Talking Points: Busy day in "ARRR State"
Posted November 24, 2013
1. Duke traveled to Wake Forest, NC State welcomed East Carolina, and North Carolina hosted Old Dominion. The Tar Heels played a basketball game against Richmond and the Carolina Hurricanes faced off against Boston. It was a ridiculously busy afternoon in Triangle sports and almost impossible to keep up with it all.
It sure was fun trying.
Buried in the football action was more intimation that North Carolina won't be getting P.J. Hairston back in the lineup anytime soon.
2. North Carolina extended their winning streak with an 80-20 win over Old Dominion. It's almost impossible to analyze the victory due to the absurd nature of the result. The 80 points put up by the Tar Heels are the second-highest total ever by an ACC team. Carolina's 11 touchdowns and 721 yards of offense set school records.
It was't as if North Carolina was trying to run up the score. Old Dominion simply suffered a number of defensive breakdowns. Five of the 11 touchdowns came on plays of 50 yards or longer, including a 99-yard kickoff return by T.J. Logan and a 64-yard punt return by Ryan Switzer. Unless folks were expecting the Tar Heels to take a knee every time they broke into the open field, it was impossible for this game not to get out of hand.
Even after Old Dominion and North Carolina mutually agreed to play a 10 minute fourth quarter, the Tar Heels were just a field goal away from topping the score of their basketball peers. Rather than embarrass the Monarchs any further, head coach Larry Fedora instructed his team to take a knee in the closing moments instead.
With Carolina's fifth straight victory, the Tar Heels are now bowl eligible and in position to ruin Duke's Coastal Division dreams on Saturday.
3. Astute observers understood going to Winston-Salem wasn't going to be a walk in the park for Duke. Head coach Jim Grobe has a knack for knocking off Triangle squads when they visit his home turf.
Given the sluggish start, where the Blue Devils fell behind 14-0 early, it looked like Wake Forest was going to mount another mascot head on the den wall. But this Duke team is different from the previous squads that came before it. Head coach David Cutcliffe has spent the majority of the season crediting what he calls "the process" for this type of resiliency. It was on display against as the Blue Devils made key defensive stops and pounded away on offense.
Duke clinched a share of the Coastal Division title and can earn a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship game with a win over North Carolina.
4. In memoriam: "Our State."
I come to bury "Our State," not bore you with a hot sports take.
The slogan served its purpose as NC State's football team won five straight over North Carolina and the basketball team became trendy on the national scene. It rankled the Wolfpack's rivals, even drawing an emotional reaction from those who deemed NC State unworthy of rivalry status.
Now "Our State" is delivered as a zinger.
Credit to athletics director Debbie Yow in her attempt to unify a scrambled message at NC State. In the absence of consistent winning and championships, Yow and her brain trust off Hillsborough Street did their best to give the Wolfpack a branding identity in the middle of program overhaul. It wasn't original, but that's not the point. Most marketing ideas are borrowed from other places and this particular one made sense to use in a crowded sports market.
While NC State will likely come up with another idea in the future, winning is the best branding possible.