Thursday, September 3, 2009

There's a Reason to Be Excited this Fall in Chapel Hill and It Doesn't Play in the Dean Dome

When I arrived as a freshman back in the fall of 2006, despite being a huge football fan I was about as excited for UNC's football season as Michael Vick would be to attend a PETA rally. With the exception of watching Hakeem Nicks (a player who I watched single-handedly destroy my high school in the state semifinals) emerge as a force at wideout, the competition between Joe Daily and Cam Sexton to see who could throw more game crushing interceptions didn’t exactly do much to augment my enthusiasm.

Then at the end of the season, John Bunting was fired and replaced by Butch Davis, and while despite my initial skepticism at the idea of hiring a coach fired by the Cleveland Browns (a team not exactly synonymous with winning) Davis quickly built some genuine excitement about UNC football. While Davis’s inaugural campaign wasn’t exactly a roaring success (only amassing four wins, one more than the previous season), the team definitely showed flashes of promise.

By the time I entered junior year I was legitimately excited about football season. While the team faltered a bit down the stretch in part due to injuries, the 2008 season saw Nicks further emerge into a first round pick (breaking UNC receiving records along the way), the Tar Heels defeating Notre Dame in what was by far the most electrifying atmosphere I have ever witnessed at Kenan Stadium, and the team fall just short of winning their first bowl appearance since 2004 in a thrilling game versus West Virginia.

While Nicks, Brandon Tate, and a few others are now gone, the 2009 Tar Heels football season holds more promise than any year I have been here. Perhaps that is just a function of being a sentimental senior, but the Associated Press Top 25 seems to agree with me on that one. The Tar Heels return two talented running backs in Draughn and Houston as well as a defensive front seven that has the potential to be right there with Virginia Tech as the ACC’s most formidable units. So I ask all of you Tar Heels to take your nose out of the 125 pages of reading your history teacher assigned this weekend and get excited and loud as the football season kick’s off. While basketball may always reign supreme here, the boys that play in the Dean Dome may not be the only team you are talking about in December this year

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