I was born in 1971 and was obviously too young to have experienced the Watergate scandal first hand, but thanks to the History Channel I have learned the basic facts. For those who want a refresher on those events, click here. For those who couldn't care less, in 1972 five men were arrested at 2:30am while trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. Evidence builds, nationally televised hearings ensue, and yadda yadda yadda, President Nixon resigns in shame in August of 2004. Nixon did not devise this plot, but he eventually learned of it and was doomed to historical damnation for attempting to cover it up. Something that began fairly innocuously eventually brought the most powerful man in the world to his knees.
As the hearings progressed, Nixon's henchmen began to fall on their swords to protect the President, but the facts eventually led all the way to the top, and the nation would not stand for this betrayal. The relevance of this after the jump.Gene David Block is an experienced researcher with an excellent pedigree who, at the age of 53, was appointed Provost of the esteemed University of Virginia in its third century of existence after spending three decades in various capacities at one of our country's greatest public institutions. But oddly, the University of Virginia's longstanding major sports programs of football and basketball fared very poorly in the years following Block's rise to power in 2001, and continued to underproduce in the five years following his move to UCLA's Chancellor in 2006.
Others were hired and fired along the way, but strangely, in spite of the University's enormous resource pool, the University of Virginia's football program between 2001-2011 averaged only 6.5 wins a year, and lost to their conference rivals Virginia tech 10 out of 11 times, including a 34-0 shutout this year. This stat would have been worse had the school not won 25 games between 2002-2004 in Block's first three years as Chancellor. Virginia went to 5 mediocre bowl games in that span despite exceeding a .500 win percentage in the ACC only in 2002 (6-2), 2004 (5-3), 2007 (6-2) and this year (5-3). No conference titles and no BCS births in 11 years of stable mediocrity with a 1-10 record against Virginia Tech by an average score of 31-13. BUT WAIT, the University of Virginia is a basketball school!
Gene David Block is a phenomenal fundraiser, and through his efforts, an amazing state-of-the-art basketball multi-use arena, the John Paul Jones Arena, was completed in 2006, just prior to Block's departure for greener pastures at UCLA. This place really is amazing, as can be seen here. Strangely, however, even with their sparkling new facilities, the success of UVa's basketball team has actually trended downward since it opened before the 2007 season. in 2007, the team was 21-11 (11-5 in conference) and lost in the NCAA tourney's second round. In 2008, the team was 17-16 (5-11) and lost in the CBI semis . . . whatever the CBI is. Since then Virginia went 10-18 (4-12) in 2009, 15-16 (5-11) in 2010, and 16-15 (7-9) in 2011 with no other postseason appearances. Finally, five years after Block left, and five years after the opening of this new college basketball mecca. the Cavs are 8-1 as I type this, including a nice win over a #15 Michigan team that blew us out in Maui.<p>
The parallels with the morasse that is UCLA sports today are uncanny. The football team's putrid performance and disastrous record against our "rival" is identically disgusting, as is our bowl record. Our basketball school is in shambles, and our gleaming new Pauley is no guaranty that the epic mismanagement of our athletic department will right itself anytime soon . . . under this regime, UCLA is now known solely for its medicine. The University with the most undergraduate applications in the county every year has an athletic department crumbling under sheer neglect by its esteemed Chancellor.<p>
The guys on the frontline have fallen on their swords for Block, with true bruins bleeding out blue. But like Erlichman and Haldeman, and even Dubious Dan, they are mere pawns in a greater game. This goes all the way to the top, and its time for Chancellor Block to wake up and take ownership of the implosion of a once-proud athletic department, or abdicate to someone who will.