One For The Ages
It may be a bit of an over statement to refer to the UNC-N.C. State game as one for the ages, but you can bet your bottom dollar there are people who won't forget this game in their lifetime. The ending was like something out of Hollywood. After leading for most of the game, UNC fans could feel the inevitable coming on like a rolling tide. I thought we were in pretty good shape when we scored our last touchdown, but when State came back with a score in less than a minute and a half, I really started to worry.
I didn't see this game in person and I wish I had. I listened on the radio and surprisingly, it brought back some pleasant memories of when that was the only way to follow what was happening on the field. Little things become important like knowing in which direction the teams are moving. It helps create the picture in the mind of what is actually transpiring. Recently, the crowd noise in Kenan has been impressive on the radio and I'm wondering if there is a difference in the the way sound is transmitted on TV vs. radio. It may be that the last two home games were games that we won and the crowd seemed to be really into it. Whatever it is, I like it.
Much has been said about "the play" and I wish I could offer information that would put the issue to rest. No, wait a minute. I would be less than honest if I said that I have not enjoyed listening to the State fans complain about the call. In a perverted kind of way, it makes the win sweeter.
Let's face it. State had plenty of chances to win the game and they certainly can't say the officiating was all pro UNC. There was a no call on a hold when Mclendon gained 45 yards in the fourth quarter. Everyone knows about the fumble/incomplete pass that went in State's favor. Most importantly, however, was that State had the game situation exactly as they would have wanted it at the end and they couldn't pull it off. Think back to the State/Wake Forest game when under almost identical circumstances, McLendon bulled his way through for the winning score. It couldn't have been set up any better for State to pull out the victory at the end. But, as they say, that's why they play the games on the field and not on paper.
Probably the most ludicrous charge made by the State people is that somehow Jim Knight is incapable of being fair when UNC is involved because we saved his life when he had his heart attack in Kenan several years ago. I know many sane State fans and I know they are not the ones making this charge but to continue to complain about the officiating makes State look ridiculous. Before we get on our high horses, we need to recognize that we have our share of loonies also and there is nothing anybody can do about it, no matter how embarrassing it gets.
The funniest story I have heard was from a State fan who said he and his wife were leaving Kenan after the game when a little lady who looked to be between 65 and 70 flipped them the bird. Then she said to them "You got your asses kicked tonight, didn't you?" The State fan was taken back but responded, "It looks like we did" and then he and his wife busted out laughing. I wonder if Grandma had a few of those "airplane" bottles hidden in her knitting or maybe she wore long pants and stuffed them in her socks like the men do. I certainly don't see drinking in Kenan like I used to, but I have never seen a game there that I didn't smell alcohol, and there is always many of the bottles left in the stands after the game is completed. Surprisingly, I have smelled alcohol in the Smith Center at every game for the past couple of seasons when I never smelled it up until then.
I started this article intending for it to be Odds and Ends but I have rambled on until there is no space to write about a few other things I have in mind. I may have to go back and re-titled it and cover the items I missed in a future article.
One last thing about officiating. I frequently hear people say that the football officials in the ACC are horrible. Now I don't really know how to interpret what they are saying. I suspect that fans everywhere feel that their officials are the worst, but how does one go about evaluating the quality of officiating. Do you do it by keying on the number of penalties called? That doesn't make sense. Do you do it by comparing the knowledge demonstrated by the officials compared to their own when most fans don't even know the detailed rules of the game. Take "the play" for example. The State people want to focus their hostility on Jim Knight when it was not Jim Knight who made the call heard around the world. He is the referee and he is the spokesman for the team. He does have more authority than the others, but there is no evidence he exercised that authority improperly. He listened to what the other officials had to say and then he made a decision. Seems to me that he has little discretion if one of his team members tells him something that he did not know. If there was a mistake on the "play" it was that the official should not have signaled a touchdown until he saw whether another official had input. For goodness sakes, the official can't stand around delaying his decision while he checks with all the others and in a split second. He didn't see what the official saw who ruled McClendon down and no doubt was focusing on whether McL crossed the plane of the goal line or not. It's unfortunate that the score registered on the scoreboard because removing it just inflamed the State crowd even more. If State is looking for someone to blame, maybe they should try to identify the player or players who were supposed to block Mitchell. I wasn't there but I'm told that no one touched Mitchell. Can you think of another game in which the player who literally won the game was a defensive lineman and a true freshman at that. Bet he didn't, in his wildest imagination while at Hargrave, think he would single-handedly save a game for the Heels.
I don't want to talk about the fumble recovery because the information I have received is so confusing, I don't know what to say. That, in itself, is a rarity.