Hanging With the New Commish
by Jim Alderson, 7/6/04
to Greensboro for Joining Day seemed as good a reason as any, particularly to
Larry Ramsey, the keeper of our Clubhouse RV. How many times would we be able to
be around when Tech joined the ACC? Larry announcing his attentions to pitch
camp at ACC HQ seemed to cause some concern among certain Triad Hokies, perhaps
envisioning Swofford arriving to work that morning to find our Clubhouse RV
parked on the grass in front of the ACC building or worse, in his parking place,
with grills going and a bunch of Tech guys standing around consuming adult
beverages at 8 in the morning. There was a feeling, perhaps not without some
justification, that Swofford might immediately rescind Tech’s invitation.
To assuage concerns, we all agreed to be on our best behavior and Larry
promised to place the Clubhouse at a respectful distance from the ACC’s sacred
site, which turned out to be across the street in an overflow lot adjacent to
the parking of another tenant of the Grandover office park. This turned out to
be the headquarters of the North Carolina Association of Realtors, whose
executive director took one look at what was on his side of the street and,
adopting an expression last seen on the face of Mr. Drysdale when the Clampetts
pulled into Beverly Hills, came running over. He turned out to be a great guy
and a graduate of Southern Cal. He stayed for a while and talked football
[opposing fans are always welcome at our tailgates], but, since, unlike us, he
was actually working, he declined our offer of a Bloody Mary. We did make plans
to meet him at FedEx.
Swfford spoke at the reception. His remarks sounded eerily familiar. His talk of
Tech always belonging in the ACC and his belief that we should have entered the
conference long before now sounded a lot like those reported earlier by Bill
Roth when Swofford spoke to a gathering at Tech. That he only seems to have one
set of comments when speaking to Hokies, along with the perfectly-coiffed hair
that never seems to change no matter how many times I see him, whether in person
or on television, raises suspicions that under that hair on the back of his head
there is a stem to be wound, or perhaps Dr. Noonien Soong created a third
android in addition to Data and Lore. In any event, it was a nice welcoming
speech that contained no clue of Swofford seeming to feel a bit different about
Tech’s inclusion fourteen months ago.
Then things got interesting with the Knife Incident.
The Triad Hokies had provided a cake to commemorate Tech’s ACC admission.
Swofford was invited to cut it, and as he moved to do so Clota Gerhardt of our
tailgating group leaped from the crowd surrounding Swofford while brandishing a
Virginia Tech pocket knife. The face of the ACC Commissioner registered complete
surprise, probably the same as when he found out that Duke and Carolina had
changed their original votes. Perhaps he thought there were some Hokies that
were still pretty ticked about the expansion procedure. Before Swofford could
scream “Assassins! Help” or drop to his knees pleading for his life, “It
was all Shalala’s fault. She made me leave you out” Clota merely informed
Big John that he desired that the Tech cake be cut with a Tech knife. It was a
relieved John Swofford that proceeded.
I am not a certified pastry appraiser but would have to think there would
have been some value in a Virginia Tech pocket knife used to cut the cake that
celebrated Tech’s entrance into the ACC and contained crumbs of that momentous
occasion. Clota eventually cleaned it, however, so it will probably not be
showing up on Ebay. I assume it will become a cherished family heirloom to be
passed down to future generations of Gerhardts. Clota’s actions will become a
great addition to our tailgating lore. I would also think there are few fans of
any other ACC school who can claim they once pulled a knife on John Swofford.
The Greensboro welcoming reception was an enjoyable way to celebrate Tech’s
joining of the Atlantic Coast Conference. I was glad to have been at the
historic event. As John Swofford relaxes at the Outer Banks catching up on his
Net surfing, I do have one other thing to add: John, I really didn’t mean it
when I said you were not a visionary……Actually, I did, but it was nice
meeting you anyway.
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