It has been an interesting couple of weeks. As Virginia Tech celebrates yet another ACC championship and Hokie fans scramble for reasonably-priced Orange Bowl tickets, i.e., those not for sale by Tech, things are once again jumping around the rest of the league.
Alarms have been raised at Tech as the university prepares to eat large numbers of Orange tickets. The annoying habit of all bowls and especially BCS ones of foisting off the worst seats in the house on participating teams [that are required to buy them] while themselves selling better seats at lower prices has resulted in a fair amount of Hokies eschewing those wonderful end zone tickets in whatever Miami’s stadium happens to be named these days and buying them on the secondary market. The griping is loud.
While jimmy complains to anybody who will listen that the BCS not only screws those fans who desire a playoff [ how about a first-round playoff game in temperate Ohio, huh?], but the ones who actually travel to the games, other ACC members attempt to, clumsily at times, figure out how to be like Tech.
For the fourth straight year, two ACC schools have changed coaches. How are bowl ticket sales going for Miami and Maryland? This brings to ten the number of conference teams that have made a change at the top since Virginia Tech and Frank joined the league and began winning everything in sight. The only one left standing is Wake’s Jim Grobe, who also happens to be the ACC’s highest-paid. Since Deacon AD Ron Wellman has already shown that he will algroh a coach who actually wins more than he loses [How is getting rid of Dino Gaudio working out so far, Ron?], it can be expected that Grobe is roughly one more 3-9 away from Wake moving to at least a cheaper coach.
The ACC’s coaching carousel was kicked off a few minutes after Randy Shannon of the Canes managed to botch his season and career-ending game against Directional Florida. Adios, Shannon. The Canes made their usual noise about hiring the biggest names in coaching before being informed, yet again, that none were interested. It would seem Jon Gruden prefers the frigid chill of a television booth in Minnesota to attempting to beat Frank in Coral Gables.
Canes AD Kirby Hocutt listened to the laughter from winning and secure coaches , then noticed the directive from his board that the new guy actually have head-coaching experience. That ruled out the process that gave us Shannon, Uncle Fester and even Butch. With seemingly every coach in the country telling him ‘Not a chance,’ Hocutt finally swallowed hard and gave the job to, wait for it…, Al Golden of Temple. Al Golden of Temple?
Yep, Al Golden of Temple, the guy who actually made the Owls relevant in the MAC. Golden is, of course, a former assistant to algroh in Hooville. Well, at least he is used to losing to Frank. New Al was introduced to much pomp and circumstance, with Hocutt declaring that this was the guy they wanted all along. These were the exact same words uttered by former Cane AD Phat Paul Dee before introducing to a breathless football world Shannon, Uncle Fester and Butch after having been turned down by the coaches they really wanted, which included all.
The couple of dozen avid Canes fans were told New Al’s special qualities included recruiting. Solid recruiting by New Al is, of course, one of the reasons the Hoos are on their current roll. Hocutt also repeated those words heard every time the Canes introduce a new coach, which is often: New Al will only be expected to win every game and the MNC every year. Lots of luck down there in soFla, New Al.
The Canes searching for yet another coach was the opening act. The next spectacle came from College Park.
It ain’t too often a coach finds himself algrohed just a couple of weeks after winning the ACC’s Coach of the Year award. But, that is what happened to Frank’s good buddy Ralph Friedgen. While the Fridge did manage to win a few games this year, declining attendance numbers and an inability to sell Byrd Stadium luxury suites meant Ralph had to go. In today’s brave new world of college athletics, you not only have to win, but make loads of cash doing it.
The Terps have a new AD. Kevin Anderson came to College Park after former AD Debbie Yow was unable to raise the cash necessary to buy out Ralph’s contract and algroh him last year; she caught the first Metro out of town, popping up at NC State. Anderson came to Maryland from Army, where the strong ethics taught at West Point taught him to ignore that coach-in-waiting pledge made to Friedgen’s boy James Franklin. Told he would not get the Terps’ head-coaching gig or that extra-large promised, Franklin left, turning up in Nashville. Well, last year’s 2-10 at Maryland should have him well-prepared for what awaits him at Vanderbilt.
Anderson next had to deal with the Fridge, whose buyout was now down to $2 mil, one year’s salary. Since the Terp’s athletic department finds itself a little short, in large part due to Fridge’s inability to excite the troops to the point of buying luxury suites, Anderson attempted to persuade Friedgen to retire and give up the buyout. In return, Friedgen’s name would be placed in the Maryland Ring of Honor at Byrd. Surprisingly enough, Friedgen elected to grab the cash. You’re not close friends with Frank for four decades plus without learning a thing or two about grabbing money. After that exciting Military Bowl against the Strawgraspers, Cheryl Beamer will likely no longer be griping about never seeing the Friedgen’s at the Georgia lake house.
Anderson then claimed that he has a ‘short list’ of prospective coaches. This is Heel-speak for ‘A fat athletic supporter is making this decision.’ Eyes immediately turned to Mike Leach, last seen being algrohed at Texas Tech. Leach just happens to be good buddies with Kevin Plank, head of Under Armour and a major Terp Club benefactor who has done the Winston and bought himself a seat on Maryland’s board.
Leach will be expected to win next year, immediately begin out-recruiting Frank in the fertile NOVA football fields, sell luxury boxes, stay away from closets, refrain from screwing with the kids of Craig James and any other ESPN employee and no longer come across as an utter loon. But, he does produce an exciting offense.
As these coaching high jinks continue around the ACC, we notice who is still managing to keep his job. That would be Butch, who continues to claim that he is too stupid to have been aware of the mess around him. Carolina, from BoTBob on down, has proclaimed a collective ‘Good enough for us as long as you win’ and instructed the hapless DickieB to sweep the entire mess under the plush carpet that no doubt will be installed in Kenan’s brand spanking new luxury suites and keep the pesky NCAA from getting between the Tar Heels and the sure-to-come Butch-induced BCS extravaganza. Even SEC schools are not as brazen as Carolina has turned out to be.
In the meantime, yet another ACC football trophy is in residence at Tech. Frank Beamer takes his team and 11-game winning streak to the Orange Bowl. He also will accept the first Joe Paterno award for coaching excellence both on and off the field. Hard to figure why they didn’t give it to Butch, eh, BoTBob? Or Friedgen, or Shannon.
The A-Line would like to wish all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you in 2011 unless I do not.