Welcome to Friday Food For Thought, the weekend conversation starter. Each week, this article presents a topic for debate. Whether in the comments section, on the golf course, or around the weekend game table, the goal is to provide enough background that either side could be a winner. In order to facilitate the discourse, a suggested beverage pairing is also included. So speak up, mix it up, and drink up.
The ACC Kickoff is fully underway so all eyes have turned toward football. Aside from the distraction that Larry Fedora has self-imposed as discussed, here, here, and here (outstanding team coverage by the way), this should be a time of great anticipation. Unfortunately, over the recent years, the excitement of the pre-season has quickly turned into the disappointment of the opening week. The reasons have been varied; a silly penalty last year versus California, missed opportunities in 2016 against Georgia, a stalled offense in 2015 against South Carolina, another loss to the Gamecocks in 2013. In fact, there have been remarkably few bright spots to start the season as of late (thank you Liberty in 2014 and Elon in 2012!).
As we continue to explore the nature of being a Carolina fan, it is necessary to address the cumulative effect of these disappointing starts. Here is the question; how are you feeling about the upcoming football season?
College football is an incredibly exciting sport and this is a great time of year. The Heels have had several solid recruiting classes in a row and are not faced with the same types of personnel questions that dogged the team last summer. There is hope for an explosive and balanced offense. The defense has experience and some depth.
Even more than the personnel, this is a time of eager anticipation for the potential of summer. Anything is possible right now. An undefeated season? Maybe so. Nine wins and a solid bowl game? Entirely possible. Compete in the Division for a title? Yep, I can see that.
Just thinking about tailgating, and changing leaves, and cool nights brings a sense of relief and light at the end of the summer heat tunnel. Add to that the excitement of a renovated stadium, the roar of the crowd, and the team running onto the field. This is a happy fan’s cocktail of emotions.
Late July is made for thinking about early the first of September.
I am dreading the start of the season. One of the great elements of college basketball is how forgiving the sport is of losses. After 30 or more games during a regular season, 68 teams still have an equal opportunity to win the national championship. Many of those teams have lost a third or more of their games. There is a recognition that a bad night should not doom a good team.
Of course, there is also the guarantee that an undefeated season brings with it a national championship, but I digress.
College football is very different. With the kind of schedule that a team like Carolina has, one loss may not totally sink national title hopes, but it certainly brings a high degree of doubt. It is just really hard as a fan to have three months of football remaining and the highest prize in the land already off of the table. While success in a football season is measured by more than a national championship, there is a lot of fun and value to just being in the conversation.
Do I think that there is a reasonable chance of UNC still playing in January? No. Would I like to maintain that glimmer of hope into October? Absolutely.
I am dreading the let down and the disappointment. I am dreading three months of what-ifs and moral victories. I want to be proven wrong.
In need of encouragement to debate – Heading to the beach for a family and friends day last Sunday, my beautiful wife surprised me with the Leinenkugel’s Shandy Sampler. I started with two of the Grapefruit Shandies. They are fantastic but last week’s Greyhound suggestion should have been a clue that I like the tart. The Watermelon Shandy was also refreshing, but only one per day is recommended due the sweetness. Also included are the Summer and Orange Shandy selections. You can not go wrong here.
Can debate without assistance – Its time to pull the Roy Williams and go with Coke Classic. Find the little bottles. They are strangely nostalgic even if you do not remember drinking them as a kid.