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North Carolina

Carolina football at a crossroads during bye week

Posted October 11, 2013

UNC head coach Larry Fedora reacts to a call during play at Kenan Stadium between the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and the East Carolina Pirates on Septempber 28, 2013 in Chapel Hill, NC.

Bye weeks are a time for reflection - and UNC has a lot to think about right now.

It’s not a great day to be a Tar Heel in the football world. As North Carolina prepares to avoid a 1-5 start Thursday night, the team as a whole is searching for an identity. What was billed as a “smart, fast, physical” brand of football has proved to be as bland as the John Bunting or Carl Torbush years.

Carolina football seems to be at a crossroads, not just in the sense of salvaging this season, but the program itself appears lost. Caught in the 90s glory days and memories of Famous Amos and Charlie Choo Choo, surrounded by the pressures of a historically dominant athletics department, the program continues to search for a leader since Mack Brown took his talents to Austin, 15 years ago.

In the shadow of a basketball program that has always looked to its past for guidance, Carolina Football must look to its future. Lawrence Taylor isn’t walking through that door (Or any door - he is on probation).

A glimmer of hope with the NFL talents of the Butch Davis era came crashing down just as quickly as it was assembled. Left to pick up the pieces is Larry Fedora – the high-energy hire whose new school approach has occasionally been at odds with the old school traditions of basketball loyalty among the Wine and Cheese. Those with power in the program are behind the Red Bull-wheeling play caller, but a losing record versus in-state opponents isn’t remedied by any amount of caffeine or new shade of jerseys.

In many ways, with these issues, Fedora has been tasked with a job that is bigger than football - and certainly outside of his job description. The school itself has been battling its own demons for the better part of four years, pulled between academic, athletic, financial and even moral forces that are constantly opposed nowadays when they were always intended to support one another.

Perhaps football was the cause, or perhaps just the most obvious symptom, but fixing these problems has been made no easier by the fact that the college football itself is searching for a new identity on the national stage as well. Amidst a constant stream of fresh crises within the NCAA lie power, agents, cash, concussions, myths, Jay Bilas’ Tweets, and little truth. Ironically, these days the governing body’s rules are condemned with the same level of vitriol that UNC was for breaking the same rules no more than a few years ago.

Oklahoma State and the like are now the victims, the NCAA the perpetrator.

While riding a wave of revolution on the outside, Chapel Hill has been in turmoil within: alumni at odds, fans in outright wars, faculty pitted against faculty and students dealing with the sins of their fathers for which they had no hand in but still have to pay the price.

Make no mistake, Carolina is searching for its soul right now. Fedora, caught in between, is left with problems that seem more important than simply blocking Jadeveon Clowney or designing new helmets.

Can he fix them?

The Miami game on Thursday night is bigger than just the W/L result. Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleischmidt and the town are shutting down Franklin Street, attempting to unite the community around the festival that is football in America and potentially igniting a dormant fan base that could breathe new life not just into Kenan Stadium but the school as a whole. Win or lose, the calling of both the fans and the team to match the town’s enthusiasm will be a big step in steering the ship.

The philosopher, family man and comedian Homer Simpson once said of alcohol that it was both the problem and solution to all of life’s problems. Perhaps football will do the same at UNC. Perhaps a couple football wins can wash away the football problems that have been plaguing the university.

Or perhaps they won’t. We shall see.

14 Comments

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  • jamestownbball Oct 14, 6:24 p.m.

    Really? No one is going to comment on how outrageous this article is? I liked it I won't lie but this guy sounds like he wants to be Leo Tolstoy or something. Did I really just type that?

  • 903 sing Terry Watson sing Oct 13, 9:32 p.m.

    ^The 1990s called and it wants its same old, cliche joke back.

    — Posted by slayerhil

    it isn't old or cliche if it's still true...

  • slayerhil Oct 13, 5:35 p.m.

    ^The 1990s called and it wants its same old, cliche joke back.

  • rjgolfcat Oct 13, 2:57 p.m.

    I think the stands will be half empty by half-time.
    Maybe if they offered everyone a glassof wine and a slice of cheese they would stay.

  • rushbot Oct 13, 2:37 p.m.

    Does anyone know how much unc is offering folks to show up and sit in a seat on this thursday night's game?

  • fishingfool61 Oct 12, 10:10 a.m.

    Ahhh Alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems...

    http://www.youtube.com/watc... View More

    — Posted by jamestownbball

    AMEN BROTHER !!!!

  • jamestownbball Oct 12, 8:37 a.m.

    Ahhh Alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUVwR0rw5fk

  • 4tarheels Oct 12, 8:16 a.m.

    No one will deny that Carolina football is going through a very difficult time, and has been... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesBaaaarf

    I wonder if there will be articles dramatizing state's losses in basketball this season after Gottfried won his first two seasons? Will they be looking for their souls when they finish in the bottom of ACC basketball standings?

    No, there will be practical articles such as how much talent was lost and they have to give Gottfried time to recruit his talent. But in Chapel Hill Fedora is at a cross-roads in year 2!?!?! Give me a break...

  • GunnyGoesBaaaarf Oct 12, 6:59 a.m.

    No one will deny that Carolina football is going through a very difficult time, and has been since the "tweet that was heard around the world". Steve Logan has said that some of Carolina's football woes are a "cultural" thing, and he may be right. Carolina has always been a "basketball school", and when Butch Davis was brought in to change that culture, well, we all know what happened.

    I'm not sure Fedora knew what he was getting into when he became the Head Coach, but I agree with 4tarheels that he deserves to be given a chance. This is only his second season, and the fallout from the sanctions and the departure of some key players (like Gio) are being felt.

    I don't think Carolina Football's future hinges on what happens on Thursday against Miami, but I sure hope Franklin Street is hoppin' and fans are in the stands. Fedora - and the players - deserve support. Go Heels!

  • 4tarheels Oct 12, 6:35 a.m.

    Dirty program. No integrity. 3/4 star in state kids are jumping on the pirate bandwagon. Parents... View More

    — Posted by naztcheez

    LOL. I like Ruffin, but they are still ECU. UNC will always beat ECU for the best recruits. Enjoy your big season, oh...ECU started 1-4 in Ruffins' 2nd season and finished 4-8. Pirate fans were livid and ready to fire someone. Year 4 for Ruffin is off to much better start, how about we extend Fedora the same courtesy

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  • CBB: North Carolina vs. Ohio State

    Saturday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CBB: UCLA vs Kentucky

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego at San Francisco

    Saturday at 8:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers vs. Cleveland

    Monday at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • WBB: Duke vs. UMass Lowell

    Tomorrow at 6:30 pm on 620am

  • NFL: Philadelphia at Washington

    Saturday at 4:25 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
3rd
CAR 2
TOR 1
 
Half
DUKE 30
UCONN 25
 
2nd
CHI 51
NYK 43
 
2nd
HOU 25
NOP 25
 
10:00pm Tonight
SAC
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
Final
RICE 72
STTHOMASTX 61
 
Final
UVA 70
CLST 54
 
Final
LIU 69
FIU 58
 
Final
STET 67
GSOUT 76
 
Final
QUIN 80
LEH 65
 
Final
SFLA 69
SHU 89
 
Final
RICH 65
SALA 54
 
1st OT
CAN 58
USB 58
 
Final
DEL 62
TEMPL 82
Final
WCU 56
WRST 69
 
Final
VERM 56
YALE 57
 
2nd
SDKST 54
IDST 58
 
2nd
RIDE 52
MRGST 40
 
2nd
LATU 74
NICST 52
 
2nd
CHAR 34
APP 37
 
2nd
MISS 31
CCAR 44
 
Half
DUKE 30
UCONN 25
 
2nd
BRAD 43
EUREK 26
 
2nd
PEAY 45
OAKC 29
 
Half
JST 38
SMISS 16
 
1st
SD 23
MNTST 21
 
1st
UAB 9
LSU 5
 
1st
EVAN 7
OHIO 7
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSFU
CSDH
 
10:00pm Tonight
ORST
DEP
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
NEV
10:00pm Tonight
USF
PORST
 
10:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
WALLA
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
CALST
 
3rd
PIT 0
COL 0
 
3rd
PHI 1
FLA 1
 
3rd
CAR 2
TOR 1
 
3rd
CLB 3
WAS 2
 
2nd
MON 0
ANA 1
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
2nd
JAC 0
TEN 7