Nothing like seeing it live.
I had the opportunity, via a friend, to attend the Boston College game which marked my first visit to Kenan Stadium since 1998 when I witnessed the Heels lose to Georgia Tech in a fairly unflattering fashion. Generally speaking it is a great atmosphere for football. There were some empty seats due to the off and on rain showers but overall it was a fun day. Here are a few observations from the day at Kenan:
- You have not really experienced Ron Cherry until you have seen him officiate a game live. In fact bad officiating seems to stick out more in person than it does watching it on TV which is odd since when watching on TV you have access to endless replay loops. For me it was the fact you see the play happen with full view of the field and you cannot figure out how the official missed the call. The most egregious example of this was calling Hakeem Nicks out at the 1 on his first TD. It was clear to everyone watching that he crossed the plane and never stepped out of bounds yet the line judge standing right there at the pylon missed the call. As for Ron Cherry, he likes flagging holding and throws his flag a country mile when he does. Cherry also flagged Boston College's offense for "encroachment" which is a new one to me.
- The most amusing crowd chant of the game comes on every punt or FG from the opposing team. The whole crowd starts saying: "Bruuuuuuuuccccccceee" for UNC linebacker Bruce Carter who has four blocked kicks this season.
- At one point the video screen showed an ACC sportmanship video which included eight to ten year old kids each wearing a jersey from a league member. It should be noted the crowd actually booed the little boy wearing the Duke uniform.
- Some of the BC linemen on both sides of the ball are freaking huge.
- You get more a feel for what little time a QB has to throw the football. Because you can see the whole field, you see the protection break down. Pass plays are more nerve racking that way.
- TJ Yates is just like another assistant coach on the sideline and talked to Cam Sexton frequently when the offense was off the field.
- UNC uses the gong of a bell to rile the crowd up for 3rd down stands by the defense and the crowd generally responds by making a ton of noise.
- Sitting on the south side of the stadium is much better than the north side when the sun is out.
- When the team is ready to run onto the field at the beginning of the game, the fans in the Tar Pit repeated slap the canopy over the entrance which undoubtedly fires the players up.
- There is nothing like seeing that much Carolina blue all over the place.
- Having been to both basketball and football games it seems to be that the whole alma mater/school spirit aspects come out more at a UNC football game than in basketball games. Myabe basketball does not lend itself to that. At football games, the fans appear to be more focused when it comes to singing Hark the Sound and there is an obvious undercurrent of "tradition" with many folks in the stands. For some reason you see that more so in football than other sports. The same was true in high school as well.
- One thing that never fails is when you go to the movies or a football game you end up with someone sitting near you that is annoying. At sporting events this is sometimes fans from the other school. In this case it was a group of fellow Tar Heel fans sitting behind us. These guys are very passionate but also not well versed on various issues surrounding the team. They were also unrelentingly negative as well as overly critical. They spent the early portions of the game deriding Cam Sexton , especially after Sexton fumbled the ball away and BC scored. It is one thing to be upset about a play or critical of a player who has not been up to snuff. Such reasonable criticisms or natural venting of frustration is perfectly normal. The problem I had with the folks behind me is they were UNC fans who thought every player on the field had to be perfect and if they made a mistake they griped about it. I find it rather lowbrow to show up at the game to cheer UNC on and at the same time speak ill of the very players you paid to come and support. In this case, it was like one of the message boards had come to life since it was the same shortsighted, small knowledge, panic at the first sign of trouble kind of fan who blusters about various aspects of the game with a limited base of knowledge. Since what they don't know could fill a warehouse, there are more than a few stupid comments made. The point here is, if you attend a game, you should spend more time cheering for your team and less time griping about players who are talent and made a committment to the team. Every fan base has their crazies but it is really annoying to hear fellow Tar Heel fans acting like the team owes them something. Guess what? They don't and care should be taken as to what you say in that kind of environment since the presence of the fan is to bolster the team not demean it.
All in all Kenan is a great place to see a college football game. The plan to enclose the bowl would replace the older facilities in the east end zone and be a substantial improvement to the look of Kenan Stadium while also making it louder. That and continued success of the football game should establish tremendous home field advantage as the program improves overall.