The MOST critical game in …

January17/ 2000

… This week I have my annual pre-season analysis of UNC’s upcoming Football season.  In a super secret meeting with my UNC “Deep Heel” we will rank the upcoming “most critical games in John Bunting’s coaching career” for 2005 in order of likely howler monkey hysteria.  Using Ouija boards and Billy Arthur’s step ladder we will predict the precise moment that the primary fan boards will melt down in their annual ritual demand that The Dickster and John be diced, sliced, frayed, and spaded … and an update on future scheduling.

    When you take last season’s “toughest schedule in the history of sports” and replace William & Mary with Wisconsin and replace Wake Forest w/ Boston College, you can forget about any “cupcakes” for Coach Bunting this Fall.  (our wuffie pals do so enjoy that word association w/ John and dessert treats.)  Other than Duke on November 19, there is no game on Carolina’s 2005 schedule in which they would be a pre-game favorite as of today.  That simple fact does tend to send a chill up the average Tar Heel spinal column.

    I do not prescribe to the “Daren Durant is gone … it’s hopeless” school of prognostication.  I thought Durant was a fine player with impressive career stats and a modest number of very fine individual performances over his career.  He was NOT a Philip Rivers who carried a team on his back for four seasons.  The hole Durant leaves in the Tar Heel offensive bucket is significant not by its size as much as the unknown quality of any/all replacements.  The talent gap between Matt Baker and Durant is less cavernous than the Philip Rivers – Jay Davis gap simply because Rivers was a legit franchise talent of once a decade quality.

    Year Five of The Bunting Era certainly finds a roster with top to bottom more Division 1-A athletes than at any previous stage.  It has to be noted however that the “stellar” recruiting classes of Year Two and Year Three were bloated by the double entry of the Hargrave Gang who, along with The Three Amigos, are now just trivia questions for bored recruitniks.  Regardless, there is more depth than in the previous 3 seasons but still not enough to withstand more than the standard casualty count, not to mention any more “bad boyz” episodes.

    Restating the indisputable Swagger Theory for 7 or More Ws … “a team is only as strong as its 3rd string Offensive Line”.  Don’t believe that, just ask Chuck Amato from last year.  Offensive linemen are going to get dinged up.  It is a reality as sure as “tunnel rats” in Viet Nam were usually sent home in body bags.  Their playing career is Russian Roulette and Dr Taft and his trusty ‘scope are sure to see action.  Baring the team bus going over a cliff, the 1st and 2nd teamers will be fine for the first 5-6 games but it will be those unheralded mouth-piece chewing, dance team ogling “big-uns” in the clean jerseys in September that will make/break those final 5 games in late October and November.

    Of course “our team” ALWAYS gets hit with more injuries than any team in America, regardless of who “our team” is.  It’s part of the Fan Excuse Trifecta … 

(1) media is against us … 

(2) referees are against us … and 

(3) we had more injuries than anyone else.  


    Following my super secret meeting w/ Deep Heel I will give you the OFFICIAL 2005 “Most critical games in John Bunting’s coaching career” in order of “extreme criticality” but for now circle September 24 on your calendar.  

   The meeting will be held at Southpointe Mall this Tuesday if any of you are of a mind to join us.  Just go up to everyone you see who looks like an Internet Legend and say “Howdy”.  

    In a related story … last week The Dickster inked a contract to play ECU home and away in 2007 and 2009.  At first blush this seems to nix the TERRIFIC IDEA of playing South Carolina in an every other year series in Charlotte.  Actually it does not.  Play South Carolina in alternate years from playing ECU.  The Swagger UNC v USC Master Plan, as you recall; calls for every other year AND counting the BOA game as an AWAY GAME for both schools.  None of the hypothetical BS being discussed on this subject in the Internet sewer system approaches it in this obvious manner.  I have no problem with playing ECU.  The future of ECU Football in the Skip Holtz Era is a question mark; but so is the next 5 years for UNC.

    College Football is about rivalries and fan anticipation … not about BCS points and Sagarin ratings.

    The next creative thought from Dickie Baddour, bless his heart, will be his first.  The UNC v USC series should already be a done deal.  Any “no, because …” that relates to the UNC-NCSU Charlotte games of the late 90s is totally irrelevant to this proposal.  

    If this great idea isn’t seized on by UNC in the next 30 days, Jeff Beaver and his Charlotte mover/shakers should take the offer to Lee Fowler.  A “Chuck vs Steve” shootout would be as popular and as much an obvious great idea as UNC-USC.  Hell, Baddour will be gone before any of the games will be played anyway.


 Swagger’s Stumper

 Who was Gunther Toody’s partner?


    Podoloff, Kennedy and O’Brien were either former NBA Commissioners or Matt Doherty’s coaching staff at UNC.  “Karl Kolchak” was played by Darren McGavin.

    BobLee had a relatively trauma free 24 hours in New York this past weekend.  An appearance at a fru fru Westchester County country club and a nice reunion with old friend Barry Jaeckel who’s dad Richard was in The Dirty Dozen.

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