More on UNC's 10-minute fourth quarter
North Carolina fans who stuck around Kenan Stadium Saturday saw two things they’d never seen before – 80 points from UNC and a 10-minute fourth quarter. Considering Florida State also put up 80 just a few hours later, it’s safe to say that the 10-minute quarter is the one that will be remembered the longest.
Here’s ODU coach Bobby Wilder and UNC coach Larry Fedora with their thoughts, and then a few of mine.
Wilder first, since it was his idea:
"During one of the TV timeouts, I went over to Jeff Flanagan, the referee, and asked him if he would talk to Coach Fedora and if he would be in agreement in shortening that last quarter. I felt like that was in the best interest of my team to try to shorten that last quarter because there certainly wasn't anything good that was going to come from the score getting any more lopsided than it already was. I'll give a lot of credit to Coach Fedora - I think he realized how painful that was for me to ask for that. That's probably the most difficult thing I've done in 26 years of coaching and I'm grateful to him; he's obviously a class act. That was a class move at the end of the ball game, what he did with his offense.”
Fedora was asked two questions about it, so I’ve consolidated his answers
“Bobby asked the head official if we could shorten the game and I was all for it. I wanted to get off the field. We wanted to win with class and not try and embarrass anybody. We wanted to get that game done …
It’s a very uncomfortable situation, actually, for me. My coaches were mad at me, they want to keep rolling and let other guys get good experience. But that staff on the other side, they have families. Those kids on the other side have been working their butt off. So I think we accomplished what we needed to accomplish.”
Wilder’s plan worked as intended. After 31 possessions and 125 plays in the first three quarters, there were just three drives and 15 plays in the fourth quarter.
But was it necessary? UNC clearly had no intention of scoring again. Their one fourth-quarter possession consisted of six rushes by fifth-string running back Charles Brunson, and when that got them to the 3, they took a delay of game to move back to the 8, followed by a kneel down.
Of course, Wilder didn’t know for sure what Fedora would do. But even if UNC did score again, is there a significant enough difference between losing 80-20 and 87-20 to justify an almost-unprecedented decision and the negative attention that will follow? This was ODU's last game of the season. I can't think of a worse way for it to end.