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
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
Danica Patrick versus Kate Upton ?????
Famous BobLee Quote.... “When it comes to women - “pretty” always matters.”
Hey, I don’t make these rules.
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 ???