The 5-0 streak is over and the 1-0 streak has begun! We owe this win and euphoria in large part to one of the greatest plays in Carolina football history. When Gio Bernard returned that punt 74 yards with 13 seconds remaining to lift the Tar Heels to victory, it was one of the most memorable games since the 2004 upset of the #4 Miami Hurricanes at Kenan Stadium.
This piece will not be about the game which my fellow columnists have done such a good job of covering but rather I want to use this space to evaluate certain issues from a different and more critical angle. First of all, I was shocked and befuddled to find out that the News and Observer (or as many Carolina fans know it as the “Red Coat”) reported Sunday morning that the Tar Heels won the contest and even had it covered on the front page of the sport section. I also was astounded to see that Carlton Tudor, usual public enemy #1 of the UNC Football Program (besides of course Dan Kane — don’t even get me started on that guy) wrote a halfway complimentary piece about Gio Bernard.
Tudor giving props to the Heels is about as difficult for him as listening to nails on a chalkboard. The win on Saturday over the little brother Wolfpack was a defining moment for the Seniors as well as all of the current players, Coach Fedora as well as the entire coaching staff and former letterman as well as the entire Carolina nation. And let’s remember that the University of North Carolina and the Chapel Hill community as a whole have been put under attack by the Raleigh Media (mainly the N&O and its lackeys) for the last 2 1/2 years. A lot of the scrutiny has been brought on by our own doing and poor handling of academic and institutional matters — no escaping responsibility and accountability here — but this win was a great swipe at the face of NC State and the N&O and it was done in memorable style!!
Now onto the leader of the Pack, Coach Tom O’Brien who, to his credit, has been a thorn in the side of Carolina fans and our football program for the last five years. From many sources in Raleigh close to the NC State athletic program, by losing to Carolina and falling out of the mix to win the Atlantic Division and go to the ACC Championship game, TOB will be given the pink slip at the end of the season. NC State Athletic Director Debbie Yow, does not have a good standing relationship with Coach O’Brien based on several printed reports, and has been feeling the heat from boosters and leaders within the State community to show TOB the door. Below is an email from the PackPride message boards which was posted on Yow’s behalf in regards to the outrage after the loss to the Flagship school of North Carolina as Wolfpack fans call for Coach O’Brien’s head.
(A letter from Debbie Yow – NC State Athletic Director after receiving emails from furious NC State boosters after the loss to UNC)
I am writing a group email this morning to those who have expressed their concerns about the loss to UNC-CH. There were a couple of issues expressed by several of you that I will respond to as best I can below:
(1.) IN GAME DECISIONS: ADs do express opinions and ask questions in private to their Head Coach about game decisions/strategies that do not work well, but it would be highly unusual for an AD to publicly criticize any strategy employed during a game. I agree with that philosophy of communication…no matter which sport it might be.
(2.) SPECIAL YEAR: I am aware that this was anticipated to be a special year for us, with the possibility of playing in Charlotte the first weekend in December for the ACC Championship. That appears to be out of reach now with the loss to UNC-CH. As unsatisfactory as it might seem to you today, the only comment I have at this time is that I continue to remain focused on doing whatever I can to support the efforts of this team and staff. Our young men played a gritty and determined game against UNC-CH in an extremely hostile environment and I want them to know that their fighting spirit as our student athletes is truly appreciated.
I acknowledge and regret the considerable disappointment you feel. The majority of you communicate your issues with respect and class. Thank you for that, as well. I hope to see you in Carter Finley for our Homecoming game against Virginia.
In the spirit of the Pack,
Did you guys enjoy reading that as much as I did? Nothing like some NC State in-fighting and back pedaling to feed the UNC soul. Hopefully, this is just the beginning as Ms. Yow fluctuates back and forth as to whether to fire or not fire. Instability is never good for a program and we at UNC will benefit.
I wanted to also share with Carolina fans a quote that Coach O’Brien shared after the game that might have been the first domino to fall in the last few months of him being the head coach in Raleigh.
TOB: “It hurt these kids to lose to UNC. The thing is, that game has the feel of a rivalry game now. We gotta win next year”
First and foremost coach, I do agree with you for certain on one thing: that game HAD to hurt! Second, yes the game is becoming a rivalry in some ways but don’t lose sight of the fact that overall, UNC holds a 64-32-6 record so the Pack still has a lot of ground to cover. Lastly, coach, I personally believe you will not be around to be a part of the game next year, so understand that there is a new Sheriff in town in this rivalry and your bubble gum slogan “This is our State” is about as done as you are.
Smart. Fast. Physical. Gio for Heisman!