I don’t know if this counts as irony, but on one of my last 3-day writing benders, I had to take time out for a UNC press conference: it was Harrison Barnes announcing he was coming to Carolina. Alas, during today’s bender, there was yet another press conference with polar opposite news: our football coach Butch Davis was being fired, and our Athletic Director Dickie Baddour was retiring. You guys know I bleed Carolina blue, but I still have little-to-no idea what scandal plagued our football team, why our coach wasn’t fired last year, and why, somehow, Mr. Baddour had to pay for it all with his job, when he seems like the only one with his head on straight.
This is where fans of other teams (and people who don’t like sports) tend to fall asleep, so I’ll go ahead and get quickly philosophical and make absolutely no sense: sometimes it’s as though the Natural Order of the Universe decrees that some sporting activities are simply impossible from a sub-atomic standpoint. I’m talking about the Chicago Cubs, Clemson basketball vs. us at home, and Carolina football.
There is a magnetic dis-resonance, a tectonic fault, a barely-perceptible harmonic cacophony when it comes to our football team. We’re not even terrible enough to be interesting; we skirt the edges of “good” just enough to give die-hards like me occasional hope, only to dash them in the most drawn-out, boring way possible.
There are stories of us being pretty good in 1948. I remember hearing we were also good in 1982, until this one Maryland game sunk us for 15 years. Then we got very close to good in 1997, until this one intercepted pass against Virginia sunk us for another 15(?) years.
We tend to lose games on odd technicalities that aren’t sorted out until you’re forced to say “wait, um… that’s it?” We have a beautiful stadium, incredible uniforms, an unmatched student body, a rabid fan base, and in the last fifteen years we’ve won 72 games and lost 86.
The Natural Order came to us and said, “We have given you basketball, the greatest players to have played the game, and a yearly chance at the National Championship. But the price will be football.” And so we must say “okay.”
Scotty and I sweat through UNC vs. Texas, September 2002