Tag Archives: Bubba Cunningham

NCAA Pulls Events From North Carolina, Leaves Collateral Damage

The NCAA has spoken, and it is not happy with the state of North Carolina. For reasons clearly stated in a September 12 press release, seven NCAA championship events will be relocated away from previously designated venues in Cary, Greensboro, and Greenville, North Carolina. This action will affect seven men’s and women’s sports across all three divisions of the NCAA, but the opening weekend’s games of next year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament not being played in Greensboro will grab the headlines.

It’s not that you need the NCAA involved to draw headlines towards North Carolina’s now infamous bathroom bill. The National Basketball Association has pivoted its big neutral-site game, the Association’s All-Star Game, from Charlotte, where it was scheduled next winter, to New Orleans. Businesses, most notably PayPal, have halted planned growth in the state. Concerts have been canceled and a number of local governments have restricted business travel to the state, all voicing frustration with the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act.

With me, I’ve never actually paid that much attention to the company I keep in a public restroom. Get in, take care of what you went in there to do, and get out. It feels simpler than it seems to be, and I feel common sense is at play, but I’m not in public office. Maybe every fourth or fifth law passed over there has to be about something that really isn’t an issue, or wasn’t an issue. It is certainly buzzworthy now.

We’ve punished a lot of the wrong people in North Carolina, to date. To be fair, this punitive action towards the citizens of North Carolina is about removing anti-discriminatory language from law. It’s been a while since my last math class, but if I recall how to handle a double negative, it equals ‘adding discriminatory language’, correct? That’s how I’m rolling, here.

The hospitality industry has lower numbers to be hospitable towards, thus fewer hours will be given to those employees. Construction workers aren’t laying the groundwork for new commercial properties. With the absence of those buildings, goes the many entry-level jobs no longer available to the many students hoping to graduate into the workforce.

Some of those recent graduates will be the NCAA’s former student-athletes, some forced so far from home their families won’t see them play on the biggest stage of their careers. On the off chance, Mount Olive returns to the Division II Championship Baseball tournament, the know they won’t be hosting the finals in Cary, even though that was the plan. There are athletes that play golf, soccer, lacrosse, and tennis that might have similar sob stories.  You could call if unfair, but that really only amounts to a minor inconvenience.

Something like that only pales in comparison with the dilemma a NCAA Tournament Committee might face, when it would have had to (maybe) keep public schools from Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, and Vermont out of one of the 8 slots in Greensboro next March. There would be more noise about losing a Sweet Sixteen, let alone a Final Four, but we’ll hear plenty, given the 18 Division I Hoops programs in the basketball-crazy state of North Carolina.

Quick to weigh in with endorsements of the NCAA’s decision were the athletic directors from the state’s name brand athletic programs, Duke and North Carolina. Duke’s Kevin White stated that they agree with the NCAA’s decision and that they “will always be committed to diversity and inclusion, and applaud any efforts to ensure that those values are protected and enacted at all times, and in places in the state of North Carolina.”

North Carolina’s Bubba Cunningham discussed his school’s commitment to fairness and also expressed his disappointment on behalf of people of the state and the communities “that are scheduled to play host to these championship events and to the students who may be denied the opportunity to compete for championships in their home state.” What happens to the student-athletes is admittedly trivial, but they are collateral damage, playing the role of pawns in this political chess game.

Ask Governor Pat McCrory or the sponsor of HB2, Representative Dan Bishop, how much they weep for those student-athletes, those hospitality workers, or those young North Carolina-educated professionals, all missing out on opportunity and prosperity. Does the message get to them, to spark change? I don’t think it does.

It doesn’t actually matter. The NCAA is bound by its constitution to not stand idly by. The schools are bound by their own commitment to decency, if not their reputations, to follow suit. The idea here is a unified front against discrimination. It isn’t the NCAA’s directive to get complicated and detailed with this. They needed the North Carolina government to do better, and the North Carolina government failed them.

The longer this goes on, the more collateral damage we’ll see in the form of real people in the Tar Heel State. For the student-athletes, they’re best served to take the sacrifices they may be forced to make with a grain of salt.

Maybe they can send a postcard from Pensacola or wherever.

E-mail Jeff at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @byJeffRich.
Featured photo Jarrett Campbell via Wiki

All Aboard the Tar Heel Bandwagon

Down the stretch last fall, a good buddy of mine hopped on the North Carolina Tar Heels’ bandwagon.  He’s a big fan of this guy, Ryan Switzer.  Why exactly, I couldn’t tell you.

Now, contrary to popular belief, being a bandwagon fan is not a bad thing.  If your hometown team sucks, or if you lack one altogether, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking up an alternate rooting interest.

Doing so can revitalize your love for the game.  Believe me, as a Michigan fan that spent his high school and college years watching Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke coached teams, I know.  If you have a true love for the game, you’ll be able to pick up that side team no problem.

Anyway, I had been watching last year’s Heels somewhat closely ever since they’d proven me wrong, winning at Georgia Tech in early October.  Then, when they popped Pitt on the road at the end of the month, I was ready to ride the Fighting Michael Jordans all the way to a surprise playoff appearance.

I called for the upset in the ACC Championship Game, but the Heels and I can’t get no (dunh nuh nuh) satis-faction.  So, I’m here now to double down.

ACC Ripe for Picking

The Tar Heels are the team to beat on the East Coast this fall.

A quick aside: UNC’s athletic director’s name is Bubba Cunningham.  Without knowing anything about him personally, that’s a man I want to see succeed, if only because we’ll get to hear the name Bubba Cunningham more often.

Clemson is good, yes.  DeShaun Watson will likely be the best quarterback in the draft class.  Florida State is also good.  Dalvin Cook will be a top pick, too.  The Tigers and the Seminoles will come up short this season, though.

What Clemson did last year was captivating.  We all wanted that team to succeed so we could watch Dabo Swinney act a fool after big wins.  Realistically, a repeat performance will be tremendously difficult.

Say goodbye to seven key members of last year’s defense, including ends Shaw Lawson and Kevin Dodd, corner Mackensie Alexander, and safety T.J. Green, who all went in the first two rounds of the draft.

Overwhelming firepower only takes you so far when you lack proper fortifications.  I’ll err on the side of Clemson’s replacements not being as sturdy as the now pros they’re taking over for.

Florida State is the new USC.  That 2013 national championship was supposed to be a springboard for FSU, not the pinnacle.

We keep hearing about how loaded Jimbo Fisher’s group is but we’ve not seen enough supporting evidence the past two years to legitimize the hype.  The Seminoles have lost the benefit of the doubt.  They’ve got a lot to prove in order to earn it back.

Closing Statement

North Carolina wins the ACC this year because it replaces its gamebreaker with a steady hand that can utilize all the returning talent around him.  Mitch Trubisky is taking over for Marquise Williams and with a name like that he’s got to be good.

Five All-ACC selections return on the offensive side.  Switzer, along with running back Elijah Hood, receiver Mack Hollins, guard Caleb Peterson, and tackle Jon Heck will all be reliable cogs in the UNC machine.  Receiver Bug Howard, tackle Bentley Spain, and center Lucas Crowley are all back as well.

Interestingly enough, former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman is now a volunteer coach for the Tar Heels.  Beckman, who was fired almost a year ago to the day for mistreatment of players, will help scout and evaluate film.

This is an excellent move by head coach Larry Fedora, who’s familiar with Beckman from their time together on the 2007 Oklahoma State staff.  Basically, Fedora is getting a major bargain, adding a veteran defensive-minded coach with plenty of incentive to get his act together at no cost.

Normally, having to replace a quarterback, particularly one of Williams’ stature, is a great way for me to not pick you to do much.  However, the progress report on Trubisky and the supporting cast he’ll be able to lean on have me sipping the Carolina blue kool-aid.

No, it won’t be either one of the usual suspects representing the ACC in this season’s playoff.  It’ll be the team whose bandwagon is about to pick up many more interested travelers along the way.

Feature image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

E-mail Mitch at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @GreatGatzke.