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A Grand Time at Grandover 07/28/09

Football is in the air. Well, at least talk about football. The ACC staged its annual Football Kickoff over a long weekend. For a couple of days, attempts were made to ignore, or at least minimize, the ominous storm clouds that are gathering around league football and paint smiley faces over the whole operation. They mostly succeeded and at least the event served to remind us that in another 5 1/2 weeks or so, football will be played.

A solid clue that football season is approaching was provided when the good old N&O devoted four days worth of coverage to its conference basketball predictions [Tech was picked 11th]. It won’t be long now, eh, guys? foul_shotsWhile the minority Raleigh contingent of the combined efforts of North Carolina newspapers with Observer in their names continues to treat football as a pleasant diversion until Ol’ Roy’s boys again crank up, the rest of the league does have at least a passing interest in the fall sport.

The theme of this year’s Football Kickoff seemed to be: ACC Football, not as bad as you think. Much of the efforts, especially those of ACC commish Little Johnny Swofford, swofford5were devoted to attempting to convince people that the league’s football wasn’t as lousy as it appeared. Little Johnny was glossing over much, including the Disney boys finally throwing in the towel on the miniscule ratings delivered by the league’s football championship game and exiling it to the Siberia of time slots, on ESPN opposite the Big XII championship on the big network [“It was our idea, honest”]. The ACC honcho did not address whether what is now the SEC Network might be attempting to get an ACC championship game rating of as close to 0.0 as possible in order to shave a few more million off of what is sure to be a seriously-low-balled ‘negotiation’ figure, if they even bother to make one at all. Well, maybe those talks with the Pac 10 about a joint package on one of those obscure channels on the fringe of the cable universe will work out.

Little Johnny was at his hilarious best when defending the championship game, claiming that it was a success by ‘all measures’ except those used to measure the success of a championship game. He touched lightly on what has happened, blaming sparse attendance on ‘the participants.’ Since he spent the next five minutes praising Virginia Tech, it wasn’t too awfully hard to figure out exactly to whom he was referring. There might as well have been a giant ‘Fredo go home’ banner stretched across the front of the Grandover building. badowlsCompared with the way Fredo is being treated these days by his conference, Temple was a highly-valued member of the Big East.

The collective wisdom of the members of the old media that cover the league¬† annointed as their preseason favorite Virginia Tech. Considering that of their five previous predictions since league expansion, exactly one was correct, this could be seen as the kiss of death for Tech’s 09 prospects. Then again, the one time they got it right was picking Tech to win in 07, so maybe not all is lost.

There was lots of humor to be gleaned from watching, on the Internet, Monday’s interviews with the coaches. For three hours, beginning with Butch and ending with Fredo’s Uncle Leoleo look-alike Frank Spaziani and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, a couple of assistants awarded their jobs by default who might as well have ‘Interim’ stamped on their foreheads, the ACC’s football coaches wrenched themselves away from the golf course, bar and seafood station and paraded one after another to a table to answer questions from some ACC media flack. Considering that it is late July and none has yet lost a game, it was a fairly chipper group. That will change by mid-September, but for the moment, at least, all is well.

Each coach seemed eager to expound on his program’s prospects for the year. A laughing and joking Frank sure looked a lot like a guy who feels pretty darned good about his team. Well, Nick Saban was hundreds of miles away. This writer’s second-favorite ACC football coach, Tom O’Brien, carried his ramrod-straight Marine countenance to the table and then proceeded to crack jokes [one of these days, I really have to catch Captain Tom at a Wolfpack Club meeting]. Bobby Bowden was in full Bowden mode [“that dadgum NCAA”], Ralph Friedgen claimed his players were ‘enthusiastic’ about this year [they haven’t been before?], even David Cutcliffe was in high spirits [“We’re gonna win 7”]. No sooner was one coach finished answering the softball questions lobbed by the HQ guy than the next one bounded to the interview table eager to take his turn. Well, all except one.

The afternoon’s comic relief was provided when the ACC guy announced, “Next up is algroh of the Hoos.” As the camera continued to beam an empty chair across cyberspace, it was empty_chair1repeated, “We’ll next hear from algroh,” then, “We’re waiting on algroh.” As viewers couldn’t help but notice that the empty chair had a much better personality than does the Great NFL Legend and the dead silence coming from it made much more sense than the oft-incoherent algroh, stage whispers could be heard.

“Where’s algroh? Is he here? Somebody go find algroh. Oh, geez, Littlepage hasn’t already fired him, has he? He promised he wouldn’t until after the season.” As viewers reflected on how the empty chair seemed an apt visual for Hoo football and wondered whether Hoo AD Craig ‘Tubby, I’ve got to check and see if Carl’s portfolio is back up to $4 mil’ Littlepage would soon step up and introduce Vic Damone as the new Hoo coach, algroh finally wandered in.

The Great NFL Legend was not asked any of the hard questions, such as how recruiting was going, exactly why did it take until the Tech game to figure out that the best quarterback on the team was playing in the secondary, what the after-tax would be on the buyout or whether boygroh had moved out of the basement. He wasn’t even asked if Craig peddling all of those unsold Smithsonian tickets to Tech fans would cause him to patrol the sidelines dressed as the Hokie Bird.

Instead, the questions seemed designed to give algroh as many opportunities as possible to work “When I was in the NFL” into the answers. This correspondent counted five, which will translate into another 50 years of NFL experience in the Hoo media guide. We are going to miss algroh when he is gone.

Even though Finding algroh took a while, the ACC’s Football Kickoff finally concluded. The league’s coaches hit the bar for one last Scotch, stuffed some shrimp into their pockets and headed home. Practices open soon. As we were reminded by the grand time at Grandover, football is coming.


  1. Greg — July 28, 2009 #

    Well Jim, it appears all may be close to being lost for the ACC on the new ESPNABCSEC network. Or is that the new SECESPNABC network? Or the ABCSECESPN network? Oh well, matters little. Indeed the next contract to be negotiated may be a mere pittance compared to what has been, if – as you say- there is one at all. Perhaps CBS or NBC (after the domers come first, of course) would be interested in an orphaned D1, BCS conference.

    As a side thought, wouldn’t it be a real hoot to have a 12-0 ACC team with a number 1 or number 2 ranking playing in the ACC championship game that is opposite the Big XII championship? Let ESPNSECABC network explain that one!! Not likely to happen, but still would be a hoot.


  2. JDanWuff — July 28, 2009 #

    Footballs are fun things to have in the Triangles. We have footballs here every basketball preseason. Did you know that Tyler the Magnificent threw out a first pitch at a baseballs event? His pitch was much better, according to the local media, than the first pitch thrown by the Messiah. The Black messiah, not the Blue Messiah.

    It’s so bad here in Rawley-wood that I don’t watch TV sports and I sure as hell wouldn’t spend a found penny on the N&Blow.

    TOB is funny at the dinners and on the rubber chicken circuit. He is completely dead pan. I can see how the BC crowd wouldn’t “get” his humor. Neither would the crowd on the Hill.

    37 days until South Carolina…………… but who’s counting……..tick tock tick tock ……


  3. Atlee — July 28, 2009 #

    Ahh!!! The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Remember the 1st TV contract the newly formed Big East Football Conference got from CBS? CBS thought they were getting something wonderful with Miami. Before that contract was over, CBS had relegated the BEFC to a few mandatory crumbs. At the end of the contract, the BEFC got a weak contract from the Mouse.

    Fast forward to the first contract of the new and improved ACC, which included mighty FSU and mighty Miami. The Mouse forked over some decent money. What did they get? The cash cows & standard bearers were carved into steaks. Plus a championship game between the Baptists and the Engineers down in almost sunny Florida. Plus 2 straight appearances by Fredo, himself. Apparently, Fredo somehow survived the assination on the lake.

    Now, the Mouse has seen the light. They’ve given their tv channel over to the SEC. The ACC will be lucky to get enough money to buy all the coaches a coffee down at Starbucks. Little Johnny may have to buy McCafe’s instead.


  4. Greg — July 29, 2009 #

    And Atlee, here’s the rub – when (and ultimately it will) the vaunted SEC falls on rough times and cycles to the bottom of the conferernce heap, what will the mouse do? These conferences all rise and fall over time. Consider what would happen to the SEC if, God forbid, congress opened hearings on the way Saban goes through recruits like a newborn goes through diapers, or the way scholarships are taken from deserving students and thrown like bones to heralded and gifted players that couldn’t get in 3, 4 or 5 other institues of higher learning because of their inability to spell or cypher, yet in the SEC there was no problem getting them in. Such times will come to pass as they always do. Then the mouse will be off on another junket to find the perfect fit for its own promotion. For me, I lost a great deal of respect for ESPNABC when they forged this contract at the expense of all the rest of college football. IMO good contests between good teams, regardless of conference or divisional size should be broadcast and shown to the consuming public. Please tell me again why someone from Wisconsin, who attended a Big 10 school gives a rat’s ass about LSU playing GA when his own conference is offering some great matchups at the same time. Well, with the new ESPNABC contract, we’ll all get saturated with games from the mightiest football conference ever created by mankind. Sour grapes? Damned right and I feel deservedly so. Not that I feel the ACC demands the same attention, but for cripe sakes, ink contracts with ALL conferences to broadcast the BEST games from EACH conference that scheduling can possibly provide. Hell, if you’re the LEADER in sports as ESPNABC claims to be, then your management should strive to complete the football package. And lets not have to buy a freaking sports package on DirecTV to see them either. Gee, not asking for too much, huh?


  5. Jim — July 29, 2009 #

    Deja vu all over again. After television revenues nosedived in 2001, Tech wrote off basketball and pretty soon Shalala sent Fredo out searching for a new conference. What happens this time?


  6. JDanWuff — July 29, 2009 #

    Sitting on the cusp of football season, the local TV knobs ran this drivel today. I guess Jim Goodman is just a rewash of Josephus Daniels.


    Jim Reply:

    I notice that the good old N&O is aghast this morning that Ol’ Roy didn’t make somebody’s list of the 50 all-time greatest coaches. They seem to be advocating postponing football season until this can be investigated and rectified.


  7. Atlee — July 29, 2009 #

    Greg, I really don’t care for what the Mouse is doing to televised sports, especially football.

    What I don’t understand is why the Mouse is throwing all that money to the SEC? I understand exactly why the SEC would get a better contract than say the ACC. The SEC, in any given year can provide more top notch contest than the ACC can ever think about.

    That said, the SEC can’t provide enough top shelf contests to justify the money the Mouse is throwing their way. No one, and I mean no one, outside of Mississippi really cares about Ole Miss and Miss. State.

    That’s the only part of all the money that I don’t understand.

    As for Congress, don’t get me started. Every politician is good for nothing. The last thing it should be doing is conducting hearing on college football. After those slim balls fixes the really important stuff that confronts this country, then they can turn their attention to stuff like collegiate athletics.


  8. Jim — July 30, 2009 #

    Want to see the future? Check out the howling over no television for the Strawgraspers-Cousins S12 game. SECSPN couldn’t find a slot for it.


  9. Greg — July 30, 2009 #


    At the extreme risk of turning Jim’s eloquent sports commentary into a political issue, I have to reply to your recent comment. I couldn’t agree with you more. Nearly every politician in DC, Dem and Rep are nothing short of slime balls. Here’s what our lovely elected officials have done for us recently: Took away our free airwaves under the guise of emergency bands needed (we all know that they will sell them to private bidders for the highest bid possible). Now, even with the converter boxes, in the rooms where we don’t have satellite, we can’t get the Roanoke or Lynchburg stations. We get gobs from NC and WV, but who gives a s…. about them. Another thing Big Uncle did for our elderly citizens on S.S was to tie their benefits to the CPI so that when inflation went up, their checks would go up. Then, when these same congress persons didn’t like what the CPI was doing, they quietly removed energy, food and medical costs from the CPI. Sweet huh? The three things we all use daily are no longer included in the CPI. No wonder we have such apparent small inflation. Now, we are supposed to trust these same scum dwellers to handle our medical care. Oh yeah, I can really go for that. On a recent drs visit to see how the old BP was maintaining my dr informed me that in the so’called stimulus bill there was included a slid-in item regarding senior citizen health care, called something to the effect of a cost/benefit evaluation. Long and short, if a person is over some age (I’m not sure if 60 or 75) the powers will evaluate the cost relative to the return of the older person being made well. If not reasonable, the person will receive no treatment. Older person dies – end of story. I haven’t confirmed this, but did hear it from 2 separate sources. About 20 years ago, I predicted that when the baby boom generation began reaching the 60s, the gov’t would enact some form of legalized, govt sponsored geriatric mass genocide to control the huge burden that would definitely hurt the gov’t. Looks like my prediction might be correct. All in all, just another day on capital hill for the gang of slime balls.


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