Those of you who have tried your hand at writing will appreciate what I am going to say. Those who have not, will not understand.
This is the second time I have written this story. The sad thing is that I was pleased with the first effort and, as you know, you worry that you aren't going to be able to recapture the moment in the second writing. I never will forget Roy Acuff saying on the raw recording of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" for the musicians to get it right the first time because "you lose a little something each time you do it over". Oh, was he so right.
Why am I having to rewrite the story? Blame it on my lack of knowledge in controlling this little keyboard in my lap. It's happened before and it probably will happen again.
The Long Wait Was And Is Over
While having lunch with a friend last Friday, I made the comment that I was going to go down to Chapel Hill on Saturday and take our annual butt kicking from Florida State. I was a little down at the time for various reasons but I did add in a sort of philosophical way that some day the stars would line up right, the football gods would smile on us and we would defeat the Seminoles. I also added the favorite slogan of those on the receiving end of lengthy domination by an opponent that "nothing lasts forever". Little did I know that my "prediction" would come true the following day.
I don't know how to console those of you who were not at the game and for those who don't know that you need consoling, you just don't know what you missed. I am thinking especially of two Tar Heels who called me last week and wanted to know if I knew anyone who wanted tickets. At the time, they thought the game was going to be televised in Richmond but the Virginia Tech-Rutgers game was televised instead. Unless they had a dish or went to a sports bar, they were out of luck.
Last Saturday was absolutely the perfect football Saturday. The only thing that in any way went wrong was that my friend and I missed the team walk through Tar Heel Town but I tried to make up for this failure by being extra supportive at the game. My friends at the Waffle House did the best the could but I have never seen them as busy as they were at around 5:45. I'm a Waffle House fanatic also and I insist on having breakfast there before hitting the road for Chapel Hill.
Tar Heel Town was new and improved and I had an opportunity to experience something I never thought would happen. I ate a plate of Parker's BBQ while soaking up the scenery in Polk Place. The Marching Tar Heels warming up in the background and some good conversation with some newly met Tar Heels at our table. It just doesn't get any better than that. It did wonders for my ego when I gave my new friends a calling card with "RamFanatic.com" on it and they said they had visited the site. Maybe someone is looking in after all.
It may have been my imagination but I thought we were going to see a good effort from the Tar Heels just by observing the way they took the field and went through their pregame drills. I know you can't rely on this as an indicator but I always feel better when the team looks like they have some energy. A voice inside me kept saying that this could be the day but I've heard that voice many times before and I refused to be lured into high expectations. There have been so many disappointments against Florida State.
The team played well early and the voice grew louder but near the end of the first half it looked like reality was setting in as the Seminoles had come from behind to take a 9-7 lead At halftime I kept wondering which Carolina team would take the field for the second half. Would it be the one that outplayed Oklahoma in the second half or the one that collapsed against Texas?
It didn't take long to find out. We played extremely well and for the first time in a long time, it looked like we were getting some of the breaks. When we got the game well under control, it was exciting to hear the Carolina fans do the "tomahawk chop" spontaneously. It had to be spontaneous because I was sitting on the visitors' side and no one on the sidelines was leading the fans. I'm sure the Florida State fans didn't appreciate it but they probably don't know how irritating that chant can be when you are getting your butts kicked on the field. Reminds me of Lefty and "Amen".
For the first time in a very long time, I didn't see or smell any alcohol and I didn't see any miniature whiskey bottles in the stands after the game. I'm sure there was some imbibing but everyone I saw was well behaved and happy. There was one situation that didn't turn out to be serious but caused right much attention in the area where I sat. A Florida State fan complete with t-shirt and cap left the game before it was over and you can guess what the UNC people around him did. Yep, they gave him some cat calls and rather than just ignoring the taunts, he chose to respond to the crowd. Wrong move. You don't have to be a psychology major to predict what effect this had on the crowd. If he had just ignored them, it would have been over in seconds but as it was, it strung out for a few minutes. Nothing serious but the only thing of this sort I saw all day.
Several students tried to take the field before the game ended and they had to be ushered off the field by the police and security personnel. I saw one policeman make a tackle that would have pleased Coach Bunting. After the clock ran down, the field quickly filled with fans and I would estimate that at least 75%-80% of the field was covered with celebrating Heels.
They had a lot of difficulty in getting the west end goal posts down but I read in the newspaper that they finally made it after 41 minutes of trying. I saw something at the east end goal post that caused me some concern but nothing serious developed from it. One of the yellow coated security guards got down in a three point stance and literally dared anyone to try and get to the goal posts. I had to wonder if he was crazy. His bluff worked but I wonder if he gave any thought to what would have happened if several fans had rushed him simultaneously. Think of the possible physical injuries, insurance claims, bad press and general ill feelings that would have resulted. I think we overdid it a little when we purchased "indestructible" goals posts. Why not have temporary goalposts and let the students tear them down. The west end posts were damaged long before they came down so the expense involved was already incurred. There is no such thing as an "indestructible" goal post and the students proved it. They simply dug around the base. Sometimes, I think we are hell bent on eliminating those things that make a Saturday in Kenan an enjoyable experience and I had hoped that we had changed our attitude. Some posters on the message boards are complaining that they were harassed by the police worse than ever about alcohol consumption.
One of the best parts of the perfect day was that 60 recruits were present and were trying to decide whether they want to be Tar Heels or not. It is reported that several of them wanted to verbally commit after the game.
Another enjoyable moment was when Bobby Bowden said "this isn't the Carolina team I have seen play for the past three years". Guess what Bobby. It's not the same Carolina team we have seen play for the past three years either and we like it. I hope it's something we will get used to in the years to come. Nothing lasts forever.