Mack Brown was on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt on Thursday night. He was charismatic, as usual; hitting all the right notes in the course of his few-minute chat with the anchor. He touched on player safety in the same breath as he mentioned how proud he was of his guys for continuing to put in work, deferred to the leadership of the University on when to bring the student-athletes back, and deflected quite adeptly when SVP mentioned how things were going for the Heels on the recruiting trail (well, for anyone who hasn’t been tuned in). In Coach Brown’s brief appearance on the show, with practiced ease, he struck just the right balance between prudent caution and the hope that things will be better tomorrow.
We’d do well to remember this balance, as we move step-by-step towards whatever normal will look like in the future. With restaurants beginning to open their doors once more in North Carolina, and stay-at-home orders being relaxed nationwide, there’s a cautious kind of optimism that begins to rear its head. Watching Coach Brown talk about his players, I felt a similar kind of hope. For the first time since the world started ending, I allowed myself to think that we may get a college football season this year.
What that may look like is anyone’s guess at this point. SVP’s segment leading up to Coach Brown’s appearance on the show was about how, under normal circumstances, we’d be within 100 days of a new college football season. Whether that timeline is still accurate, and what that first kickoff will look like when it finally happens, is still very much up in the air. We may have to find that same cautious optimism in our approach to an eventual football season as Coach Brown did in talking about it. It may mean having to watch from our couches at home instead of in Kenan Stadium. It may mean non-conference games dropping off of schedules, as schools try to cut down on travel. There are far smarter folks than I, at North Carolina and across the country, who have been weighing these options since the sporting world ground to a halt. The rest of us will simply have to wait and see.
For now though, as the weather continues to warm up and we start to test the waters of re-entering each others’ lives as more than a square on a screen, we can at least look forward to what we hope the future holds.
Just as long as we can find that balance.