We've Got Our Coach!

Within 24 hours of going 8-4 in his inaugural season at the helm of UNC Football, Larry Fedora found himself the second longest tenured “major college” football coach in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.  Only Duke’s David Cutcliffe has been in his current position longer than Larry.   One of Coach Fedora’s eight victories, of course, came at the expense of the, then, Tom O’Brien-coached NC State Wolfpack.  TO’B’s fateful decision to punt to Gio Bernard in those waning moments accelerated the coaching discontent that seems to ever-fester among the Carter-Finley crowd like a peat bog fire.     That Gio-hangover was so debilitating that O’Brien’s gridders somnambulated themselves a week later versus the woeful Hoos of UVa.  Those eight days and the resulting howls from the West Raleigh lunatic fringe convinced NCSU AD Debbie “Frau” Yow to pull the trigger on The Ruddy-faced Marine after six years.    For all their high-tone talk about “building character” and “running a clean program,” UNC’s sister institution has decided to once again go asearchin’ for a savior to lead them to wherever the heck they think they belong.   Apparently a series of Whozit Bowls wasn’t it.   Early mumbling from the Yow-led search party center on Vanderbilt’s James Franklin because he and Frau were together at Maryland.   This is a version of the Sean Miller basketball search that ended with Mark Gottfried.   Choices...

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The 'Comparables'

In the eternally wacky down-the-rabbit-hole world of sports rivalries, no school’s fan base will EVER acknowledge than any other school, or its pathetic loser fan base, could be comparable to “us”.  But, yea verily, if there was a high tribunal overseen by some Solomonesque magistrate, I believe said magistrate would feel that UNC & UVa might be adjudged as “comparable”.  I adjudged them to be.    My esteemed Good Sports compadre – Art Chansky – is on on-air record as adjudging no such thing.  In Art’s defense, he has lived in Chapel Hill for multi-decades and light-blue Kool-Aid flows thru his veins like maple syrup thru a virgin Vermont forest.   The athletic and academic rivalry twixt UNC & UVa was well-established and flourishing when Duke was still Trinity….. and Wake Forest was located in Wake Forest.  Everett Case was an Indiana farm boy and Mother Gabriel’s son Roman was toddling about Wilmington.  Tar Heels v Cavaliers pre-dates them all.   To me (and this is MY column!) UNC and UVa are incredibly “comparable” in more ways than there are bricks in Monticello.  …… primary (adjoining) state liberal arts institutions ….. charming “college towns” ….. the primary providers of doctors, lawyers and politicians for their respective states ….. long “greek” traditions both fraternal and sororial ….. and a seriously in-bred conviction that each is innately superior to the other...

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Pinball? 50 Is The 'New 30'

Was it a coincidence?   The Who performed Friday night in Greensboro . . .  and “pinball wizards” performed in Kenan on Saturday afternoon?  The football opera was co-orchestrated not by Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey but by Larry Fedora and Paul Johnson.   The Heels & Ramblin’ Wreck  “sure played a mean pinball” on a BEE-youtiful November Saturday amid the remaining lofty pines.   The Kenan scoreboard operator is in intensive care in the Jim Knight Wing of UNC Hospitals suffering from severe carpal tunnel syndrome.  A Kenan scoreboard lighting up like a Dean Dome scoreboard?    “50 is the new 30” in college football.  Each week there are a dozen teams passing half-a-hundred.  If you don’t like it, I suggest soccer or hockey as more your speed.    If The Fedorians had the 68 and the other guys had the 50 would the Franklin Street teeth-gnashing be the same today?   Was it more fun to ring up 60 on the Idahoians than have 60+ run up on us?  Heck yes.    I perused a few media comment boards frequented by the Tar Heel knee-jerks.  They are oh-so-predictable, duh!  The FireDaveHuxtable & SendHisFamilyToAGulag Society has reopened for business.  They were a fun bunch of pathetic sickos from the early Bunting Era.  This pack o’ rabid dogs decided Bunting’s Defensive Coordinator – a nice guy named Dave Huxtable – was all...

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Move Over, Choo Choo!

Outlined against a blue-gray October sky…. a courageous young stallion, in a chrome helmet, galloped into history amid Kenan’s lofty pines.  Outlined against a blue-gray October sky…” is the opening to Grantland Rice’s epic column on October 18, 1924 introducing Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen.  If Grantland had been with me in The Choo Choo Lounge Saturday I think he would say “BobLee, you can borrow it just this once.”   Many “rests of the story” that you don’t know, but you will learn in the next 10 minutes.   Upon Heaven’s gridiron graze a special breed of stallions.  As swift afoot as Mercury.  As strong as Hercules.  As brave as the bravest heroes of history, myth and lore who ever faced Defeat square in the eye….. and Defeat blinked.    Their names are as colorful as their deeds are heroic.  Red Grange – The Gallopin’ Ghost….. Doak Walker….. Charlie Trippi….. “Bullet Bill” Dudley….. Herschel….. OJ….. Bo….. #23 From Garden City…. Mr Inside & Mr Outside….. and Carolina’s own #22 Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice.  At around 4:10 PM EDT on Saturday last, a quick vote was held among these vaunted stallions.  Choo Choo was chosen to deliver the news….. #26 Giovanni Bernard, step upon the pedestal. Young fella you have earned your place in the pantheon of heroes.    Who know what the future holds for “Gio”.  Like all great stallions...

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Fans 'Freak' Over Loss

The better team on Saturday night at “The Wally” won on Saturday night.  That’s how it often works but not always.   To say that the game was not as close as the final score (33-30) would be correct but is simply too painful to write so I won’t. The Fighting Fedorians simply did not fight or block or tackle well enough to beat Duke.   During a period of recent history not overflowing with upbeat positive news for Carolina fans, “losing to Duke in football” is about the last happening we needed to happen.   In the priority of plaques, does “losing to Duke in football” come before or after “rivers of blood” and “raining frogs”?     Is “losing to Duke in football” the worst news any Carolina fan could hear?  No; the worst news any Carolina fan could hear would be:   Dan Kane wins The Lottery (and a Pulitzer) and will marry Kate Upton next Tuesday.    Everything is relative.  Feel better now?    I don’t pretend to be an expert at assessing the talent on a football roster.  I see guys running and jumping and hitting one another and usually think the team I prefer to win does those things better than the ones in the other color jerseys.  Unless the other team is from the SEC or the NFL.   I think Carolina has more talented players...

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The Old Golden Well?

Followers of Carolina Athletics might be excused for being somewhat distracted over recent months.  A lingering unpleasantness has hung like an Arctic Winter over Franklin Street broken only by a darn fine Fall showing by The Fighting Fedorians.   I’m here to report a sinister plot afoot…. but first:   Fueled by Gio Bernard, the finest Florida export since grapefruit, the debut of The Fedora Era has to have exceeded the expectations of all but the most cynical of Kenan loyalists.  At 5-2 with convincing Ws over Virginia Tech and Miami (yes, convincing) and easy Ws over teams that should be easy Ws…. the Fighting Fedorians are two No-Gio squeakers from being 7-0.   Hip Hip Hooray – We Love Larry!    Wait a minute, BobLee…. you called that nail biter in Sun Life/Landshark/Pro Player / Joe Robbie Stadium a “convincing win”???  18-14 is “convincing”?    Yes I do.  The Tar Heels beat the Hurricanes “convincingly”.   But beat themselves even more convincingly.  The ‘Canes couldn’t stop us.  We stopped ourselves.  Had this been a basketball game, 15 of the starting 22 would have fouled out.   The ‘Canes were shooting one & ones halfway thru the second quarter.   You just know the titular head of Team Fedora had some ripe words for the youngsters during the Sunday film recap.  Ouch!   To shoot yourself in the foot that often AND STILL...

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Uniformly Agreed — We Like 'Em!

I was in mid-matriculation when Carolina Football went from white helmets to various PMS-shades of blue helmets.  I bet you don’t know the “why” they did.  I bet not even Freddie Kiger knows this one!   Bill Dooley replaced Jim Hickey as UNC’s Head Football Coach following the 1966 season.   Dooley brought with him a different “attitude” towards college football and it’s overall seriousness in the grand scheme of things.  Duh!    For Dooley and his SEC-bred staff it was akin to “war” best waged by socially-dysfunctional individuals of ill-temper.  A Bill Dooley quote (with a 58% chance of being apocryphal) went that:    “Good guys wear white hats.  Our football team is not going to be ‘good guys’ any longer.”  …… Bye bye white helmets – Hello blue helmets.  Until this past Saturday.   Aside:  I have a theory that all “Coach (fill-in-blank) said” were actually said by Peahead Walker.  Walker was a notoriously goofy coach at Wake Forest (in Wake Forest) and other places in the 1940s-50s who supposedly said a number of malapropisms and other non-sequiturs regarding football and Life.   There is a companion theory that Peahead Walker himself never existed but is simply a catch-all source of any goofy saying by a football coach.   You decide.   Carolina football helmets have been various shades of “Carolina Blue” since 1968.  Dean Smith had five different PMS-shades...

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What Price Dignity?

  You know $800,000 will buy a bunch of stuff that a college athletic department needs.  It can pay salaries, mowers to cut grass, light bulbs in gyms, paper clips and computer keyboards; but can it assuage the psychological gut shot that a bunch of Vandals absorbed amid Kenan’s lofty (and very wet) pines on Saturday last?   Let’s be clear….. UNC played (and paid) Idaho because Tennessee backed out of a home-home series causing Carolina’s schedule-guy Larry Gallo to go on Craig’s List looking for a substitute and suitable opponent.    Savannah State was already taken as well as all 27 “directional schools” in Michigan.   Is there really a NorthEastMiddle Michigan?  Is their mascot a compass?   Is it just me, but is this sacrificial-lambs-for-rent syndrome a new phenomenon?   The first week of a season has always been “bullies beat up on dweebs” week (Tennessee vs N.C. State – ouch!) but here we are in Week Five and schools are still playing “we’re playing WHO” opponents.  Is this because of expanded schedules, attempts to pad a school/coaches W-L record, or some sick impulse deep in our psyche to pound the bejeebers out of a helpless whozit? ….. or have the bejeebers pounded out of you by a juggernaut?   I am not opposed to this phenomenon.  As noted in an earlier treatise; I much prefer offensive explosions...

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Bubba And The 'Brothers'

  Four out of five of NC’s “major college” football programs won this past Saturday.  The 5th one – East Carolina – fell 24-6 to one of those other four — Carolina in sun-drenched Kenan Stadium.   It was a good solid W for the Tar Heels coming off two consecutive near-miss Ls and it was an important sort-of-rivalry W.   “Sort-of” in that the in-state series with the Pirates from Greenville does not qualify in the minds of all Tar Heels…. but it is VERY IMPORTANT regardless.   Next week it’s a not-Boise State school from Idaho coming to Kenan.  Then we get into serious ACC competition.  The ideal football weather of October is just around the corner.  A welcome relief from two home games where fans on Kenan’s North Side deserve some sort of “loyalty in the face of a blazing sun” award.  I mean, really!   A signature event occurred at halftime Saturday that would go completely unnoticed by all but a 100 or so Tar Heels if I don’t tell you right here and now.   For the first time in recorded history a sitting UNC Director of Athletics visited the Charlie Justice Football Lettermen’s Lounge on the South Concourse.   “The Choo Choo Lounge” is that room you see in front of you if you enter thru the South Gate.   It is a meeting place and...

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Greatest Comeback EVER… Almost

It was Sept 15, 2012. Not March 2, 1974. This time Walter Davis missed. OK, it would never have supplanted “8 down with 17 seconds to play” regardless.    It was not in Carmicheal. It was in a stadium named for a pizza mogul in a city more famous for a horse race. It was not against Duke. It was against Louisville and only remnants of a crowd of 55,000 were there at the end.   (Did you know that Papa John Stadium is the ONLY college stadium in America where all 55,000 seats are individual chairbacks? Bubba, can we do that in Kenan some day?)   Speaking of chairbacks…. our Good Sports pre-game show on WCHL Saturday was “Best Ever” with Shows One & Two being tied for second just a smidgen behind. Catch it in archives somewhere on this website. You can skip over Chansky’s parts.   By last count, 138,662 die-hard Carolina fans were in Carmichael in March 1974. That number will go up after this. Every time I ever write about “8 down with 17 seconds to play” I hear from yet another “I was there”…. or “my dad was there and he swears that….”.    BobLee, Carmichael only held 9,000. Yeah, I know. You tell those other 129,000 who have ticket stubs swearing they were there. Many of those 138,000 were also in Wrigley...

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