Pulling for our teams
It’s been a tale of two teams: One on a rising trajectory that seemed impossible five years ago, the other trying to right a ship rocked by scandal.
The notion that both UNC and Duke would be playing in bowl games has been in the highly improbably category in recent memory. That has changed this season, though, with strong leadership at the helm for each team.
Coach David Cutcliffe at Duke seems to have found the magic formula to reinvent the Blue Devils, pulling them from the basement of the ACC to division champ.
Coming off a record-setting 10-win season, the Devils will be heading south to Atlanta for New Year’s Eve to play Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Cutcliffe and his Devils have given us a class-act underdog team to pull for in Durham. His leadership on and off the field has molded his players into a team that we’re proud to have representing our city.
The accolades bestowed on him and his team this have included two national coaching awards, the ACC Coastal Division title and – showcasing what they do off the field, as well – the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete Award for player Perry Simmons.
And UNC’s roller coaster ride for its football program seems finally to be settling down and the program again moving forward.
After being banned by the NCAA for postseason play in 2012 and put on probation for three years because of player interaction with sports agents and academic fraud, the Tar Heels again have the opportunity to go bowling, and will be playing Cincinnati in Charlotte today.
We need to emphasize that the team that now suits up for the Tar Heels and head coach Larry Fedora are blameless for what unfolded in 2010 and 2011. The players chose to come to or stay at UNC, despite the sanctions. Fedora was brought in as the new coach to get the program back on track. They have played hard under a cloud as the NCAA, law enforcement officials and the school have tried to sort out how things had gone so very wrong and what to do about it.
So for those players and the new coaching staff, it seems apropos that the forecast calls for the game to kick off under Carolina blue skies, without a rain cloud in sight, this afternoon in the Queen City against Cincinnati.
It’s been a great season for college football fans as we watched Duke’s historic march from Saturday to Saturday and saw UNC begin to get its program back on track.
Seeing these two area teams play provides some much-needed excitement as the post-holiday doldrums set in.
It’s not often we get to say it in the same breath, but go Devils and go Heels!