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Back to the Backness

So, it turns out ‘da U’ was Back all along. Maybe not on the field, mind you, where the results never quite achieved the standards of Backness displayed by the Bad Old Canes; but certainly  behind the scenes. Despite all of the proclamations of program cleanliness, the Bad New Canes were sure up to par.

I  feel fairly certain that most reading this have some awareness of what has been revealed about the Canes. It is quite the tale. That nobody much is denying it is telling. New Al’s comment of “Mistakes were made” seems a mastery of understatement.

Virginia Tech has been dealing with the Canes as conference mates for going on two decades now. It has usually been a time of great hilarity, ranging from coaches laughing privately at the notion that the Canes had been ‘cleaned up’ from earlier excesses to the side-splitting guffaws that would erupt immediately after the Canes had lost to Virginia Tech yet again and we were treated to the proclamation, yet again, that the Canes would indeed be Back ‘Next Year.’

Every August we listened to the claims from the media and Mikey that this was the year of Canes Backness, finally. That generally lasted until the Canes actually played Tech or an even bigger football power. Who can forget two years ago, when ESPN became the All Canes, All the Time Network? A solid week of the World Wide Leader extolling Canes’ Backness, always with the tagline, the ‘Swagger has returned,’ which lasted right up until the point when the Canes swaggered into Lane Stadium and were, yet again, mercilessly pounded by Frank’s team. Premature Backulation again!

The Canes might have been displaying  a severe case of Backlessness on the field, but they sure weren’t when it came to passing out the goodies. This is being described variously as the worst NCAA scandal ever to as bad as SMU’s from the 80’s. Certainly it is the worst since the last time the Canes got caught.

Nevin Shapiro’s reach seemed to extend to all levels. It’s not often in these kinds of things where you see the university president alongside the players using both hands to pluck the largesse. The image of Donna Shalala standing beside Shapiro, in a bowling alley, of all places, while happily ogling a check funded from ripping off old people is likely to become the iconic one of this sordid saga.

Among other things, the Canes allowed a guy already convicted of mangling the eye of a soFla night club owner free rein, from attending practice to actually leading the team through the smoke onto the field to to drunkenly roaming around the press box picking fights with the compliance officer [certainly a thankless job at Miami, although it does seem to carry a light workload]. Considering some of the on-field performances by the Canes, you have to wonder whether Shapiro was calling the plays, too.

As a thanks for the cash, the Canes even slapped Shapiro’s name on the player’s lounge. It was not removed over any administrative concern with the character of the guy with whom they were associating, but only after he quit forking over the cash as the feds closed in.

The sleazeball crook Shapiro and Shalala seemed a perfect match. Even as Shapiro was bilking investors out of millions with his Ponzi scheme, Shalala was hatching her plan of using Fredo as front stooge man in approaching Little Johnny and planting the dream of ACC football riches. Both were illusions. Many Tech fans gleaned even more humor over Donna’s pouting for a weekend after realizing she had been out-foxed by those rubes in Blacksburg before actually accepting ACC membership.

This is the same Shalala who actually attended a recent NCAA meeting concerning widespread corruption in collegiate sports, knowing all the while the scale of the investigation at her own school. She is also the same Shalala who kept things quiet right up until the moment Yahoo broke the story, then headed immediately to ground with, no doubt, the best PR flacks other people’s money can buy in a desperate attempt to come up with some story, leaving the hapless New Al as the sole guy facing the questions. Her statement of being ‘saddened and ‘disheartened’ over getting caught was strictly stop-gap. Give the PR folks a little time.

Shalala in a previous role was famous for loudly proclaiming that ‘character doesn’t count.’ Certainly not when it applies to her.

Also implicated was former Canes’ AD ‘Phat’ Paul Dee. This was the guy who, at the last BE AD meeting he attended, laughed at those to be left behind in the Canes escape from New York. He also displayed a remarkable amount of sanctimonious hypocrisy while heading up the NCAA investigation into Southern Cal, famously wagging his finger at the Trojans while declaring, well, they should have known what was happening. This, even after he set in motion a scandal that dwarfs USC’s.

Retired and removed from possible NCAA repercussions [although I really doubt he will land any more investigative gigs], Dee is also the only to have [so far] played the ‘I didn’t know’ card. Well, he did once hire Butch, the master of Implausible Denial.

We’re now a little more than two weeks away from a new football season. This has become a time not of media anticipation of whether the Canes will finally be Back, but will the Death Penalty be applied again. The deity is certainly aware that the Canes deserve it.

For the second time, the depths of the Canes’ blatant disregard of any kind of NCAA rules structure has been exposed. North Carolina has certainly been made aware of what happens when you hire a coach who emerged from that cesspool. It is the culture of the place and no amount of readings from PR-prepared statements by Donna Shalala or whoever replaces her about how the Canes really will clean up THIS TIME is likely to change it. Even if it did, the private school-induced financial limitations of the Canes would doom them to a Duke-like existence of perpetual 3-9 records. That would sure put a crimp into the constant claims of Backness.

There is, however, a way to avoid the constant death penalty and other chatter that will accompany this latest revelation. The Canes could voluntarily discontinue its program [s] for a period of time and reorganize at a smaller [I-AA ] level. The big-time dreams, swagger and Backness schtick has done little but keep NCAA investigators constantly running to Coral Gables over the years. College sports in general and the ACC in particular could be spared a lot of trouble and bad press.

But, given the history of the Canes, that would require a level of class that they have yet to display. They are unlikely to this time, either.


  1. VanDownBai DeRiver — August 18, 2011 #

    “hapless New Al”.


  2. JDanWuff — August 18, 2011 #

    “Every school does it.  We just got caught.”
    “Butch cleaned up Miami.”
    “I know nothing…….nothing.”
    16 days ’til football


  3. Michael Weaver — August 18, 2011 #

    First, glad to see The-A-Line back from sabbatical. I’ve enjoyed your recent posts. You have backness.

    Second,the ACC needs to do more than whack their pee-pees. My vote would be to send them packing and bring in the cousins.


  4. Atlee — August 18, 2011 #

    Leave it to the good (?) folks at Premature Backulation U for serving up such a huge softball for another of your columns.
    I remember you mentioning last fall that there was going to be hell to pay down at Coral Gables.


  5. Hokieville — August 19, 2011 #

    This is the best punditry about da “u” so far and RUTS Report/Hokie Central fans around the world will likely agree.  The irony is that all of this is in the context of what we have known for over 15 years, but nobody else seemed to see.  I will never forget hearing D. Braine describing in near disbelief how little income the UM athletic dept actually received.  I do believe the UM Admin packed in their support of athletics once they reached the safe harbor of the ACC and I suspect UM will soon be the 6th or 7th best CFB team in the State of Florida.  The “legally obtained” financial resources to run the athletic dept will be so limited that no top player or coach will ever think it’s all about the “u”.   


  6. BobLee — August 19, 2011 #

    Miami = “a sunny place with shady people”


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