The first ten thousand would receive a free Gator Bowl ticket.

That prompted a quick response from Doug Doughty, the Hoo beat writer for the Roanoke Times, a Hoo alum himself and a guy who makes no secret of his disdain for algroh. Doughty pointed out that if Frank was cheating, he sure seemed to be hiding it well. Doug also claimed that the real reason Frank was treating the Great NFL Legend like large prison inmates are likely now treating MV Classic is recruiting. algroh’s something other than warm and engaging personality has so irked Virginia high school coaches that increasing numbers want nothing to do with him. Virtually writing off in-state recruiting is not exactly how one goes about building the powerhouse of which algroh used to brag.

On the heels of Mac’s demonstration of why Tech’s Bill Roth wins all of those Sportscaster of the Year awards in the state was a really funny exercise in sour grapes from Jerry Ratcliffe, a sports columnist for the Daily Hoo. Ratcliffe’s vitriol was aimed at Hoo president Dr. Casteen. Like a five-year old throwing a temper tantrum at his parents for not buying them something, Ratcliffe teed off on Dr. Casteen, blaming him for allowing those poor relation Hokies into the ACC along with what Tantrum Jerry considered the ultimate in accursed Tech-love, the pre-game ceremony in the Smithsonian honoring the victims of 4/16.

Ratcliffe seemed to think that the Hoos should have been giving an award to Cho instead of Bruce Smith. How do those sour grapes taste, Jerry? One expects to find the worst loons on the message boards, not in the radio booth or writing for the hometown newspaper.

Once again Doughty was quick on the keyboard. I get the feeling he is really enjoying this. Unlike Ratcliffe’s venting his spleen on his computer screen, Doughty got in touch with Hoo AD Craig ‘Tubby, how about you hiring me?’ Littlepage. Taking time out from begging Hoos to buy Gator tickets, hawking his ‘Buy one get one free offer’ and peering over the stacks of them on his desk, Craig claimed he saw nothing wrong with any of the pre-game ceremonies that seemed to so infuriate the bitter little Ratcliffe. I can’t wait for the next column.

What did seem to really bother Littlepage, other than being stuck with algroh for yet another year [can’t seem to make up your mind, eh, Craig?], were the thousands of Hokies that found their way into the Smithsonian, again. How many times have we heard THAT in the thirty-seven years since the series was renewed? Craig didn’t appear too pleased with those Hoo season ticket holders who sold or gave their ducats to Tech fans, as they always do. Griping about your fans is certainly an excellent way of softening them up for that reseating of the Smithsonian, Craig.

And so it goes in sports. There are all sorts of things to keep us amused as we wait for bowl season and some warm Miami weather. This is fun.

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