Pack, Heels fans in Omaha should unite
Posted June 12, 2013
Updated June 13, 2013
If you’re a N.C. State fan or if you’re a UNC fan, and if you’re going to Omaha for the College World Series, bury the hatchet just this one time.
After the Tar Heels and Wolfpack open the double-elimination event against each other Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. ESPN2), they’ll go their separate ways in the brackets.
Sunday’s winner will face the winner of Sunday’s first-round game between LSU and UCLA (8 p.m.). The State-Carolina loser will face the LSU-UCLA loser, and the loser of that game is finished.
Of the eight qualifying teams, State and UNC fans face the longest journey to Omaha. But unless I’m off base on this guess, there’ll be as many or more Wolfpack and Tar Heel fans in Omaha as there will be from the other six schools -- Indiana, Louisville, Mississippi State and Oregon State in addition to UCLA and LSU.
And although I realize this may be asking for the impossible, it could be important for the bitter ACC rivals to bond after Sunday.
You can bet that fans from the two Pac-12 teams (Oregon State and UCLA) and the two SEC reps (LSU and Mississippi State) will unite in their conference loyalty. Those fans will be there for each other through the process.
In 2011, when Carolina and Virginia reached from the ACC, the prevailing theme of the early games was the unremitting strife in the stadium between fans from Texas and Texas A&M, a southwestern version of State-Carolina.
It was a stark contrast to the one-for-all, all-for-one harmony among fans from three SEC East Division schools - eventual champion South Carolina, Florida and Vanderbilt. All three reached the semifinals and even the Gamecocks’ title series win over the Gators, though obviously intense, was peaceful.
•Bucket list material
The College World Series is one of the truly awesome events in sports at any level.
It’s an experience that’s more than worthy of anyone’s bucket list - in large part because of Omaha’s steadfast devotion to its carefully constructed spectacle.
The city and its citizens embrace the games and the visiting fans with such appreciation that it can sometimes seem almost phony. But it isn’t. It’s all real.
There’s nothing else quite like it in sports.
But Omaha has been anything except a field of dreams for ACC teams.
With only one champ - Wake Forest 1955 - it’s almost as though the ACC has a CWS jinx.
Hopefully, one of the Triangle teams can end the decades of frustration. Maybe that one goal will create a rare moment of camaraderie and neighborhood solidarity in the Carolina and State camps.