One of the dirty not-so-secrets that hangs over soccer is match fixing. All over the world, shady underworld types pass envelopes full of cash to players, coaches, and referees, instructing them to make sure the game turns out the way they want.
It can be rampant in the game's backwaters, the lower divisions in places like Hungary or Finland or in any of the Asian domestic leagues. But it can reach high in places like Turkey, where multi-time champions and regular continental competitors Besiktas and Fenerbahce have been banned from European competition as a result of match fixing just in the past few years. If games can be fixed in places like that, just how far can these nefarious gangsters reach?
Perhaps the dizzying heights of the mid-2000s Atlantic Coast Conference?
Queens rapper and life enthusiast Action Bronson's 290 sports references were expertly cataloged here by SB Nation's Rodger Sherman, and I highly recommend reading each and every one. At several points Bronson has boasted about fixing games between college teams, and one claim in particular stood out:
Motherfucker I'm a great artist / I fixed the game between Georgia Tech and Wake Forest — from "1010 Wins" by The Alchemist
Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. These two teams have played 30 times, but one game between these two immediately jumps out as potentially the game in question: The 2006 ACC Championship Game. Since this is the only possible game he could be talking about shut up shut up this is obviously the one, what follows is an investigation into Bronsoliño's claims.
Fixing a game in one of America's favorite sports takes gumption. Any old crook could fix an NAIA game in South Dakota, but Bronson went for a game that determined a BCS berth. A game, mind you, that also could and would be a complete mess and no one would think twice. It's damned genius.
This was a title game A) in Jacksonville for some reason, B) featuring a team quarterbacked by Reggie Ball and coached by Chan Gailey, and C) WAKE FOREST THE OTHER TEAM IS WAKE FOREST. The stadium was covered with moderate rain and heavy absurdity. I mean, look at this:
9-6. It's enough to make Frank Beamer take a cold shower. Neither team had over 300 total yards or averaged over five yards per play. Reggie Ball, who completed only 44% of his passes that season*, went 9-29 for 129 yards, no touchdowns, and two picks. Eight of the nine completions went to Calvin Johnson. There's nothing to say a different player couldn't have made some of those catches, but if Calvin Johnson isn't there Reggie Ball goes 1-for-god-damned-29.
*I don't know what's more impressive, Reggie Ball completing 44% of passes while playing with Calvin Johnson, or Calvin Johnson catching 76 passes for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns while playing with Reggie Ball. They're the worst buddy cop duo you could ever imagine, and internal affairs was in on it the whole time.
Everyone knew Reggie Ball was a ghastly quarterback, but this above and beyond whatever messed up sickness you could contrive. Did Bronson get to him? We can't rule it out.
Or maybe it was Chan Gailey? Was his equilibrium thrown off by not going 7-5 that year? Seriously, 2006 was the only season in his six at Tech that he didn't win exactly seven games. Or maybe he owed someone money, and they knew someone and that ended up with Bronson standing at his door at 3 am telling him to make Reggie Ball throw the ball nearly 30 times in the ACC Championship despite inclement weather and modest success running the ball.
Or maybe he's just a bad coach. This one is not so clear. I mean, it's clear that he's a bad coach. Whatever, moving on.
Ron Cherry, he of course of business-giving fame, was the referee in this game. I would never besmirch that man's honor and implicate him in such a sordid affair. The penalties were almost even too, so how about you keep the man's name out your mouth.
There are few likely candidates for chicanery on the Wake Forest sideline. Jim Grobe lives a clean life and Riley Skinner was actually a CPA firm playing quarterback the whole time. Could there be anyone else associated with Wake Forest that could possibly have been invol---oh no
Brand new motorcycle? Beady little black eyes that look incredibly guilty? That's enough evidence for me.
I'm looking crispy like a chicken cutlet/One wish is, get rich before I kick the bucket