UNC Football vs. Miami

The 8-1 UNC football team will take on Miami in an ACC battle on Saturday, November 14th.  The game kicks off at 3:30 in Kenan Stadium.

You can listen to UNC Football vs. Miami on 97.9 FM and 1360 AM WCHL.

WCHL will broadcast Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts from 12:30 until 2:30 from Hickory Tavern.  The UNC pregame show starts at 2:30 from Kenan Stadium.

The Tar Heels are sitting atop the ACC Coastal division after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 66-31 last Saturday.  Senior quarterback Marquise Williams completed 23-of-35 passes for 494 yards–a new school record–and accounted for five touchdowns in all. He also rushed for 30 yards, to finish with 524 total yards by himself–the first Tar Heel to ever break the 500 yard mark–in what was arguably the best performance ever by a UNC football player.

The performance launched the UNC football team from Number 21 to Number 17 in the AP Poll.  After being unlisted in the College Football Playoff rankings, Carolina is now Number 23.

The Miami Hurricanes will come into Chapel Hill with a 6-3 record.  The team is 2-0 since the firing of head coach Al Golden.  In the ACC Coastal division, Miami is tied for third place with Pittsburgh.


UNC-Duke Football Pregame at Hickory Tavern

UNC-Duke football.  Tobacco Road football that matters in November.

Join WCHL at Hickory Tavern in Carrboro for your Tar Heel Football pregame festivities.

WCHL will be broadcasting “Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts” from 9:00 until 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 7 on 97.9 FM, 1360 AM and online at Chapelboro.com.

The Tar Heels take on the Duke Blue Devils in Kenan Stadium at noon.  Carolina is 7-1 on the season and is looking to go 5-0 in the ACC after last week’s win over Pitt.  Despite Duke’s last-second loss against Miami, this game decides who will be in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal Division.

Hickory Tavern is located on 310-110 East Main Street in Carrboro.

While you are visiting Hickory Tavern, be sure to sign up for our Carolina Basketball Holiday Hoops in Brooklyn Giveaway.




Chansky’s Notebook: A Failure To Communicate?

Wait a minute, who’s in charge at UNC?

With one week to go before Carolina opens its football season against Georgia in Atlanta, the Tar Heels do not need the distraction that was apparently caused by deposed Illinois coach Tim Beckman joining Larry Fedora’s staff as a volunteer assistant. Beckman has left the post after his appointment triggered a rash of objections and criticism.

Tim Beckman

Tim Beckman’s tenure as a volunteer assistant with the UNC football team came to an abrupt end Thursday. (AP Photo/ Stephen Haas)

It may be Fedora’s program, but one would think that such a move had to be cleared by Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham, who reports directly to Chancellor Carol Folt. Both acted like they knew nothing about Fedora hiring Beckman, but isn’t that a little hard to believe? With all that has gone on at UNC football over the last six years, wouldn’t everything from new helmets to old friends have to be run up the food chain?

Guess not. Cunningham declined to say whether he knew or didn’t know about Fedora’s latest hire, but he had to be aware. And Folt clearly said she knew nothing of it. So who’s in charge of the football program? Not even 24 hours since the news broke that Beckman was here, the university made a move that indicated Fedora must clear everything he does with Cunningham and, by extension, Folt.

The result of what was really a nothing story caused everyone to back track and yet another embarrassing 24-hour news cycle. Beckman said the reaction was too strong, Cunningham said it was the right move from him to move on and Folt had strong words pointed at both her AD and head football coach. After Fedora claimed it was his call to set all the parameters in his program, the UNC administration said not so fast.

Gene Chizik was hired after a long vetting process that Cunningham and Folt were involved in every step of the way. Bigger name with a national championship under his belt, but bigger baggage having been dismissed at Auburn two years later; and that was okay because Chizik could help the Tar Heels win. This time it was purely friendship from one coach who thought he was in charge trying to help another in need.

There was little to mitigate Beckman’s bad reputation, and a head coach with good intentions now has egg on his face a week before the new season kicks off. Hope there’s better communication on the field than off.


Beckman Out at UNC Amid Controversy

Tim Beckman’s short tenure as a volunteer assistant with the UNC football team is over just as quickly as it began.

The former Illinois head coach with a history of player mistreatment issues created a media firestorm Wednesday when it was realized he was part of head coach Larry Fedora’s staff throughout training camp.

“Tim will no longer serve as a volunteer with our program,” Fedora said in a statement released by the university. “I brought Tim here to help a friend gain experience from our staff, but after meeting with him today, we agreed his presence had become too much of a distraction.”

Fedora, who coached with Beckman at Oklahoma State in 2007, told reporters their personal relationship was what ultimately led to the volunteer assistant position being created for him.

“When I first learned yesterday that Coach Larry Fedora had invited former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman to serve as a volunteer with the football program, I was surprised and disappointed,” UNC Chancellor Carol Folt said. “The decision for Mr. Beckman to withdraw from his volunteer position was the right thing to do, and moving forward I don’t expect this situation to recur.”

“I continue to put a great deal of trust in Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham and Coach Fedora to educate and develop our student-athletes,” she continued. “And to ensure we meet the high standards we all expect at Carolina.”

During his short time with the Tar Heels, Beckman did not have a hands-on role with the players. His duties–under NCAA rules for volunteer assistants–limited him to scouting and evaluating film.

“We made the decision today to part ways with Tim Beckman and thank him for his contributions in the short time he volunteered with our football program,” Cunningham said. “Coach Fedora’s interest was in helping a coaching colleague get back on his feet.

“We will learn from this and continue preparing for the season.”

Beckman also released a statement.

“I appreciate the opportunity Coach Fedora gave me to stay connected to the sport and be around one of the best staffs in the country,” he said. “His willingness to help a friend was a benefit both personally and professionally.

“I do not wish to be a further distraction to the team or University and I will no longer serve as a volunteer at UNC. I wish Larry and the program nothing but success going forward.”


Fall Sports Calendar Heats Up At UNC

Fall sports season is officially in full swing on campus.

The UNC men’s soccer season gets underway Friday night as the #8 Tar Heels host Cal Poly, 7:30 pm at Fetzer Field. Carolina also hosts St. Louis on Sunday at 7:30.

Also this weekend, UNC women’s soccer is in Florida: Friday evening they’re in Fort Myers facing Florida Gulf Coast at 7 pm; then on Sunday they’re in Boca Raton, taking on Florida Atlantic at 1:00.

The Tar Heel volleyball team gets its season under way this weekend in the Penn State Classic. The Heels face Georgia Southern at 5 pm Friday, then a doubleheader on Saturday against West Virginia at 1 pm and host Penn State at 7.

And the Tar Heel field hockey team, #1 in the nation, is in Winston-Salem for the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. Saturday at 2 pm, they face #10 Michigan, then they take on Iowa at 2 pm Sunday.

Of course Carolina football still has a week before its season begins, down in Atlanta against the Georgia Bulldogs. But the team got some news this week too, as seven Tar Heels have been named to the watch list for this year’s Senior Bowl. Center Lucas Crowley, tackle Jon Heck, wide receiver Mack Hollins, cornerback Des Lawrence, tailback T.J. Logan, guard Caleb Peterson, and wide receiver/punt returner Ryan Switzer are all on the list.

The Reese’s Senior Bowl will take place in Mobile, Alabama on January 28; it’s considered the nation’s premier college football all-star game.


Chansky’s Notebook: A Friend In Need

Larry Fedora didn’t have to hire another fired football coach.

When UNC football had the worst defense in the nation two years ago, Larry Fedora fired his entire defensive staff and went looking for better coaches on that side of the ball. He settled on Gene Chizik as coordinator even though Chizik had been fired at probation-plagued Auburn two year earlier. Since Carolina was still in the middle of an NCAA investigation, and perception was an issue for the athletic department, some people criticized that hire, including me. I hoped Chizik would succeed because that would make everyone forget he had coached at a suspect school.

Tim Beckman

Former Illinois head coach Tim Beckman lost his job for poor treatment of his players throughout his three-year tenure. His relationship with UNC head coach Larry Fedora earned him a second chance as a volunteer assistant in Chapel Hill. (AP Photo/ LM Otero)

Chizik turned the Tar Heel defense around and was nominated for best assistant coach in the country. Fedora’s reasoning was that he was looking for a great defensive coordinator and Chizik would not have any responsibility that mirrored what got him in trouble at Auburn. Apparently, the same applies to Fedora’s hire of fired Illinois football coach Tim Beckman, who has joined the UNC staff as a volunteer assistant.

Beckman was fired at Illinois, where the Tar Heels happen to play in their second game of the season, for allegedly pressuring at least one member of the team to play injured. He won a small settlement for wrongful termination, which doesn’t prove his guilt or innocence. Beckman coached with Fedora at Oklahoma State and wanted to stay in college football, and Fedora helped his old coaching mate with a second chance.

That chance will not jeopardize the reputation of Carolina football, which had much more at stake with the Chizik hire. Beckman will break down tape and help put together scouting reports and will be five football fields away from the training room and any decisions made by the medical staff on whether anyone can suit up.

Sure, it may look like Fedora doesn’t care who he brings into his program, but the truth is he cares very much because he is helping a friend in need. A good lesson for his players.

Gene Chizik was a much riskier hire since there was no guarantee he could improve that awful defense from 2014, and then the criticism would have come back harder. Beckman is a much lower profile hire, and this one is in the category of helping a colleague. Right or wrong, you have to admire Fedora for doing something he didn’t really need to do.



UNC Football Hiring Tim Beckman as Volunteer Assistant Creates Controversy

In the opening weeks of last season, the UNC football team defeated Illinois by a landslide—just days after the Illini fired head coach Tim Beckman due to player mistreatment.

It was announced Wednesday that Beckman has now found a new home in Chapel Hill, working as a volunteer assistant under head coach Larry Fedora.

An outside law firm which investigated Beckman’s situation at Illinois found that the coach made efforts to discourage injury reporting–and forced injured players to play before they were physically ready.

Another issue that was raised in the investigation centered on seniors having their scholarships revoked for their final spring semester–once they were done playing for the team.

Still though, the 51-year-old is back in coaching thanks to his relationship with Fedora. Beckman was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State in 2007 while Fedora directed the offense.

“I’ve known Tim for a long time,” Fedora said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s a good football coach.

Beckman (left) met Fedora when he was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State in 2007. (Photo via Matt Strasen/ The Oklahoman)

Beckman (left) met Fedora when he was the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma State in 2007. (Photo via Matt Strasen/ The Oklahoman)

“But let me make something clear, so everybody understands,” he continued. “I’m the one that sets the expectations on our culture—and how our student-athletes are treated. I’m at the top, and I set it for everybody.

“Tim’s here doing what the NCAA allows him to do as a volunteer assistant.”

As one of three volunteer assistants, Beckman’s duties are limited to scouting and evaluating film. Under NCAA rules he will not be allowed to provide hands-on coaching to any of the Tar Heel players.

The plan is for him to spend the entire season at UNC working with Fedora as he tries to eventually get back on his feet within the coaching world—regardless of the outside opinions that decision brings along with it.

“I don’t believe everything I read,” Fedora told reporters. “I know Tim. I know his side of the story also—so I was comfortable [with the hire].

“If I wouldn’t have been [comfortable], honestly I wouldn’t have brought him–and I wouldn’t have allowed him to be in our program,” he continued. “But I don’t have any issues with it at all.”

Fedora admitted he wouldn’t have made the hire without personally knowing Beckman, but made sure to reinforce that similar issues–those surrounding injuries–will not pop up at UNC.

He credits the skill of head athletic trainer Kenny Boyd and his staff for being able to keep coaches from having influence over who does and doesn’t play.

“It’s seperate here,” Fedora said, when talking about how injuries are handled at the school. “[Team doctors] are the ones that make the decisions on our guys—whenever they’re hurt, injured or whatever they are—they’re the ones that make the decision on when these guys step out on the field.

“It’s easy for me because Kenny just tells me when they can go.”

At the end of the day, Beckman’s hire represents a way for UNC to receive high-level coaching input as the Tar Heels look to build off last year’s incredible campaign.

Fedora took similar heat when he hired Gene Chizik as defensive coordinator one year ago, but 11 wins did plenty to cool down that chatter.

Beckman’s past is far from perfect, but ultimately he’s earned a second chance. It’s what he does with that chance which will provide the ultimate judgment on Fedora’s decision.

“I promise you,” Fedora said. “I didn’t see anywhere where the NCAA said he should be banished from the game of football.”


UNC No. 22 in Preseason AP Top 25

After spending much of the 2015 season waiting to crack the top 25 football rankings, the UNC Tar Heels have no such wait this year.

The preseason Associated Press top 25 poll was released Sunday, and UNC checked in at No. 22.

Clemson is the top-ranked Atlantic Coast Conference team at second overall, following the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. Following Clemson, Oklahoma is ranked third, Florida State fourth and LSU rounds out the top five.

Louisville (19) and UNC (22) are the other ACC representatives in the top 25.

UNC will open its season on Saturday, September 3, when the Tar Heels will take on No. 18 Georgia in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome.


Elijah Hood: The Most Interesting Man in Chapel Hill

For thousands of years scientists have held that each day consists of 24 hours. This discovery has gone unchallenged for much of human history.

That is, until UNC’s star tailback Elijah Hood made it his life mission to stretch the limits of time.

For most mere mortals, the grind of a high-level Division I football schedule brings with it an overwhelming workload.

That’s not even including all the schoolwork and extracurricular activities that come with it.

But for Hood–a former Eagle Scout who maintains a GPA above 3.8—comparisons to mortals don’t really do him justice.

He consistently seeks out new and exciting off-the-field opportunities in an effort to expand his worldview—a trait head coach Larry Fedora says sets him apart

Carolina Football- Larry Fedora

Hood’s contributions both on and off the field have endeared him to head coach Larry Fedora. (Smith Cameron Photography)

“He really wanted an internship this summer and he turned one down up in Washington [D.C.] because he didn’t want to leave his teammates,” Fedora explained to reporters after Thursday’s practice.

“He ended up taking one over here in Raleigh. Every day he would work out, then put on a tie and go to work,” the coach continued. “He’s just a special guy.”

The job Hood took this past summer was with the North Carolina General Assembly.

There, the man who tallied the second-highest single-season rushing total in UNC history was tasked with duties much different than running over defenses.

Working under a legislative services officer, Hood helped senators and house representatives with fiscal analysis and research as they worked to make decisions for the state.

And while he was definitely interested in what he was doing, don’t pencil him in for a career in politics just yet.

“I don’t know about Senator Elijah Hood,” the running back said, with a laugh.

“But understanding some things about law, fiscal analysis and things like that—looking at the way they do budgeting,” he continued. “It’s really opened my eyes to how complex things get when you talk about running a state.”

Hood (second from right) was one of nearly 100 Tar Heel athletes who helped out Orange County's Habitat for Humanity in July. (Photo via Turner Walston/ UNC Athletics)

Hood (second from right) was one of nearly 100 Tar Heel athletes who helped out Orange County’s Habitat for Humanity in July. (Photo via Turner Walston/ UNC Athletics)

What makes Hood’s journey into the legislature the most impressive is that it really was something he did out of his own natural interest.

A perfect world might see Hood– playing for his hometown Carolina Panthers–knock someone’s teeth out on Sunday, before fixing their computer on Monday. After all, the information science major has gone on the record before saying his dream job is to be an IT security analyst.

However, his busy schedule requires him to put in an extreme level of commitment toward different goals. But it’s something his teammates—like quarterback Mitch Trubisky—have certainly taken notice of.

“Elijah’s just an all-around great person,” Trubisky said. “I mean, that’s what [we all] want to be.

“It’s not just on the football field,” he continued. “It’s off the field, how you carry yourself in the community and especially in the classroom.

“He’s a top-notch guy, and it really shows with his work ethic and how he carries himself all the time

Even when you do talk to him about football and his role for this upcoming season, Hood likes to focus on the mental aspect.

His ability to read defenses and find open running or receiving lanes has been Hood's number one focus--at least when it comes to football--this offseason. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

His ability to read defenses and find open running or receiving lanes has been Hood’s number one focus–at least when it comes to football–this offseason. (Jeffrey A. Camarati/ UNC Athletics)

As someone who’s visibly confident in his running ability, he said his biggest focus this offseason has been on studying the playbook the same way a quarterback would—learning each person’s role on every play.

“The way I read defenses is quicker now—way faster,” Hood said. “That’s helped slow the game down.

“It’s kind of weird sometimes,” he added. “The way I feel I can predict blitzes that are coming just by looking at safety rotations and the fronts—whether it’s three down linemen or four down linemen.”

It goes without saying that a bright future awaits Hood, no matter what he chooses to do.

Before turning 21 years old, he’s already turned himself into quite possibly the most interesting man in Chapel Hill.

How has he done it, though?

Well, when asked Thursday how he stays motivated, he simply shrugged and said: “It’s not work if you’re having fun, right?”


The “Rude Boyz” Lead a Much-Improved UNC Defense Into 2016

The NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos—two of the last three Super Bowl Champions—won titles largely because of their fearsome pass defenses, known as the Legion of Boom and the No Fly Zone.

Meanwhile in Chapel Hill, UNC hopes its talented secondary—the “Rude Boyz”—can help elevate the Tar Heels to the top of the ACC in 2016.

In the first year under coordinator Gene Chizik, UNC’s defense rose from the ashes to become the most improved unit in the country. That was largely made possible because the Tar Heels allowed more points than all but eight of the 128 Division I schools in 2014—leaving plenty of room for improvement.

The secondary played a large role in the collapse, as they were continually beat for big plays downfield. Fast forward a year, and all of a sudden that same group lead the ACC in interceptions and passes defended–while finishing among the top 10 nationally in those categories.

Physicality is a trait UNC's defensive backs work on regularly during practice. (Photo via Avery Trendel)

Physicality is a trait UNC’s defensive backs work on regularly during practice. (Photo via Avery Trendel)

Senior cornerback Des Lawrence said after Monday’s practice that 2015 was just the beginning of a Rude Boy resurgence.

“It started way back before Dre Bly and them [in the mid-1990’s],” Lawrence said of the ‘Rude Boyz’ nickname. “It’s just something that’s been trickled down.

“I think we had a drop-off [for a little while],” he continued. “Not that we didn’t have the mentality, we just didn’t have the play. Last year it really showed and resonated with us–and we were able to come out on the field and just be relentless.”

Lawrence will lead a veteran group into 2016 that also returns junior MJ Stewart—a shutdown corner in his own right—and senior Donnie Miles, who led the team in tackles last season as a safety.

Each of these players has meshed perfectly with the message of physicality that Chizik began implementing from the first day he arrived on campus. And as they’ve grown into their roles as elder statesmen on the team, the Rude Boy mentality continues being passed down to the younger members of the unit.

“You can’t only be aggressive in coverage and then let ‘em run the ball on the sideline,” Lawrence said. “That’s one of the things I was telling some of the young guys [in practice]—you have to refuse to be blocked. Because you have to–at some point—set the edge for our defense and come up to make a play.

“Coach Chizik always talks about us as DB’s being linebackers as hitters,” he added.

So far during training camp, the coaching staff has singled out veteran safety Dominique Green and a pair of freshmen cornerbacks—Patrice René and K.J. Sails—as looking very impressive early on.

Head coach Larry Fedora has noticed in those players a direct reflection of the influence that Lawrence, Stewart and Miles bring to the table.

“They’re trying to leave a legacy with those [young] guys, so they want to make sure they teach them the culture that’s been created.” Fedora said of his veteran trio. “They’re doing a great job of that. I would say their confidence in being able to lead has been the biggest change for them.”

Gene Chizik has completely revamped the culture around the Tar Heel defense in just one full season. (Photo via Avery Trendel)

Gene Chizik has completely revamped the culture around the Tar Heel defense in just one full season. (Photo via Avery Trendel)

As much as Chizik stresses physicality to his defense from the top down, he also has another key focal point for his secondary.

Go after the ball.

He said Monday he doesn’t want his guys to be like robots locked in on people all the time. That certainly got across in 2015, as the Tar Heels caused all kinds of havoc for opposing quarterbacks.

This season, though, it appears Lawrence has taken those words to a whole new level—as he’s learned that you can’t be a robot when it comes to leadership either.

“They’re looking to me,” Lawrence said of his young teammates. “Even when I don’t think they are, they still are. And I have to still be able to give them some juice.

“Even when I’m not feeling it—there’s days I come out here and I don’t have all the juice—I gotta get them going because if I do something wrong, then they’re gonna feel like it’s OK for them to do something [wrong].”

The extra effort they’ve put in when fans aren’t watching, and TV cameras are nowhere to be found, is what truly has the “Rude Boyz” ready to make their biggest splash this season.

Listening to Chizik—the former school teacher—explain it, success isn’t accidental at all when it comes to these guys.

“They all the love the game, and they all really want to be good,” Chizik said of his secondary. “The guys that make plays on game day are the same ones who make them in practice—and it’s important to them to make [plays] in practice.”