This phrase was coined around September when yet another deluge of bad stories hit. UNC has had quite a year, possibly one of the worst across the board in terms of losing, bad news in general and the impression we just crossed into The Twilight Zone. Of course our NC State brethren will laugh at the notion of complaining about one year of trouble, especially considering UNC is #1 in the Director's Cup standings through the fall sports. Now there is an ancient ritual in blogging (circa 2005 I think) that says if you publish a post will all of your crap in it prior to the start of the New Year it exorcises all the demons. It's true. You can look it up.
January 3rd, 2010: Marvin Austin, other juniors announce return
This was actually supposed to be good news. UNC getting all those great players back to form what should have been the most formidable defense in the ACC. It was going to be freaking awesome right? If only UNC could get some decent play out of the QB position we would say more times than we could count. Little did we know this particular news item was the harbinger of death for UNC football. Instead of getting a top five defense, UNC ended up with this. If we knew then what we know now, we would have hoped all these guys would go pro and lived with the attrition rather than a two prong rectal exam by the NCAA.
January 4th, 2010: UNC loses to Charleston
Also known as the date the 2009-10 basketball season went off the rails and crashed into a forest of pine trees setting landscape ablaze while we all sat gawking. The bad news actually started before the game with Will Graves and Marcus Ginyard being held out for injuries. In the case of Ginyard, he never got well again or never recovered from 2009, who knows. UNC struggled with Charleston but ultimately took an eleven point lead with under four minutes to go only to piss it away. The capper on it all was Charleston trailing by three and UNC allowing a three point shot to tie the game, a shot Roy Williams tried to stop via a foul except he had one arm in a sling and could not wave his arms to get Deon Thompson's attention to tell them to foul. The Heels fell apart in OT and the result was the infamous tweet from John Henson about how they just made someone's college career.
January 13th, 2010: UNC gets smacked around by Clemson
UNC's trips the state of South Carolina were not happy ones. This one started early on with the team bus being struck by a car on the way to the team shootaround. What we did not know was that was a sign of how the game would go as the Heels steamrolled by Clemson. Talk about what goes around, comes around, I enjoyed Clemson beating Duke in Littlejohn during the 2009 season now it was UNC's turn. This was a nothing goes right game from the car hitting the bus to Tyler Zeller being held out of this game (and many more to follow) and the Heels playing like this was the first time they had ever seen a game before. At one point, Roy went Blue Team, put the starters on the bench and with his back to the game drew up how to break a press. It was bad stuff all the way around.
January 15th, 2010: UNC announces Tyler Zeller out indefinitely with a stress fracture.
This where they slapped the words INJURY PRONE on Zeller's forehead.
January 16th, 2010: UNC loses to Georgia Tech at home.
It felt like losses in 2010 fell in the same category with two possible differences. UNC either fell behind by 20 and quit or fell behind by 20, rallied and still lost. This was the latter.
January 20th, 2010: Wake Forest smacks Heels in Dean Dome
This loss was the former. Oh and Ed Davis missed the game due to injury.
January 31st, 2010: "I have no idea what that was" vs Virginia
At this point I think we kept waiting for UNC to find the bottom. Losing to Wake Forest was it right? Right? Not so much. After beating NCSU (thank goodness UNC could do that much) the Heels hosted Virginia and holy crap was that awful. How bad was it? Ed Davis scored 4 points on 1-3 shooting. Will Graves and Larry Drew had 15 each, Deon Thompson had seven and no one else scored more than four. Heck, Terrence Petree had four points in garbage time.
February, 2010: UNC loses six of eight games; Ed Davis breaks his wrist; THF liveblog dies a horribly painful death
So much crap happened in February, I refuse to itemize.
The loss at Virginia Tech was not that bad. After all it was a road game and Roy tinkered with the lineup a bit. UNC just fell short. That was followed by a trip to College Park where the Heels got run out of the Comcast Center by Maryland 92-71. I was in Korea watching this game online at 2 AM. It wasn't worth it. The Duke game transpired almost entirely while I was sitting on a plane in Seoul waiting for de-icing hoping this eight month old child we were bringing home would make it through the flight. UNC played well vs Duke but ultimately succumbed to the Devils in a game that saw Ed Davis break his wrist. Following yet another win over NCSU the Heels embarked on another three game losing streak beginning in Atlanta with Georgia Tech in a loss that was so bad, I shut down the liveblog without warning after the commentary reached message board quality. That led to one individual being banned who then harassed me via email for the next few weeks, boy was that fun. Then came another close but fell just short loss to Boston College but at least Zeller returned. UNC then lost to FSU which was not as close as the final score indicated. Also during that time David Wear was lost for the season with hip surgery, Drew transfer rumors were as strong freshly made coffee, Ed Davis may or may not have signed with an agent and Roy Williams looked suicidal. The month ended with a win over Wake Forest.
March 6th, 2010: UNC gets throttled at Cameron
It was a 32 point shellacking that was basically over from the start. It was also one of those games UNC gave up on memorialized by Larry Drew's half-hearted defensive effort on Nolan Smith right before Smith blew by Drew for a dunk. It was embarrassing on so many levels.
March 11th, 2010: UNC loses to Georgia Tech and is eliminated from ACC Tournament
This made UNC not going to the NCAA Tournament official, not that they were going to get the automatic bid. This game was a sign of hope that perhaps this team was not as bad as we thought but in the end, the Heels lost and were eliminated from the ACC Tournament to wait to see if maybe the NIT could come calling. They did which saw UNC play much better making it all the way to the title game before losing to Dayton.
March 20th, 2010: UNC women's basketball seeded 8th bounced from 1st round by Gonzaga
Yeah, even the women's basketball team struggled after years of success.
April 5th, 2010: Duke wins the national championship
Having a bad season is torturous enough. Having a bad season and watching your chief rival win a national title with a team that was not supposed to win it. Yeah that really sucks.
May 6th, 2010: Wear Twins Transfer
This is included not because losing the Wears was a bad thing in terms of the basketball but rather because it added to the negative PR. It was another mark in the ledger because of the way it happened. The Wears left town like the Baltimore Colts to the point their own teammates did not even know it was coming.
May 29th, 2010: Marvin Austin's now infamous Club Liv tweet happens.
Except no one paid much attention to it at the time. Or did they. Of course it was ultimately debunked as lyrics from a Rick Ross song and as Doc pointed out the timestamps did not line up in context with his other tweets to put him at Club Liv. Still the initial perception was Austin was partying at a club with really expensive champagne. At the very least Austin's Twitter feed raised questions and those question ultimately became an NCAA investigation.
June 7th, 2010: Baseball misses CWS for first time in four years
The big difference here is everyone knew UNC baseball was in for a rebuilding year before the season. The fact the Heels missed the College World Series after four straight appearances was not a shock. UNC did not make it out of the regional round however losing to home standing Oklahoma after beating Cal and Oral Roberts.
July 5th, 2010: News breaks that Den Smith's health has deteriorated
There had been whispers about this for awhile. Dan Wiederer of the Fayetteville Observer was the first member of the media to talk about it openly. Twelve days later, Dean Smith's family confirmed the long time coach's battle with dementia. Smith still has good days and makes a rare public appearance. However this is a tragic twilight for a man of such utter coaching brilliance. Dean Smith is UNC basketball and in all honestly this may have been the worst news of the year.
Oh we were just getting started. Hilariously enough the post on Sturdivant led to some interesting discussions among the THF community including the admission of casual marijuana use by at least one person which I really did not need to know. For Michael McAdoo, the apartment fire was just the beginning of his troubles though that alone was bad enough.
July 15th, 2010: NCAA opens investigation into UNC football.
I probably should just link the NCAA Investigation category and be done with it. It started with a probe into agents and during the early going the focus was on a handful of Tar Heel, Marvin Austin and Greg Little in particular who were seen at a Miami party. And if it had just stopped there we would have all been very happy. It didn't, oh boy how it didn't.
July 22nd, 2010: NC Secretary of State office opens agent investigation.
Because Elaine Marshall was trying to win an election she actually had no chance of winning anyway.
August 9th, 2010: RB Gio Bernard lost for the season with knee injury.
What we didn't know is how much UNC would actually need all the RBs they could get by season's end.
The first of many such bombs from Yahoo. In a separate revelation, former UNC player Cam Thomas tells ACC Now that former UNC player Kentwan Balmer paid Austin and Thomas' way to CA in 2009 putting the 2009 season wins in jeopardy of being vacated.
Boom goes the dynamite. Just when we though this was not going to get worse, it did. UNC came up with the brilliant plan to trot out Holden Thorp, Dick Baddour and Butch Davis to announce the academic prong. The press conference revealed very little with the most salient points found here. Since this broke a mere nine days before the first game, the circus that followed the team throughout the season was both pathetic and entertaining all at the same time.
In my opinion UNC totally botched the release of this information. The general consensus was UNC would hold some players out and since there was no release on how many or who, the media staked out the bus departure in Chapel Hill. As this is going on UNC issues a release saying six players are ineligible and nine player held out. By Friday evening that number was down to 13 with the clearances of Carter and Sturdivant. Unfortunately that led to the front page banner headline on the N&O which no doubt became wallpaper for rabid Wolfpack fans.
September 4th, 2010: UNC loses to LSU in Chick-Fil-A Kickoff.
UNC led early but special teams and ball snapping snafus allowed LSU to open up a 30-10 lead. UNC rallied, furiously behind over 400 yards of passing from T.J. Yates and 200-plus receiving from Jhey Boyd. The Heels were down 30-24 when two passes from Yates hit Zach Pianalto right in the hands for what would have been the game tying touchdown. Instead the Heels came up just short versus what turned out to be a very good LSU team.
September 5th, 2010: John Blake resigns
The official reason was Blake felt he was a distraction. There was probably some truth to that but the probably real reason is Blake decided to walk away with $75K now versus getting his rear end fired four weeks later with nothing. As other revelations surfaced UNC claims they knew about them but I have trouble believing that because the fact Blake was getting money from Wichard, regardless of intent, would have given them cause to push him overboard without the golden parachute.
September 18th, 2010: UNC loses to Georgia Tech
This was one of those games where you asked whether having Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin, Michael McAdoo, Da'Norris Searcy, Kenrid Burney and Deunta Williams would have made a difference. UNC could do nothing with the triple option all day and a couple of ill timed turnovers by UNC ended up being the difference wasting a big time effort by RB Johnny White. Two straight games lost with UNC in possession at the end with a chance to win the game is about as torturous a two losses as you could ask for.
September 22nd, 2010: NCAA suspends Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney
Four games for Williams, six games for Burney. Williams was dinged for spending some quality time with former Tar Heel player Omar Brown at the latter's house in California. Yes, sleeping on someone's couch is considered an improper benefit. Burney took the same trip but also others which involved Agent Like Creature Chris Hawkins. That association got Burney two extra games despite having a smaller dollar amount than Williams and the rule book saying the penalty for benefits over $1000 is four games.
September 30th, 2010: Yahoo tosses flash grenade into room about Blake receiving money from Wichard
When this first came out it looked like the end of the world. As it turns out it was more like those flash grenades SWAT teams use to disorient people with light and sound. Once the effects wore off, it was still a big deal but not as clear cut as we were initially led to believe. Ultimately the fact John Blake received any kind of money from Gary Wichard while working at UNC might be enough for the NCAA to rain holy hell down on the Heels. Then again, who can really predict what the NCAA will do. When this came out however, it looked like the low point of the whole fiasco.
October 1st, 2010: NCAA denies Williams, Burney appeals.
October 9th, 2010: FB Devon Ramsay held out as part of academic probe
This was potentially a major kick in the teeth since Ramsay played in the first four games and UNC has won two of them. The NCAA, in a rare moment of grace (or CYA take your pick) said UNC would not be required to vacate any wins Ramsay played in. At the time it was yet another player lost and another dimension to an already tangled mess.
October 11th, 2010: Quinn, Little declared ineligible; Austin dismissed.
The big shoe finally drops. We knew all along that Marvin Austin was in deep water. We did not know how deep or that it was over $13,000 worth of illicit benefits but we figured it was deep. Little's situation was not as clear and appeared to be a 50/50 proposition, that is before we knew he was taking jewelry and trips all over the place. Quinn was the real shock since no one was sure why he was so deeply involved. His presence at ACC Kickoff seemed to signal UNC thought he was clear. As it turns out, UNC did not know the extent of his involvement at that time because he never told them and no one bothered to ask. Even though there were other players with academic issues pending, this was a huge step towards closure. At least at this point, Butch Davis had an idea of what his cards would look like going forward.
October 18th, 2010: UNC announces Zach Pianalto is out for the season.
Every game in which Zach Pianalto has scored a TD he has been injured. The game vs UVa was no different.
Charles Brown ends up with the redshirt after his honor court appearance results in probation and suspension from representing the school. Kendric Burney finished his NCAA penalty but still had an unresolved academic issue to clear up. This meant Burney would sit out the Miami game. The issue involved a waiver he was using to only take three hours in his final semester versus the NCAA required twelve. When a grade was changed in a class by the honor court from C to C- it could no longer be counted towards his major and therefore meant his waiver was no longer valid. The NCAA ultimately granted Burney a waiver to complete the course next semester and reinstated his ineligibility.
November 6th, 2010: Johnny White lost for season in win over FSU
Like the win over UVa which broke the three decades drought in Charlottesville, UNC huge win in Tallahassee was marred by White breaking his clavicle early in the game. That left UNC with Anthony Elzy, Shaun Draughn and Hunter Furr. The first two on that list got injured/shaken up at one point late in the game leaving Furr as the only option. All he did was come in and run for 27 yards on three carries to keep a UNC drive moving. The loss of White led to question as to whether UNC burn Ryan Houston's redshirt. Turns out that was not necessary.
November 15th, 2010: Ramsay, McAdoo declared ineligible.
Swatting flies with nuclear weapons? Perhaps. The problem is we have no idea what the actual infractions were since privacy laws prevent UNC or the NCAA from discussing it. UNC is appealing and at this point Ramsay's is awaiting a hearing while McAdoo is awaiting a final decision. Ramsay's mother has been plenty vocal about it saying it was only one paper. Surely it must be more than that to have the NCAA use the "death penalty" on an individual.
It started so well too. UNC throttled Hofstra in that 2007-2009 sort of way. The Heels scored over 100, threes fell like rain, it was freaking awesome. Then came Minnesota and we all had flashbacks to last season. Harrison Barnes who was perceived as the savior of the program went 0-12 and as of this writing has yet to really get it going. UNC then lost to Vanderbilt sending the Heels back to Chapel Hill with two losses around their neck and the same questions as last season creeping up again. The play of Barnes was the real concern. So much hype. So many assurances he was going to instantly be the real deal. Everyone, Barnes included is waiting for something major to happen with his game.
This sucked in a variety of ways. First of all, UNC did a pretty good job controlling the game. The Heels led in the 2nd half when the wheels came off. The first was Russell Wilson converting a 3rd and very long on a scramble with a late hit penalty tacked onto the end. Then UNC makes three stops with goal to go forcing NCSU to go for it fourth down. After flushing Wilson from the pocket and 15 yards further back, the NCSU QB simply throws the ball up into the corner. A jump ball occurs and UNC safety Da'Norris Searcy tips the ball which comes down in the hands of NCSU WR Owen Spencer for a TD. After brief confrontation between the players, Tar Heel LB Kevin Reddick was ejected from the game. After a UNC three and out, NCSU got a punt return for a TD to take the lead. The game was pretty much downhill from there. UNC did rally but came up just short. After all the crap taken from NCSU fans over the NCAA investigation, UNC fans would continue to endure gloating about what happened on the field as well.
The UNC women's soccer dynasty could be relied on to make it to at least the College Cup semifinals if not win the whole thing. Not this year. UNC lost to Notre Dame 4-1. It was the first time since 1985 UNC had dropped a game by more than a one goal deficit. It was only the seventh NCAA Tournament loss in school history and denied the two time defending champions the opportunity for a third.
December 14th, 2010: Carter, Pelc lost for bowl game
Sucks, especially for Carter who was having ACL reconstruction and undoubtedly worried about his potentially lucrative NFL career. How is that for fairness. Carter does nothing wrong and plays but gets injured and has his draft status potentially altered. Robert Quinn and Marvin Austin break rules, don't play, don't suffer a serious injury and still get paid.
December 27th, 2010: Anthony Elzy out for bowl game for academic issues.
Turns out, Shaun Draughn was more than enough. UNC could have done without another issue like this cropping up however.
December 30th, 2010: UNC wins Music City Bowl in bizarre fashion; Deunta Williams breaks right leg.
Sucked big time for Deunta Williams who everyone agrees is one of the best guys on the Tar Heel team and a great representative of the school. His little NCAA snafu was largely considered dumb(for lack of a better word) since Williams was hanging out with a former player and not taking money from agents or ALCs. As for the game, yes UNC won, so we won't spend too much time looking a gift horse in the mouth however this must been seen to be believed. A fitting end to a strange year to say the least.
It might be said we are having a little pity party here and not giving due notice to some of the good things that happened like the play of T.J. Yates who broke records and carried UNC to 8-5. Or there is...um....hey the field hockey team fell just short in the national title game, that was sort of good right? The losing streak in Charlottesville ended, UNC won at FSU and the Heels finished with an eight win season and a bowl victory. The NCAA investigation casts a big shadow and no, I am not even going to talk about basketball except to say the NIT run was nice but not enough to erase some of the psychological trauma dealt by the 2010 team through January and February. I guess the moral here is as Tar Heel fans we have been spoiled. The success enjoyed by UNC is as consistent as a fan could ask for and over 50 years of a clean NCAA record means what happened this summer is a shock to the system. So maybe we are being a bit overly dramatic calling one bad year a "year of hell" but given how well UNC has done, it sure felt like it.
So good riddance 2010, bring on 2011.
Happy New Year!