Disappointing End To Football Season

I've almost gotten over yesterday's loss in the Tire Bowl, but I need to emphasize the word "almost." I surprised even myself at how excited I had gotten over our selection to play in a post season game, and the fact that it was played in Charlotte and so enthusiastically supported by Tar Heel fans made it even better. I didn't get to attend the game, but I followed every detail on the internet and I could almost feel the enthusiasm of those who were fortunate enough to be present for the event. There was the pep rally in which Ric Flair participated, posts on message boards from hotel room on what was transpiring, great restaurants being described, strip joints being critiqued for new visitors to Charlotte and, of course, the daily account of activities involving the team. This includes the bombardment of the practice field by some traveling geese which held up practice until some cleaning up took place. I had to wonder if the geese were really Eagles in disguise.

I really thought we would beat Boston College. In retrospect, I probably allowed BC's loss to Wake Forest to overly influence my thinking. Also figuring into the equation was BC's one-sided loss in the last game of the season to Syracuse. It didn't help that I didn't and don't have a lot of respect for the teams remaining in the Big East.

It's hard to tell if it was Boston College that was responsible for the outcome of the game or if Carolina did as much to seal it's own fate as did the Eagles. I didn't think UNC played with very much energy in the first half, but we were tied at halftime and, in my opinion, should have been leading. The penalty on us for celebrating was deserved even though it is not totally clear exactly what caused the penalty to be called. The rule states that celebration is not to be allowed. I have now been told that the rule only covers on the field behavior and that the wording covers players calling attention to themselves. I need to get a rule book but the last time I tried to get one, I finally gave up. I thought it would be easy just to go to a sporting goods store and purchase an NCAA College Football Rule Book. Not so. I was told that I would have to secure the book from the NCAA and, for some forgotten reason, I didn't pursue the matter. Some people have suggested that verbal activity is included in the rule, and that could have been involved here. I only saw the Carolina player, Mitchell, I think, cross his arms and look at the stands like, "What do you think about that." Maybe it was taunting and not celebration, but that's what the announcers said and they gave two not one Carolina players' numbers.

Anyhow, that penalty turned out to be disastrous as BC scored a touchdown with approximately 30 seconds left in the first half. We should have been able to hold them from a touchdown in the period of time involved.

I would like to forget the second half. By halftime, it was obvious to me that we were not going to be able to stop BC and that our only hope for a win was to be able to outscore them. 3 points in a halftime of football won't get it done. Not only did we not score like I thought we would, we seemed to have little life. I had thought the players would be sky high for this game after all we have been through this season, but such was not the case. Some say that is a coaching deficiency, but I say, I just don't know. There is enough blame here to go around. What I do know is that damage has been done to the program in the sense that the momentum we had going is now diminished. Quite frankly, I think the effects of a win and the continuation of momentum as it relates to recruiting was the principal benefit to have been gained by winning. We seem to be in it for some real good prospects and who knows what the loss will do to their thinking. I have to constantly remind myself that we are dealing with 17 and 18 years olds and, in some instances, overly involved parents in the recruiting process. We will know in the next several weeks how we do with these highly sought after prospects, but we may never know the role that losing the game played in their final decision.

The fake field goal was particularly painful. Several people have said that numerous people seated near them at the game, UNC and BC fan alike,, were shouting that the field goal was a fake. Accounts of the game say that the Carolina players were focusing their attention on Peterson and his injury while BC was huddling and planning the fake. Some want to blame the special team's coach for not alerting the players that a fake was possible. For all I know, he did. If so, the it was even worse than I thought. The "kicker" was an established running back according to one of my friends and the fact that BC had experienced so much difficulty with their kicking game should have made anybody suspicious. Had we gotten the ball, at that point, we had plenty of time to overcome a 3 point deficit.

Oh well. The game's over. The pads and helmets will be packed away for a while and we can all wonder if we will do any better next season. We have a lot of problems to solve and only time will tell whether we have solutions for these obvious problems. I am told we are going to get some good news soon regarding recruiting, but my source won't tell me what it is.

It's basketball season and our boys seem to be doing pretty well. We'll know a lot more after the Maryland game on January 8th. These teams we are playing now aren't giving us much of a test, but then Terps should be ready for us. Defense looks much improved, but teams are getting too many good shots against us. Maybe that's the price we pay for playing a gambling defense. You generally give up something when you gain something. It's the nature of the activity.

Please excuse any misspellings or typos until I can get used to my new equipment. My new upgraded machine does not have spell-check and I have to get used to the fact that I have no one looking over my shoulder to help me with my copy. Maybe I'll use what subordinates used to say to me when I would point out a deficiency/error and I would ask what corrective action they would take. Often they would say, I'm going to try harder. Often, I would question whether that was going to be enough..

" This is not a Duke kind of crowd. It's more like a cheese-and-wine crowd. Kind of laid back."

Sam Cassell, Florida State University basketball player, on UNC basketball fans at the Dean E. Smith Center, December 1991.