Friday, July 21, 2006

I Am Cumbie, Dammit! | by Dylan

There’s something in the air down South Carolina way. A whiff of panic, perhaps.

Fresh on the heels of Eff'n Gary Gray de-committing from the other USC (a change of direction so sudden, Steve Spurrier was seen writhing on the floor of his office crying “Aw, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God. God. Oh, I'm hurt. Oh, my neck, my back, my neck and my back), a local poo-flinging hack by the name of Larry Williams wrote a piece on Wednesday about how Irish carpetbaggers were pillaging the state, engaging in negative recruiting tactics, and otherwise harassing Clemson freshman Jamie Cumbie. The ironclad evidence of Charlie Weis’ underhanded scumbaggery was laid bare on the pages of the Post and Courier. Or not:

"They were sending me postcards like a month after I committed," said the 6-7, 255-pound Cumbie, who was a first-team Parade All-American. "The only school that tried to keep recruiting me was Notre Dame. It really didn't bother me."

Cumbie said the Fighting Irish coaching staff, led by second-year head coach Charlie Weis, also engaged in some negative recruiting on his visit to South Bend, Ind.

"They had a piece of paper, and it broke down advantages and disadvantages. It said Notre Dame was televised every weekend, every Saturday. Then they said Clemson has a horrible education."
A professional editor thought this was a story. The receipt of post cards and a pre-commitment breakdown of the “advantages and disadvantages.” Damnable Yankee scalawags. This story was destined to become just another entry in the Encyclopedia Brittanica of paranoiac anti-ND hit pieces (no doubt pushed by an aggrieved competing program, as they often are), but a funny thing happened on the way to the septic tank. Charlie Weis got pissed:
"I find it quite amusing a student-athlete already enrolled at another university has decided to be the team spokesman on Notre Dame recruiting practices," he said. "We do not use negative recruiting tactics. If supporting Notre Dame academics can be misconstrued as speaking down on another school's academics, call us guilty.

This is an obvious case of negative reporting against Notre Dame by other institutions. Maybe they should look in the mirror."
A couple of things struck me about this. First, the fact that Weis even bothered to respond to the story is unusual, only compounded by the fact that he absolutely smothered it in its crib. Second, the statement, issued through the SID’s office, reads as if transcribed directly from a Dictaphone. No Monkian Newspeak here. No polite demurring and gentle reminders of Notre Dame’s mission in all pursuits, football being just one of many. The message was unequivocal: “We didn’t do it, kid. Get lost.”

The victim of this gross injustice had a change of heart, as reported in the Chicago Tribune:
"I did not characterize our conversations properly," Cumbie said. "No one from Notre Dame, either in writing or in general conversation, said Clemson had a horrible education. Notre Dame made a comparison in different areas between the two schools, and the facts made Notre Dame look better. One of the areas was education. I am sure everyone makes comparisons during the recruiting process. It didn't bother me at all."
Without getting into what those facts were and how Cumbie (now assuming the role of Emily Litella) dismissed his own astute assessment and chose an inferior Clemson, and glossing over the fact that it seems Cumbie's first instinct when something "doesn't bother him at all" (apparently a daily occurrence) is to talk to a newspaper reporter, what’s going on here? I will now get into hearsay and conjecture (which are kinds of evidence).

Clemson’s Assistant AD/Sports Information Director is Tim Bourret. Bourret is a Double-Domer, earning his Bachelors degree in Business Administration in 1977, and his Masters in Communication Arts the following year, which happened to be the same year our current head football coach was graduated. Did Charlie know Bourret when they were in school together? Is it possible that Bourret’s phone rang on Wednesday night, and not to go over plans for the upcoming 30th reunion? Fanciful or not, it seems plausible that it was Bourret put the screws to Cumbie and that’s what led to the retraction. Bourret has been reminded that you never go against the family. As I read between the lines of Weis’ statement, he made this point to Bourret when he said:
I find it quite amusing a student-athlete already enrolled at another university has decided to be the team spokesman on Notre Dame recruiting practices.
Oh, snap! In other words, get your sh*t together Tim. The inmates are running the asylum.

My God, it’s great to see non-stories like this not knock the football staff and the administration on their collective heels.