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Other Things

Other Things


It was another quiet Alderson’s Birthday. Once again, as I do every February 13, I arose and quickly checked the day’s calendar to determine what events and celebrations I would be attending to mark the holiday. Once again, I discovered there were none. After several decades, I am starting to get the idea that perhaps the rest of the civilized world does not approach Alderson’s Birthday with the same sense of joyous observance as I. But no matter.

With time on my hands and not wishing to spend it contemplating what the long-term implications of my inexorable passage from my mid-to late fifties involve, I found other ways to spend the day. There was no Tech basketball, as the ACC schedule makers, perhaps with Alderson’s Birthday in mind, had given Tech the week off to spend both celebrating the day and considering ways to combat Seth’s traditional February Fade, otherwise known as and heralded by the time NC State shows up on the schedule.

There was the news. There were all sorts of interesting items. The biggest involved some hearings taking place on Capitol Hill. I watched not the first second of them, but it was fairly difficult to watch any news program and not be badgered by them. I really could care less who was lying to the greatest assemblage of liars ever brought together under one roof, the United States Congress. There was amusement to be found in the Congressional liars accusing witnesses of lying. They certainly should be able to spot them.

There was also the spectacle of the odious toad Henry Waxman conducting a press conference to bemoan the lack of integrity in organized baseball. This seemed to be quite a change of heart for the slimy Waxman, last seen assuring the masses that lying was no big deal and an utter lack of solid character had no bearing whatsoever on one’s ability to be President of the country as long as the lying shady character was a member of Waxman’s own political party.

The opportunity to preen before television cameras seemed to stir in Waxman a righteous indignation not seen since he determined there were millions to be made off of tobacco companies. That expressing moral outrage that Roger Clemens might have been juicing his fastball with something a little more sophisticated than the usual Vaseline might seem an odd thing for Congress to involve itself and was; the main purpose seemed to be Waxman grabbing an opportunity to hog the national limelight. The sooner the whole ‘steroids thing’ blows over the sooner the reptilian Waxman will slither back under the nearest rock and the better off we will all be.

On another news front, it was very difficult not to laugh out loud at the expressions of shock and disbelief on the faces of officials at Indiana University when informed that their basketball coach Kevin Sampson was behaving like Kevin Sampson. Exactly what sort of behavior were the IU folks expecting when they hired Sampson in the first place?

That Sampson would wait at least a couple of months following his getting his fingers caught on the cell phone at Oklahoma before resuming the exact same practice at Indiana after being expressly forbidden by the NCAAA appeared to have been a little too much to ask.

Indiana AD Rick Greenspan pronounced the immediate resumption by Sampson of making illegal recruiting phone calls “No big deal,” a view not shared by the NCAA, which stated that Sampson and his staff failed to meet the “generally recognized high standard of honesty” expected in college sports. Given that Sampson’s coaching career has seemingly been dedicated to failing to meet the “generally recognized high standard of honesty” expected in college sports, the correct response by Greenspan to the allegations should have been, “Well, duh.” Apparently to Greenspan, ‘no big deal’ meant that Sampson had made only 100 or so illegal recruiting phone calls, a small number compared to the 500+ he made at Oklahoma. Well, it was early in his tenure with the Hoosiers.

For his part, Sampson declared, “I have never intentionally provided false or misleading information to the NCAA.” This is true, as he has always seemed to be fairly up front about his cheating. Sampson’s response did seem to be a bit more dignified than, “Damn, caught again.”

Closer to home, there was the Mickey Matthews story. The football coach at JMU had provided a fine example of Franking as he Franked a raise out of Dukes’ AD Jeff Bourne. It has been difficult not to notice that closeness has been developing between the coaching staffs at JMU and Virginia Tech.

The most obvious instance had been Matthews’ former assistant Kurt Newsome leaving Harrisonburg to take over the offensive line and chief Tidewater recruiting duties at Tech. What was not quite so obvious, but highly interesting, was that Matthews had replaced Newsome with former Tech o-lineman and graduate assistant Chris Malone. All in all, it didn’t seem to be a bad swap for either side. Newsome moved up the coaching food chain while Frank replaced him for Matthews.

Also interesting is that Malone joined at JMU former Tech player, graduate assistant and current defensive line coach J. C. Price. Some might consider that Price is spending valuable time learning his craft and waiting for Bud to finally leave Frank’s coaching nest and create some upward mobility among the Tech defensive coaches. It might appear that Frank is developing a coaching farm system at JMU, not a bad thing for either Frank or Matthews, as the latter seems to be getting a steady supply of qualified people from Frank.

A rapport between the staffs could also be found due to Stiney’s ties to his alma mater and that Tech and JMU do not seem to be playing each other much anymore, perhaps due to Frank’s famous antipathy towards playing coaching friends [for the next couple of years, Ralph Friedgen cannot be avoided].

What would seem to be the most obvious evidence of an alliance between the two coaches and staffs, however, was the skill at which Mickey Matthews Franked JMU AD Jeff Bourne.

Down on the Gulf Coast, there is a Directional Alabama planning to start a football program from scratch, with the stated goal of competing, such as it were, at the I-A level in the RUTS Belt Conference by the year 2013. While it would seem on the surface the last thing the college football landscape needs is to be cluttered by another RUTS Belt team, there might be a method to the superficial madness.

DI-A teams now play a 12-game schedule. With it no longer making much sense for BCS to schedule the extra game with teams from other Big Boy conferences [That Tech-LSU game that turned into an early-September MNC elimination game will be lost on few, including, perhaps, Nebraska in 2009], the Big Boys are scrambling to find teams to host and beat. There are not enough MAC teams to go around.

This example of supply and demand has caused the price of MACcing to rise dramatically; witness the $850k jimmy pulled from Beth’s budget to pay some Directional Kentucky, another RUTS Belt newbie, to come to Tech and get hammered. That’s quite a payday for the RUTStoppers. Directional Alabama might sense real financial opportunity in going 0-12. But I digress.

Directional Alabama had tabbed Matthews as the guy it wanted to start up its program. This looks a lot like a career-ending move for a coach, a lower-level equivalent of taking the Duke job. The chances of suffering the fate of Don Strock at Florida International seem quite high.

Nevertheless, Matthews expressed interest in the job, going so far as to travel to Mobile to interview, and then proclaim that it was a “great opportunity” for himself, all evidence to the contrary, and that he was “thinking about it.”

This set off immediate alarm bells in Harrisonburg, as it usually does most places when a successful coach contemplates leaving [obviously a little more than that in the Hills occupied by the Cousins]. Amid the panic, Bourne scrambled around and came up with mo’ money for Matthews. It was, of course, nowhere near Frank cash, but $350k is decent compensation, actually very good at the I-AA level.

With the pot suitably sweetened, Matthews then announced that he was staying at JMU. His statement was chock full of the usual remarks about how much he loved the place and just couldn’t leave. “Harrisonburg is home.” I’m sure a great outpouring of affection towards Mickey is flowing from the JMU community. Only Frank Franks with that degree of Franking expertise. Yep, those staffs have gotten very close.

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