The Shame of It All
My lovely wife of a quarter-century is a proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Who wouldn’t be proud to have graduated from such a fine institution that is considered one of the best state universities in the country? On top of that fact, having a storied history in athletics – men’s basketball and women’s soccer immediately come to mind – makes the Tar Heel alumni happy to don the powder blue for just about anything (God is a Tar Heel – he made the sky Carolina Blue). They are a proud bunch.
So, when I read today that my beloved state university’s Athletic Director (the modifier ‘beloved’ refers to the institution, not the cited individual) intends to replace UNC with the University of Buffalo for the 2011-12 home-and-home series, I tried to fathom a way to defend my alma mater in anticipation of the onslaught.
“The Vols? The mighty Vols dropped the ‘Heels in order to make their schedule easier? You mean to tell me that the Big Orange have sunk so low that they have to drop a basketball school to give their own football team a break? Your school dropped my school because your school thought my school presented too much of a challenge – too hard of a schedule? And, your school is willing to pay my school about a million bucks to make this happen?”
Then I realized there is no way to defend such an act of sheer shortsightedness.
Mind you, my wife supports Vols football. She has willingly accompanied me to see Tennessee play at Ole Miss, UCLA, and Cal. She has watched her share of Vol games on the tube, from opening whistle to the final gun. She’s an honorary Vol – quite worthy of such an accolade.
Now she now has nothing left to give me other than pity over this fiasco, and pity for my once great football program.
At least Mike Hamilton came out and owned up to the rationale: he feels like “we needed to break that six-game stretch up (in 2011) and put a non-BCS team in there.”
What lily-livered justification.
Hamilton claims to have talked to UNC about this for months, even when Fulmer and Kiffin were coaches. Apparently, UT’s preference is, and has been, to play the home-and-home series later in this decade, instead of 2011 and 2012 when the Vols will be “well under the limits on scholarships and therefore low on depth” to quote Knoxville News Sentinel writer Austin Ward. UNC doesn’t want to give ground on the dates.
Obviously, Hamilton expects the worst during the first couple of years of the Derek Dooley era (he and I agree on one thing at least) – the worst in terms of wins and losses, and the worst in terms of program finances. Apparently, UT will have to pay UNC $750,000 to get out of the series, but make about a cool $3 million by replacing the 2011 game at Chapel Hill with an additional home game.
Nothing like stuffing the bottom line in times of a possible double-dip recession.
And how does Dooley feel about this?
“Mike handles the scheduling, and he doesn’t do anything without at least getting my thoughts on it. He has a real good understanding of what’s important to our fans and the program, and I’ve got a lot of trust in how he’s managing the schedule. I think he’s doing a great job on it, but that’s pretty much stuff I defer to him. Obviously, if I was in big disagreement with what he wanted to do, I would express that. He would probably respect it. I defer to him unless I adamantly oppose.”
Glad you had your chance to give your input, coach. The clarity of that which was your likely input shines through the intentional obliqueness of your statement.
Hamilton is making business decisions – that is his job. But, sometimes such decisions are shortsighted as to the intangibles of the situation. You know – image, pride, history, tradition, and other such sundry qualities.
There is no saving face over this. If we were a samurai institution, we’d all have to kill ourselves – dying with honor via seppuku – rather than living with the shame of it all.
PHOTO CREDIT: collegefootballfansite.com