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Observations From Kenan Stadium

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It should be noted that UNC is now 1-2 when I attend a football game, 0-2 at night. I promise to stay away next time.

Overall, it was an outstanding evening. The only missing element was a Tar Heel win but I could not have asked for better weather. The stadium was full and the crowd was very loud. The Heels played well enough at times and the game had drama. Earlier this week I pointed out this game was a huge gamble on the field as well as off of it with the logistical undertaking of bringing in 60,000 fans on a weeknight. On the basis of my experience with the latter I think the gamble worked. We were able to get into Chapel Hill with little to no trouble and our extraction was pretty much just as easy. We left RTP at 5:15 and were on Franklin St by 6 PM. Coming out we left about midnight and I was home in North Raleigh between 12:30 and 1 AM. I have not heard or seen reports the traffic and parking were an issue and since the stadium was full just after kickoff, if there were people who had issues getting in there, it was only a few. From the logistics angle it appears UNC in cooperation with the other city, county and state agencies did a great job pulling this thing off without too much trouble. As for the game itself here are a few observations.

  • The atmosphere was great.  The defense seemed to feed off the energy from the crowd in the first half but as things fell apart in the 2nd half, the crowd became less of a factor.
  • The new bank of lights they put in are really bright to the point you cannot follow a punt as it peaks.
  • UNC is adverse to showing replays of controversial plays or doing so more than once.  In fact there were two questionable plays that favored UNC, one being the fumble that was later ruled an incomplete pass, which they would not show on the board while the Heels were trying to get the ball snapped prior to the replay booth buzzing the referee. I assume they do that so the FSU coaches could not see it for themselves and challenge.
  • The fact the game was an ESPN made for some interesting times.  ESPN employs this camera that hangs above the field and it held up by cables extending up to four cranes outside each corner of the stadium.  It looked like the Imperial probe droid on Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back. I kept waiting for Darth Vader to show up looking for Luke Skywalker. Of course I am betting Luke Skywalker can throw passes more accurately than T.J. Yates but I digress.
  • Media timeouts are more frequent with an ESPN game.  The Raycom game I went to last year versus Boston College seemed to have fewer breaks in the action and shorter ones at that.
  • Yes, Erin Andrews was there and having observed the Sideline Princess first hand, let me just say there is something bizarre about the whole thing.  Andrews was on the FSU sideline in the first half but near halftime she came over to the UNC side with no less than five people in tow behind her.  There was a young woman who was probably a production assistant, a man in a suit and tie that appeared to be plain clothes security, a uniformed police officer and two other ESPN lackeys. We ended up seeing her walk about numerous times and it was like a freaking processional.  Andrews looked like some sort of queen and the people behind her looked like attendants who strangely enough walked in a straight line. I am not sure I ever saw her talk to them but there was something about watching Andrews and her posse walk by every so often than forced you to watch.  Like I said, it was bizarre.  Andrews has a cult following as illustrated by the FSU fans who were chanting her name near the ESPN tent as we were leaving the stadium. Granted she cannot control what other people do but there was something off putting about watching her walk around like a queen.  ESPN should just drop the pretense and hire four guys to carry her around in one of those elevated chairs like the ancient Egyptians use to do.  At one point someone tried to snap a cell phone picture of her walking by and was stopped from doing so by the security guy.

    Now, I understand that what someone wears has no bearing on how they should be treated nor does what someone wear give anyone license to violate that person like Andrews was violated by the now infamous hotel peephole video. That being said, Andrews was wearing painted on pants and knee high leather boots last night.  If you don't want people to treat you like a sex object or people to be cult-like in their behavior towards you then perhaps you might want to aim for some attire that is a little more modest.  Especially when you are dealing with a population of male college students who are probably all drunk or pretty darn close.  And let me also be clear that this is not gender specific.  We all create perceptions about ourselves either exasperating or mitigating negative stereotypes with the way we dress. If we are aware of said negative attention and still choose to dress in a way that might further reinforce it, I think that is a tad irresponsible.  Let me be clear.  She can wear what she wants and what she wears gives no one license to treat her a certain way.  However Andrews knows what people think of her and dressing in a manner that feeds that seems problematic to me.  I think the word we are looking for here is discretion. Yeah it sucks when you have to adjust yourself because people are stupid but it is either than or put up with the garbage.  Then again maybe she thinks the garbage is going to be there anyway so Andrews just does not care.

  • Drunk fans, fights and police stories! People watching is a lot of fun at football games since some people think it is a stellar idea to get drunk before or during the game which leads to massive amounts of entertainment for those of us who opt for sobriety.

    In our section we dealt with a row of guys behind us who were generally loud and obnoxious for most of the game.  One individual literally never stopped talking and was unable to refrain from trying to make jokes about everything, including injured players. I think he was actually funny about one out of every eight attempts which means he was annoying about 87% of the time. As the game progressed and their BAC rose(which seem to be in converse proportion with the crapitude of UNC's play) the F-bombs and general screaming at refs, players, coaches, etc proceeded unabated.  In short they were not happy and by the end made it clear to anyone who was listening the unacceptable nature of UNC's five man offensive front being unable to stop three FSU defenders.

    On the other hand the guy a few seats down, up two rows as having a great time. At one point he was standing up, dancing to the music during one of the timeouts which his cup of "Coke" raised above his head that he started spilling on himself and did not seem to notice.  He danced like this a couple of other times.  Needless to say very entertaining.

    When we were on Franklin St to eat dinner we saw a Chapel Hill police officer stop a group of four people with plastic UNC ups filled with "Coke"  The officer told them she was going to save them $180 by asking them to not chug their drinks and simply pour them out right there.  They were hesitant and one of the women turned away from the officer, bent down as though she was going to pour it out and the started to drink it.  The officer warned that she needed to stop or she would get a citation.  The lesson: No open beverages on Franklin St.

    The highlight of the evening postgame was a brief fight outside of Kenan between an FSU and UNC fan.  I caught the tail end of it as the friends among them were breaking it up.  An Orange County deputy came up as it was concluding and the clearly drunk FSU fan, wearing an FSU jersey that was soaked all down the front(I don't want to know why) mumbled to the deputy, "I'm leaving!" before stumbling off to celebrate the big win by being hungover.  Needless to say I probably enjoyed losing better than he did winning seeing that the only issue I had was too much caffeine.

As I said, I think overall the night was perfect save the Tar Heel loss.  The weather was incredible.  There was no wind and the temperature was warm enough I stayed in short sleeves the whole night. My only beef with being at the game is not seeing replays and fellow fans who are incredibly obnoxious.  Many of them know just enough to gripe and complain about every bad play or they think every call that goes against UNC was a bad call by the refs which they loudly proclaim as though the officials are going to take it under advisement.  Anyway, I hope UNC has a chance to host another one seeing that they did a pretty good job pulling this one off.