Who Would Have Thought?
One of the more painful aspects of losing to a traditional rival when you live in enemy territory is that the pain of watching the game on TV is just part of it. There is the print media's comments in the Sunday morning newspaper to bear and sometimes that is worse than watching the game itself. Since I retired I don't have to listen my fellow workers after losses, but I have a few friends who enjoy using the needle a little to let me know that they know.
As the game unfolded yesterday, I was trying to think of something I could nail my hat to as a bright spot for the Heels. All I could think of until Matt Baker entered the game was that we had only lost 1 game. But what a loss it was. Some of the Carolina fans have been asked on the message boards if it was as bad in person as it was on TV. Without exception, the fans responded that it was worse. I don't know how they would know unless they had a TV with them at the game, but I'll take their word for it.
I got irritated before the game even began. I was sure if the Heels won the toss that we would choose to receive because our strong point certainly has to be the offense. What did we do but win the toss and then defer. Seems to me that had we been able to score on the first possession, it would have given our players the confidence they needed to compete with the Cavaliers.
One observation several fans have made that confirms what I thought I saw on TV. The Virginia players looked more impressive physically than we did. One fan commented that it looked a pro team versus a high school team based on appearances. The weights might be comparable but the physiques were not. This is hard to take when we have boasted of having one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the business.
I don't think I have ever seen a football game where two kickoff were returned by the same team for touchdowns. I was confident we would look better than Va. in the kicking (ex. pts, kickoffs, field goals) game but then we missed an extra point. One of Virginia's kickoffs went out of the end zone while none of ours did. Oh well.
There were other things involving the game that irritated me. How in the world could Carolina's previous coaching staff not be interested in Chris Canty. He said he had extra motivation for the game because Carolina didn't attempt to recruit him and I don't blame him. He's only made All ACC for two years and undoubtedly will make it again this year. Coach Bunting did try to get in on another Charlotte native, Alvin Pearman, but it was too late. I will never understand why we do so poorly recruiting in the Charlotte area. As far as recruiting is concerned, it might as well not be in North Carolina.
A lot of fans noticed the way the Carolina players were smiling after the game and the camera shot of Durant smiling on the bench after Baker went in didn't help. I was embarrassed that a UNC player (Durant) was chosen the most outstanding player in the game for UNC. I have always felt that Durant was/is overrated despite all the career records he holds. I guess I never completely forgave him for leaving the team and I personally would never have allowed him to return. But then I'm old fashioned. Not only did this leaving send a message to the rest of the team, it cost us in recruiting when he made his intentions known while they were on their recruiting visits. Baker might have been throwing against 3rd stringers, but it was the only thing I saw all day that made me feel encouraged about UNC football. The old cry of "when does basketball season begin" is being heard frequently, but unfortunately we've got some more games to play. I see nothing that makes me feel we will do better in those games.
The final blow for me was when I saw and heard the UVA band perform for the first time. They looked and sounded great. The biggest complaint about UNC's band is that it is not brassy enough. Some have tried to explain this by saying the predominantly female UNC student body is responsible. Females, they say, tend to play woodwinds, not brass. Even though UVA does not have quite the percentage of females that UNC does (UNC has the largest percentage of females of any major university in the U.S.), they didn't seem to have any problem finding students who played brass instruments. They have 170 members and if you listened to some of their renditions as I did, you had to be impressed. They hired the band director from Western Michigan who had performed several times in Scott Stadium, and I think they have a winner. I don't know if the scatter band performed outside the stadium, but the days of them officially representing UVA are over and a lot of people are relieved.
So where does this leave us? We have no choice but to wait and see If the message boards are any indicator of how the fans feel, Coach Bunting does not have a great deal of support. Some are suggesting that fans not attend home games because they are convinced empty seats are the only thing the UNC administration understands. I'm as upset as anybody about the current state of affairs, but I have no magical solution to the problem. However, unless something is done, the problem is just going to get worse. First Doherty and now Bunting. Can we ever get out of the limelight for things that don't bring credit to the University? Time will tell.
How many more days did you say there are until basketball season begins?