Art Chansky

The Policy Wonk

If there is one thing we have learned about Bubba Cunningham in his first year as UNC’s athletic director, it’s that he is a policy wonk. He studies and evaluates situations, comes up with a plan (like his yet-to-be-released strategic plan for the athletic department) and then sticks to it like a man who knows exactly what he is doing. Of course, all plans can go awry, but the policies hatching them are based on long-term principles that are consistent when something pops up unexpectedly. Like Larry Fedora’s supposed dalliance with the Tennessee coaching job. While Cunningham’s statement Wednesday worries many Carolina fans that the rumors about Fedora going to Tennessee may be true, it kind of comforts me. Based on the same principle that allowed Fedora to take the Carolina job with eyes wide open, it will eventually lead the head coach to a clear decision (if there is one to be made). If you recall, Cunningham almost TRIED to talk Fedora out of coming to UNC by telling him the worst of what could happen with the NCAA’s ongoing probe. Bubba is all about not only creating better opportunities for his coaches and staff but also not wanting someone to stay who feels like he isn’t free to make his own decision about going somewhere else. So my guess is that he lets the process happen, allowing Fedora...

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Abuzz About Basketball?

It’s not unusual for Chapel Hill to be abuzz this time of year over several local sports teams. It is, however, weird that Carolina Basketball is not one of them. UNC field hockey played for yet another national championship two weeks ago, losing to Princeton 3-2. The Tar Heel men’s soccer team is a solid favorite over 16-seed Indiana tonight on Fetzer Field at 6 p.m. (on WCHL) to reach the College Cup and try to defend its 2011 NCAA championship. The women’s team is already in the soccer Final Four, facing top-seed Stanford in San Diego later tonight (on ESPNU) for a chance to play for UNC’s and Coach Anson Dorrance’s 22nd national championship Sunday afternoon. And Carrboro High School football, the modern-day version of Remember the Titans, has this town atwitter (even if you don’t tweet). The Jaguars, 15-0, are more like the Mighty Mites with only 28 players on the varsity roster, many going both ways for Coach Jason Tudryn’s tough guys. They’ll try to complete their dream season Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh over South Iredell to win the state 2AA championship. And, remember, Carrboro High has been around only seven years and lost like its first 20 games. Usually in late November, the big story on the back burner is Carolina Basketball, which has carved up several turkeys on the early season...

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Heels Good Bet, Sort Of

LAS VEGAS – Well, when in Vegas . . . where gambling is legal. After finishing our final Good Sports show on WCHL before the Maryland-Carolina game, I was intending to go to the hotel sports book and bet on the Tar Heels to cover the 24.5 point spread by which they were favored to beat the Terrapins. Only, I waited too long, watching the end of the Virginia-Virginia Tech game, which I had bet on the Hokies to win by more than their 10.5 spread. Now I have another reason to hate the Gobblers. They couldn’t score more than 17 points on a UVa defense that had been giving up 35 to 40 in recent weeks. Then, after watching UNC’s first half unfold, I was glad I did not get to the wager window on time. Despite Bryn Renner and Gio Bernard having their typical offensive days, the Tar Heels gave up long plays to a Maryland team quarterbacked by an ex-linebacker who looks like, well, a linebacker. No. 31 had the paunch of an LB and was hard to bring down when he ran; the stocky lefty also had a surprisingly good arm for Maryland’s fourth-string quarterback after all the others got hurt for the future Big Ten member. Maybe Maryland played Carolina so tough from the inspiration of its new destination. After all, the ACC has proven...

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Huddle Up, As Season Ends

With the 2012 Carolina football season drawing to a close, this is the last week of Chapelboro’s Huddle Up With The Heels. It has been a pleasure to contribute to this diverse special sports section, which was invented to inform, entertain and educate UNC fans of all ages.   Appropriate for today, we are most thankful to have John Shoop, Carolina’s former offensive coordinator, contribute “The Shoop Scoop” every Thursday. His latest piece is a moving tribute to some of the youngsters he recruited and coached at UNC. Don’t miss this from-the-heart tribute from a good friend of WCHL and Chapelboro. When the Tar Heel coaching staff turned over, it was our gain that Shoop remained in the community with his family for a year to call the color on weekly high school football broadcasts and write his Huddle column. Thanks, Coach.   Freddie Kiger is one of Chapel Hill’s greatest ambassadors, and the former teacher and long-time media personality used his vast historical knowledge to post a unique Friday column that shared some jewels about the town and university just before game day. In his last piece this Friday, Kiger reflects on the 85th anniversary of the Dedication Game in Kenan Stadium. As with all of FK’s writings, this final post is filled with facts and whimsy about our history.   As we had in our Drive To...

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You Left Us Defenseless

Carolina had no defense for what Georgia Tech did Saturday. The Tar Heels, in fact, gave up nine more points than their basketball brethren did in THAT season opener Friday night (a 76-59 win over Gardner Webb). In losing to the nearly-defenseless (themselves) Yellow Jackets, 68-50, Larry Fedora’s first UNC football team has much less to play for; it won’t have a losing record and could still finish 8-4, but that is no better than any of his predecessors have done over the last 15 seasons of football frustration. That elusive nine-win season will have to wait at least one more year, now that the probation-laden 6-4 Tar Heels have only two games left after having lost for the first time this fall in Kenan Stadium. They were trying to become the second UNC football team to ever go 7-0 at home. But a defense that had been keeping its collective finger in the dike the last two weeks while giving up 69 points to Tobacco Road rivals Duke and N.C. State fell apart while falling one-point short of relinquishing that number against a Wreck that Wrambled for 1,328 all-purpose yards, including so many uncontested long gainers that it often looked like Georgia Tech was playing dummy offense. The only consolation in giving up those 68 points was that it fell short of the school-record 69 that Carolina allowed Louisville...

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Smoldering Ruins III

Let’s compare the Carolina basketball team that opens the season tonight to the last two that followed mass NBA exoduses. Are the 2012-13 Tar Heels younger and/or weaker than the 2006 and 2010 teams?   The 2006 team that lost the top seven players off the ’05 NCAA champions had one returnee – David Noel – with any considerable experience, if not numbers. Noel did play in all 37 games for Roy Williams’ first national champs as seventh or eighth man, averaging 3.9 points. So Noel was their best returning player.   Byron Sanders and Wes Miller were the only other seniors, and Miller turned out to be a big surprise, sharing the backcourt with freshman Bobby Frasor for much of the season and hitting 44 percent from 3-point range. Obviously, the 2006 team had no returning All-ACC players. What it did have was a 5-freshmen class headed by Tyler Hansbrough, who turned out to be the most decorated Tar Heel in history – the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, four-time All-ACC first-teamer and pretty much a consensus All-American his entire career. He was also a leader nonpareil. So with Psycho T stirring that drink, it is now easy to see why the 2006 Tar Heels shocked the world by going 23-6 overall, 12-4 in the ACC including the first of four straight wins at Cameron Indoor Stadium...

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A Banner Year?

If the fortunes of North Carolina’s two largest football programs over the last week forecast the outcome on Election Day, the “blues” are trending upward and the “reds” are in a free fall. In other words, the North Carolina Tar Heels are feeling great about themselves while the N.C. State Wolfpack is in a panic that even the best spin doctors cannot cure. While UNC enjoyed a much-needed weekend off, State followed its fourth-quarter collapse in Chapel Hill with a one-sided Homecoming horror show against last-place Virginia that could be the beginning of the end for Coach Tom O’Brien. Even before the State-Carolina kick-off on October 27, an undercurrent among the media was that new Wolfpack Athletic Director Debbie Yow is not TOB’s biggest supporter. And, supposedly, she gave her incumbent coach a preseason ultimatum that he had to beat the Tar Heels for the sixth straight year and win the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Neither happened, and then State showed up against Virginia with a major hangover, trailing 26-0 on the way to a 33-6 loss to a 2-6 team coming into the game. Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh News & Observer wrote afterward that O’Brien may be in hot water but should survive because he has three years left on his contract and has a spotless record with the NCAA. That won’t hold much political capital with...

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Trending Blue

If the fortunes of North Carolina’s two largest football programs over the last week forecast the outcome on Election Day, the “blues” are trending upward and the “reds” are in a free fall. In other words, the North Carolina Tar Heels are feeling great about themselves while the N.C. State Wolfpack is in a panic that even the best spin doctors cannot cure. While UNC enjoyed a much-needed weekend off, State followed its fourth-quarter collapse in Chapel Hill with a one-sided Homecoming horror show against last-place Virginia that could be the beginning of the end for Coach Tom O’Brien. Even before the State-Carolina kick-off on October 27, an undercurrent among the media was that new Wolfpack Athletic Director Debbie Yow is not TOB’s biggest supporter. And, supposedly, she gave her incumbent coach a preseason ultimatum that he had to beat the Tar Heels for the sixth straight year and win the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Neither happened, and then State showed up against Virginia with a major hangover, trailing 26-0 on the way to a 33-6 loss to a 2-6 team coming into the game. Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh News & Observer wrote afterward that O’Brien may be in hot water but should survive because he has three years left on his contract and has a spotless record with the NCAA. That won’t hold much political capital with...

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Creating An Awful State

Perfect. Carolina left its arch football rival in an awful State Saturday after awakening a dead offense to score 18 points in the fourth quarter and startle the smug Wolfpack, which played most of the second half like it had the game won. Not only did the Tar Heels snap that sickening five-game losing streak to State, they did it in such a way that the deflated Pack might play like dogs for the rest of the season. If you can ever make up for five losses with one win, Carolina came close in perhaps the strangest and most sensational game ever played among the lofty pines of Kenan Stadium. Consider this: The teams combined for 78 points and more than 1100 total yards, despite Carolina going scoreless in the middle two quarters on 11 straight possessions and State managing only one touchdown in the second half. After emerging in navy blue uniforms and metallic silver helmets with a light blue Heel print covering both sides, the Tar Heels not only looked like a Nike version of Oregon East, but raced to their first 15 points on two reverses and one trick two-point conversion. The crowd was rocking, images of a vengeful blowout dancing in our dreams. Then reality set in. State, by contrast, wore boring uniforms of retro-loooking red and white from the 1960s, when the Wolfpack played for Earle...

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Finding Local Creeps

This is a sports notebook only because the letter writer is Tod Morgan, the affable and hard-working athletic director and young men’s basketball coach at Chapel Hill High School.   It’s a cry out for help to find two creeps who stole Courtney Morgan’s wallet from her hand bag as she refilled her soft drink and attended to their 9-month old baby girl at a Southpoint Mall restaurant while out with several of her associates from the Carrboro-Chapel Hill School System. It is also meant to put a little pressure on the store that will not release the security camera photos of the alleged criminals, a man and woman, who shortly after the theft charged thousands of dollars of merchandise to the Morgans’ credit cards. The poor-quality pictures one of the stores did release are below. Crimes like this are always an outrage but receive little publicity because (thankfully) no one was assaulted or physically injured. But it hurts, nevertheless, when a visible member of the community is so wronged. Morgan is the best-possible advocate for all sports at CHHS, sending out daily emails about how all of the Tigers’ athletic teams are doing and following the progress of their athletes after they leave school. The same day he sent out this letter, Morgan also emailed out congratulations to two of his former basketball players for making the varsity squad at UNC, one of them the...

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