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UNC Basketball: How message boards help evolve in the way you consume the Tar Heels

I spoke with Joe Ovies about the birth of message board culture and how coverage of the Tar Heels evolved because of it.

Clemson v North Carolina Photo by Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images

99.9 The Fan’s Joe Ovies and Joe Giglio have been pumping out podcasts over the last year, on top of their regular day jobs as hosts of “The OG” from 3-6:30 Monday through Friday. Last year, Giglio was able to leverage his relationship with Roy Williams to get what is still one of the most thorough sit down interviews with the coach since his retirement. In Roy: That Dadgum Legend, we hear how Roy got his opportunity to coach at UNC, some of his thoughts on what brought him back, and some details of how truly offline he is. If you haven’t listened to it yet, you should as it takes on a new meaning since it was recorded prior to this year’s great run where Roy was seen living his best life. Giglio does most of the interviewing, but Ovies is the producer and does get in a some questions.

More recently, Ovies has been running a series since the end of the college basketball season called A Brief History of Triangle Sports, and you can’t discuss Triangle sports without talking about the Tar Heels. In it, Ovies explores just how unique the area is in how it consume sports. As someone who lived in Boston for a decade after school, I can speak to just how unique it is to have one market that treats multiple teams as rivals to each other, and the one pro team could be a uniting force. The podcast addresses how things were and, to some extent, how it got to where it is.

There are several episodes of interest to Tar Heel fans. The interview he did with Tom Suitor for the April 20th episode describes a time where there was no ESPN, sportscasters had a much closer relationship with the local coaches, and has the story about how Mack Brown saved the famous “Football Friday,” which was a huge source of recruiting gold for the coach in a time before the Internet. Carlton Tudor discussed life with the Big Four Tournament. There’s a long interview with Mick Mixon where he talks about how he ended up at back at Carolina, the transition from Dean to Roy, and what it was like to be there as this media landscape is changing. Jeff Gravely, who succeeded Suitor as the head sportscaster at WRAL, has stories of catching up with Michael Jordan while he was playing baseball, and working with Stuart Scott — and Ovies adds three classic WRAL reports filed by Scott. Finally, Bomani Jones gives Joe some time to discuss how he was caught up in the Harrison Barnes recruiting process.

This brings us to this week’s episodes to wrap up season 1: message boards. At this point, they are an essential part of UNC fandom; even if you don’t frequent them you likely got some of your information from them at some point or another. These boards as we know them have been around for a couple of decades, but in the beginning, the idea of getting important information from them instead of from your local sportscaster or the paper was heresy. Then, Bill Gutheridge retired, Roy Williams spurned the Tar Heels, and then three years later Doherty was out and Roy was back. Message boards gave us all of the details where reporters fell short, and that changed how fans consume news about the team-both for good and bad.

I was in college during the first coaching search and was a fresh graduate of UNC when Doherty was let go, so Ovies reached out to me to get a perspective on what it was like living on the message boards as the primary source of information during this time. The conversation brought me back to many late nights clicking “refresh” to find out what the latest on the conversation was and if anything had changed, because if news broke, it would break there first. We then further discussed how that led me to what you’re reading now, both from me and how you choose to get your information about the Tar Heels. The episode begins with this site’s creator, Brian Barbour, as we both discuss the evolution in content.

I apologize in advance for anyone having to put up with my voice.

Have a listen, and then stroll down some of the other episodes if you’re new to UNC fandom or if you just need a few jogs down memory lane. The conversation was enjoyable, so I hope that translates.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts below, including the first time you hit up the UNC message boards and when you shifted getting your information from “neutral” sourced to more team-specific ones.