Yesterday in Chapel Hill began the Fedora era for the North Carolina football program. It began with a 62 to nothing shut out of FCS foe Elon. It began with some excellent play by the team, led by star running back Giovani Bernard, who scored in everyway he could, through the ground, through the air and even on a punt return, and quarterback Bryn Renner, who hit fourteen different team mates in the game. It began the way head coach Larry Fedora had told us it would, with a high energy, fast paced, offense that is going to go as quickly as possible for as long as possible. However, how it did not begin was in front of a packed house, and that is a shame.
North Carolina’s official site, Go Heels, posted that the attendance was 50,500, but from watching the game on television that number seemed to be a bit on the high side, maybe even 10K too high. Many that were at the game, including @PeaceLoveFlake, a friend of mine that just graduated from Carolina last spring, said that the heat and the humidity kept some away and made others leave during the game. From reading around web sites and boards over 20 people had to be taken out with assistance due to the heat. Add to this that it is Labor Day weekend and I guess there were enough reasons/excuses for people not to be there.
So for that I will give a pass to the fan base, but when in three weeks the Tar Heels come back to the friendly confine of Kenan Stadium to face East Carolina, the stadium best be packed to the brim. And it best sound like it’s exploding from all the noise that the people will be doing from the opening whistle to the final one. Finally, the fans need to learn that the game ends after four quarters and not 3 and a half! No excuses. No exceptions. No nothing! Not if you are that kind of fan that wants to see North Carolina football elevate to the top of the ACC and compete with the other major conferences when it comes to the top recruits available.
If you are a subscriber to either Tar Heel Illustrated or Inside Carolina both sites have a slide show of the recruits that were at the game yesterday. Without a doubt all had to have been impressed with the way Carolina took care of Elon. But those young men also want to see packed stands, not empty ones. They want to play for a school that their fan base will be there, no matter what, and not play for one that is “fair weathered” and sometimes acts as if going to the football games is just a way to spend time waiting for “Late Night with Roy”. If you think that this is a bunch of malarkey then just look at how many games the hardwoods have on national television compared to how many the gridiron does. Getting the picture now?
This team, these coaches and players who have had nothing to do with the on the field (three coaches in three years) and off the field (NCAA sanctions and all the rest) distractions have nothing to play for at the end of the year. They need any and all motivation to keep going, a full stadium, screaming their heads off would be something that could do nothing but help them. And it helps someone like me, who lives 1,000 miles away, that wishes he could be there for each and every game (home or away) and cannot.
In the end, North Carolina football has one of the nicest stadiums in college football, it has a new regime leading the way, which is doing all it can to bring in the top players from in state and outside of Carolina, it has some great talent on the roster, and it has some great match ups at home this season. What it needs is to be supported as much as possible at every game, to show the existing fan base, the opposing schools and anyone that follows the program that UNC is looking to be a football school just as much as it is a basketball one. It takes full commitment from all, including the fans, in order to become a big time program. I am hoping that will be seen in the games to come for Carolina. For more about Tar Heels football and/or basketball make sure to come back often to isportsweb!