Somewhere in an office at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT during the course of a meeting, which may or may not have included drinking liquor, someone came up with the brillant idea that UNC vs. Virginia would be a great matchup to show on national television on Thursday night. After all, someone probably noted, it is considered the oldest rivalry in the South, and UNC is winless at UVa in 25 years, plus it was 10 years ago that UNC choked a berth to the Fiesta Bowl away on this very field. Someone probably said that Virginia's coaching changes were not going to be a problem and John Bunting was not on the hot seat because he had they Dailey kid from Nebraska and we would be looking at a great ACC matchup between two middle-tier ACC schools with the bowl eligibility for both schools hanging on winning or losing this game.
I can only imagine that someone is without a job this morning, except the brass knew that baseball would be in the middle of the LCS so this game is essentially a throw away game for ESPN, kind of like when they show poker or figure skating when someone else is showing football.
Nevertheless, here we are so sit back and enjoy the blog with a few added caveats:
1. See how many times you hear the words: embattled, hot seat, Mack Brown, George Welsh, struggle, lack of talent, character, and basketball season.
2. See how long it takes Herbstreit and Fowler to start discussing, at length, every other team in the country but the two on the field.
3. I am putting the over/under on UNC turnovers at 3(take the over), touchdowns at one(take the under), and UVa runs over longer than 20 yards at six(under).
So, away we go....
7:30 PM: The following program is rated MA for mature. Parental guidance is suggested.
7:31 PM: Swafford wants league wide standards? How about having some guts and taking away Miam's bowl eligibility. And Donna Shalala is still clueless.
7:36 PM: Another caveat, how long are we going to talk about the Miami brawl?
7:38 PM: Tar Heel Daughter(who is four) wants to know: When is the football going to start?
7:38 PM: Miami is not making it to the ACC title game.
7:39 PM: They have been on for about four minutes and have yet to talk about the game tonight. Not that I am surprised.
7:43PM: Embattled(1). Ah they are laughing at UNC, laughing!
7:45 PM: Erin Andrews says Jesse Holley told her the team is playing for themselves because the fans have checked out. Yes because fans are so wrong to ask for winning program.
7:46PM: Howie Long's son plays for UVa. I hope he is less annoying than his dad.
7:47 PM: Roy and Bunting graduated the same year? What different paths they have taken.
7:50 PM: How about instead of hitting the ball carrier you wrap him up short of the first down.
7:53 PM: There is the problem. They had UVa on third down and instead of wrapping up the ball carrier short of the first down he just gets hit and bounces off. Next thing you know UVa is down deep into your territory.
7:57 PM: OK, I have had a broken collarbone and it hurts. Of course mine break was compound to probably more severe.
7:58 PM: I guess we have to count it a good defensive series to only give up a field goal there.
8:02 PM: Well you run for very little yardage for two plays, so do you think UVa knew the pass was coming? Horrible pass by the way, I hope he gets better.
8:06 PM: You know it's tough about Bunting. That is exactly what you want to see, putting a guy in street clothes for making a gesture. If only he could figure out how to win. Wright is from Miami? Oh, the irony.
8:07 PM: Well if Cavs receivers keep dropping the passes that will work.
8:13 PM: Finally some big running by McGill. Not that he got any blocking, he basically created his own holes.
8:15 PM: Where has this freaking running game been all season? Howie Long is here? I am putting the over/under on his appearances on screen at 6. Take the over since they are already at two.
8:17 PM: DANG IT!!! Nice pass, nice run, gets the first down and then fumbles it away. Can this season get any worse? Even when the offense is working, we give the ball away.
8:20 PM: Is it the coverage is so good or is Sexton simply cannot make a good decision under pressure?
8:23 PM: END OF THE 1ST QUARTER . UNC has played some good defense after the first drive as well as the fact UVa receivers cannot catch the football is extremely helpful. The running game looks good though holding onto the football would be a good idea.
8:31PM: So can one of the worst defenses in the nation stop one of the worst offenses in the nation? And if they don't isn't that an even sadder testimony of the UNC defense?
8:34 PM: UVa 6 UNC 0. I supposed we are going to be field goaled to the death here.
8:38 PM: NLCS Game 7 Update: Mets 1 Cards 0 Bot 1st
8:39 PM: Second hardest school to get in from out of state? How much you want to bet that does not apply to the athletic department. Heck the athletes may be some of the only out of state students at Virginia.
8:40 PM: Hey, Kirk, let me explain something to you. This is John Bunting football which means we beat our heads against the same freaking wall until we knock ourselves out. Adaptation is not a Bunting strong suit.
8:42 PM: Just in case he was getting any confidence, Sexton gets sacked. Can someone please tell Cam to just throw the ball out of bounds?
8:43 PM: 3rd and 22 and we flip it to a running back for a short gain. Why not air it out? What have you go to lose? Of course being 3rd and long is an impossible situation since UVa knows a pass is coming.
8:45 PM: Well at least we get to see penalties you may not see that often.
8:49 PM: I wonder if Ralph Sampson gets any royalties off that sandwich. Might help pay for those lawyer fees he has piled up.
8:50 PM: I guess I should be excited that UVa is being stopped here but it is that chicken and the egg thing. Is the UNC defense better or is the UVa offense worse.
8:52 PM: A few quick stats: UVa is 37th in total defense, 59th in scoring defense, 55th in rushing defense, 33rd in passing defense. So based on that UNC should stick to running the ball. The pass defense is just too good for the way Sexton has been playing.
8:53 PM: NLCS Game 7 Update: Tied 1-1 Bot 2nd
8:54 PM: I think having that guy play "Nearer God to Thee" might be more appropriate for the sinking ship which is the UNC football program.
8:56 PM: I think the only reason they run a commerical featuring Roy Williams is to pacify the UNC fans and coax them out from under the bed where they have been at since the game started.
8:57 PM: Nice. You have third and long. UVa runs the ball just to try and kill the clock and UNC gives up a hole big enough to drive a Buick through.
9:00 PM: Kirk thought Rutgers would be undefeated at this point? Sure you did Kirk.
9:02 PM: Kirk Herbstreit is not only a member of Jameel Sewell fan club, he is also the president.
9:05 PM: I just saw BC will beat without Ryan against FSU. That could very well do BC's hopes of winning the division in. I do not think BC will be FSU without Ryan.
9:06 PM: Another UVA FG. Virginia 9 UNC 0 with eight seconds left. Wow. Fowler basically just said that nine points was enough to win the game.
9:08 PM: Herbstreit: "Don't give up on the Tar Heels" Too late, Kirk, most of us gave up during the third quarter of the Clemson game.
9:09: HALFTIME: The defense has been good but they cannot help be good against this offense. The UNC offense needs to run the ball. A few complete passes would help keep the Cavs honest but given that UNC is 117th in the nation in INTs thrown, that is not a good proposition.
9:26 PM: So Ryan is a gametime decision? I really should check into these things before I make my weekly picks. Is it OK to go back and change a pick once it has been posted? Are there blogging rules on this? I think if BC wants to win the division Ryan has to play Saturday because their running game will get them nothing against the FSU front seven.
9:30 PM: Joe Dailey is coming in?!?! Oh dear Lord. Actually, Dailey is basically going to scramble a lot and get yards that way.
9:32 PM: Wow, the offensive scheme is give McGill the ball and hope UVa can't tackle him despite having seven defenders in the same area.
9:33 PM: Great! Burn a timeout one minute into the half. I mean how can you not know what you are running coming out of the locker room? Stuff like this is why I think Bunting is not a good game coach. There is no reason to lose a timeout four plays into the half. The players have to be better prepared than that.
9:38 PM: Probably not a good sign that I cringe when Dailey drops back to pass. He completes the pass nonetheless.
9:39 PM: Backwards pass fumbled and Virginia recovers. Yep that sounds about right. Of course it will be reviewed and if my experience with replay is consistent there is no way this is overturned.
9:41 PM: Replay confirms. Really how can it get any worse? Both times a drive has gotten into UVa territory and both times UNC gives the ball away.
9:44 PM: Kirk Herbstreit hearts referee Jack Childress
9:46 PM: I think I am seeing a pattern here. Make progress, shoot yourself in the foot. Make progress, shoot yourself in the foot.
9:47 PM: And just to cap it off let's allow the QB to run 18 yards virtually untouched into the end zone. UVa 16 UNC 0
9:49 PM: If UNC has to throw to play catch up the UVa DBs are going to be salivating.
9:52 PM: This offensive drive will self destruct in 5, 4, 3....
9:55 PM: If they shorten the field by 30 yards on each end then UNC would be in great shape.
9:57 PM: Oh come on Herb, why don't you just go down there and give Sewell a foot massage. Geez, I have not heard so much man love since Matt Leinert was at USC. I mean saying he is going to be a star in the ACC during the flow of the game is one thing but changing the subject to pimp Sewell more is a little disconcerting.
10:00 PM: This is the UNC defense we have all come to know and love...
10:03 PM: So they throw a lateral pass with the intention of throwing it back to the QB and UNC eats it up for an 18 yard loss. Well that is perhaps the most poorly execute trick play I think I have ever seen.
10:06 PM: UVa punts it down to the 2 yard line. Run the ball John. If you drop Dailey back to pass one of two things is going to happen. He will be sacked for a safety or throw an INT for a TD. So for the love of everything Carolina blue run the ball.
10:10 PM: So Dailey completes a nice pass for a good pickup...wait for it...HOLDING...OFFENSE. Progress, shoot foot.
10:11 PM: Fowler says Dailey wants to prove he can start again. Unforunately for Dailey the guy who will be making that decision for next season doesn't know he will be UNC head coach yet.
10:12 PM: END OF THE THIRD QUARTER. Fowler is promising they will talk about the state of the UNC program in the fourth quarter. I can hardly wait...woo-hoo...
10:17 PM: Dailey came very close to being sacked after another penalty moved them back to the three yard line.
10:18 PM: And another Dailey interception. It should be noted the pass had no chance whatsoever of being caught by the receiver.
10:21 PM: Herb: "There is all the talk tonight about Jameel Sewell" That would be you buddy.
10:22 PM: So a Virginia player tried to pull the running back into the end zone which is a no-no and was flagged. Al Groh is livid at the call even though it is plain as day and asks for a review which was upheld.
10:24 PM: *Sigh* Fowler: "Assistance on that play was legal" Well, you really do not need any assistance when you run the six yards into the end zone completely untouched. UVa 23 UNC 0.
10:28 PM: Fowler:"Virginia has a sign of life for the rest of the season" Yeah, we have that impact on people. We are the number one cure for a shoddy offense.
10:29 PM: Erin Andrews talked to Stacey Dales who spoke with BCs Matt Ryan who thinks he saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I am sorry these sideline reporters are horrible. I know why we have them because if we are going to have someone standing down there making non-sensical reports it might as well be a good looking woman.
10:31 PM: Fowler:"[UNC is] Competing and violating rules" Which is actually a marked improvement because usually UNC is out there not competing and violating rules.
10:33 PM: Oh great now we have a graphic showing how Texas, Louisville, and Florida have just as many Elite 8 appearances as Duke, UNC, and Kentucky plus 13 more bowl appearances.
10:35 PM: So now we are discussing how all the verbal committments might decide to go elsewhere if the Bunting mess continues. And you know what, I don't care. I am not sure it would matter if they came with the way Bunting has run the program.
10:40 PM: Erin Andrews quoting Baddour: They want Bunting to succeed but they also want to see results. That's it kids. Baddour could have said he was still standing by Bunting or that Bunting would be back but he did not. Baddour just set the stage to have Bunting either resign or get fired. I think it is fairly clear that is the way this is going now.
10:47 PM: I think it is a major problem that the UNC offense cannot seem to throw downfield for significant yardage. All we have seen tonight has been screen passes and short passes inside the 1st down marker. One pass that was completed outside of that was called back on a penalty.
10:48 PM: Second and a foot and we pass only to get sacked? Another screen pass this one incomplete. You cannot stretch the defense if all your passes are coming with ten yards of the line of scrimmage.
10:52 PM: So it looks like Virginia will shutout UNC. UVa's other shutout victim? Duke. That's right UNC is on the same level as Duke. 1-11 is a real possibility here.
10:54 PM: Herbstreit must be Jameel Sewell's godfather. He cannot stop heaping praise on him. I guess Kirk does not realize that UNC's defense makes everyone look like the next star of the ACC.
10:55 PM: UVa pins UNC inside the three...again.
10:56 PM: FINAL Virginia 23 UNC 0. UNC had 161 yards of total offense.
Final Thoughts: I have really nothing else left to say. It was as bad in every facet of the game. Sure the defense held the Cavs to 23 points but this is one of the worst offenses in the nation so giving up 23 points to them is an embarassment within itself. As for the offense there were opportunities which were snuffed out by turnovers. I see no hope to turn it around.