Double Standard at Highest Level

Sounds like Senator Al Franken was stupid and wrong in what he did to news anchor Leeann Tweeden 10 years ago, and sounds like knows it. Of course, it’s hard to image how he could have denied it, given those rather incriminating photos.

There is probably no good way to come clean over such behavior, but the course Franken has taken thus far seems the best available. He admitted his wrongdoing, apologized and claims to be four-square in favor of an investigation into his actions.

Here’s where I confess. I agree with most of Al Franken’s political positions and I hope that whatever investigation that comes out of this doesn’t reveal the kind of transgressions that gets him kicked out of the Senate.

But if there turns out to be enough in his past to warrant his expulsion, then I’d just say his karma caught up with him. And in my mind, at least, that would be that.

He would get what he deserves.

There’s a game men and women have been playing since long before any of us were born, and now the rules of that game have changed. And it’s about time.

The light is today shining into corners that have been dark and dirty far too long. Women are finding they don’t have to put up with the kind of assault on their humanity that their mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers felt compelled to accept as simply life in a male-dominated society.

Our consciousness needed raising, and if nothing else, the examples we’re seeing these days in the cases of Harvey Weinstein and Roger Ailes and Anthony Weiner and Bill O’Reilly and Louis C.K. and Roy Moore are opening the crack inch by inch and allowing more and more light to shine through.

Most Democrats, I’m happy to see, realize Franken screwed up, and needs to be held accountable. Good for them.

And of course the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, are all about making sure Franken faces the music – as they should be.

But I can’t help think the uproar from certain circles rings a little hollow, given that the President of the United States has been widely and repeatedly accused of behavior far worse than anything Franken is said to have done.

When Trump is heard on tape saying that he’s able to grab women where no woman should be grabbed – and can get away with it because he’s a famous celebrity – his supporters believe him when he claims he’s only engaging in “locker room talk.’’

When more than 15 woman stand up to say that Trump groped them, or kissed them without their consent (sounds like Franken here) or, in certain cases, actually sexually assaulted them, his supporters are more than willing to believe it’s all just fake news, accounts made up to take a presidential candidate down.

So let’s all remember together that, in addition to denying all the charges against him, Trump vowed to sue every one of his accusers. Trump also promised to sue the New York Times for publishing the allegations.

And, to date, none of those suits have been filed.

Instead he slams Franken (referring to him as Frankenstein) in a tweet, while remaining silent on the accusations against Moore, and you know who else.

So over the next few days, every time you see Mitch McConnell or any other politician who continues to stand behind Trump demand that Al Franken be held accountable for his actions, ask yourself the two following questions.

How can Donald Trump get away with what others cannot?

And how nice it would be if the President of the United States were the example, and not the exception?

Deacons’ Start as Bad as It Gets — Hopefully

As for my take on Wake’s basketball season thus far, let me begin with two words, an ellipsis and punctuation mark that I never ever use.

(But for occasion, I’m willing to make an exception).

What the. . . !

It’s probably 40 feet at best from the living room of our hacienda to the den. But as I was bouncing back and forth last night from watching Duke trade hammer blows with Michigan State in Chicago on the big screen TV to the Wake-Liberty game on ESPN3 streaming across my desktop computer I felt I was passing between two different worlds with two distinctly different versions of the game of basketball.

Now nobody paying attention expected the Deacons, in Danny Manning’s fourth season as head coach, to be on the Blue Devils’ level this season, especially not early on while absorbing the off-season losses of last season’s only two reliable big men, John Collins and Dinos Mitoglou.

That said, Duke is on Wake’s schedule, twice, and Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Louisville are each on there once.

But before Manning can even worry about the Blue Devils, Hurricanes, Tar Heels, Irish and Cardinals – all currently ranked among the top 18 teams in college basketball — he and his staff have to figure out a way to beat Georgia Southern and Liberty – at home. To give credit where credit is due, Wake did beat Division II Queens by two in an exhibition, but I know people who came away from that one not entirely certain if the Deacons could have held on without a fortuitous intentional foul called against the Royals in the final frantic seconds.

What I saw against Georgia Southern and Liberty was bad bad bad. Dare I say it, but it was Stetson bad, Presbyterian bad.

In other words, it was Bzdelik bad.

Making it all the more so was the Deacons, at 0-2, have lost at home to two run-of-the-mill teams in two distinctly different ways.

They lost to the Eagles 85-83 in the same manner they lost so often last season, by steadfastly declining to guard the opponent. Georgia Southern shot 50 percent in the final 20 minutes and scored on 20 of 34 second-half possessions.

Down the stretch, in money time, the Eagles scored on six of the last eight times they had the ball. Your mind begins to play tricks on you when you get to my advanced age, but I can swear I distinctly remember Manning saying the day he was announced as Wake’s head coach that his would be a program that hangs its hat on defense.

Watching last night’s 79-66 train wreck against Liberty closely, I noticed Wake actually stiffened up enough to get nine stops over a 15-possession stretch in the final 10 minutes. But after Chaundee Brown’s 3-pointer pulled the Deacons to 46-43 with 13:31 remaining, they tanked offensively and failed to score on their next seven trips downcourt.

And of course, for the game, they made only two 3-pointers on 17 heaves.

It’s hard to know what to expect from a team at the beginning of any season. I always thought preseason rankings were a foolish undertaking because, as I heard Mike Krzyzewski say once, no one has ever seen any of the teams play, and that includes the sportswriters doing the rankings.

These days, with so many coaches pulling the veil of secrecy down around their teams in preseason, it become especially difficult to foretell the next four and a half months of college basketball.

But, probably like you, I was wondering if Manning would get any immediate help inside from sophomores Donovan Mitchell and Sam Japhet-Mathias or rookies Olivier Sarr and walk-on Sunday Okeke.

I was wondering if junior Doral Moore had improved his stamina enough to play more than four or five effective minutes before needing a blow.

I was wondering that when Manning did resort to the four-guard lineup just who would get the rebounds.

Going over the checklist, I see where against Liberty, in a game the Deacons really, really needed to win, Mitchell played one minute, Sarr played nine, Okeke played four and Big Sam never got off the bench.

I see that Moore played 22 minutes, and played them well enough to make seven of eight shots for the floor and finish with 14 points and nine rebounds. But I also saw him in the second half huffing and puffing like me trying to climb two flights of stairs.

And over the first two games, I see where Bryant Crawford has four rebounds in his first 57 minutes and where Brandon Childress has two in 48 minutes. On the face of it, Keyshawn Woods 10 rebounds in 68 minutes and Brown’s 11 rebounds in 61 minutes don’t look all that bad, but the fact remains that the Liberty Flames walked into Joel Coliseum and outrebounded Wake Forest 39-28.

And eight times in the second half alone, the Flames missed the initial shot of a possession only to grab the rebound and put it back in.

The best I can say about Wake right now is that Terrence Thompson looks like he’s going to be a big help, that Brown is physically all he was advertised to be and that it’s still ridiculously early. But in listening to Manning’s post-game address to the media, I would concur on two points.

Wake, at this point, is not a good team. And come this weekend’s games in Lynchburg, the Deacons are going to find out what they’re made of.

The great fear, of course, is that we’ve already found out.

Homage to The Garage

Back when I traveled regularly for the Winston-Salem Journal, covering Wake football and basketball far and wide, my most dreaded times were spent alone in hotel rooms with the walls closing in around me.

I had to get out.

More often than not, my refuge was any club, bar or honky tonk in town known for cold beer and hot music. I’d scour up a local entertainment guide, maybe do a little due diligence on the internet, hail a cab, pay my cover charge and take my chances.

To me, genre has always been a lame word contrived by marketing types for those who don’t realize that all good music flows seamlessly into all other good music. (And besides that, it’s French).

But my rule of thumb was, when in doubt, go with the blues.

You rarely go wrong with the blues.

There were many nights I would love to remember every magic moment and there were nights I’d just as soon I could forget. But it dawned on me one time coming off the road that my prevailing opinion of any given town was shaped almost entirely on what kind of scene I happened to find on that given night.

Case in point: Anyone who has made it to the Tractor Tavern, up north in to the university community of Ballard, knows that Seattle is one rocking town. Any establishment that has a weekly Hank Williams Tribute Night is all right by me.

Conversely, I never found Tallahassee to be much fun until about my 15th trip when my compadre Lenox Rawlings and I drove about 10 miles north to this cinder-block dive with the tin roof stuck way back in some field called the Bradfordville Blues Club. Turned out to be one of my favorite haunts of all time, and had me looking forward with bated breath to the next trip to the capital of the Sunshine State.

To peer through the other end of the telescope, any working stiff passing through the Piedmont from mid-2007 through 2011 lucky enough to fall into the Garage on a Wednesday night we were having our weekly Open Mics had to return to Peoria or Hicksville or Flagstaff or Kalamazoo absolutely certain that Winston-Salem, N.C. was a mighty cool place to be.

What wild and rollicking times were to be had down that long, narrow hallway off Seventh Street. The beauty of the Garage was it never tried, or needed, to be more than what it was, a warm, happy, naturally cosmic space with the comfortable vibe you seek in such places, one that lets you know you’re welcome.

We always made sure everyone who showed up to play felt like they belonged, because they did. And by we, I include the whole family, owner/managers Richard Emmett and Kimberly Lawson, sound engineers Jeffrey Paul Irving and Brian Doub and servers like Sarah E. Smith and Erin McCully-Davis.

The music was amazing at times, a bit hard on the ears at others, but what mattered most was that we had gathered as a community to show and tell and celebrate the music and art and each other together. As I’ve written before, Open Mic done right can be downright holy.

None of which is to say Wednesday was the only night magic could be found down at 110 West Seventh. There were so many other evenings I danced myself silly to the Emma Gibbs Band or the Red Elvises or the Bo-Stevens or the Near Strangers or Lonesome Bob or Possum Jenkins or Vel Indica or the Band of Heathens or the Red Lipstick Society or the Felice Brothers or the Liquor House Soul Revue or the Solid Citizens or whatever groove a local icon like Mitch Easter might happen to be in at the time.

Best show I ever saw there was the Gourds sometime back around 2000 when Kevin Russell and his cohorts were in all their glory. It was mandatory attendance for the Collins family, though Nate was only about 15 and Rebecca around 11.

I feel almost guilty in saying I didn’t make the scene much after Tucker Tharpe took over the bar from Richard and Kim five years ago. We got the Open Mic up and going out my way at Muddy Creek Cafe, and it wasn’t the getting downtown that impeded me as much as the prospects of getting back home.

Truth is, I got older. I also got spoiled by having what I wanted – cold beer, hot music – five minutes away.

And now the sorrowful news comes down that the Garage will suspend operations come the New Year. Richard and Tucker are, from what I gather, holding out hope that somebody with deep enough pockets will come forward to keep the door open and the music and adult beverages flowing, but that obviously remains to be scene.

I wish that somebody could be me, but that would require me winning the lottery. Anyone with a love of live music and all the good times associated with it will attest that the town needs places like the Garage to get folks up from their easy chairs and out of their apartments and homes, and, lest we forget, the hotel rooms with the walls closing in.

Wake Breaks Through

Progress, as Wake Forest confirmed with Sunday’s mind-blowing 64-43 victory over Syracuse, is rarely if ever linear.

We humans don’t generally go from awful to awesome slow and steady, step-by-step.

Instead we push against the impenetrable (or so it seems) barrier with all our might until we start to despair, until we start to feel like the mythological Sisyphus trying, always in vain, to shoulder his boulder up and over the hill.

And what happens is that, if we push hard enough, with enough sustained energy and ingenuity with our mouth held just right, all of a sudden the barrier shatters. All of a sudden we, in the words of Jim Morrison of the Doors, break on through to the other side.

Break on through, I say again, to the other side.

For my last three seasons as an everyday working sportswriter (again, a contradiction of terms) I watched Dave Clawson endeavor ever so mightily to build an offense at Wake Forest from scratch. Jim Grobe, the best coach I never covered at Wake, left Dave a solid, mid-level ACC defense but the offensive cupboard was as bare as bare could be.

Practice after practice, game after game, month after month, season after season I watched Dave assemble the parts and put them through their paces, with barely noticeable results.

First he had to build the offensive line. Then he had to find and coach up the skill athletes able to deliver the goods. But for all his efforts — and as I will attest, they were considerable – a microscope was required to see any sign of progress.

His first team scored 14.8 points a game, fewer than any major-college team other than SMU. His second team averaged 17.4 points a game, which, though better, was still worse than every ACC team other than anemic Boston College.

So it took Clawson three seasons for his offense to score 20.4 points a game, which still tied the Eagles for worst in the league. But after averaging only 13 points over the final three games, the Deacons at least threw scraps of hope to the hungry by torching ranked Temple for 34 in a resounding Military Bowl victory.

Anyone expecting the 2017 team to be an offensive juggernaut had to be disappointed by the 20 points at Appalachian State, the 19 at home against FSU and the 14 at Clemson.

But somewhere along the way – maybe it was during the 43-32 victory over Louisville, or perhaps even the 48-37 loss at Notre Dame – Clawson and his Deacons got up enough momentum to finally, at long last, push their Sisyphean boulder over the crest of the hill.

And once that boulder started rolling down the other side –

– My man, John Wolford, ravages the Orange defense for 499 yards and six touchdowns.

– Matt Colburn, the last running back standing, rumbles for 237 yards and two touchdowns.

– Three receivers, Tabari Hines, Cam Serigne and Scotty Washington, catch at least seven passes for at least 100 yards.

– The Deacons, as a team, score their most points since 66-21 drubbing of Virginia in 1975 and amass a total of 734 yards, shattering the school record to little tiny bits. The previous record was the 632 yards gained against North Carolina in a 48-31 home victory way back in 1968, the season Groves Stadium (now known as BB&T Field) opened.

And Wake accomplished all this without Cade Carney, the running back who started the season, Greg Dortch, the redshirt freshman who zipped and zapped his way to 53 receptions and 722 yards in is first eight college games, and Arkeem Byrd, another redshirt freshman who scared the dickens out of every defensive coordinator who turned on Wake’s tapes.

But what the Deacons had, by Saturday, was a tough, grizzled offensive line, a talented quarterback who had started 42 games, and a team-full of players who bought into Clawson’s mantra that the process had to be trusted

So Wake, at 6-4, is now bowl eligible with home games against N.C. State and Duke remaining. There were erroneous reports from multiple quarters that Saturday’s victory secured a bowl bid. That’s what I heard on the telecast, and even Clawson, in his post-game IMG Sports interview with Stan Cotten, said his team is now guaranteed at least three more games.

Not so.

As probable as a bowl bid for Wake is – and I, like most everybody reading this, have a hard time imagining the Deacons will be sitting home come bowl season – the fact remains that every team in the ACC other than North Carolina still has a shot at one of the nine bowl tie-ins the conference has arranged.

Of course, the Deacons could end up in a bowl with no current affiliation with the conference. And of course they are, suddenly, a most attractive team capable of putting up pinball-like numbers at the drop of a shiny gold helmet.

And for that I’m happy for Wolford and Serigne and all the seniors who had to trust the process as Clawson built the offense part by part. I’m happy for Justin Herron, Phil Haynes, Ryan Anderson, Patrick Osterhage, Jake Benzinger and Nathan Gilliam, all of whom were showered with so much abuse (much of it, I must admit, coming from yours truly) while they galvanized into the best offensive line I’ve seen play at Wake since, at least, Grobe’s first few seasons.

Most of all I’m happy for Dave Clawson, because I know how hard he had to work to get the program where it is today.

Work obviously remains. The defense is a concern, even after giving up only three points in the second half at Syracuse. If stars Jessie Bates and Duke Ejiofor are unable to answer the bell next week, the proceedings against N.C. State could get ugly.

But the Deacons are again, a really fun team to watch. That’s what Clawson promised when he arrived, and that’s what he has delivered.

The boulder has crested the hill. Look out below.


Open Mic

It makes you scared,

It makes you numb,

But it’s the price you pay

If you want to become

The Star of Your Dreams.

From Open Mic Night at The Rubber Soul

If there really is such thing as a mid-life crisis, I experienced one along about 15 years ago.

It was the dawn of a new century and I’d just turned 50. I’d been in the same profession doing pretty much the same thing for 30 years. Our kids, Nate and Rebecca, were old enough to get in and out of the bathtub by themselves. And, considering their mother, Tybee, is a teacher and way smarter than their dad, they rarely came to me for help with homework anyway.

So around the house, I was starting to feel, shall we say, superfluous. I needed some juice in my life. I was bored and getting more so every day.

But fear not. I didn’t go out and buy a fancy red sports car to tool around town with the ragtop down. And if you’ve seen me anytime since, you’ll know I didn’t start wearing some stupid rug on my head.

What I did, instead, was to toss Buckshot, my 1967 Gibson J-45, in the car and scoured around town to find an Open Mic scene where I could play the songs I had been writing since I first learned to play at age 15 or 16.

And sure enough, down on Burke Street near the intersection with First Street – at the top of the hill – I stumbled into a bar called the Rubber Soul, which featured a thriving Open Mic Night on Wednesdays. And I give thanks to this day that Kent Dunn, the wide-open owner of the establishment, and Neal B. Goode, who ram-rodded the Open Mic and operated the sound board, never ran me off.

I kept coming, week after week, until sadly, the Rubber Soul closed its doors sometime around 2006. The scene died, but thankfully the three patrons shot in there on that tragic Monday night all survived.

But the hook was in pretty deep by then, so I talked the owners of the Garage – two good friends and even better folks, Richard Emmett and Kim Lawson – into letting me run an Open Mic at their bar on Seventh Street downtown. We had a really good thing going there for 4 ½ years, a show on that wonderful big stage that started at 8 and ran until 12.

We kept tweaking the format until, in the later years, we offered 15-minute sets for singer-songwriters the first couple of hours leading into two 45-minute sets for bands from 10:30 to midnight.

I’ve been told by folks who might know this kind of thing that 4 ½ years is an eternity for any Open Mic scene. I do know we had us quite a time until our show finally ran its course and ended. We always had plenty of performers to fill the bill, but when the number of folks there to listen and buy adult beverages slowed to a trickle, Richard and Kim weren’t making enough to keep it going.

By then, I was pretty much done with hanging around until the last note died at midnight. So I was cool, and then some, with how it all went down.

But I was still writing songs, and I still needed a place to play them. You see, playing a new song live is, at least for me, essential to the process. I don’t even feel I’ve written a song until I’ve show-tested it, to to speak, in front of live human beings other than my bride Tybee.

I kept hunting around town for another happening Open Mic scene, but could never find one to suit my purposes. I fell into a couple of scenes where there were Open Jams, but if you’re a songwriter, nobody you’re playing with at these shows is going to know your songs.

It just didn’t work.

And perhaps you’ve heard the saying about how if you want to do something right. . .

So finally, early in 2014, I wrote out a proposal introducing myself and explaining what I had done at the Garage and what I was willing to do elsewhere, and dropped it off at every bar, club and venue in town that featured live music. And for months, I heard absolutely nothing.

Then in the late spring of 2014 I got a call from a guy named Bill Heath, who was interested in maybe getting an Open Mic going at Muddy Creek Cafe in Bethania. Right away I was interested, especially considering the Cafe is about five minutes from our hacienda.

We launched in June of 2014 and have been going great guns ever since. Befitting my age, it’s an earlier scene. We start at 6:30 and wrap the night up by 10, if not sooner.

Over all these experiences I’ve become more and more devoted to the concept of Open Mic.

On its worst nights, its time well-worth spending.

On its best nights replete with amazing music and even better communal fellowship and fun, it can be downright holy.

And at Muddy Creek Cafe we take great, great pains to ensure that our Open Mic is totally open. Being a musician myself, I recognize how harrowing getting up on stage to play for people can be – especially when you’re laying your soul bare by performing songs you, yourself, wrote.

So our motto is that You’re Among Friends at Open Mic at Muddy Creek Cafe. And we always welcome newbies with open arms.

What I’ve found is that relying on the same core of two or three dozen people will carry you only so far. Eventually life catches up and the numbers start to dwindle.

I attribute our longevity to being able to expand the circle with newbies every week. Besides, the larger the circle, the more fun for everybody. And we happily include all people of all ages, genders, races, attitudes and tastes.
Why not? Good music is good music, good people are good people and good times are good times.

Every week I leave my house before six knowing I have absolutely no idea what to expect. Every week is different but every week has been a blast.

I wake up every Thursday morning with a smile on my face, knowing there will be an Open Mic that night. And I’ll have the same smile on my face when I leave the house tonight for the show.

So if you’re a musician looking for a place to play, or if you’re just a music lover looking for a happening scene, we’d love to have you drop by. For those wanting to perform, just know that at 6:15 we draw numbers to determine when everybody plays.

The real fur begins to fly with the first chord at 6:30.

We’re having too much fun to miss. Hope to see you there.

The Big Bad NRA

Nobody in their right mind is advocating the prohibition and confiscation of guns in American.

There are, studies show, more than 300 million guns privately owned in our country. Think about it. Nobody could get rid of that many guns even if they tried.

Nor should they.

In addition to those who are willing to fight to the death to own firearms, I’d hazard to guess that there are millions of Americans who feel about the say way I do. Guns are deeply embedded in our culture and besides, if someone wants to keep one in their home for protection, or likes to hunt, or maybe just enjoys collecting firearms for a hobby, more power to them.

I repeat. Nobody in their right mind is advocating the prohibition and confiscation of guns in America.

But next time you catch a guns’ rights advocate make their case, check how quickly they raise the specter of prohibition and confiscation Watch how they go from reasonable and sensible gun control to the abolition of guns in America faster than a Lamborghini can accelerate from 0-to-60 miles an hour.

Because without that tired, overused canard, they have nothing to defend their extreme position, a position that there’s really nothing legislatively our elected officials should – or even could — do about guns to stem the epidemic of mass shootings raging in our land.

Twenty five good folks were gunned down this week while at worship in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. A month ago 58 were slaughtered and 546 wounded at a country music show in Las Vegas.

It’s hard these days to turn on the television without being bombarded by more breaking news of another mass shooting in America.

Let’s concede every sane and responsible citizen has a right to own a gun in America. For that, I have no problem. But don’t I have a right to attend church or go listen to some good music without being gunned down by some crazy with a weapon of war in his or her hands?

We elect our politicians to solve these kinds of problems. Our president certainly didn’t waste any time advocating the policy solution of tighter immigration when a deranged soul originally from Uzbekistan plowed over bikers and crashed into a school bus in New York City.

But the next time there’s a mass shooting – and I’m conditioned to expect that it won’t be long – check out the reaction from the politicians currently in power.

First they’ll maintain that it’s “too early’’ to comment, and by doing so would only “politicize” the tragedy.

Then, of course, they’ll offer their “thoughts and prayers’’ to the victims and their loved ones.

Not to say there’s anything whatsoever wrong than extending thoughts and prayers – as far as that goes.

The problem is, then they do absolutely nothing

If they were to follow up by advancing reasonable and sensible solutions to the problem – and here we’re talking about expanding background checks, closing the loopholes that allow the bad guys to get guns, keeping weapons of war such as high-powered, rapid-action assault rifles out of the hands of the general public – then all that would be well and good.

Instead, the powers that be just keep on keeping on accepting and cashing their checks from the NRA and other extreme guns’ rights organization and doing nothing to stem the epidemic.

But I have to think that at some point, either here or in the hereafter, they’re going to have to answer for their deafening silence.

And good luck with that.

Memorandums Vindicate N.C. State

Those of you who believe this post will believe anything. Who knows, you might even believe the office of the Atlantic Coast Conference is really behind which of its member schools wins or loses a particular athletic event.

It’s not paranoia, as the saying goes, when they’re really out to get you.

Long-suffering supporters of N.C. State athletics can at least take solace in knowing that the suspicions they’ve harbored now for 64 years – since the formation of the Atlantic Coast Conference – have now, at long last, been confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Previously undisclosed minutes from the meetings held in May of 1953 at the Sedgefield Inn in Greensboro were found recently in the personal effects of Skeeter Francis, the late long-time publicist for Wake Forest in the ACC. Of particular interest were those recorded on the afternoon of May 8, 1953, during a 15-minute period when Roy Clogston, the director of athletics at N.C. State, had a sudden and unfortunate reaction to his lunch, forcing him to repair in great haste to the men’s room.

According to the accounts recorded by some unnamed secretary (Francis?), the other athletic directors in the room – Eddie Cameron of Duke, Rex Enright of South Carolina, Jim Weaver of Wake Forest, Jim Tatum of Maryland, Chuck Erickson of North Carolina and Frank Howard of Clemson – took advantage of Clogston’s absence to establish and corroborate the real reason the schools were pulling away the Southern Conference to form their new league.

Initiating the discussion was Cameron, as he stood at the door and watched Clogston stumble down the hall and around a corner.

All clear, Cameron told the others. Time to get the story straight.

Weaver took the floor to remind everyone that the official explanation for forming the Atlantic Coast Conference would be that the 17-team Southern Conference had become too large and unwieldy. He planned to emphasize to the media and public how his own coach, Tom Rogers, complained constantly about never getting to play lightweights Davidson and Furman.

Howard, laughing uncontrollably, said Clemson could never find it in its heart to forgive the Southern Conference for 1950 season when the Tigers, at 9-0-1, finished second in the standings to 8-3 Washington and Lee. That was the season, Howard reminded the others, that Clemson played only four conference games, one of which ended in a 14-14 tie with rival South Carolina. Washington and Lee, meanwhile, finished 6-0 in conference play.

Tatum, endeavoring to maintain a straight face, recalled how the Southern Conference had suspended Maryland and Clemson from play in 1952, the year after the Terps and Tigers defied a bowl ban imposed by the conference to play in the Sugar and Orange Bowls, respectively. The explanation would be well received in College Park, Tatum pointed out, especially considering the Terps beat Tennessee in the 1951 Sugar Bowl to finish 10-0.

Only then did Erickson rise to remind his fellow director of athletics the true impetus for leaving the Southern Conference and forming a new league. Confidentiality was critical, Erickson noted, so that the Wolfpack should never, ever discover that the Atlantic Coast Conference was formed for one reason and one reason only.

And that, Erickson reiterated, his belly shaking in laughter, is so that the other member schools could stick it to N.C. State for as many years and in as many ways as they could get away with it.

Enright expressed doubt that the subterfuge would survive even the most cursory of scrutiny.

Cameron disagreed, expressing the opinion that the folks in South Carolina didn’t know the depths of N.C. State’s persecution complex as well as the Wolfpack’s neighbors in North Carolina.

Cameron found support from Erickson, who reminded the others how much fun it will be to torment the Wolfpack game after game, month after month, season after season.

The discussion ended when Cameron, standing at the door, warned that Clogston was coming back down the hall.

But not before Erickson bet Enright a hundred dollars that more than 60 years would pass before N.C. State ever learned the true reason the ACC was formed in May of 1953 at Greensboro’s Sedgefield Inn.