For as long as I can remember, and I have been watching UNC Football and basketball going on over a third of a century now, one of the theories I have heard a lot has been… North Carolina is a basketball school that also has a football program. When you look at the results of the two sports you would have to agree, even if legendary coach Dean Smith once said something to the affect of “Carolina is a soccer school where basketball wins every once in a while”, when it comes to profit making sports the Tar Heels have shined a lot more on the hardwoods than on the gridiron.
On the other hand, can the Heels one day be a program that can be known for their football just as much as their basketball?
First off, let’s say this, it is a lot easier to get a basketball program to the top than it is a football program, and I believe it is even easier to stay on the high echelon as a hardwoods program than it is in the gridiron landscape. When you are talking about basketball, with one good player you can jump your team from good to great, in football that is almost never the case.
Having said all of that, is it possible for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to have a football program that could be at the height of its counterpart? Sure, but you have to start at the top. Which means the Athletic Department wants that. In all estimations, from the money put into Kenan Stadium and the rest of the facilities, would indicate a pretty resounding yes. Sure, more can be done, but at most all schools that can be said.
Next you need to spend for the right head coach. There, Carolina, from when Coach Mack Brown left until the hiring of first Butch Davis and now Larry Fedora, had not really done its due diligence. Let’s face the facts, while as fans we want to believe that many of the student-athletes come for our beloved school, the top players come because they believe that the coaches can get them to the next level.
Sure, one can rebuttle that many talented young men came through between the eras of Coach Mack and now, but the key to becoming a top program is to be consistent in getting those players, and only with the right coaches can you do that. A good class can be a starting point to success, but you need class after class to be good in order to end up in the Top 25 on a regular basis.
After all of that, there needs one more thing, one that as fans sometimes forget. To remember it, we must all look into the mirror. Yes, in order to have a great program, you also need a hard core fan base. Not one that will go into doom and gloom after the first loss of the year, will begin to count down to “Late Night with Roy” once the first conference set back has taken place, and will have forgotten what Kenan Stadium looks like by the time Halloween has passed.
It is the second season for head coach Larry Fedora, someone who could truly elevate the program to the next level. It seems that the school has shown a commitment to the program, having spent millions upon millions in renovating Kenan Stadium. They have hired two good head coaches in a row. It seems that coach Fedora has shown his commitment to winning with how he has brought the team forward on the field and how he has recruited relentlessly. Four star players are becoming a lot less the exception when talking about recruits.
However, if we want this momentum to keep going, we, as fans, need to do our part as well. We can not show this team, as well as the recruits that come to watch games, empty seats at home games. We must show the pride and devotion that one has to have towards a winning program. The SEC is the top conference in the nation cause all, from the top of the schools to the last of their fans, are “into” their teams. If Carolina wants to win on the gridiron with the same consistency as they do on the hardwoods then it has to be a combined effort from top to bottom.
With less than a week to go before the first game of the season it’s time to focus on the gridiron and not worry about the hardwoods for a while. It’s football time, it’s UNC Football time. Let’s show the pride that comes with being Tar Heels, no matter the sport!