There was already going to be a bit of a spotlight on the August 27th UNC season opening game against Florida A&M, as Mack Brown enters his fourth season and the squad takes the field with a new quarterback under center and a new defensive coordinator. On Wednesday, the Tar Heels announced it’ll have some extra meaning.
With the 8 PM showcase on the ACC Network, which will likely bring a full crowd to Kenan, the Tar Heels are going to use the opportunity to highlight the history of HBCUs and their impact. Among the items announced:
- Bill Hayes and Rod Broadway will be honorary captains for the Tar Heels. Coach Hayes won two Black football national titles with coaching stints at Winston-Salem State and North Carolina A&T. Coach Broadway has worked at NCCU, Grambling, and NC A&T. Broadway was a member of the Tar Heels from 1974-1977 and was All-ACC as a senior.
- Florida A&M will have Rudy Hubbard serve as their honorary captain. Hubbard was just inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2021, as he is FAMU’s winningest coach and has won two Black national championships.
- The FAMU band will also be in attendance, as the FAMU Marching “100” will not only perform in the stands, but have their own performance on the field at halftime before being joined by the Marching Tar Heels for a joint performance. It won’t be the first time the Marching Tar Heels have performed with an HBCU band, and no doubt the success and buzz of that performance drove this invitation as well.
The release also states that further events celebrating HBCUs will be announced as the game gets closer, but with what’s already announced it should be a great time.
That weekend, the UNC’s chapter of the National Pan-Hellenic Council will also dedicate the NPHC Garden & Legacy Plaza where each of the nine chapters will be able to display their crest and motto.
That wasn’t all that was announced, however. In 2024, the Tar Heels have replaced their game against Liberty with North Carolina Central. The game is set for September 14th and will no doubt be another celebration of HBCUs, this one with a fellow UNC system school and close neighbor. To take the money for the “bought” game that was going to go to Liberty and instead pay North Carolina Central is a statement on its own, and will no doubt help assuage a part of the fan base that was uncomfortable with the scheduling of the school. Liberty, though, should be just fine as they get to sit back and watch the festivities, no doubt getting great enjoyment out of watching the action.
Liberty still appears on the schedule for 2028 and 2031, no word on whether those will remain.