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THB’s football uniform challenge First Round: No. 8 vs. No. 9

Two of the greatest UNC backs wore these uniform combinations

This series will determine the ultimate UNC football uniform combination. Each week, your vote decides which set advances to the next round.

Last week’s matchup started out even, with the all-navy with chromed domes taking an early lead. However, the current all-white uniforms pulled ahead to advance to the next round. Below is an updated bracket (click to enlarge):

This week, two home uniforms from the past faceoff in the final match of the first round.

8. 1978 blue-on-white with blue helmet with white interlocking NC

Famous Amos Lawrence

Prior to Dick Crum’s first season as head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels, the helmets were redesigned from the ones used during the Bill Dooley era. The previous helmets were Carolina Blue with a blue interlocking NC on a white oval field. New helmets were a sign of the changing of the guard and an aesthetic way to distinguish that this was now Crum’s program.

These 1978 helmets were used for just one season, and marked the transition from the 1970s Dooley years to the Crum years of the upcoming 1980s. The large interlocking NC featured on this helmet was the first in this particular color combination and would foreshadow the design of the modern era. Other interlocking NC designs on helmets matched the primary color of the helmet and were set on an oval field or a blue interlocking NC on a white helmet.

The white interlocking NC on a blue helmet returned in 1988 during Mack Brown’s first season, although in a thicker design, and remained in that form until the 2010s when different color combinations and alternate helmets were put in the uniform rotation.

A moment in this uniform

Coach Dick Crum faced a tough challenge in 1978. It was not the rebuilding that is often left behind after a coach is fired, but an ACC championship team from a coach that left for a better deal somewhere else. Bill Dooley accepted the head football coach and athletic director positions at Virginia Tech, and Crum was hired soon after UNC’s loss in the 1977 Liberty Bowl.

The biggest transition from Dooley to Crum was the attempt to change offensive schemes. Crum introduced the veer offense, switching from the I-form that Dooley ran during all 11 season at Carolina. However, the I-formation was still used in 1978 along with Crum’s split backs. There were certainly some growing pains with the transition, as the Tar Heels dropped to 5-6 in 1978. An early season injury to Amos Lawrence did not help the cause. However, UNC would make five straight bowls starting in 1979, and went to the postseason in six of ten seasons under Crum.

The Tar Heels hosted Duke in the regular season in 1978. The teams traded field goals in the first quarter, then the Blue Devils scored on two field goals in the second quarter to head into halftime with the 9-3 lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, Duke scored with 4:20 left in the game on a 29-yard run to extend their lead to 15-3. The Blue Devils went for the two-point conversion and their running back was stopped by cornerback Jay Faulkner on the goal line.

On the ensuing UNC possession, the Tar Heels drove 66 yards down the field and scored with 2:46 in the game on a Matt Kupec pass to tight end Bob Loomis. The extra point cut the Duke lead to 15-10.

On the next Duke drive, cornerback Steve Streater rushed the quarterback to force the Blue Devils punt on a three-and-out.

With no timeouts, the Tar Heels needed to drive 61 yards with less than a minute to play. Amazingly, Amos Lawrence had 54 of those 61 yards on the ground, including the game winning 11-yard touchdown run with just 13 seconds left in the game. The UNC two-point conversion failed, but the Tar Heels held on for a 16-15 victory. It was the second one-point victory against Duke in three seasons.

9. 1940s blue-on-silver with white helmet

Art Weiner

The blue-on-silver uniform combination, in this writer’s opinion, is the one most associated with the Charlie Justice era. When in the Kenan Football Center, a jersey in this style worn by Justice is under glass to the right past the main entrance.

Unlike the other two 1940s era jersey featured previously in the bracket, the predominate color in this set is Carolina Blue. The simple design, Carolina Blue with white numbers, feels at home throughout any era of UNC football.

A moment in this uniform

November 20, 1948 is an important date in Carolina lore and in the history of the UNC-Duke rivalry. On this Saturday in Chapel Hill, the Victory Bell made its first appearance on the sidelines of a game between the Tar Heels and Blue Devils.

It was a defensive struggle in the first half as the game was scoreless heading into the half. It was described as a punting battle between Charlie Justice and Duke’s punter.

On Carolina’s second drive of the second half, the Tar Heels started on the Duke 43 yard line. The Daily Tar Heel described what happened next:

On first down, the Asheville Ambler sailed around right end, slipped past a couple of Duke tacklers, cut back into the Duke secondary and then race laterally across the field to the left sidelines. A few timely blocks left Charlie with an open field, and he raced over the goal unscathed for the touchdown.

Although UNC missed the extra point, that thrilling 43-yard touchdown run by Choo Choo Justice would be enough that day. A couple of drives later, UNC recovered a Blue Devils fumble on the Duke 23-yard line. It took just a pair of Justice passes to reach the endzone, with Justice connecting with Art Weiner on a 13-yard touchdown throw. After the extra point, Carolina led 13-0 with 8:40 left in the game.

The Tar Heels started their final drive of the game with less than four minutes to play. Hosea Rodgers and Justice moved the ball on a few runs to the Duke 26-yard line. Another Weiner touchdown reception, this time on a pass from Rodgers, pushed the score to its final that day, 20-0 in favor of the Tar Heels.

The Tar Heels won the inaugural Victory Bell battle in front of the largest crowd to date at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The sellout crowd of 44,500 fans witnessed Carolina remain unbeaten in 16 straight games. UNC’s last loss came in October 1947.

This was such a hot ticket in Chapel Hill that the price of scalpers tickets were a front page story. It was reported that a single 50-yard line ticket for that game was going for $60 on the street. That is worth more than $600 adjusted for inflation.

What do you like best about these uniforms? What special moments do you remember while these uniforms were on the gridiron?

Vote below for your favorite. The poll ends next Wednesday.


Which uniform advances to the next round?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    8. 1978 blue-on-white with blue helmet with white interlocking NC
    (46 votes)
  • 22%
    9. 1940s blue-on-silver with white helmet
    (13 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now