Surreal evenings and stinky football

For better or worse (too often the latter) I have not missed a UNC home football game since a Thanksgiving Day encounter against Bowling Green in 1982. In all that time I have never experienced a more surreal night than the McNeese State game. The evening started harmlessly enough, sure there were a couple of storms along the way but nothing that seemed cause for concern. I actually ran a few minutes late but finally got to my seats high atop Kenan Stadium just in time to see Brandon Tate tear off a 82 yard punt return for the opening score of the season. Early on the defense played well enough, and early in the second quarter Tate got loose again to set up another score.

However by this time the spectators were distracted a bit by the ominous skies that were forming. The gent I took to the game with me even pointed out that one of the clouds resembled a skull, which was a harbinger of what was to come. After UNC’s score officials wisely suspended the festivities and the crowd was given the option of waiting under the concourse or going back to their cars. We choose the latter. After getting back to the car just ahead of the impending collapse of conditions we proceeded to see a classic storm which included several lightning strikes of very close proximity. Woody Durham even split the scene as the venerable WCHL went to regular Bush bashing, I mean Air America programming. I may not be down with the philosophy of the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world, but at least those cats are entertaining. No wonder why liberal talk radio has never taken off, these clowns make NPR sound like shock jocks in comparison. Perhaps the worst ‘national’ programming I’ve ever heard.
Eventually the conditions relented and we returned to the stadium, which put is in probably a slight minority. But at least an upgrade in seating was easily obtained. Someone however forgot to tell Carolina to show back up as the Heels stumbled on defense and stalled on offense well into the 2nd half. McNeese State took advantage of the Tarheel malaise as UNC fan was left wondering just when basketball season will start anew.

Brandon Tate though was a proverbial Blues Brother on this evening as he was truly a man on a mission from god as his play sparked a rally and the obvious embarrassment such a defeat would have caused. I take nothing away from McNeese State. They are a fine team, for what they represent. There really is no excuse for the flaccid performance Carolina came out with on this evening, especially with all the hoopla surrounding the program. Then again Carolina has been overhyping the football program for decades, always a year away it seems. After this weeks exhibition perhaps a light year is more apt. The defense did a really poor job of tackling, per usual UNC cannot stop the forward pass, the running game is non existent and there needs to be a serious review of the QB situation as T.J. Yates is in the end just not going to be the answer.

Then again the entire ACC is so far out from relevance that perhaps John Swofford should be replaced as commissioner by William Shatner because it appears the conference is about to embark on a five year mission to find new life. Currently there really is none. State is just plain bad, as is UNC, Maryland, Miami and Ga. Tech. All of those programs will struggle to see .500 this season. Clemson was overhyped and Bama exposed them for the fraud they are. VPI got exposed as well, though I think it is perhaps more of an example of just how well Skippy has done in Greenville as opposed to Beamers failings. It was however poetic justice that the Pirates were able to put the game on their side of the ledger with one of VPI’s trademarks, the blocked punt. FSU is on the downward slide, Bobby Bowden is what Dean Smith would have turned into if El Deano had decided to hang on for too long like Bowden has. Boston College is going to irrelevant this season, then again BC has not been truly relevant since the days of Doug Flutie. In the words of former UVA basketball coach Pete Gilliam (though he said this when he was at Providence) Duke is Duke and they are on TV more than Leave it to Beaver..reruns, then again when is the last time you saw the Beaver on the Boob tube? At least though the Blue Devils are making strides in the right direction, which is more than can be said for almost everyone else in the league. Speaking of losing your way, what about the parachutist who landed in Wallace Wade by mistake, hey man your about 8 miles off.
One team you cannot say is off would be Wake Forest. In the 70’s it was said Eric Clapton is god, in the 90’s it morphed into Mick Foley is god. In the new millennium might I be so bold as to say Grobe is GOD! Ok maybe not a god, but one of the best coaches in college football and heads and shoulders above his contemporaries in the conference. What is amazing is that Coach Grobe is truly committed to seeing the Deacs thru for the long term. If he wanted to cash it in for a higher profile gig he would have done so by now. Not to say he never will, but it truly will have to be a superior offer to get him away. The first few years of the Grobe era the Deacs got by on moxie but now with the genie out of the bottle and the word out on the street that Grobe is a good man to play for the talent level is getting to the critical mass stage where this has turned into a true program. Good luck getting tickets in Groves stadium for the next decade or so.

If Grobe is god, former Wake skipper Al Groh is gone. UVA not just got beat by Southern California, they got embarrassed. Not that many others in the conference would have faired much better, but Cavalier fan and alum is already squirrelly and last years miracle season will not be repeated. In 2007 UVA got every break in the book and won every game that was in doubt, this year they will not be so fortunate. And when Groh is gone it will lead to a period of rebuilding which UVA can ill afford to go into, good luck getting rid of extra tickets at Scott Stadium for the next decade or so.