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 “because”.   And that’s not even counting the inordinate number of khakis and navy blazers that proliferate on their respective verdant campuses. 
I appreciate that well-worn bromide that UNC is “a sleeping giant” as to its potential to dominate Big Time College Football.  I don’t believe it, but I appreciate that some folks do.  I also appreciate those who think professional wrestling is real and we faked the moon landing.  Hey, I believe in leprechauns and the single bullet theory.
As an alumnus and long time follower of UNC sports, I always cheer for “the Heels” regardless of the opponent du’ jour.   But I pay particular attention when that opponent is what I consider “a comparable”. … such as UVa.
I have my own criteria for determining “comparables”.  If you think ANY school could be comparable to UNC, I allow you to have your own comparables.   
If, after the past 2+ years, you still believe “everybody else does it but UNC”.  “It” being nefarious circumnavigation of those silly NCAA rules.  Then Dickie Baddour has some beachfront property in Topeka to sell you. 
If you truly believe all other schools’ coaches are low-down dirty birds EXCEPT UNCs.  All other student athletes are knuckle-dragging thugs and all other fans are toothless in-bred cretins then I doubt you read anything I write and are not reading this.
UVa and UNC ARE comparable.  So is NC State, Duke, Wake Forest, GaTech, and possibly Maryland.  I believe those ACC institutions are in the same ballpark with “us” as to their level of commitment to athletic excellence as part of their overall institutional mission.
A slight expansion of my definition of “comparable” would bring in Clemson and VaTech.
None rises to the comparable level of UVa.   When UNC takes the field / court versus a UVa team, I feel we are competing against our mirror image.  If we (UNC) can whup’em more times that they whup us I feel we are doing a lot of things right within our own established boundaries.   To whup Florida State in football with any regularity we would have to expand those boundaries. 
We whupped the Hoos on Thursday night for the third time in three years in Football.  Before that… not so often.  Ouch.   The overall series is Good Guys – 59 …. Them – 53.   (NOTE: This does not factor in the “lost wins” from the recent unpleasantness.)
In Basketball we have whupped’em pretty consistently since Ralph left some years ago. 
In other sports “we and them” seem to break pretty even over the past several decade or so of competition.  I believe that is how it should be…….  among “comparables”.

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