Okay, so you know I'm a loyal Carolina football fan. In fact, truth be told, it doesn't matter WHICH Carolina is playing: North, South or Panthers, I have a personal connection with all three. Three years in the football program at UNC (one as a player, two as a manager), our daughter is a sophomore at USC, and we got to know quite a few Panthers players from doing radio in the Charlotte market for nearly seven years and going to games. All of that translates into an wierd weekend just past.
Saturday was UNC's home opener against Wisconsin. It was Letterman's Day, so all of us former Tar Heels were invited to meet-and-greet at the annual pregame BBQ, mingle with old friends and go to the game. That much was great. The game was odd, to say the least.
As I noted last week, the Tar Heels' defense is much improved, thankfully. They held Wisconsin to 14 points and only 304 yards, despite the Badgers having the ball for more than 10 minutes longer than Carolina during the game. But poor results on 1st down, too many penalties (12 for 115 yards), and several key dropped passes (including a sure touchdown in the 4th quarter) killed any chance for momentum -- or a comeback. So close, yet so far. Badgers, 14-5. 0-2 start for the 'Heels -- should be 2-0. This ('') close. Bummer. Again.
Meanwhile, we tried to keep up with Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks via scoreboard update at the game. Plenty of folks were saying SC could beat Alabama in Columbia (WRONG -- Bama 37-14). Guess they were reading the wrong tea leaves. Even the 'Ol Ball Coach finds it's hard to win without a reliable running game. I should have guessed what might happen when daughter told me she had opted for the beach instead of the game -- and she's a big football fan. So the "Carolinas" went 0-2 on Saturday for the second week in a row.
Last week, the New Orleans Saints screwed up our Sunday, too, stealing one from the Panthers in Charlotte. And with the winners of 3 of the last 4 Super Bowls coming to town this week, Sunday didn't look to be too promising either. Fortunately, we had outdoor plans away from the radio and tv during the majority of the game. So I listened on the way to, and back from our outing. Surprize!!!! Panthers sounded okay on the way there. It was 7-7 when I turned it off in the first quarter.
So we get back in the car and there are 3 minutes to play. Just in time to hear Brady miss-fire on a pass but interference was called on Ricky Manning of the Panthers -- it's 1st down on the Panthers 39. Uh-oh! What's the score? What's the score??? Incomplete pass. 2nd and 10, 2 1/2 minutes left... Crowd noise is loud. Panthers still must be in this one... No idea of the score, still! Then Brady passes complete for 7, but... FUMBLE!!! Who's got it??? PANTHERS' BALL!!! Mick (Mixon) says "...that's one more nail in the Patriot's coffin...". Hey, Mick, what's the SCORE??? Are we REALLY up? They go to break on the radio and he says "...Panthers, by TEN." Oh, MY! Three DeShaun Foster runs net a first down and the victory formation can run out the clock! Jake Delhomme takes a knee twice and... heh! Cats 27, Pats 17! Almost makes up for Saturday.
Maybe I should plan some activity for this Saturday, say between 12:15 and 3... That way we can catch the beginning and the last few minutes of the 'Heels at NC State. Don't laugh...it worked with the Panthers!