This has been a fun summer as a Tar Heel fan. There is a renewed level of excitement surrounding the football program. Mack Brown’s arrival has led a recruiting resurgence that has the future looking bright on the gridiron. There may not be instantaneous success, but there is definitely an upward trend.
Roy Williams is winning on the recruiting trail as well. Despite losing four starters and five of the top six players from last year, the hardcourt Heels have reloaded with a combination of high caliber recruits and promising transfers. The team will be ranked in the top ten preseason and will once again look to make a deep tournament run.
Asking fans which team to be more thrilled with does not seem like an answerable question. There is simply too much excitement in the air to pick. The question needs to be narrowed down, and nothing makes for a good debate like an optimistic hypothetical.
The Debate for the week of August 12: If you could attend one home game this year in either football or basketball and a victory would be guaranteed, what game would it be?
Point: September 28 against Clemson at Kenan
There have been a lot of dramatic victories for Carolina football, but it has been a while since there was a truly memorable game on a national level. Defeating likely number one ranked Clemson at home would register as a seismic event on the biggest stage.
It is important to consider what could be at stake when Clemson comes to town in late September. A Carolina victory would literally be program changing. Regardless of what happens the rest of the year, defeating the Tigers would be a resounding statement that the Heels are back and are ready to compete.
After years of poor play and poor results, beating Clemson would also supercharge a fan base that is desperate for success on the field. Fans in attendance would be able to say for years to come that they were there the moment the story changed for Carolina football. It is hard to imagine just how full of energy Kenan would be throughout a competitive second half.
The lasting impact would also be seen in the recruiting results. Top high school players who want to be a part of the resurgence would get a nationally televised example of the power of Carolina football. While huge upsets are not necessarily needed to maintain momentum, a victory of this magnitude can only help.
I was in attendance years ago for the upset of top five ranked Miami and I still remember the game and the experience quite well. Being present for an upset of the nation’s top-ranked team would be the sports moment of a lifetime.
One other note here, the Duke basketball game is always a big deal. Think back a few years, however, and ask the honest question of whether that game changed the course of the season. Does that game have an impact on seeding? Sure. Does it help the season outcome? It didn’t last year. Will it be equally important in years to come? Yep. Beating number one at home in football would be unlike any other game for years to come, or maybe ever.
Counterpoint: Duke at home is always the biggest game of the college sports year.
Regardless of how a particular season turns out, the Duke home basketball game is always a premier event. No other contest nationally gets the same amount hype until late March arrives. The buildup to these annual contests overtakes the entire sports world.
For many fans, the outcome of the two regular season games against Duke is the entire measure of a season’s success. Tournament success can be a fickle measure due to the uncertainties of the dance. To attend a home victory against the hated Devils, however, would be a remarkable and memorable experience.
These regular season matchups also serve as a type of referendum on the results of years of recruiting battles. With plenty of highly sought after recruits in attendance, the game also has an immediate impact on the program’s success for years to come. While a big football victory could make for a great cocktail party story, beating Duke is far more akin to a necessary life event.
Time for you to decide! What home victory would you most want to attend? Is it a program changer such as beating Clemson or a sanity preservation win over Duke. Is there another victory that would be more enjoyable to witness in person?
As always, readers are encouraged to join in through the comments and point out what we got right, what we got wrong, and what we never thought of. Also, please feel free to provide suggestions for future topics so we can cover what interests readers and what information is needed to ensure victory when debating slow-witted friends who don’t read the articles! As the sign in my parents’ yard reads, Keep Calm and Go Heels!