For True Tar Heel Football Fans, Today’s Win Means So Much More


To Tar Heel Football fans who have remained faithful to the program in good years and bad, today’s Coastal Division clinching win means so much more.

North Carolina may be considered a basketball school, but there are true diehard football fans who live and die with every Tar Heel football win and loss. These are the fans who post on Inside Carolina after every recruiting pick-up, remember obscure games like when Bruce Carter blocked three punts against UCONN and travel to see the team play at Notre Dame or at Clemson or today at Virginia Tech.

For those fans, today’s victory, a 30-27 overtime win over the Virginia Tech Hokies which clinched an ACC Coastal Division title for the Tar Heels, means so much more. Those fans have been not quite tortured but tantalized for some time now. Ever since Mack Brown left Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels have shown glimpses, just glimpses, of being great, but never got there. John Bunting’s teams had talent but never were really competitive in the ACC. Butch Davis’ teams were flushed with NFL-caliber players and had some great wins, but NCAA investigations interfered in 2010 right when it looked like the team would have it’s best chance at being good. Then Larry Fedora came, promising high-powered offenses and Coastal Division titles. He delivered on the offenses for years but not on the Coastal Division titles.

Until today.

This win also means a lot to fans who followed just the last two seasons of Carolina football very closely. In large part, the rosters and major actors of the 2014 and 2015 Carolina football teams were exactly the same. Marquise Williams was the QB both years, Switzer and Quinshad were the star wideouts on both teams and the defense, which improved so much from 2014 to 2015, consisted largely of the same 11 starters.

That 2014 team showed flashes, but again, it was just flashes. Flashes of clutch play in gutsy wins over SDSU and Pitt. Flashes of greatness in wins against Duke and Georgia Tech. But then there were the ECUs, Clemsons, Miamis, NC States and Rutgers — all games that were just ugly to watch. The faithful fans remained faithful, but it was hard not to doubt the direction of the program after the Quick Lane Bowl, considering how the season ended in a complete face-plant for a team that started out the season ranked in the preseason AP Poll.

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Those fans held out hope for this season, thinking maybe as a best case scenario Gene Chizik could turn around the defense and maybe the team would win nine games. But I don’t think even those fans envisioned a dream season like the one that has played out in 2015. Carolina isn’t flashing greatness anymore, the team is great.

So to those fans who live and die with the Tar Heel football team, this win is for you. This is why you sit in Kenan Stadium through all the bad years and mediocre years and good years — to be there for the great ones, and say proudly that you have been here on the bandwagon all along, believing that the flashes of greatness shown in the Tar Heel football program would turn into something more.