Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: ACC can’t seem to avoid bad press

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by the 2011 ACC Football Kickoff: Now featuring even more embattled coaches!

Q: Ought to be a fun event next week, huh?

A: Always is. The happiest guy in the world right now has to be North Carolina coach Butch Davis. This was shaping up to be the second straight year in which his program -- which received a notice of allegations from the NCAA last month -- was going to be the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. Now at least a little of that media horde will peel off and find Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson.

Q: So did the Yellow Jackets win the 2009 ACC title or didn't they?

A: Guess not, but I sure seem to remember something about a title game that year. Former Georgia Tech center Sean Bedford does, too. That's why he posted a letter on his Facebook page informing NCAA officials that if they want him to return his ACC championship ring, they'll have to "pry it from my cold, dead finger."

Q: Whoa, nice! Does this mean we need to find young Sean a bodyguard?

A: Might be a good idea. You never know with the NCAA. But this guy's letter was fantastic. He addressed it to the NCAA and began it thusly: "Thank you for handing down penalties that only adversely affect the players who did things the right way. This reeks of an organization desperate to prove that it has some sort of control over its member institutions despite lacking the ability and firepower to police the serious offenders and protect the student-athletes whose interests you purport to have at heart."

Q: Good stuff, but "purport?" Is that guy a lawyer or something?

A: Not yet, but he is in law school. I hope he becomes a federal prosecutor.

Q: Why's that?

A: Because he'd have to be better than the ones who botched the Roger Clemens perjury case this week, showing that video that had been deemed inadmissible evidence, which led to the judge declaring a mistrial. Inexcusable. I mean, that has to be the second rule they teach you at law school.

Q: What's the first?

A: Don't get outfoxed by guys named Rusty. And the smile on the face of Rusty Hardin -- attorney for William R. Clemens -- indicates they failed on that one, too.

Q: Wait -- William R. Clemens?

A: I know! I had no idea, either. You'd think that would have been chanted at every opposing ballpark, like Mets fans did with Larry "Chipper" Jones: "Willll-iam ... Willll-iam!" I know a lot of taxpayer money has been spent on this Clemens trial, but learning The Rocket's real name almost makes it all worth it. Almost.

Q: First the Casey Anthony verdict, now Clemens. It's been a tough couple of weeks for prosecutors, no?

A: It has. But they have a tough job. It's very difficult to prove guilt in this country. And despite some high-profile whiffs recently, there are many who do great work.

Q: Like who?

A: Like San Mateo County (Calif.) District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. He's the guy who would have had to prosecute that University of New Mexico football player whose saggy pants -- and refusal to pull them up on an airplane -- led to his arrest last month. This week, after reviewing the facts, Wagstaffe decided criminal charges were not warranted. "My belief is if we took this into a courtroom with 12 members of our community on our jury, they would tell me, 'Come on, guys, you have more important things to spend your time on,' " Wagstaffe told The Associated Press. "And I share that view."

Q: Good move, but somewhat disappointing that there won't be a "saggy pants" trial. OK, let's wrap this up. What was the best comment on your blog this week?

A: That comes from old pal Travis Williams, regarding Georgia Tech's vacated title. Writes Travis: "And yet again the NCAA attempts to go wipe its history as clean as Marty's photos at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Look quick kids as the Demaryius Thomas in a Mickey Mouse shirt fades away!"

Q: Hmm ... Are you a sucker for lawyer talk and "Back to the Future" references?

A: I do not purport to be anything else. Now make like a tree and get out of here.

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