It has been a while. With the opening of a new season only days away and my being inundated with thousands of requests to WRITE SOMETHING [Would you believe hundreds? Tens? How about a guy at church?], I suppose it is about time to put keyboard to monitor.
Much has happened.
There was the usual Conference Expansion Season. It became quite funny. No sooner had schedules been adjusted to accommodate 2013 newbies Pitt and Syracuse than dire warnings emerged of the ACC’s immediate collapse. The conference that the entire Li’l E is begging to join was on the Intensive Care list. A hot rumor had Tech headed to the SEC. Yep, the solution to Tech’s ongoing problem with big-name teams was going to be to add even more of those teams to the schedule. There was a plan.
After the laughter brought on by the notion that Tech would abandon within a decade the conference it spent 50 years trying to join subsided, up popped the even zanier tales of Florida State and Clemson heading to the Big ?, of all places. Yep, the Noles and Tigers were so sick and tired of perceived domination of the ACC by Carolina that they were going to lock arms with the Cousins and head west to a league where subservience to Texas is written in the bylaws. It got so ridiculous that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney took time out from interviewing new defensive coordinators to announce that the Tigers were going no where and the laughter generated by the notion of Clemson heading to the Big ? was causing recruits to flock to Visor Boy.
In the end, nothing happened. The ACC will remain at 12 until next year, when it expands to 14, where it will stay until Notre Dame quits pussyfooting around [UConn certainly wishes the Irish would hurry the hell up], which should be shortly after their basketball team makes its first trip to Locational Florida.
The annual Conference Expansion Season was quickly forgotten as the Sanduskying of Penn State hit center stage. That ugly mess finally ended with the NCAA effectively turning the Lions into a I-AA program. Well, with fewer scholarships and child-abusing coaches, there should be more room and less drama in the showers.
By the time the draconian nature of Penn State’s penalties were digested, up popped yet another scandal a little closer to home. Most schools at least serve one probation before another pops up, but that doesn’t seem to be the Carolina Way.
It seems the Tar Heels, while setting sanctimonious standards in declaring their superiority to everybody else, were simultaneously presiding over what is starting to look a lot like the biggest academic scandal in NCAA history. Quite amusing were the clumsy attempts at covering things up by declaring over and over, ‘It’s all Butch’s fault,’ exclamations voiced often. Of course, nobody from the Nixon White House would be allowed in the People’s Republic of Chapel Hill to tell the Heels that it ain’t the crime, it’s the cover-up.
Carolina seemed perfectly willing to sacrifice the minor sport of football in order to protect the holiest of holies, their basketball program, until a dash of Peppers spiced things up. Whoops!
We are now assured that things have changed. Chancellor Holden ‘Boy’ Thorp, taking a break from his outstanding rendition of a guy in way over his head, announced that an ‘independent’ commission has been established to
protect the basketball program at all costs get to the bottom of things. We shall see how that goes.
While NCAA shenanigans at Carolina is a new experience, or least having them get out, one has come to expect that sort of thing from the Canes. And they always deliver. Investigations continue into those substantial donations made by the Penal Chapter of the Canes Club. And, just for laughs, as current coach ‘New Al’ Golden vowed to clean things up, promises heard often in South Florida, up popped revelations that New Al himself had engaged in recruiting violations. Well, of course he did. He is the coach of the Canes, after all. Compared to that bunch in Miami, Al Capone was a model of law-abiding virtuosity.How is that ACC big-market expansion working out, Little Johnny?
In the midst of all the scandals, a few games have actually been scheduled. An entire season’s worth, to be exact. In a few days, stadiums will fill across the land as that most exciting of seasons, the college football one, gets back under way.
In the ACC’s Probation Division, Virginia Tech is again the favorite, as they almost always are. Things should be settled fairly quickly on Labor Night as the Hokies host Georgia Tech, themselves no strangers to NCAA probation [Let's see, that 09 championship was around here somewhere]. While the annual hype from Hokiesports about how good Tech will be seems to be a tad muted this year, it is always simmering just below the surface, big game loss after big game loss not withstanding.
Over in the Past Probations Division, Florida State is, again, declared the favorite to not only run the ACC table but finally demonstrate that the ACC can be something other than BCS fodder. Well, it is still August, when the Noles are always very good. It’s September through November that have been the problem. Maybe the ACC media, which seems to have been operating under the notion that if they continue to pick FSU every year they will eventually get it right, is finally on to something.
But, things will be decided over the next few months. It is now time to clear the debris of another Dead Zone, check the stocks of red meat and Wild Turkey and prepare to spend the Labor Day holiday engaged in that most sacred of rituals, tailgating and then watching college football.
It is, indeed, football season.