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UNC Football: The weirdest opponents in school history

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The record books bring up some odd opponents faced by the Tar Heels over the years.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This season, North Carolina football will face plenty of old foes. Their series against Duke, NC State, Virginia, and Wake Forest are all over 100 games old and will take place again this year.

On the other hand, there are two opponents that Carolina will face for the first time ever in 2021. The Tar Heels have never faced both Georgia State and Wofford before this upcoming season. UNC will almost certainly face these teams again at some point, they’re not going to become year in, year out opponents.

Throughout the history of UNC football, there are opponents they’ve played just a handful of times. Some of them are schools playing in high level conferences like Cal or Indiana. Some of them are FCS teams such as Lehigh and McNeese State. Then, there are a couple of very weird ones that the Heels will never, ever play again.

Thanks to the UNC football media guide, we can see the matchup history of everyone the Tar Heels have ever played. Let’s look back at some of the weirdest and most amusing from program history.

The truly standout weird opponents from history are teams that just straight up aren’t schools. Over the years, UNC teams have played the Greensboro Athletic Association, the Hampton Athletic Club, and the Norfolk Athletic Club. While they lost to some of those teams, the funniest result to a team of that ilk was a 8-0 loss in 1896 to the Charlotte YMCA.

During World War II, many military bases and training facilities had teams compete in college football, even beyond the service academies that still compete today. Over the years those teams existed, UNC played the likes of the Cherry Point Marines, Camp Lee, and the Jacksonville Naval Air Station. Meanwhile, they also played a team representing the USS Franklin back in 1911.

There is also a collection of schools in there that are definitely schools, but it’s a little weird in retrospect to have played them. In 1900, the played what the media guide lists as “Morganton DDI,” which today is probably the North Carolina School for the Deaf. There was also a two-game series against “Virginia Medical” which UNC won by a combined 80-0. There are also matchups found in the media guide against teams called “Bingham’s School” and “Horner’s School.”

There are also games against colleges that have since dropped to lower levels even beyond FCS who UNC almost certainly will never play again. The most amusing of which came in 1903 against Transylvania University, which is located in Kentucky. They lost that game 6-5, in what is maybe the most 1903 football score possible.

In what is definitely the most inexplicable listing of all of them, the 1899 Carolina team played an opponent that is listed as “Old” Maryland. It’s not Maryland as in the Terrapins, as they also had a football team that year and according to their records, they didn’t play the Tar Heels that year. Their records also indicate that they played “Old” Maryland at some point. Google isn’t the most helpful when trying to find whatever “Old” Maryland is, so if you happen to know who on earth this was, please get in touch.

The way college sports are structured makes more sense (but still not enough) than they did in the very early days. However, there’s way less weird stuff like matchups from the olden days.

Edit: Several people have gotten in touch with information about “Old” Maryland. It is indeed sperate from the team known as Maryland today, and was an institution located in Baltimore.

Sources

https://s3.amazonaws.com/sidearm.sites/unc.sidearmsports.com/documents/2021/8/4/MediaGuide_web.pdf

https://umterps.com/sports/football/schedule/1899