BobLee Says

"Harry Potter" Thorp To Hogwarts

Feb 18, ’13:  “Harry Potter” Thorp is headed to “Hogwarts”.  It will be announced today that Holden Thorp will become Provost of Washington University in St Louis effective July 1.  It should be a PERFECT fit for my much-maligned friend.  I could not be happier for Holden and his family.   Yes, The Family Thorp will remain under my indirect protection...... In other news..... the ultimate dichotomy for feminists.

I’ve liked the guy from Day One.  We met for lunch at Sutton’s Drug Store in the summer of 2008, a week or so after Holden Thorp assumed the Chancellorship of UNC.  Erskine Bowles had suggested we make acquaintance.  

Not a great deal in common other than both being “Tar Heel born” and both matriculating at UNC albeit 15 years apart.  I’m a smart alecky right-wing fanatic hard-wired to be anti-academic.  He is the quintessential academic uber-liberal nerd who is not sure if a football is stuffed or blown-up.   About as far apart as Mercury and Pluto (the planet, not the dog) but there was a bridge somewhere in there that remains today.  

One common link is that UNC's notorious Lunatic Fringe REALLY REALLY doesn't like either one of us.  I can't speak for HT but I consider that a MAJOR resume enhancement.

I recall his first question there at Sutton’s lunch counter..... “BobLee, why does everyone care so much about what happens here (UNC)?”  This was, of course pre-Marvin tweet.  

My incredibly insightful reply was “Holden, ‘everyone’ doesn’t care.”  

I went on to explain that the degree of “caring” was proximity-centric.   Move out in 50-mile concentric circles from The Old Well and “interest’ wanes considerably.   Later I would reaffirm this when only seven out of 150+ Hickory Rotarians recognized the name Jennifer Wiley.

Erskine had told an anecdote about offering Holden the chancellor position while the two men were purchasing “a pack of Nabs” in Greensboro.  I suggested he adopt the “Nabs” shtick as a way to humanize himself to students.  Several months later he took my advice..... passing out “Nabs” to freshmen during orientation.  Alas, over the insuing years, he did not always take my sage advice.    

There was the time at The Durham Sports Club when Holden told a personal anecdote that revealed his lack of familiarity with the grim reality of “big time” college athletics.   I recommended he NEVER tell “that one” again as it would not play well among the lunatic fringe.  He was just starting to earn about “those people”.

I won’t do a chapter and verse of our conversations over the past five years.  I offered unsolicited advice throughout The Great Unpleasantness based on what I knew and what I surmised was going on “behind the scenes”.  Yes, I warned him on numerous occasions that his confidence in one particular senior “director” was misplaced and would surely bite him in the butt.   Score one for that crazy right-wing guy on the Internet.  :-)

The "Athletic component" was to be Holden's Achilles heel from the get-go.  No CEO is ever "expert" in all phases of his domain.  Misplaced trust in a department head has brought down many a well-intentioned leader.  Tough bidness.

Those of us chosen by fate to be a Jiminy Cricket (or Cassandra) must accept the frustration of our assignment.   My friendship with Holden Thorp has never been based on him taking my advice.   Good thing, huh!   

The BFD was, of course, “the firing of Butch Davis” in July 2011.   I supported that decision 110% and always knew why the controversial timing was when it was.   The local media has never bothered to explain the timing for reasons that further lower my opinion of “them”.  

Literal “death threats” followed Holden’s decision.  His personal introduction to UNC's lunatic fringe was now complete.  I recall asking "How's it going?" about a month after firing Butch.  The reply - "Having an armed guard at our dinner table is still hard to explain to our kids."  Hark that sound!

Obviously given a “do-over” much would be done differently from Marvin’s tweet to Julius’ lies on top of lies to today.  But “big boy leadership” doesn’t work that way.

On those occasions when Holden “zigged” I was often screaming “ZAG” but he was receiving lots of advice from many perspectives.  Yes, my advice was sounder but only hindsight would confirm that.

I am privy to more than I will ever reveal here.  There has been a macabre fascination to this whole glorious mess.  From one little tweet “for want of a nail a shoe was lost.... for want of a shoe a horse was lost...... a rider..... a message..... a battle..... a war was lost.”

Was Holden Thorp a co-conspirator in the whole Julius Mess? No, of course not, but it all exploded “on his watch” and there are consequences to whatever happens “on your watch”.  The ABC lynch mob will always screech their “Grand Conspiracy” version... and Holden’s critics within the UNC family will grind down their back teeth.  A pox on both gangs.

Would a veteran Chancellor have “handled all this” differently?  You mean like that “veteran administrator” Bob Broadhead so skillfully handed Duke Lacrosse?  Or how “veteran administrator” Gordon Gee skillfully handled Ohio State’s Mess?  Or how any SEC administrator is subservient to his lunatic fringe?

Holden’s decision to resign was inevitable and in the best interests of all concerned.  My concern has always been for Holden and his family.  

Now “Harry Potter” Thorp goes to Hogwarts. 


The Washington University campus in St Louis is a dead ringer for the legendary “School for Wizards”.  I’ve never been to those centuries old universities of Europe – Oxford, Eton, Cambridge, Heidelberg  but Wash U looks “like them” with all its spires and turrets and parapets.   How do I know all this?  Our daughter "Kid" lives about five minutes from the Wash U campus. 

As Provost of Hogwarts I wonder if Holden gets to wear a pointy hat and will have a pet owl.

His only sport to deal with at Division III Wash U will be Quidditch.  I’m not sure if Quidditch has lunatic board monkeys that will demand that Wash U be “a BCS Quidditch school”.   

I sure hope not.


A ironic week for feminists......

The same week that Danica Patrick wins “the pole” for The Daytona 500 is:
The same week that Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue comes out.

Danica Patrick versus Kate Upton ?????

Famous BobLee Quote.... “When it comes to women - “pretty” always matters.”  
Hey, I don’t make these rules.
Speaking of high-achievin' pretty gals..... BobLeeSays Celeb-Babe Nicole Comparato (of the FCT Fame!) scooped EVERYONE (including Dan Kane) on this Thorpian story.  Here is Nicole story in todays DTH (CLICK)


BREAKING NEWS:  Yes, I know about "the Sidney Lowe Arrest" today.  It is what it is and I'm sure the InsideCarolina board monkeys are in full attack mode.  Their "incoming" fire will blot out the sun......  Who knew John Swofford had connections with the IRS ???
Posted: February 18, 2013 at 10:23 AM by SaidWHATMedia | with 18 comments

All Comments To Be Approved By Moderator

We keep crossing paths....I'm just in from a long hike down a busy beach not some romantic climb along a scenic volcanic rim (on Bali) and had a few minutes to catch up on the latest at a local eatery with WIFI.....My sister and her husband taught at Washington U. and my daughter decided on NC State Design over W. U.--her grateful mother and father still thank her for the in-state tuition difference......

Remember a popular ice cream parlor in Clayton....popular with Washington University faculty.

Good for Holden--I now see him as that guy you once described as the high-in-self-esteem professor (chancellor) so popular with his students, likely walking to school from his house just off campus stopping briefly here and there to have a chat with book-toting kids who look at him with great admiration, .....Enough of that silly big-time-college sports nonsense.......He is a winner in all of this Unpleasantness........

I've been eating in off-the-tourist path with my right hand only whole fish with vegetables and chillies and such, a few rats seen scampering the floor in the back of open-air restaurants (for effect)...... State and Carolina have at it this Saturday and the Unpleasantness goes on hold.....State's resume now blotted with tax evasion--Sidney should bring up the names of a few Congressmen, Secretary of Treasury Geithner, Wesley Snipes (oops, that one doesn't work)..........Haven't found a Rick's Cafe American in Ubud, but there is a black guy named Sam playing the piano at Turtles......And a lovely Swedish woman hanging around. A bit of a ramble....

You likely had an influence on Holden's decision.....Good for Holden, good for you.....

BL: "Ted Drewes'" is the legendary St Louis custard place.

The scenario for Holden COULD work at Wash U but in my version it is more of a Dartmouth, Davidson, Washington&Lee type remote bucolic campus not in the middle of a metro sprawl.... for him the Wash U key is its Div lll "club-level" athletics firmly subservient to academics. I do hope his family can adjust to a "big city".

Sidney's unfortunance bring up another Rule For Rivals - "a high profile individual's "personal problems" are NOT fair game unless the individual is one of "theirs", then it is. I do so love Rules For Rivals.
2/20/2013 12:27:04 AM

Back in IndyCar, Danica (whom you've heard of) had a racing record 1 win better than Vitor Meira (whom you haven't heard of). Her one wine came because "Helio had to go slower to save fuel." Yet she was making tons of money in IndyCar, and was -- and probably still is -- the most powerful woman in the sporting world.

PS -- I wouldn't be the first one to note that only NASCAR controls the timing and scoring, and yeah, you can't possibly measure anything that close w/ a stop watch, so if there ever **WAS** a slight edge given to a competitor to hype a show, you don't prove it. Just saying. Not that they'd do that, cause we all know that NASCAR is beyond reproach. But such a thing would be undetectable and it WOULD hype the show.

Just like it would NEVER give a pit road speeding penalty except that someone is speeding, or throw a "debris" caution to break up a boring race. Never.

BL: Actually I HAVE heard of Vitor.

So you are saying that ALL Sports are versions of WWF Wrestling where outcomes are orchestrated for maximum promotional appeal.... and/or that every sports organization has it's "Swofford" effecting outcomes. ??

I like either theory.
2/19/2013 11:34:19 AM

Emmette Taylor
Good luck to HT. Hope thinks work out for him as he seemed very bright but so unprepared for the pos he stepped into thanks to an incompetent AD and a rouge coach. At least, he paid NC taxes. Fowler really did us a favor with Sid. (over his head from day1 ) Of course, Fowler, like BD got paid for his mistakes. Call your next case.

BL: Few if any college admins could have "handled" a crisis of this magnitude... certainly not anyone drunk on years of CarolinaWay Kool-Aid.

By the time the reality of the mess was obvious to even the most naive, the quicksand was chin-high and rising.
2/19/2013 9:12:22 AM

El Doctor
So, BL, do you think this is a case of Holden being a better coordinator than a head coach (think Monte Kiffin) or did he walk into a difficult situation before he was ready and will do a much better job in his second act (think Bill Belichick). I for one hope it is the second one. FWIW, I have been and remain a supporter of HT and completely understood the hows and whys of firing the Pale Rider when he did. Now his unbridled support of my hometown's pride, Prince Tassel Loafer, continues to elude me...

BL: The Belichek comparison is, I hope, an excellent comparison. Holden's Trial By Disaster was an impossible task. I'm sure he learned from it on holding subordinates accountable especially your Goldsboro boy.

Wash U should be a perfect career retooling situation for him. I certainly hope so. He's a "good man".
2/18/2013 8:25:06 PM

Dr Wire
HT is the textbook example of why hiring from within is not always the best decision. I am positive he will be an execellent Chancellor down range after an experience in "new water" both physically and culturally. His previous positions only asked for him not to screw it up since the system seemed to be hitting on all cylinders as he moved a rung at a time, now he must start from a clean sheet which is sometimes what a good research chemist needs.

BL: UNC has a long history of "inbred incest" that would make a Kentucky "hollow" proud ?? "Hiring from within" is not bad in small doses. UNC has tended to OD on it.
2/18/2013 7:04:54 PM

Good move for Holden. He'll get some training in executive leadership which he sorely lacked before becoming Chancellor. This might salvage his career.

BL: You are a model of consistency Walt. :-)
2/18/2013 5:57:22 PM

Former St. Louisan
Wash U is a great university and has one of the great medical complexes in the world...on par with Hopkins, Harvard, Duke, etc.

What a big loss for UNC and great gain for Wash U. Get Holden a Cardinal hat.

I rue the day we ever hired Butch Davis. We could at least have gotten a shady hired gun who could have a) gone better than 8-4 b) beaten NC State

BL: The Thorps aren't much for "sports". Luckily St Louis, as you know, has a very active arts community. I can see Holden & Patti enjoying The Muni Opera at Forest Park. Maybe their daughter can be in The Veiled Prophet shendig.

Butch & Holden will be forever linked.
2/18/2013 4:10:42 PM

The Big Easy, being waaaaay more than 50 miles from the "Southern Part of Heaven," both figuratively and literally, I can attest to your observation that people residing that distance or more have little or no interest in events in CH. Mr. Thorpe's departure from UNC didn't merit any note at all in our now thrice weekly fishwrap, the wonderfully named "Times Picayune."

Heck, even the "Great Unpleasantness" itself was barely mentioned.

In short, in the greater scheme of things, both are picayune matters, indeed.

BL: Has the aptly named T-P gotten around to reporting on LSU's HoneyBadger yet?

I just started a new Dave Robicheaux who-done-it.
2/18/2013 3:38:31 PM

The Expatriate
I am far removed from all of this, but there's still non-UNC tar on my heels. Throughout all of "it," a question has nagged at me (and perhaps others): Where was Erskine Bowles as all of this unfolded? As HT's boss, the mess also happened on EB's watch.

The latter -- for whom I have great admiration although I do not know him -- appears to be much more a "man of the world" than HT. He is, after all, "Skippa's boy,"he certainly married well and into another dynasty and his business career was in a field not noted for milquetoasts.

That being said, EB's whole life suggests he understands Power and how it is used. it seems to me that if anyone could (and should) have "stood up" to BOT Bob and other real and imagined dark forces, it was Bowles. Sadly, it appears he did not.

The result is that North Carolinians -- all of us, not just UNC alumni -- are forced into watching another good, talented native son ride off into the sunset.

BL: Darn good question and you are not the first to ask it.

What even I don't know is how much advice EB was providing "behind the scenes". Once EB's tenure as UNCPrez was up it would not have been his place to comment publicly but this crap did begin oozing out "under his watch" too.

EB also supported "Dickie" early on which I admonished him for doing.

In his defense... EB was also busy with that worthless "make work" assignment with Alan Simpson on the upcoming economic collapse of America.
2/18/2013 1:51:00 PM

58 Wolf Kennel
BL, very good summary (and also sad) about the Thorp situation and his new future. Comments on here also reflect the feelings of many. I personally share your positive appreciation of Chancellor Thorp, and I believe that is also shared (and spoken) by NC State's Chancellor Woodson. Although not in your original blog, I'm glad you included the BOTBob's term expiration in the Butch Davis terminiation schedule in one of your answers. Also don't know whether this announcement to St. Louis will give Thorp greater freedom to speak openly or will tamp down any reform efforts over the next three months. As I sent you separately some comments from a State Cabinet member, there still may be some additional issues upcoming.

BL: I suspect there may indeed be more layers on this onion yet to be peeled.

Holden and Randy had become quite close, I'm told.

No clue how today's announcement might affect the rest of his term. We'll see. BOT changes will also come about in July. ??!!??
2/18/2013 1:24:31 PM

Joe M
I bet Kate Upton would look really good in a Quidditch uniform?

BL: Or even a painted-on Quidditch uniform!
2/18/2013 12:50:57 PM

Every high profile executive is held accountable for what happens "on his watch". It comes with the corner office. ..... Every one BUT ONE - Barack Obama.

BL: Yep. Wonder how come dat?
2/18/2013 12:46:05 PM

I don't know if Danica's winning the pole at Daytona is a victory for fems or not as Danica has done many swimsuit and scantily clad photoshoots herself. On the other hand fems have been known to disregard certain inconvenient facts to support their case. Case in point their completely ignoring Bill Clinton's "bimbo eruptions" and outright sexual assaults.

BL: If Danica was a "bow wow" she would be a nobody. "Pretty counts".

Feminists are among the most predictably hypocritical animals in the Liberal zoo.
2/18/2013 12:34:00 PM

I don't know HT and will most likely never meet him; I"m sure he is a nice guy. Many with blue colored glasses may judge him as a hero who tried to save the University he loved from ruin. What he did, in my estimation, is cover up the rot instead of cleaning it out. My perspective on him is from way outside the inner circle and admittedly through red lenses. So all I can go by is what transpired in public.

Certainly, he could not have known everything going on (at first). And I'm sure he felt pressure from the BOT to do (or not do) certain things. But there are times in life when you can make a stand based on principle. Instead, he chose to obnubilate and delay instead of being open and up front about what was going on, and what had gone on. He surrounded himself with lawyers to try and protect the university's re*****tion with legal maneuvering instead of going after the wrong-doers. He let Butch keep doing what he was doing instead of firing him right out of the gate. He held a party for Dickie instead of blackballing him. He let Julius Kangaroo keep on "teaching" instead of firing both barrels at him. He let Hansbrough nepotism happen instead of saying no. He put a charade of an investigation in place instead of opening the komono. He was weak and powerless instead of assuming the mantle of leadership and doing the right things early on. He is leaving a mess when instead he could have cleaned up and built a stronger university.

And for what? His career? He still has one of those. There will always be jobs for academians, of which I'm sure he is a fine one. But what he doesn't have now is his integrity.

These are my opinions, and I have no illusion of changing anyone else's.

BL: I appreciate your perspective. I have heard much harsher ones.

I share your POV on several points. Certainly the Dickie Farewell Fete was beyond absurd.

As I note, "given a "do over"...." but that's not how it works.
2/18/2013 12:28:50 PM

I read the article this AM on the "other" news site. Whilst pecking the keys, there were no less than 10 comments added. Total has slowed down to around 30ish.

My thoughts, based on independent research as well as your running commentary since "it" started mirror yours. Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda will always haunt HT, unless he had the mindset of Scott Wood, Whittenberg (and perhaps some round ball flingers clad in light blue)....He HAS to let his slump GO. He has to get back in the game...
I could recommend the Sequence from the Holy Grail of all of Life's Mysteries....Top Gun.
Viper tells Maverick that he must decide what to do and that he is not going to blow sunshine up Mav's rear orifice....that a good (Fill in the Blank) always evaluates what has happened to him and uses that to improve his performance (does this work for Porn Stars?)....anyway, Maverick takes the advice and shows up and the rest is history.
So, my advice to you is to send HT a copy of Top Gun and suggest that he view it and perhaps see the irony of his situation there. BTW, does Mrs. HT look like Kelly McGillis?
I personally, as I suspect the bulk of the light blue nation and the red nation and perhaps (but it MUST be verified) dark blue nation wish HT well. May he live long and prosper...what would one do without their movie heros to quote... you and I bantered back and forth about Annie Lislie (the 1857 tune that BOTH UNC and KU use for their alma mater), I did a check on Washington University. It is based on a German tune, "How Can I Leave Thee". Listened to it...even to the tin eared and hard of hearing (being a charter member) will it get mixed up with Ms. Annie. So HT MIGHT want to read the lyrics and will NOT have to have sad memories when it is played.
That is probably a good omen for his future.
I do wish him well. He seems to be an admiral person who earned his "A" from the likes of Professor Harold Hill. Given a few years of virtious living and contributions to mankind, he might be given a new sweater with NO "A" emblazened on it.

BL: The lunatic mobs (ABC and UNC's) are nothing if not totally predictable. Wear a HazMat suit. ..... yawn!

Actually Mrs HT is a "cutie" - think Sandra Dee. She has been his "rock" through all this.

A new environment 1,500 miles away will make "moving on" a lot easier in many respects.
2/18/2013 12:04:37 PM

BC in PV
BobLee, even though I don’t know HT, I’ve enjoyed[?] following your coverage of all things UNC. Through your eyes, I’ve concluded that he is a decent guy in a very unpleasant situation. Hopefully, when he looks back over his UNC days and his interactions with you, he will realize that he has grown from them. It appears that Washington U is a good place for him.

BL: BC you know the hazards of a corporate executive. Academic "executives" live in the same "shooting gallery" albeit with "tenure".

HT and his wife are both Tar Heel-born so life "under The Arch" may take some adjustment. St Louis is "a good place to live" so I hope they can adjust.

This wasn't "their plan" five years ago. What's that saying - "Man plans.... and God laughs."
2/18/2013 11:47:42 AM

Jon Sasser
That is a very good school. I hope Chancellor Thorp will be happy there. Could you explain UNC's rationale for the timing of the firing of Butch Davis, because I do not believe Coach was ever told?

BL: I've always thought HT was far better suited for a "purely academic" institution such as Wash U.... Chicago.... Carneige Mellon... or, of course, a "real Ivy".

The coincidence of BOTBob Winston's BOT Chairmanship expiring that July meeting and Butch's termination was not a coincidence. I'm sure you know that Bob Winston was very instrumental in recruiting/hiring Butch and, as such, was a staunch supporter of BD's as events unfolded post Marvin's tweet.

BOTBob was part of several earlier "interventions" when BD's termination was imminent.
2/18/2013 11:27:44 AM

Hope you'll keep in touch with HT and let us readers know how he's doing. Despite "The Great Unpleasantness" having happened on his watch, this is a sad loss for UNC.

BL: Indeed I will. "Career plans" and crossword puzzles should best be written in pencil.
2/18/2013 10:49:54 AM

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