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The Wreck in the Hills

The Wreck in the Hills 12/20/07

It’s like riding past a particularly gruesome automobile accident. You know you shouldn’t look, but you just can’t help it. The fascination of what you might see overrides all sense of decency.

Such it is with the multi-car pileup that the situation in the Hills has become. The wreckage keeps accumulating and the chances are very good that there will be mangled bodies and careers at the bottom of it.

The messy divorce continues between Cousin Rich and those in charge of the state and university surrounding his first ‘dream job’. With Cousin Rich, it gets difficult to differentiate between ‘dream jobs.’ There seem to be quite a few.

The public relations battle has been joined with promises of the legal one just over the next Hill. Given the volatile nature of many in the clan up in the Hills, before it is over it may be necessary to send lawyers, guns and money. The lawyers are already involved about the money.

Salvos fired by those representing Cousin Rich claimed he didn’t really want to leave Dream Job #1 for Dream Job #2 since, after all, Dream Job # 1 was indeed Dream Job # 1. Cousin Rich, it is suggested, was only forced to consider Dream Job # 2 as a fallback position when that evil tightwad Fast Eddie wouldn’t pony up a measly $200k or so to fund picayune expenses such as allowing the players to sell their virtually unused textbooks to pocket a little cash [why do I get the feeling this is not a problem with Huggins’ program, where they are very likely selling said textbooks at the start of a semester?]. Throw in the tickets for high school coaches and what’s a loyal, Hills-loving and self-respecting football coach to do?

Leave, that’s what. That Dream Job #2 paid a lot more and happened to be a more prestigious job in a more prestigious conference than the Li’l E had nothing to do with it. It was the principle of the thing, by cracky. It wasn’t about the money.

It wasn’t about the money, except for the money involved in the $4 mil the contract signed by Cousin Rich for Dream Job #1 stipulates he owes the Cousins in the event of his leaving for Dream Job #2. This buyout was inserted after Cousin Rich Franked the Cousins last year with what must now be relegated to Dream Job #3 at Alabama. Cousin Rich doesn’t think he ought to have to pay the $4 extra-large. Who would?

The mouthpieces representing Cousin Rich claim the cash is not owed since that dastardly Fast Eddie didn’t live up to his end of the bargain by spending the measly $200k. This two hundred large was obviously the difference between that MNC long lusted after in the Hills and a loss to Pitt.

Faced with this PR offensive, one that enlisted some Fat Cousins who claimed that they would have gladly footed the bill to keep Cousin Rich happy, the top branches of the family tree in the Hills were quick to respond.

Fast Eddie, no doubt seeing his professional life flash before his eyes as the athletic department he is driving speeds towards that wreck on I-79, wasted little time getting out his side of the story. Fast Eddie, it seems, is just a poor mountain man trying to keep his athletic department fed, one that contained a few more mouths than those of the Jethro of the department, that, claimed Fast Eddie, was eating the Cousins out of house and Hill.

Fast Eddie was trying his best to keep Cousin Rich happy and the books balanced. This Herculean effort was not helped one bit by Cousin Rich’s habit of Franking him year after year. After all, one can only cut so many rifle teams to pump more cash into football. According to Fast Eddie, no matter what was done, Cousin Rich was in possession of an ego larger than any of the hills in the Hills and was going to leave anyway. Well, he did.

These are not the best of times for Fast Eddie. Taking the heat for losing an immensely popular coach does tend to create tough situations. Just because one might be paranoid doesn’t mean there aren’t people out to get one and the indications are there are some Fat Cousins out to get Fast Eddie. About the only way Fast Eddie is going to end up with his own neck intact is to make a football coaching hire that satisfies what is quickly becoming a fan base with divergent views on where to cast the blame. Hence we have Fast Eddie announcing that he will proceed with ‘all due deliberation’ to make sure he hires the right man for the job as he races with alarming alacrity to fill it. Lots of luck, Fast Eddie.

This does not appear to be a really good job. It is at a place with a modest athletic budget in a state that does not have a built-in recruiting base. The next coach is going to have to deal with all of that along with the sky-high expectations created by the success of Cousin Rich. Maintaining that success is going to be very difficult and won’t be made the least bit easier by what appears to be a scorched-earth policy towards Dream Job #1. Cousin Rich is treating the football program he left behind like Phil Sheridan treated the Shenandoah Valley.

Then throw in the Li’l E Effect. It is hard not to notice that of the four football championships that have been won since the Big East became the Li’l E, all three of the coaches who won them are now gone. Replacing the success of Walt Harris and This Little Piggy Petrino has proven daunting.

At Rutgers, Greg Schiano is still hanging around, despite his habit of Franking wood after each season. Well, he hasn’t won a championship yet. We will see how long he hangs around when JoePa is no longer wandering the sideline at Penn State, or that skinflint governor of New Jersey doesn’t fork over that $30 extra-large in taxpayers’ money for the stadium addition, or the Dorks’ administration quits slashing sports programs and academic classes to continue to pump money into his program.

Despite the skill of Mikey’s public relations mavens in claiming that the Li’l E remains a major football player, the bowls and television networks see it differently. So, it would seem, are the successful football coaches, who are escaping to a man. The Li’l E Effect is indeed taking effect. Are you sure you want that job, Bud? That is even if the Cousins would give it to someone 1] from those Virginia Tech bastards and 2] if he wins, likely to leave in a few years for what for Bud would remain Dream Job #1. While it does look a lot like Bud has been told that the next coach at Virginia Tech will be one with prior head-coaching experience and if Bud wants to be him he had better acquire some on someone else’s dime, this might not be the place to get your feet wet.

The A-Line would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. See you in Miami

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