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Jeff Gravley

UNC fans have no excuse on 'Zero Dark Thursday'

Posted October 16, 2013
Updated October 17, 2013

Turn on the lights!! North Carolina will host Miami Thursday night at 7:45 p.m. (ESPN).

The nighttime starting time snaps four straight weeks of noon or 12:30 p.m. starts for the Tar Heels. Two of those games have been on the road, and two have been at Kenan Stadium.

There has been a lot of chirping out of Chapel Hill about the distaste for playing games at noon or 12:30. Historically, these games have been poorly attended by Tar Heel fans. I vividly remember Nov. 22, 1997 when a 9-1 Tar Heel team jogged out of the tunnel on Senior Day to play Duke.

The look of amazement on Coach Mack Brown’s face said it all. He was stunned to see so many empty seats. Brown left after the season to take the job at Texas.

This past Saturday, Brown and the Longhorns beat Oklahoma in Dallas. The game started at 11 a.m. Central Time, but folks didn’t mind getting up early to be in the stands for that game.

This Saturday, there will be several top-25 teams playing at noon or before. South Carolina visits Tennessee at noon, Florida is at Missouri at 12:21 p.m., Georgia visits Vanderbilt at noon, Texas Tech and West Virginia is a nooner and TCU is at Oklahoma State in a game that will begin at 11 a.m. locally in Stillwater.

I will venture a guess that these games will be well attended. Fans show up to see a good product.

If you want a gauge of how your football team or program is perceived, take a gander at the TV listings on Saturday. The prime location is 7 or 8 p.m. on ESPN or ABC. ESPN also likes to put attractive ACC games on at noon.

After ESPN sifts through the schedule, the ACC Network gets to pick the game for 12:30 p.m. Then Fox Sports Regional takes over in the selection process. The rest of the games are left for computer-based ESPN3 or the dinosaur days of no TV at all.

If schools don’t like playing games at noon or 12:30, something can be done by your team. Play better, win more games and get ranked.

Right now, North Carolina, NC State and Duke aren’t appealing enough to play on TV Saturday night or in the ESPN 3:30 p.m. time slot. So that leaves them as prime targets for 3:30 p.m. regional or 12:30 p.m. ACC Network selections.

The Miami-North Carolina game was on the Thursday night schedule long before the Hurricanes were ranked 10th in the country and the Tar Heels were 1-4. 

Regardless of its record, Carolina gets to showcase the program on national TV in their home setting. It’s not a noon game, so there is no excuse for fans not to show up for “Zero Dark Thursday.”

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  • Barely Oct 17, 9:23 a.m.

    They mostly have no excuse for such a stupid name.

  • kato_karma2.3 Oct 17, 9:23 a.m.

    kato will not be attending as kato will be sipping zima in the parking deck.

  • JohnnyWalker Oct 17, 9:23 a.m.

    UNC fans won't be able to make this game tonight. They have to wake up early Friday morning and make the country its Egg McMuffins.

  • lec02572 Oct 17, 9:25 a.m.

    They didn't support a 9 - 1 team. They will be at the fair. Its opening night for the pig races, fair food, and funnel cakes.

  • BlueDevils00 Oct 17, 9:28 a.m.

    It's sad how far the UNC football program has fallen. A Nationally televised game vs a top-10 opponent and they're practically giving away tickets. Interested to see how the attendance is and whether its mostly UNC or Miami fans. The game will not be close, though.

    Miami 52 UNC 14

  • KevInApex Oct 17, 9:31 a.m.

    I was at that 1997 game. It was a pathetic home finale for what may have been the best UNC football team in the modern era. I know that at least in some cases people opted out of the football game and attended the Blue White basketball game later in the day.

    I remember Mack commenting how when the crowd made any noise at all it was booing(the Tarheels struggled with lowly Duke early on), and that highly rated recruits he had there went away unimpressed.

    Overall football support at UNC remains tepid.

  • kdawg Oct 17, 9:31 a.m.

    No excuse? How about rain in the forecast, a weak 1-4 team playing a Florida team that will destroy them, rush hour traffic trying to get to a game on a weeknight, and stacked parking decks that take two hours to exit because of a completely incompetent university parking division? I think those are pretty good excuses.

  • uncpwnsyou Oct 17, 9:35 a.m.

    Its opening night for the pig races

    I think you have us confused with state college.

    state college goes to pig races 'bout every day.

  • Riddickfield Oct 17, 9:36 a.m.

    Well said Jeff. unc fans complain every time State gets a Thursday night game and wonders why they can't get that kind of exposure, now that they have that wish fulfilled there will be a half filled stadium on TV tonight. Excuses will range from legitimate to lame, but at the end of the day they will be just that, excuses. Had to work, it looked like rain, its too late to stay up, my team is bad, its not basketball season yet, etc. With that sort of mentality they will never have a good football team.

  • unc70 Oct 17, 9:41 a.m.

    No excuse? How about rain in the forecast, a weak 1-4 team playing a Florida team that will... View More

    — Posted by kdawg

    Two hours on the parking deck is a huge exaggeration.

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