Duke-North Carolina. Two schools, eight miles apart. It’s been called the Greatest Rivalry Ever. It’s basketball, it’s football. It’s even lacrosse. But is it…middle school fiction? You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been the past few weeks. With the release of the Wainstein Report, most North Carolina fans have been either hiding in shame, or vocally sharing their anger. I’ve been doing neither. I’ve been writing a book.
Last week, we looked at North Carolina Football’s difficult four-game stretch and examined some of the statistics and intangibles they held that may or may not be good indicators of future success. While there were some bold predictions and unlikely scenarios presented, it all seemed semi-plausible until East Carolina completely dismantled the Tar Heels on the way to a 70-41 victory last Saturday. In a record-setting performance, the dynamic Pirates offense, led by quarterback Shane Carden, totaled 789 yards of offense. With an 0-1 record one week into the gauntlet, and a 2-1 record overall, it’s important to take last week’s performance into account when looking at North Carolina’s next three games. For the sake of some hope of predictability, we’ll just look at the most immediate game, Saturday AT Clemson, for now.
The North Carolina football team may have had last week off, but they certainly didn’t have any time to rest. After two underwhelming victories against motivated, but overmatched opponents, the Tar Heels had a lot of work to do. Despite being 2-0, the season was already heading in the wrong direction without significant changes in a number of different areas. Poor tackling and a stagnant running game were two of the biggest problems, but that’s only scratching the surface. This week it’s back to business, and things are about to heat up pretty quickly. Four games in four weeks, three of them away against ranked or probably should be ranked opponents (ECU), leaves little room for error.
With the Tar Heels having a week off, and the necessary improvements obvious (defense, consistency and surprisingly, the running game), I thought I would share a project I’ve been working on for a few years. Growing up in the Triangle region of North Carolina, I’ve been an ACC fan my whole life. Even if you move here from somewhere else, you don’t last long before deciding you like Carolina Blue, Duke Blue, or NC State red. Once you do, it’s for life, and you develop a strong feeling about the other colors too…it’s just not usually as positive.
College athletics are changing. You know that, and we know that. The NCAA even recognizes it. If there’s one school that embodies this change, and even more so, the reason behind it, it’s The University of North Carolina. It’s been over four years since Marvin Austin’s famous ‘Club Liv’ tweet (which, coincidently, is controversial for another reason too), and the University has undergone a number of changes that have been woefully underreported and underrated (see them here). But we’re the media and we like sensationalism, so it’s easy to understand why the Carolina Commitment may not be as fun as the continued antics of PJ Hairston.
Today, however, the school revealed another step in the continued healing process with their image, their fans and their athletes. It’s called Complete Carolina, and it’s a long overdue idea that other major Division I programs need to take note of.
While the summer is anything but quiet in the world of college athletics, it’s often a dead time for fans. Games are over, recruiting is slow and summer workouts have begun. So if you’re only a fan of your favorite team, life can be hard during the warmer months. But don’t worry, things aren’t all bad! The NBA is holding its draft this week, which is always of special interest to ACC fans. This year, notable entries include players from North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson, Louisville and Virginia. It’s an exciting time for many different people. Players finally reach their dreams. Lifelong fans burst with pride and optimism. And schools bask in the reflected glory of their latest millionaires.
It’s the story that just won’t die. The North Carolina academic scandal came to the forefront of everyone’s minds once again today when ESPN revealed their new ‘Outside the Lines’ segment with former UNC shooting guard Rashad McCants, the second leading scorer of the 2004-2005 NCAA Championship team. In the interview, McCants claimed, in short, that he didn’t go to class, didn’t do any work and that the administration and Coach Roy Williams knew what was going on. Because the school has been in the media so much over the past few years for similar claims regarding the football team, the issue is that much more magnified. Especially since a championship and a historic program is involved. The interesting thing though, is that this statement strongly conflicts with one he made ten years ago (ESPN).