Ebron goes from Tar Heel to wrestling heel
Posted October 30, 2013
Let's get this out of the way first: The buzz for this week's rivalry game between North Carolina and NC State has been understandably tepid. With a combined record of 5-9, there's been more talk about Duke heading into a bye-week with a 6-2 record and bowl eligibility locked up.
The week has been filled with the usual talk about which team needs the win more or which fan base gets more riled up about the rivalry. If we're being honest about it, the folks who need the most out of the Heels and Wolfpack would be us. The local media collectively acts like Gretchen from "Mean Girls," trying to find something that'll make it happen.
Coaches and players have provided enough fodder in the past to satisfy our needs. The era of Chuck Amato and John Bunting gave us T.A. McLendon's goal line drama and midfield squabbles over the field location of a team stretching. Tom O'Brien provided "best program in the state" and "triple play," while interim coach Everett Withers dropped a "flagship" reference that sparked sports talk radio phone lines.
Add North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron to the list of contributors. He didn't waste time having some fun at NC State's expense after Saturday's win over Boston College.
"It’s not a hostile environment. It’s just another game. Ain’t nobody worried about NC State. Ain’t nobody care about NC State," Ebron said. "We’re gonna prepare for them just like everybody else do. We’re gonna take it to them. It’s a rivalry game."
Don't think too hard about the circular logic applied at the end of Ebron's statement as it could likely cause cerebral hemorrhaging. Just know Ebron is committed to stoking the fires of a rivalry and took to Twitter after his press availability to keep the shtick going.
Turned out Ebron wouldn't be made available to the media following his tweet, but that didn't stop North Carolina from allowing other players to drop some additional rivalry lines on Monday.
North Carolina Pass Game Coordinator and Wide Receivers Coach Gunter Brewer got into the act on Wednesday morning, recalling one of the more memorable moments that would be sure to get under the skin of NC State fans.
How has NC State responded under new head coach Dave Doeren? By not engaging.
"We saw [Ebron's] tweets," Doeren said at Monday's press conference. "It doesn't win games. We have to go play well and they have to go play well."
Wolfpack players weren't taking the bait either. Ebron's comments were relayed to cornerback Juston Burris and he echoed his coach's sentiments.
"That’s how Carolina handles their business," Burris said. "We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to go on Twitter, and we’re not going to talk. We’re just going to go out on Saturday and be ready to play."
Wolfpack running back Shadrach Thornton's response was slightly more amusing, simply asking "who is Ebron?"
That's easy to answer. Ebron is a guy who has fully embraced the wrestling heel role, dropping not-so-subtle shots at Thornton by using recent quotes from Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather. He has since deleted the tweet, but he hasn't stopped adding fuel to the rivalry fire.