…. The games have always been close except when they weren’t. The game has always “mattered” with “mattered” defined by one’s generation. UNC v UVa was THE Game until Wallace Wade and Carl Snavely came along. Then “Rooty Toot Toot … it used to be Trinity …. Now It’s Duke!” Well certainly it’s State too, but not this week.
I know the #1 Question you’re all asking ….. “Is BobLee on the Butch Bandwagon now?” No, and for the same reasons I was not a week ago. Was that a tremendous Carolina victory in Blacksburg?” ABSOLUTELY! Does TeamButch deserve “credit” for it? The “on his watch” rule ALWAYS applies so Of Course He Does. LOTS of Credit!
Where does this Big Win rank in the pantheon of Great UNC Wins? As always, one’s chronological distance from “puberty” affects the size of one’s pantheon.
(NOTE: Remember Lennie Rosenbluth speaking to Sylvia Hatchell’s team last December and they had NO CLUE who he was !!! THAT is a perfect example of a limited pantheon.)
It was definitely THE signature win to date in the Butch Davis Era in Chapel Hill. Just in the past decade I can think of three UNC Ws that I would place ahead of it ……. The State Game in 2004 …… Beating Florida State in 2001 …… Beating Miami in 2004. My vote for “most pivotal W” of the recent era was beating Steve Logan’s ECU in 2001 but explaining that “why” gets too complicated. Regardless ….. this recent totally unexpected W in Blacksburg is a cause for much celebration and HUZZAs to all involved. Not that Butch cares, but, UNC has had BIG WINS before he came along.
This past Saturday was our annual visit to Deacon Tower courtesy of BobLee Buddy Zeno Martin. This time we were with The Moricle Society !!! How “big” are The Moricles? Jim Grobe comes up an hour before kick-off to personally give them the day’s game plan. Find another head coach that does that?
Several of The Moricles are regular BobLeeSays readers. Every time Riley Skinner threw to the tight end the crème de la crème of Forsyth County yelled out “Hey BobLee, we threw to the tight end!” …. As noted in a recent column about the predictability of nitwit fans. A rough L for the Deacs who let it slip away late in the 4th quarter.
Missus is quite spoiled. When we get a game invite. Her first question is “are we in a VIP Suite like Zeno’s?” Otherwise she’s likely to pass. The Rams Club guys planning “Butch‘s Suites” in Kenan’s East End Zone have visited Deacon Tower and learned, among other things, to allow open-air access to the sounds of the crowd and the game.
It’s not the last game of the season as it has been for 98% of the past 50 years; but for the first time in many many years Carolina v Duke is a crucial match-up for both programs. This has been “Duke’s Bowl Game” for most of the past 30 years and, for most of the past dozen years, a pivotal job-saver for the UNC Coach de jour.
Would a loss to Duke this Saturday “undo” the euphoria of the Blacksburg Surprise? Yep! Is Butch “on the hot seat”? Absolutely NOT! Will we “throw more to the tight end”? We sure better! …… Will Butch dress his team in “all navy” again”? Not until his 2nd BCS championship.
Both programs need two more wins to be among the 60 NCAA teams to get a bowl bid, a cheap watch, and several extra weeks of practice. For Duke it is another step up the ladder of respectability for Coach Cutcliff. How Coach Cut managed to beat Algroh AND TO’B withOUT a bunch of fancy suites AND without an Academic Support Center beats the heck outta me, but he sure did.
While there may be some arguing among the generations over whether Duke or State is THE GAME, there is no question with Cuzzin Mary Lynn. She’ll be on Row R, Section 106 in plenty of time Saturday afternoon. Just like she has been thru Tatum, Hickey, Dooley, Crum, Brown, Torbush, Bunting & Butch. You can bet Mary Lynn knows how many Choos in Choo Choo.
There are many memories of State – Carolina games to be sure, but there’s just something different about Duke – Carolina despite all those years of it “just” being “Duke’s Bowl Game” or saving some Carolina coach’s job.
Max Chapman’s kicks a 50 yd FG to send Jim Hickey’s Heels to the Gator Bowl …… Leo Hart’s shoestring play ….. Paul Miller’s bootleg …… #23’s Final Game in Kenan ….. an infamous photo of a scoreboard ….. a Dan Orner FG by an inch in ’02 ….. losing the bell in ’03 …. a Duke FG short by an inch in ’07. And a bunch of others in-between.
My personal fav (and I may be the ONLY chronicler of this one) was 1967 at Wally Wade. Dooley’s first season with The Junction Boys. Heels on a crucial drive late in the fourth quarter. UNC RB Dick Wesolowski limps off the field. “Wynn get in there”. “WYNN ??” Curtis Wynn from Natrona Heights, PA had not played a down all season. Dooley gives him the play to relay to QB Gayle Bomar not realizing with Weso on the sidelines, it would be Curtis’ play. Fourth and a long one in The Red Zone (before they called it The Red Zone.)
Heels break the huddle and Dooley realizes Curtis Wynn is lined up at RB …. YIKES! …… The sidebar headline in the DTH the next day was “Wynn’s One Shot Winner”. He “got it” with a yard to spare. Weso came back in. Heels scored to put away a 20-9 W. Dooley’s recruits filled the roster the next Fall. Curtis Wynn never played another down as a Tar Heel; graduating in 1969.
The ESPN Gameday Crew won’t be any where near Kenan this Saturday. The BCS computers won’t much care either way. For the board monkeys and cyber nitwits waiting for “the sleeping giant” to awaken and therefore bring meaning to their lives,, this one will be touted (if we win) or downplayed (if we lose).
This is likely the last Duke-Carolina Game for the old Kenan Field House. Butch says he’s gotta have suites before he can beat Algroh and TO’B so “the Alamo’s got to go”. I’ll be there Saturday with Cuzzin Mary Lynn ….. and memories of Morris Mason, and John Lacey, ……. and Curtis Wynn.
When Butch got grief for losing to State twice, he remarked “I thought Duke was the big rival for you people?” Yo Butch, on behalf of the “you people” THIS SATURDAY IT IS DUKE.
Many of you have asked for follow-up on a nasty brouhaha between yours truly and a certain Triangle-area sports talker. Lets just say don’t be inviting BL and DG to the same party if there’s breakables on the premises. He says what he wants to on his show ….. and I say what I want to on my website. Details are “relevant” here.