Fourth and Long

Published 1:28 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My wife comments constantly about how ESPN, CBS Sports and the other sports networks apparently have our house bugged for audio.

Inevitably, during every game or match my wife and I watch together I will comment on how it would behoove this team or that player to make a particular adjustment and within inutesthe broadcast professionals will make reference to the same idea as if it were their own.

The first couple of dozen times this happens it is funny, but after awhile my wife and I simply begin to wonder when a check for our share of the various network’s profits will arrive via the mail. It appears that ESPN and large organizations are not only listening in on my conversations, but reading my columns as well.

After my column a few weeks ago, regarding the debacle that is THE Ohio State University football program it seems that Buckeye Head Football Coach Jim Tressel has volunteered to extend his self-imposed two-game suspension next season to five games.

Five games is of course the suspension that several of his key players will have to sit out next season as well. My column explained how beating teams like Toledo and Akron would not require great coaching, with or without the Buckeye’s starting quarterback, tailback, wide receiver and left tackle.

A real punishment would have required that Tressel not be there to coach against teams such as Miami (not the one in Ohio), Colorado and Michigan State. Those three schools represent games three, four and five of next season.

It is going to take an excellent coaching job to pull out victories over those three schools while missing such key personnel on the field and now it appears the task of doing just that will be the responsibility of someone else.

I can only assume his change of heart was a decision based on pressure he was getting from alumni, staff and other members of the media who had read my column. My wife (a lifelong Buckeye and someone who will NOT like this column) doesn’t think Fourth and Long had any impact whatsoever on Tressel’s decision to extend his suspension. I like to think it did.

Less impactful yet more clairvoyant was the column I wrote before my Tresselgate piece regarding the respect, or lack thereof, the ACC gets when Tobacco Road struggles. I reminded everyone that while UNC and Duke may seem less than stellar on occasion doesn’t mean the entire conference is reflective of it.

The Big East and its 11 NCAA Tournament teams may get all the hype, but teams like Florida State don’t get the respect they deserve simply because the media doesn’t think the ACC is as strong from top to bottom as many other leagues.

Little did everyone (except me apparently) know that the Big East would do as they always do and disappoint under pressure and Florida State would continue to surprise the rest of the country and find new ways to win.

This may have been a surprise to the folks up in Bristol, Connecticut, but to those of us in ACC country Florida State’s success in the “big dance” seemed less shocking and more inevitable.

The Seminoles have been knocking on the door of national prominence for a few years and, with the continued effort put forth by Head Coach Leonard Hamilton, it was only a matter of time before Florida State made their mark.

Bet you didn’t know Hamilton was the 20th winningest coach in ACC history. The man is a great coach and while his team scares me year in and year out it is nice to see him and his squad finally start to get the media recognition they deserve.

I guess this is a long column using lots of words when a simple “I told you so” would have worked just fine. Check in next week and see what other cutting edge news and opinions I’ll tell you next.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publishing. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at