Sunday, March 6, 2016

Making Peace with Hillary Clinton

I don't think it comes as a surprise to any of you out there that I am left of center.  If you follow me or have read more than a few entries, you know that I proudly consider myself more liberal than anything, especially on Social Issues.  Thus, for this 2016 election, while I've been...umm...enjoying the Republican side, I've been paying attention to the Dems because, well, I had to vote this past Tuesday.  So, for the purposes of this blog, I'm going to talk about that side instead of what can best be described as something that comes out of the hind end of a bull.

Eight years ago, I was about as enthusiastic as one could be about voting for Obama.  This was my third Presidential ballot, and the first one where I felt like I got to vote for the "winner."  My first was for Gore, second for Kerry.  Both of those were "I sure as Hell don't want to vote for the other guy" versus, "I really want this person to win!"  In '08, I really wanted Obama to win.  I bought the Change message hook, line, and sinker.

It was easy to buy, because one could see how one President could get just about all he wanted when a Congress is all on the same side of the aisle.  I mean, a Democrat is a Democrat, right?  Clearly, a guy who gets voted in when he does will have the universal support of Congress, meaning whatever he decides to do they will just rubber-stamp.  It worked for W, right?

What I didn't count on was the blatant obstructionism Republicans would enact in order to stop Obama from moving forward.  I didn't count on Democrats in purple states looking to 2010 who didn't want to get pushed out by their Republican counterparts.

In short, what I didn't actually count on was politics.

Of course Obama was doomed to not live up to expectations, and let's be honest, no President is actually going to fulfill all of the things they promise.  There's a great scene in the last season of The West Wing where Leo sits down with Santos before the campaign gets started, and Leo strikes Santos with the reality of Congressional elections, and how he will be lucky to get the first page of what he is proposing through.  The look on Santos' face is one of a crestfallen man, but then he buckles down to make sure that one page is really good, and it becomes the launch pad for their remaining discussion.

Right-leaning businesses put a lot of money into funding "grassroots" groups, and fed off of those fears they had in order to create a "groundswell" of support for the 2010 elections.  Between that obstructionism, the recession really taking hold and quickly sapping folks of the hope they had, and Obama working hard to get the Affordable Care Act passed, he didn't have a chance to keep that Congress blue.  But he would have if one group had shown up to vote in 2010:  college aged kids and young adults.

If off year elections, the voting totals fall by a ridiculous amount.  Presidential years get Half of voting aged adults to the polls.  Mid-terms?  About a third.  Don't believe me?  Look at this chart.  then look at this one that breaks down turnout by age.  From '08 to '10, the 18-29 percentage of turnout dropped from 50% to 20%!  The 30-44 fell from 60% to just under 40%.  Once you get to the 45 and up range, the drop off in turnout was much less.  It's pretty easy to see what happens when the older faction of society makes up a bigger part of the electorate.  African American voters also abandoned Obama in that election as well, but their percentage of eligible voters was the same as White voters.

Why do I type all of this?  Because in 2010 all of those young voters motivated to vote for Obama weren't motived to vote in the midterms.  I have to say, I felt some of that disappointment, whether it was the slow chipping away at how the Affordable Care Act went, or how slowly the administration seemed to be at getting us out of the Middle East, or just how stubborn the economy seemed to be.  I was lucky, by the way, because I had a great job that had just finished standing by me during a difficult period.  I also lived in a state that could put up a cat under the "D" during a major election for national office, and that cat would win.

By 2012, when the spotlight of a national election was back with Obama, and Republicans spent two years, again, being obstructionist and those young voters were able to easily see just how backwards that party was, Obama was able to get out the vote.  The margins were lower, but again, the young vote came out.

I've passed from the "18-29" bracket in 2008 into a solid "30-44" bracket.  I've voted for President four times now, and have had to make the choice of someone who would block the social regressiveness rather than someone who I felt really could change the system.  Naturally, most of my friends are of this ilk, and we all share a similar feeling:

We like Bernie.  We really do.  If he wins, we'll cast our lot for him, and we want to live in his world. But in roughly 20 years of being engaged in the American Political System, we know the cold, hard truth-the President really doesn't do a lot if Congress doesn't let him or her.

I brought up 2010 because that's a big reason why my ballot went for Hillary.  The disengagement of all of those young voters in 2010 caused a landslide of wins for Republicans.  It wasn't even close (and 2014 is pretty similar).  That landslide happened in a Census year.  Why is that important?  Because those same Republicans got the ability to redraw Congressional Districts. What do they do when they have that power?  Tilt the system into their favor.  Look at North Carolina, where a purple state that has gone back and forth for President, and is at best a 52/53 percent state for one side currently has a 10-3 tilt for Republicans.  The districts were a subject of a fight, which Democrats won, and all it did was result in the GOP blatantly saying they will just redraw them to favor them by parties instead of by race.  They did the same thing for state houses.

All of this is to say: whoever wins in 2016 is going to face at least a Republican House, filled with a special breed of right leaning folks who have to run that way in order to avoid getting out-righted in primaries, because they don't have to worry about their general election.  That House has shown no propensity to do anything for anyone on the Democratic side of the aisle.

So how well do you think it's going to go down when a guy from Vermont comes in asking for the American economical system to be turned upside down to where the Government covers a lot more, and it's covered by cutting defense and raising taxes?

Yeah, not so well, right?

So, let's extrapolate this out-Sanders wins, and in two years can't get anything accomplished because of the hurdles he faces.  2018 rolls around, young votes once again run away, and Republicans harden their hold of Congress.  Two more years of inactivity, 2020 hits, Sanders tries his revolution again, but now he's just a guy who can't get things done.  Young voters may turn back out, but more likely, people turn to whomever the Republicans nominate.  Maybe they actually wise-up and get Rubio through.

Meanwhile, in Clinton, we have someone who lost in brutal fashion in 2008.  She didn't respond by blocking Obama, taking him out, whining about the loss, or trying to take him on in 2012.  Instead, she helped rally Democrats together, took the Secretary of State gig, and then resigned when she was ready to get ready for 2016.  Her campaign has been more Progressive than in '08, mostly because of Bernie.  She's taking a more realistic approach, acknowledging what sort of Congress she would face.

Look, I get why folks aren't excited about Clinton.  I do.  There's a reason why I voted against her in '08, in that I didn't want her moderate ways, rather, I wanted the guy who pushed the agenda.  This version of Hillary is campaigning to keep that version going.  Those who think she'll go in and be a Republican in sheep's clothing really need to actually look at how Republicans feel about her.  The fact of the matter is, the majority of people voting in this country aren't as liberal as Sanders.  Those people who vote not only put in Presidents, but put in Senators, Representatives, and State Houses.  Exit polls so far show that once you get into my bracket, we split evenly between Hillary and Bernie, and then the 45 and up crowd dominate Bernie.

There will be accusations, there will be hearings, there will be rumblings.  It'll be a repeat of the 90's. But you know what happened at the end of the 90's?  No sustained conflicts, the spread of the Internet, a great economy, low unemployment, and social progress.  It got there because the guy in the White House was willing to take the punches in the press, but still worked to get stuff passed in Congress.  Hillary will engage Congress, and seek improvement over what we have, and take what we can get.

Am I settling?  Maybe.  I'll repeat what I said before: if Sanders does the improbable and takes the nomination, I'll vote for him.  My ideals are a lot closer to where he stands (albeit, I wish he were tougher on guns, and frankly his supporters seem to keep sidestepping that issue). You're talking to the guy who enthusiastically voted for Warren, after all.

But, let me give the folks who will ultimately be pissed that Bernie didn't win some advice: don't get up.  Seriously, keep pushing.  Take this frustration at the establishment and keep going.  Show up in 2018.  Find candidates to run for Congress.  Get more people like Bernie in Congress, get these intractable Republicans out and give the President a Congress that forces his agenda to the White House.  Get those folks in the State Houses.  Hell, maybe run for office yourself.  You might be surprised how easy it is to get into a lower office, and then you are on track.  Keep...fighting.

Because, ultimately, the only way to keep a movement going is to not let it end.  Maybe you get Elizabeth Warren to run in 2020 because Clinton pulls an LBJ and realizes she can't win, and wants to give her party the best chance.  Keep pushing, and at the same time, keep pushing Clinton.  You've succeeded in getting her to move more to the left, and she can keep it up if the pressure is there.

Sadly, though, the reason the establishment keeps winning is because the establishment knows you won't do that.  They have all that data to back them up.

Prove them wrong.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Film Review: Unverified

One of the benefits of taking the time to tap away at a keyboard is that once in a while, someone notices what you do.  Thanks to a couple of posts I authored a year and a half ago, I attracted the attention of one of the subjects: Bradley Bethel.  You may recall that in all of the hue and cry, Bethel emerged as someone trying to put out a different narrative than one that local and national media had established in regards to the AFAM Paper Classes Scandal at Carolina.  Bethel wasn't getting the same play nationally that his counterweights, Mary Willingham and Jay Smith, were, but Carolina fans had come to read his stuff simply because he was saying what we wanted him to say.  The idea was that there were more sides to this, but the media was just capturing the simplistic idea of the scandal, and that's all.

Bethel communicated his counter arguments in his blog, and those pieces were heavy, factually researched, and were more than just rantings of a fan who disagreed with the premise (yes, I'm speaking of myself more than anything).  While some of the posts turned personal, it was clear that Bethel was starting to take up a crusade.  He voluntarily left his position as a Reading and Writing specialist at UNC to focus full time on a documentary, as he noticed that between multiple media outlets, one story had emerged with no room for a counter argument.

Where do we intersect?  Those blogs I linked above had attracted the notice of Mary Willingham, where we engaged in a private message back and forth on Twitter.  Because I was subsequently blocked, and I had no clue that when you are blocked those Private Messages you have disappear into the abyss, you'll just have to believe we talked.  Bethel saw the posts, followed me on Twitter, and became a supporter of my posts.  Call it a mutual respect.

I will be up front about this: I did NOT contribute to the Kickstarter campaign that Bethel started in order to make and show his film.  In the Press Kit and in the actual Kickstarter list, you will not find my name or any pseudonyms.  I have no financial stake in this film.  I'll be honest: while I supported Bethel and his work, I was dubious about the idea of making a documentary, and worried it could quickly devolve into a finger pointing exercise.

Still, because Bethel is trying to get the word out about his film like any good Director should, he reached out to anyone and everyone who he felt would have an open mind about the project.  I've already seen other bloggers and reporters on Twitter who attended an in-person premier of the film on Friday night.  I have not read those opinions, but I know they are out there.  I can't be in Chapel Hill so I was approached about being able to see the film and offer thoughts in this blog.  I did so on the condition that I could be honest about my thoughts.  I know I'm not the only one afforded this opportunity, but before I get started on the actual review, let me say this: Mr. Bethel has done an admiral job of trying to get word out about his work.  I want to thank him for making this Joe Carolina fan feel special enough to view a film before it's in wide release, with a Press Kit and everything.


As I mentioned, I went into this viewing a little skeptical about it's tone.  As someone who's read his blog, and has seen how Bethel has responded to personal attacks, I feared it was going to be one big middle finger to those who disagreed with him.  I'm pleased to say it is not.  It, instead, is a film that establishes its premise in more human terms early on.

This is not a film that UNC will be giving out to folks as a recruitment tool.  You start by meeting two academic advisors who are no longer employed by UNC.  Later, you find out that these two are Jamie Lee and Beth Bridger, the two advisors mentioned in the Weinstein report as being complicit in the perpetuation of the scandal.  Supposedly, these two knew the classes that athletes were signed up for were fake but did it anyway in order to keep these athletes eligible.  This is the first time that these two have been heard from, likely because they didn't really want to be in the spotlight.  This film actually presents the best opportunity for you to get their story.  They won't be compensated for their tale, Bethel is a former coworker who allows them to open up, and at least this viewer walks away believing their perspective.

These two serve as the foundation for the rest of the film, as Bethel mentions it was his launching point for getting involved to the point of making a movie.  If you've read his blog, this really isn't a surprise in the sense that the whole reason he started was that the department he worked for was being derided by the media and rival fans alike.

Bethel gets a great range of interviews: 20 separate people, by my count, actually agree to a sit down interview with him, 8 of whom are athletes, current and former.  A huge key in the film is the interview of Deunta Williams, a former player who was seen as critical to UNC on an ESPN "Outside the Lines" piece done on the scandal.  Williams is there in a UNC t-shirt, and presents a different person than ESPN allowed us to see.  All of the athlete interviews were great, Williams' is the key, though, as it really helps cement one thesis that Bethel puts forward: the media had a story and instead of digging to find that story, shaped the story because they already had a conclusion.

This isn't just a story about unfairness from the media, however, and Bethel uses a great interview with UNC Journalism Professor Adam Hochberg to transition into another question that hasn't been asked enough: what about the school itself?  The back and forth is riveting, and credit to Bethel for having that discussion in there.

What follows through the second half of the film is an exploration into what UNC could have done better, and starts to cast some doubt onto the Weinstein report.  The questions aren't whether or not this scandal happened, but rather, where was the failing?  In a big way, it's at the heart of what the NCAA is deciding right now, and Bethel gets some great folks to actually sit down and talk.  Butch Davis, Jay Bilas, Joe Holladay, and James Moeser all sit down with Bethel during this exploration.  Bethel also gets to talk to the former Senior Associate Athletic Director John Blanchard, another name in the Weinstein report.

Missing is a lot of dissenting voices.  Bethel takes pains to note, and has continued to note on Twitter, that he asked repeatedly for those reporters who helped shape this narrative to sit down for the film and none agreed.  There's one e-mail from Bernie Goldberg of HBO that just drips with irony, but at least he responded.  No one in the current UNC Administration is on camera as well, Bethel tells us they were asked as well.

I have to say, this was an interesting doc to watch following another film I saw recently, the Oscar Favorite Spotlight.  I do highly recommend this movie, as it takes you on the ride with the investigative team of reporters from the Boston Globe who break open the Catholic Priest sex abuse scandal that, to this day is still unfolding.  In a way, the reason that movie is so good cuts to the core of what went wrong with the media telling the story here: there is a real thrill as a reader finding something that was discovered.  When power is brought down, we want to be a part of it.  Spotlight is good not only because you see how the story unfolds, but the untold business side of the story in that the Globe reporters want to make sure they get the story before the Boston Herald.  It's a little wink/nod to the idea that while these reporters knew they had a story that needed to be told, their motivations weren't 100% altruistic.  Those motivations also kept the story hidden for a long time.

News is business.  That should never be forgotten, and Unverified reminds you of how there may be different motivations involved, not only for these media outlets but for UNC as well.

My biggest gripe with the movie is that it does seem like, in some ways, it only scratches the surface. No doubt, the lack of any sit down with any journalist who reported on this hurts the film, even if it does help support the idea that Bethel may be on to something.  There's also no meeting with anyone in the higher ups at UNC to try and expose more of what's going on.  Again, it isn't that Bethel lacked trying, you just leave the film feeling like it's just scratched the surface.  There are also a couple of trite items/shots in the film that feel like they are just there to add feel to the film.  Call it an homage to Michael Moore, our lonely hero trying to take on the system.  The film didn't need it, but it doesn't detract from the overall product.

My hope here is twofold: that this film gets the opportunity to be seen, and that people go to see it.  Just because this is a UNC-centered film doesn't limit the scope of the lessons.  As a resident of Boston, some of the narrative lessons about the media can be seen in the whole Tom Brady case.  Films like this are needed to make our journalists better, so that we can get to the point where those who get punished truly deserve to pay for their mistakes.  While I doubt Unverified will get the distribution of a Moore product, I hope that the word of mouth on this starts to grow, and that those who provided their voice in the film will spread the word so that more people see it.  "Banner Chasers," should watch it to get a better sense of their arguments as it in no way, shape or form tries to act as if the no show classes didn't exist.  If anything, Bethel does a fair amount to support their arguments that this process may have been in place longer than the original scope of the investigation.  I also hope the subjects that refused to participate watch as well to see that it would have benefited them to do so.

Specifically, I would love HBO's Real Sports to revisit this on their show.  There's a part of me that thinks they are already aware: on their 20th anniversary show this past month, they went through and showed a huge montage of their work, and they included part of their work on the UNC Scandal.  However, it wasn't the part that involved Willingham or the UNC athletes, rather the ones from other schools who read Seuss books.  They had a sit-down with Willingham, and Goldberg even tweeted the day the Weinstein Report came out.  In their mind, they were a big part of this: yet in their montage of the past 20 years, they couldn't include a blurb?  While they didn't participate, and likely won't touch this again, part of me feels they already know this is more nuanced than they presented.

If you are presented the opportunity to watch, watch this film.  If for no other reason, it will open your mind to the idea that there is more to this than meets the eye, and maybe it shouldn't be just swept under the rug quite yet.  I left wondering if some of the rot that caused this problem was truly fixed.  If you are a fan of college athletics, you should watch as well.  If your school ever gets caught up in any sort of scandal, it will make you rightfully question the information you are hearing.


Most of all, I want to compliment Mr. Bethel.  He does a great job of giving some heart to this piece, and helping you understand that this is more than just a defense of an athletic department.  It is, rather, a defense of people who just happen to be part of said department.  You can tell there was a lot of hard work put into this film, and you can see the effort Mr. Bethel took in trying to put together a film that will challenge you to question your previous thoughts.

I hope you get a chance to see this work.  I hope it at least changes a little bit of the narrative that's out there about this scandal.  I also hope that this isn't the last doc that Mr. Bethel ends up working on.  There's a lot of potential there.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

What sort of football season is this?

I've been hesitant to post this simply because...I've been afraid of the jinx I would put on the football team.  Yeah, I'm that sort of fan.  But with today's win, I feel like I have to at least say...something. 

As tends to happen when the school you went to specializes in one sport, the other sport is usually seen as a distraction.  It's that way for just about every SEC school; the football season is the one you care about, and the rest of the schools just play basketball for fun.  Except Kentucky. For Kentucky, they play football to get to basketball season.  You know who else has been doing that?

The school who decorates this page.

I've cared about Carolina basketball a lot longer than football, and frankly I think a lot of fans will say that.  Right around the time I was born Carolina won their last ACC Title with a guy named Lawrence Taylor anchoring a stout D.  After that?  Well...the 80's basically was a lost decade for football.  Between that and the outright dominance of the basketball team, it was tough to build a real loyalty to Carolina Football.  It was just this thing that was there till the real season started, and keep in mind: cable was in its infancy, meaning every football game wasn't on TV.

It's not that the coach at the time, Dick Crum was bad, just...after the early 80's they were never able to stand out.  By the time they let him go in 1987, he had racked up some pretty mediocre records, and didn't leave much for his successor, Mack Brown. 

Mack didn't...umm...start too great, which of course didn't really convert a lot of football fans.  In '88 and '89 he had identical 1-10 records.  At the time, with basketball thriving, an understanding that Mack would need time to recruit, and in 1990 the tide started to turn.  The Heels finished 6-4-1, including a tie of the eventually Co-National Champ Georgia Tech.  I actually remember being at the State Fair and seeing that score written on a marker board, thinking "Wow, that's a big deal."  He turned that tie to another win in '91, but no bowl.  Why?  Because there weren't 30,000,000,000 bowls then.

1992-'93 was a big year for the team, as they made their first Bowl appearance since '86, winning the Peach Bowl, starting a streak of 5 straight bowls under Brown.  It was awesome, and a lot of momentum was being built...except Tar Heel fans will remember 1993 for something a little...bigger.

This started an unfortunate trend for Mack, probably the best Carolina Coach in my lifetime so far (we'll get to the current guy).  Mack was able to get a lot of improvements to Kenan: permanent lighting, a closed in horseshoe at the stadium with modern offices and locker rooms, and national recognition.  He also managed to start becoming good at the same time the ACC recognized that as good as they were in basketball, football was going to be what paid the bills, and invited Florida State to join the league.  FSU was a powerhouse, and Mack could never get over the hump with them. Still, by 1996, Carolina had a good team that had a shot at going to a New Year's Day level bowl.  Then...they lost at Virginia.  A Gator Bowl instead, and optimism built for 1997.

This is when I entered Carolina.  We were stoked going into that football season, and for the first time you could feel a real excitement going into the college sports year, not just waiting for basketball.  Carolina had a team that returned a LOT of upperclassmen, had the experience of the previous year to make them stronger, and had FSU coming to Chapel Hill.  On top of that, the basketball team was coming off a Final Four appearance and returned everyone including Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter.  I stepped onto campus and into the Band thinking I might see two national title teams.

Mack was supportive of this, and felt like he finally had a chance to get the football team the spotlight it so richly deserved.  But, as happened a lot with Mack, basketball eventually overshadowed him.  Dean decided to retire right before the start of the '97 season, which, by the way, happened to be smack dab in the middle of football season.  It kind of took away the shine from the football team as they headed into a big homecoming game.  Still, the team won every game leading to the big showdown: FSU.

It was a top 5 battle, and big enough to where College GameDay actually came to Chapel Hill.  I remember Chis, Herb, and Lee on stage, and was in Kenan as they broadcast from Judgement Day.  We all booed as Corso put on the FSU headdress, waved the flag, and proclaimed that FSU would take another chunk of sod for their Sod Cemetery.  "No way," we thought.  This was a new team, new attitude, a big night game in a packed house...we were going to take this game.


It wasn't a domination, but FSU really never let the Heels into the game, and by the end and about 70+ renditions of the Tomahawk Chop, their best shot for any sort of national attention faded away into the Chapel Hill night.  They finished the season strong enough and just missed a big New Year's Bowl again, ending up back in Jacksonville.  It told you how far football had gone with an appearance in the ACC's second bowl was a disappointment.

The problem is, Mack never made it to that bowl.  Around the same time, Texas was in a funk of their own and canned their coach after the season.  Mack was at the top of their list, don't say no to them.  18 years has helped put the move in perspective for me.  Of course he had to leave, cause basketball was still king.  It would always be king, and Texas was football royalty.  It'd be like what would happen when UNC opens in Basketball, you don't say no to Carolina (so we thought).  But at the time...I was pissed.  Mack had the college coach presser saying he wasn't going anywhere, and instead, off he went to Austin.

Everyone decided it was best if Mack just left and the Assistant Coach, Carl Torbush, took over for the Bowl Game.  I headed to my first Bowl Game against Virginia Tech, and it was such a total domination we were all yelling "TOR-BUSH! TOR-BUSH! TOR-BUSH!" at the end.  We essentially forced the AD's hand, and he hired TOR-BUSH! to lead the team.

Unfortunately...Carl was a great Defensive Coordinator, not such a great head coach.  1998 was a mediocre year including three losses in a row to start the year (one of which was Miami...of Ohio), and ended in Las Vegas.  Now, as a band member?  Loved the bowl game.  I got to fly to Vegas on Sky Trek Airlines and stayed in Vegas for free, at Caesar's Palace.  But for the program, it just wasn't a good sign.  '99 brought about a losing year, no bowl game, and my senior year ended without a bowl trip as well.

Expectations now being a little different, what with the money sunk into the program and all, Torbush just couldn't survive.  The AD fired Carl, and went after North Carolina native Frank Beamer, the successful coach of VT, to take over.  He said yes...flew back to Blacksburg and changed his mind.  Instead, John Bunting was hired to take over in 2001.

It started so well...Carolina got their first win against Florida State that year, and after a couple of toe stubs, ended up back in Atlanta and the Peach Bowl.  "OK" we thought, "Back on the Rise!"  We then proceeded to go 3-9 and 2-10.  I went back for a game in '04, and saw us upset new ACC member Miami...and as was the story with Coach Bunting, they could never build solid momentum after it.  6-6, including a loss in the bowl in Charlotte. He got two more years: '05 (5-6) and '06 (3-9).  It just couldn't be sustained.

Around that time, Butch Davis was looking for a new job after flaming out in the NFL, and the National Title his recruited Miami team won was still fresh in everyone's mind.  Davis would bring credibility back, we all thought, and he would have a name that would get in talent.  In the end, it sure seemed like a new Golden Age had started.  After a 4-8 start in '07, Davis had a winning record in '08, and '09.  He was getting recruits, and got Carolina into a big opening game against LSU to start the 2010 season.

And then...the unpleasantness.

One year under the cloud in 2010 that ended with a bowl win, and then the firing right before the season started in 2011.  The sanctions, the vacated wins, and the AFAM class issues that still hasn't been fully resolved.  One year of an interim coach who everyone KNEW wasn't getting the job, and Hello Larry Fedora.

No doubt any true historian of Carolina Football can nitpick and give you more detail with those seasons, but really...that's what you need to know.  Anytime the football team has had some upward mobility, either they have shot themselves in the foot, or the jumped off a cliff.  They say that UNC is a stepping stone job, but the truth is the only great coach they've had that would use UNC as a stepping stone was Brown, and to this day I'm convinced he would have stayed had Texas not opened up.  Since then, they've either made the wrong hires, or the coach has been dealing with the issues of the program.

Seriously, read that all again.  That's a remarkable run of just getting your nose up in the air and smelling success.  Carolina isn't going to be a football school anytime soon, but it sure as hell can be one where the fans get excited for the team.  There's just never been a reason for fans to fully and emotionally invest in this team.  Every time they've tried, they've gotten burnt.  Badly.  At least with the basketball team, they have 4 National titles since '82, and a lot of deep postseason runs.

It was in this environment that Fedora arrived.  He signed a 7 year deal because, at the time, everyone knew football was going to get hit with the AFAM and Davis-era stuff.  He was going to need time to withstand those obstacles.  It didn't help that he had a lot of talent when he arrived in 2012, and he broke a losing streak to NC State with the "NO HE DIDN'T, YES HE DID" run by Gio.  The Heels couldn't go to a bowl that year, so that game basically WAS their bowl game.  It teased us, as we had been teased before.

2013 teased us a little more, as there wasn't a huge drop off as some of Butch's recruits left and Fedora was able to wade through the restrictions and get Carolina to a Bowl Game, where they won easily.  They also managed to beat State again, and hope was there for last year, thinking he'd have more of his recruits, and momentum would just build.

What we all should have realized is that Year 3 was going to be the most difficult.  The penalties of scholarship reductions really hit strong, and Fedora wasn't really able to recruit much his first year, meaning the fall of 2011 was a lost year, and Fedora had to modify what he could bring in for '12, 13, and '14.  That, plus an unrealistic rating to start the year placed a spotlight the team wasn't ready for.  It was the same old football team, after a great win at Duke they sputtered to an end that kept them from playing for an ACC title, a horrid loss in a bad Bowl game, and some soul-searching.

This year, the inexplicable loss to South Carolina seemed to set up the same old thing.  But this year is different.  Fedora realized he had a bad defensive staff, and had the intelligence to not only find the best defensive coordinator he could, Gene Chizik, but give that coordinator complete control of the D.  That DC cleaned house on that side of the ball, hiring all new coaches, and I mean guys he's never worked with or met before their interviews, and turned a unit that couldn't hold teams under 50 points into one that can possibly win you games.

Look, I was going to be fine with a 9-3 or an 8-4 season.  I figure it would show some progress, and it would tease us with momentum, again.  A funny thing happened after that loss to South Carolina, though...Carolina kept winning.  They won in Atlanta, coming back from three scores down.  They dominated Miami and Duke, won a game on the road in Pittsburgh on short rest.  All of a sudden, fans are jumping on the band wagon...but nervously.

Today was a game that old Carolina football teams lost.  The Defense kept Carolina in the game, while the offense kept trying to lose it.  Add to it the fact that it was Frank Beamer's last game at home (yup, that same Beamer), Carolina had to win the game in order to clinch their division and avoid next Saturday at NC State being about both the Rivalry and the ACC Coastal, and that they managed to choke a 14 point lead with 7 minutes to go...well, like I said, we've seen this script before.  "You just can't get your hopes up again" we thought.  We'll lose now and next week, miss this title game, and finish 9-3.  A great season...but still wanting more.

Funny thing: the defense found one last stand in the first Overtime.  The forced a Field Goal, and the Offense...sputtering as it was...was able to get that touchdown to win the game.  ACC Coastal Champs, and for the first time in...well, were talking about the football team and ignoring our top-ranked basketball team, who happened to play at the same time.  They lost...and people didn't seem to care.  On Twitter, fans were saying, "Eh, it's a November game, we don't have our star player, they'll learn from it."  Never mind they lost a 16 point lead to a mid-major school, hey, the football team is going to play for a conference title.

It's not over, by a long shot.  I'm glad the game against State next week has no ACC Title game ramifications to it,'s still NC State.  The game means more to the fans than I think it does to the players, and State doesn't really need the game so much as they are guaranteed a pretty decent bowl game, but Carolina is having a special season.  There's talk that they may have an outside shot to play for a National Title.  In Football.

I'm still in shock, and pretty much expecting the floor to fall out at some point.  In multiple text conversations with fellow Carolina alums and fans, I keep being Debbie Downer, panicking when the other team scores, wondering if this is the week this all ends, having absolutely no confidence at all.  It's the complete opposite of how I feel as a basketball fan, not really sweating a game except for the big ones (tournaments, Duke, etc).  Today, I barely noticed the basketball game going on at the same time, and...I found myself shrugging off that loss.

Is it jumping on a band wagon, or is it just a fulfillment of that desire I've had for almost 20 years to see another program get over the hump?  To have the fall Saturday mean something so big that ESPN decides to bring their traveling road show to campus.  To have ABC showcase Chapel Hill at night as one of their ACC Foes come in and they try to become the dominant team in the league.  Ultimately, it's Carolina, and I've always wanted them to win.  I've watched them mediocre season after mediocre season, been in the stands in the band in the rain and cold rooting hard for a win.  You see how big football is and you just want to be a part of it.  You know basketball will also be near the top...or you hope have an "Olympic Sports" program that is one of the best in the country (the Field Hockey team, for example, plays for another National Title Sunday), all that's been missing is football.

Things seems to just be breaking right.  For example: I've lucked out and the Saturdays I've had to work have either not had a game, or they've been late enough in the day to where I've missed nothing.  When the State/Carolina game time was supposed to be announced, ESPN said they would show the game, but that it might be at noon, and it might be at 3:30.  A noon game would mean I'd miss all of it, 3:30 means I'd miss almost none of it (we close at 3:30 and I could head straight home.  It was announced the game is at 3:30, part of the national slot at 3:30.  With Clemson likely to be Number 1, the ACC title game is very likely going to be on ABC the next week.

I'm just waiting for the floor to fall out...but part of me wonders: is this it?  Is this finally the time where we've found a coach who loves Chapel Hill enough to make it his program?  Is this where recruits start rolling in?  Is this where we start getting those GameDays parked out at the Quad in Wilson?

I'm still way too burned on the history of Carolina Football to look to the future and think this is the start of something big.  What I am going to do?  Enjoy the ride.  Carolina has 10 wins for the first time since I was a Freshman at UNC.  That is something special, and it's a season that will be bookmarked no matter what.  I don't know what the rest of the ride will be like, but this one so far has been fun.  Here's hoping it stays that way.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Where to eat?

Last week at work, we had a visitor for Cleveland who was staying in the city thanks to a conference his wife was attending.  He was enjoying the stay, but the age-old question came up:

Where is a good place to eat?

One of the fun things about living in a city that a lot of people visit is that-well-people want your opinion on where to go.  There is a feeling that as an "insider" you know all the hot spots that the regular tourists don't know.  It also gives you a personal spin instead of looking at Yelp reviews.

Cause, well, if you go into a restaurant saying you are a Yelper...(caution, it's South Park, so, you know)

Man, that episode got so much right.

So, over the past few years we've managed to steer more than a few people into great places to eat, visit, and so forth.  I'd like to think we haven't steered people wrong, because you want to give people something that's good food, and good Boston experience, but are located in areas that a guest can easily get to.

But what, if you are like Kat and myself, do you do if you move to a new area?  How do you figure out what's good?  Or at least, how did you do so by minimizing the amount of time you spend on Yelp just because people like to be asses.

In Boston, we were lucky.  There's a local TV Program that runs twice a week, the Phantom Gourmet, that's run by a set of brothers who go around the state and region to highlight all sorts of places.  High and low end.  Now, truth be told, I'm sure these places pay for the right to be on the show in some form or fashion as the show has to make money somehow, but it's still a great show because it goes out of the way to highlight all sorts of places.

We were also those people who relied on friends that we met who visited the area and had lived here for a while.  You also get pick up as you meet others who live in different areas, and are able to highlight out of the way places.

Finally, we also took advantage of a biannual Restaurant Week that the city hosts during off peak times.  One site has the names of all sorts of places throughout the city, and for a discounted rate you get to try a smaller menu that showcases the expert work of the staff.

Most of these things are not unique to Boston.  Just about most major metropolitan areas have people who know the area, a local TV product highlighting great places, and a Restaurant Week.  You want to adapt to a place quickly, use those resources.  I, frankly, would use Yelp last.  While the idea of everyone able to throw in their feedback is a great idea, we all know what the Internet does to people.  The genius of that South Park episode is that it shows you how people take their reviews too seriously, and others not at all to the point where you really don't get a true taste of the eatery.

So, when you go on vacation: post on social media, look on the internet for a local food guide and not Yelp, ask your friends, and ask the locals when you get to that location.  Sure, you're going to find  dud now and then, but for the most part the locals will not steer you wrong.

They just may not steer you to the best places...those they want to keep on their own.

With that said: Here is the official Al Hood list of recommended Boston Eateries (and keep in mind this is for a tourist):

Seafood: You can't go to Boston and ignore seafood, as everyone is going to ask you how the Chowdah was while you were here.  That said, There are a ton of places all easily accessible that you can eat, and you would enjoy:

  • Summer Shack. What's better than a place that is run by an upscale chef who got tired of doing upscale food, and instead wanted it to be fun.  For tourists, two locations are easiest to get to: in the Back Bay and Cambridge.  The spaces are open, and Jasper White attempts his best to recreate a seaside shack experience in the city, complete with Lobster Boils and wooden tables.  You get your Lobster, your Chowder, plenty of fried things, and he even has a signature dish with his pan roasted lobster.  For the city, it's the first place I'd recommend as best overall seafood
  • Legal Sea Foods: Has a little more upscale feel to it, but notable for the fact that each location has a bit of a different feel.  Also gets points for having some of the funniest commercials for a chain eatery (google them), and having a location on LongWharf that gives you an amazing view of the docks and Aquarium.  It also boasts of Chowder that's been in each of the last I have no idea how many Presidential Inaugurations.  It is a chain, however it started in Boston and besides LongWharf, it has a great location on the Waterfront that's part of the new growth of the area.
  • Barking Crab: Outside, picnic tables, bustling, near South Station.  No pretense, great seafood.
  • Island Creek Oyster Bar: Can't beat the location, just above the Kenmore T Station on the way to Fenway Park.  Do yourself a favor and get a bucket of their biscuits, ridiculously big and filling.  Boston and New England loves Oysters.  Atlantic Ocean Oysters, different from the Gulf Coast, and all of the ones here at Island Creek come from local farms.  Great atmosphere, and staff can offer great recommendations.  
Itallian: The Italian love may not be as well known in Boston thanks to the...more well known...Irish connection, but anyone who has seen Black Mass learned that part of Bulger's accession in Boston was knocking out the Mob.  In Boston, you have a whole section that is essentially our Little Italy, the North End.  There are quite literally a ton of great places, and I recommend going to the Phantom Gourmet site to get a better idea of all of the higher end places.  For me, the North End breaks down to Three places:
  • Dolce Vita: This is nothing but Red Sauce Italian at its finest.  The owner is joyful, welcoming, and if you go on the right night you'll catch an 80+ year old man playing an accordion signing classics.  I've had my own and other birthdays here, and each time it's just a treat.  If you don't see something you like, talk to the owner, he may make something else for you.  
  • Regina Pizzeria: Only counts if you go to the North End Location, as they are the original one, opened in the Teens before Pizza was actually a real thing.  Lines form for this place, but it's great pizza, and a reasonably priced meal.  
  • Modern Pastry: Others may tell you of Modern, and don't get me wrong: they are good, but Modern is across the street, and they win because of the cookie selection, and their Cannoli's  are filled when you order, instead of the cream sitting in the shell for who knows how long.  That makes the shell crispier, and it makes a difference.  Cash only, though.  
Beer/Drinking: Boston = alcohol.  Sorry, but...yeah, we drink. 
  • Solas: Just a good Irish bar right on Boylston Street in the Back Bay.  Low key, dark, heavy wood, Guinness and Jameson flowing like wine.  Damn, damn, damn good comfort food menu, too.  
  • Boston Beer Works:  One location near Fenway, the other near the TD Garden.  Nothing but their own brews on tap, and a great selection.  Good bar menu, and for the city very reasonably priced brews/food.  
  • Top of the Hub: Located at the, hey look at that, Top of the tallest building in Boston, the Prudential.  The food is good, but actually, go to the bar.  Depending on the night you're looking at a $25/person minimum, but they have room, jazz playing, and a ridiculous list of whiskeys to choose from.  Laid back and a great view of the city. 
  • Drink:  No drinks menu.  Tell your server what you are feeling like, they mix you up a cocktail. It can be as specific as an actual drink, or as broad as "I want something that is happy."  All of their juices are made on site, ice molded on site...craft cocktail to the extreme but wonderful. 
  • Sunset Grille:It's a local version of Flying Saucer.  Hundreds of beers in bottles, cans, and on tap.  Huge menu.  It's out of the way, in the BU section of Boston, and is by all accounts a hipster/college eatery.  But it's your best bet to sample a ton of beers.  
  • Brewery tours: Sam Adams and Harpoon call Boston home.  Look 'em up, go get fresh beer.  Oh, at the Harpoon Tour, make sure you get some fresh pretzels
I could go on...and on.  Frankly, if you have a hotel bar in Boston, it'll be a good one.  The cocktail game in this city is strong, as is the beer game.  I didn't even take time to talk about Bell in Hand, the 21st Amendment Bar, the Highball Lounge...Boston's drink game is strong. 

Which, frankly, is probably all you need to know about this city. 

Southern: Yes, there is good Southern Food in Boston.  You pay an arm and a leg for it, but it's good. Three places to try if you want to see how the Yankees enjoy the South and complain about how it isn't as good as home (but, be honest, it's because you aren't home not because it's bad). 
  • Loretta's Last Call: Beers in cans, Moonshine instead of a whiskey list, pimento cheese, and my oh my, a chicken and waffle that will float you away on a cloud.  For its location, the prices are reasonable, and the vibe is fun (and they have sweet tea). 
  • Sweet Cheeks: Boston has a bit of a Bar B Que renaissance going on right now.  I list this as the "tourist" choice due to its location nearby Fenway park and its slightly easier location.  Do yourself a favor and hit them up for lunch, you'll get to sample the same food in a  slight smaller portion size, but for a better price.  The meat is smoked and it's damn good.  The atmosphere inside also makes you feel like you aren't in Boston. (and they have sweet tea).
  • Soul Fire: In the same neighborhood as Flying Saucer, and in my mind the best "Q" place in Boston as they do a great Eastern Carolina style, as well as an amazing Brisket that Kathleen loves.  (...and yes, they have sweet tea)
Burgers: Sometimes you just need a burger.  Luckily, the city has plenty of great places to choose from, including exploding chains B. Good and Shake Shack, these two though are local which is, as a tourist, what you are looking for.

  • Boston Burger Company: In the same area as the Boston Summer Shack.  Never been there, that's how much I'd recommend it because everyone who's gone can't stop raving of the place.  These guys were basically first in the city of the recent Burger Explosion.  
  • Tasty Burger: Because it's fun to imagine Sam L. Jackson saying it as you eat it.  More West-Coast style, but the first Fenway location was popular enough that they are starting to explode. 

Snacks/stopping points: Two more places to really recommend that, frankly, don't have a category per se, but you should go by and visit at some point. 
  • Saus: Located in the Qunicy Market/Government Center area.  It's this unassuming little place that does two things really well: Duck Fat French Fries with a ton of sauces and "true" Belgian Waffles.  I say true, because these guys aren't big, light, and fluffy, but thicker, smaller dessert disks that are a perfect sweet treat.  With both the Fries and Waffles, you get to choose the sauce you use to top them.  Also a good selection of beers, and now sandwiches.  A great place to...reload if you've been overdoing the "Drink" category.  
  • Met Back Bay: Located on Newbury Street (the entrance is on a street facing Newbury's a Newbury Street eatery), a great downstairs bar with snacks to choose from and classic drink set up, it's a great place to chill and knock a few back.  Prime location as a few steps away from the Copley T stop. 
Chances are, that'll hold you while you are in Boston. The great thing?  Chances are that you have friends who have been here that know a great place not mentioned above.  Try them out, and soak in the food of the city.  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Catching you up to speed.

An entire season.  I look back at my wonderful blog post from June and realized it was typed up a mere couple of days before I spent two weeks down in Texas.  The entire summer of 2015 has passed since that post.  Yeesh.  

Granted, this is my blog so I can post whenever the hell I feel like it, but I do owe you...something.  Best I can tell you is essentially what I've said before: a job that has a varying schedule, plus twitter where I can get my thoughts out real time...well, I haven't really felt the need to sit on the couch and peck some thoughts out.  

I've also worked more than a few Saturdays, and when you do that and this is more of a "fun" project, then you are more inclined to let your mind relax than process a blog entry.  With the weather turning, though, and more than a few fall days that involve football being on the screen all day, expect the trend to change.  

If you aren't a friend of mine on Facebook (and frankly, I typically will only accept requests from people I know or at least have some sort of tangental relationship to), nor do you follow on Twitter, then you obviously don't know how I've spend the past couple of months.  Hell, even if you do, our social media feeds get so cluttered you may STILL not know what I've done.  So-let's rewind the DVR and get some highlights of the last couple of months, shall we?

So, after that last post, I took a JetBlue early morning flight down to Hobby Airport in order to celebrate the wedding of both my Sister in Law, and a long time friend of my wife's.  It was a two week excursion back to the area that I fled from 7 years ago.  For those looking for signs about how the trip was going to go, well...

Look, I was looking at spending a lot of money on a rental for two weeks, and I was trying to figure out a way to save some cash.  I found a code that let me pre-pay for a rental car, and I've rented enough with Hertz that I THOUGHT I would get an upgrade from a compact car.  Even if I did get a compact, they list that as a Ford Focus, which is basically what I drive, so I figure no matter what I'm Golden.  

What I didn't account for was that Houston had gone through some bad flooding, meaning that not only were cars off the lot for repairs, a ton of insurance agents were in town to adjust claims.  That means Hertz only had enough cars for who had reservations.  So?  I walked to a Toyota Yaris.  I'm spending two weeks in Texas in a Toyota Yaris.  An Effing Yaris.  

I was going to go to the counter and be THAT guy, until I looked around and realized...there were no other cars, at all.  I'd pitch a fit for nothing.  So, I look at the car, realize it's brand new (not even 1,000 miles), has HD, has power windows, mirrors, an HD radio (which came in handy), and it was a Hatchback, meaning it would actually come in handy for carting stuff around for the wedding.  So I keep the Yaris.  

I leave the airport, and once I get at my speed I look for the Cruise control.  Not there.  Power windows, Power Mirrors, Air conditioning, HD cruise.  Did I mention it's about a 90 mile drive to Bridge City from Houston?  

Just for comedy's sake, one time when I parked in a lot I had to point out just the absurdity of what I was driving:  

We called it the Roller Skate, The Lawnmower...each family member decided to take turns deriding this car.  The thing I hated was just it felt.  This car is supposed to compete against Chevy's Sonic/Spark, Honda's Fit, and Ford's Fiesta.  I've been in the basic version of each of those cars, and each one felt like they were at least TRYING to validate your purchase.  Toyota just slapped a car together and put a cheap price tag on it.  Only other car that might be as cheap is the Versa from Nissan.  Not going to be high on my wish list. 

Anyway, enough about the damn car.  Kat and I spent the first 5 days primarily with the In Laws as it was SIL who was getting married.  The fun included a day with FIL running around and tidying a few things up...which wasn't as bad as you might think...setting up the church for the wedding, attending a bachelor party for the new Brother in Law, rediscovering the love of the Kolache (dude-why don't more areas serve this thing?  A Smoked sausage wrapped in a bread dough and backed up.  Some links are spicy, some include cheese...all are delicious).  

If there's a link to the first part of the trip, which I'd call basically the first week, it'd be catching up with family.  This was the first prolonged time I spent with the In Laws in a couple of years, and stress of the event aside, it was nice.  I got to spend a lot of time with their new Lab Buck (and take a lot of slow motion videos), down a few of my favorite Houston area brews (St. Arnold's, which I'm glad to see they have a bigger new facility in the city), and then of course...marry off my Sister in Law.  

The bride and groom had a fairly full stage.  I was at the back of the stage, Groomsman Number 6.  I essentially was the Candy Corn of the Thanksgiving Play.  I ultimately figured the reason for this was that should the Groom run away, the Groomsmen step up in order to take the place...well, I'm already married, so naturally, I'm at the back of the pack.  I was parked next to another married man-a good dude who put together the actual Bachelor Party-and my wife was a Maid of Honor, meaning we didn't actually...leave together.  

Still, in the end, I think I made the look turn out OK:

OK, the Tux was a little big. I'd like to think it's because I lost some pounds since I was measured two months prior...but it was closer to the fact that I NEVER get measured correctly.  Whatever, it's a rented monkey suit...that I paid $100 for the right to wear for about 6 hours.  

The wedding went off without a hitch, and it honestly was wonderful...and a true Methodist Wedding that was about as long as the Final Wedding Scene in Spaceballs.  The reception was relaxed...alcohol free (it was at the church)...but alcohol free.  I was supposed to sit up front, but found my way to the back corner with a couple of my wife's cousins and their families, as well as a really good friend whom I haven't seen in ages.  We ended up caching up at Larry's (site of my rehearsal dinner) afterwards, and it felt good to to these folks.  

It's funny, when we were leaving in SETX, we were in a weird place, trying to figure out our next steps, get our feet under us, and we really didn' attention to that side of the family as we should have.  Distance...and the wedding...really helped put that all in perspective, and I think both Kat and I realized that if there was a regret from our time down there, it's that we didn't find time to spend more time with those folks.  We tried to make up for it the rest of the trip, making a special trip to outside the Houston area to spend a day with both cousins and their families.  The dynamics were fun to watch, and educational.  

Ultimately, during that first part, we got to see not only my in-laws but both of my Father In Law's brothers, and my wife's cousins.  We also took time on the day after the wedding to catch up with the Bearded Gnome, our former roommate from the last year down in SETX, and the aforementioned good friend who went to the wedding.  We did this from the comfort of a hotel room that I got for Three nights, giving my wife a little space where she didn't feel like she had to keep tripping over her family.  

I'm sorry I don't have too many more specifics, to a certain extent family time is sacred time.  If you're a regular reader of this blog, you can probably figure how deep the conversations got, and some things should have the right to be discussed without being gossiped around the Internet.  And frankly, you don't care :).  

Part two of the trip is what I would call "Friend time," or "Houston Time."  I found out about the Charleston Shootings during this leg, so it was good to have some fun time with good friends, Mr. and Mrs. H-Bomb who so graciously opened up their apartment to us so that we didn't have to try to find a hotel.  It was also a great chance to catch up with them...and we basically slid into our old habits as usual.  They gave us a place to sleep, a place to vent, a place to laugh, a place to short, they went above and beyond for us and helped us out so much.  

The 2nd wedding went well.  There was a huge difference in Ceremony, more formal, a little longer, and the reception as off-site meaning alcohol!  There was also a wedding planner.  

This one I got to enjoy from the stands instead of on stage, as both had a small party up front.  Thus, I got to make myself look a little spiffier.  

If you ever wanted to know what my Grandfather looked like, look at me.  Dressed up, I feel like I'm pretty damn close to a spitting image.  Kat looked beautiful, and look, I almost made us match colors!  

We ultimately landed near midnight on Monday when I needed to be back to work on Tuesday.  I REALLY needed to take another day off, and this is a lesson I will learn for the next two week wedding excursion I take...which likely will never happen.  

The rest of the summer passed quietly.  After that trip, honestly we weren't too inclined to do too much.  This was complicated by the fact that Kat's shop closed and she was floating between a couple of other locations before settling down at a Harvard Square location.  We even passed on July 4th at the Esplanade again.  Why?  After our experience a couple of years ago where it's been taken off of national TV, the level of guest they get has changed, and the way increased level of security-frankly a lot of the fun has been taken away.  If someone comes into town and wants to go, we'll go, Hell half the fun is taking someone new to the experience.  Instead, we chilled on the couch and watched the local broadcast, listening to the radio stream to catch the commercial songs.

Our anniversary popped up as it always does-this year marks Number 13!  We decided to spend the day getting some bar-b-cue in the Fenway area.  A great visit to Sweet Cheeks with a nice feel of home and some amazing biscuits.  

As an aside, they really do get to charge a premium up here for Bar-B-Cue.  I mean, to an extent I understand why since, you know, it take a little more work than back home, but still, growing up where we did, you weep just a little at some of these prices.  

Still, Sweet Cheeks was awesome, and we followed that up with a trip over to Paint Bar .  It's part of the new trend: an expert painter stands in front of the group and has you paint a picture step-by-step.  You also get to drink while doing so.  It's very judgement free, but as someone who could never even manage to color inside the lines, I was a little scared.  

Turns out I had a blast.  I broadcast my progress over the web:

Just a good chill night out.  I hope to do it again, as this particular location has a ton of Boston paintings.  If you live in the area, check them out, for the cost it's actually a great night out in the city.  I was so proud of our work, I hung the art on the wall, along with the painting Kat did with her Best Friend (Kat's Best Friend) on Valentine's Day

Mine is the left, Kat is the right
The rest of August passed with little fanfare.  Best Friend finished his Master's and we celebrated in Providence, and we began the march to Kat's Birthday.  This year, it was back to the Charles for kayaking and some after rowing drinks/dinner.  This time, I managed to risk taking my phone out:

I highly, highly, highly recommend the folks over at Charles River Canoe and Kayak and their launch point near MIT.  As soon as you get on the water you get an amazing view.  That head you see in front of me isn't Kat, by the way, it's KBF.  I got the job paddling the double with her this year so that Kosher Biker could enjoy a single.  Franky, this was the 2nd time I had kayaked so it was nice to have someone the same boat.  Kat is such an expert that if I tried to do a double with her..well...someone would end up in the Charles. 

Let's see...anything else?  Did an annual physical for the first time in...well, let's not go there.  But I surprised myself by having numbers that are-normal.  Making a couple of changes as the clock ticks up, more water, less soda and tea, trying to have more fiber.  Also running more again after taking the winter off.  It's been sporadic the last couple of weeks as I finished another round of Couch to 5K, but no actual 5K's are on the horizon, more just a routine to try and be fit.  It's doing something cause the NP I went to said I had a "runner's pulse."  

Saw a couple of WWE PPV's with Improv Wolf and a couple of guys he does Improv with.  Both times have been...hilarious.  I hate that I can't keep up, but it's amazing entertainment to hear everyone riff.  

And...that's it.  With the colors turning, I'm going to make it a point to try and post more again.  Any suggestions as to something you want to hear/read about?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

These guys walk in a bar...

Tomorrow is a rough anniversary.  Facebook has been nice enough with its new memory feature to show me all of my posts that I made on a certain date, and I've been seeing this kind of cryptc countdown in my feed to June 8th, 2010, the day I woke up to my brother delivering the gut-wrenching news. 

Each year this anniversary has gotten...I hate the word "easier" but that may be the only one you can use.  Yet, each time I think I'm over it, a random thing will pop up and it'll hit me again.  Hell, at least now I can talk about it and not choke up.  That's progress, folks. 

So, it's fair to say I needed something to look forward to, and honestly I do.  Even before a recent development, I have a trip back down to Southeast Texas to watch my Sister In Law get married, and then see one of Kat's friends also get married.  This brings with it wonderful visits with old friends, including Mr. and Mrs. H-Bomb whom I haven't seen together in...two years?  Good Lord, where does time go?

My wife is already down there, as a Maid of Honor she has some duties to perform prior to my arrival, so I've been living the past week as a bachelor again.  Just me and the cat.  For a week.  By ourselves.  With only work in between. 

I needed to get out of the house.

Luckily, that distraction came in the form of a great friend from college who was in the area.  I'll post his picture below, and I'm not naive enough to think using a pseudonym will keep you from figuring out who he is if you really want to.  Still, I'll keep to this blog's history of pseudonyms I shall hereby dub him...Harry Doyle. 

HD is a Play-by-Play man for a minor league baseball team (see what I did there), went to Carolina with me, was in the same instrument section, and we were in the same fraternity.  He was actually in my wedding...and the story of that is one that should be told another day.  As with a lot of geat people I went to school with, I've kept in contact via Social Media but haven't physically seen him since he was married four years ago.  His team was in the area, playing a couple of teams around, and jumped at the chance to see him.

Because of the schedule, the only night that worked for the first game was Tuesday...which was a lot of fun because that was also the day I had to get Kat to the airport, work a full day, then drive up to watch his team play. Totally worth it, though. 

View from the booth. 
HD hooked me up with a ticket, and then invited me up to the booth to be his guest while he was on the call.  Now, he wasn't idiotic enough to put me on the air with him...I don't want to see my friends get fired after all...but it really was something to sit there and watch the man work.  Calling the game, working in stories to fill in the time, essentially transforming himself so those listening at home can get a feel for the chilly night in New Hampshire.  I was thankful for the invite in the booth seeing as how it got below 50 degrees during the game. 

After the game, we hung out for a little while at a local bar, had a beer, and just caught up.  Great stories, a few laughs, and a great way to end a day.  I drove home tired, but buoyed for the weekend.

Why buoyed?  Well, he was calling games up in Maine during the weekend, and thanks to actually not having to work, I was able to go back up and see him again.  This time, though, I brought Best Friend and Kosher Biker with me.  While I had seen HD a couple of times since I moved away, BF realized it had been since my wedding, and KB had heard a ton of stories about this guy and never met him.  It was Saturday, we had no plans, so up 95 we went.  After an early dinner at a lovely Burger place called Nosh in Downtown Portland (highly recommended), we were off for some baseball. 

It was a beautiful evening for baseball
After the game is why this blog is being written.  The four of us got into the Civic and found a wonderful Tapas place, Local 188.  The alcohol flowed (well, I had a glass at the very beginning and then stopped, you know, the driver and all), as did the stories.  We caught up, swapped stories of the old days, and just had a blast. No, I'm not going to tell you any of these stories, just know it was great to sit back and listen and laugh as two people who love being in the center of it all traded turns making the rest of us laugh. 

My wife knows HD (obviously because he was in the wedding), and hated missing him.  She asked for a photo, which was happily took

Trust me, you wanted to be at this table
As one does in this day and age, I posted on Facebook where I was and who I was with.  I just happened to pull out my phone as we were wrapping up and noticed ANOTHER classmate of ours had commented on that baseball photo and asked if we were in the area, cause by some random chance he was, too.  I messaged him, and 15 minutes later he strolled into the hipster haven, and it was on.  Bigga Sound had arrived. 

We closed down the bar.  I feel bad for KB as he got caught in the crossfire as we continued to swap more stories and catching up in the roughly thirteen years between the four of us being together.  My sternum hurt.  It actually hurt cause of all of the laughing.  Hurt.  It was 1:30 AM before I dropped HD off at his hotel, about 3 by the time I got BF and KB back to BF's place, 3:30 before I got to my neck of the woods, and 4 before I crashed in bed in trying to find a parking spot. 

Here is the crew that closed down the bar, pic taken by KB
Hipster photobomb!
Take a look at that photo.  This picture is the reason why I speak of my love of Carolina.  Yeah, I love the sports teams, but this photo really is why I look back at those four years as a time in my life that I will never trade for anything. 

In that photo you have a white kid from Rural North Carolina, a Jew from the DC area, an African American from Shelby, and a gay man from rural North Carolina.  The four of us, with no other way to meet, brought together by both a love of music and eventually our fraternity.  These guys helped define me, brought me out of a shell that I had created for myself leaving High School, and opened up myself to views I had never experienced.  Through them, and the others I met while at Carolina that I still consider great friends despite the fact that I haven't seen a few of them in year, they helped me get to where I am. 

More importantly, they saw something in me that others, frankly, hadn't seen in me until I got to Carolina.  Whatever it was, they opened up their lives to me and made me a better person for it.  Through our shared joy, pain, euphoria, defeats...we made each other better people.  This is not possible without Carolina.  This is not possible without a school that is meant for the people to come together and rise them up to something better.

To this day, I couldn't tell you a lot about the classes I took at Carolina.  Yes, when pressed I could recite to you some problems with the Prisoner's Dilemma, discuss that the attitude of North Carolinians are shaped by a multitude of factor rooted in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, wonder if Howard Zinn was way too dark about American History or just telling a truth we refuse to see...but that wasn't my biggest lesson at Carolina.  Opening myself up to the point where I could listen to these viewpoints, respect other people, see that my way is not the only way...that's perhaps the biggest thing I picked up there. 

So on this, the fifth anniversary of my Mom's passing, I look at that picture and hope she's smiling.  That college education was her biggest dream for me, and on the day that I was declared a graduate from UNC had to rank up there as one of the best days of her life.  Because of her, and because of the University of North Carolina, I'm sitting in Boston with a treasure chest of friends that this introverted kid from Louisburg never thought he could possibly have. 

Still miss ya, Mom.  Thank you. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fire Roy

It's amazing the ridiculous things you read on social media, and what a few people can do to get a conversation started.  I mean, a lot of really, really stupid things.  

What had to be one of the stranger seasons of Carolina Basketball concluded Thursday night with a loss to Wisconsin in the Sweet 16.  Amazingly, it was Roy Williams' first loss in the Sweet 16 as Head Basketball Coach at the University of North Carolina.  It was also Carolina's first loss in that round since 1992.  Over 300 teams would love to have a season end the way it did last night, because it means a good chunk of it included a dream to be THE team at the end.  

Problem is, there is a certain section of the fan base that roots that feels that the leadership at the ship is wrong and wants to oust the current coach. 

Why?  Well...I'm honestly not too sure.  Vague mentions about the team not playing with enough "heart," Roy being a bad coach who can't get 6 McDonald's All Americans to win a title, or maybe they just don't like the guy. 

I.  Don't.  Get. It.  I don't.  I have wracked my brain to fully understand the vitriol some people in my fan base has for this man and...I'm genuinely stumped.  How can a section of the base be that...dumb?  I mean...dumb.  

Want to know why I feel this way?  Let's go back in history a little bit.  

I've explained before that Coach Smith retired before I had a chance to watch him in person.  By this point, Roy Williams was entering his 10th season coaching Kansas, and there was an assumption that while Dean essentially retired with enough time to only give the job to his long time assistant and friend Bill Guthridge, there was an at least tacit agreement that when Bill was done, Roy would come home.  

Coach Guthridge had a pretty successful run in his own right.  It did include a somewhat embarrassing loss to Weber State in the First Round of the tournament in his second season, but it was sandwiched between two trips to the Final Four, in '98 and '00.  Both ended with losses in the Semis, but after an up and down 2000 season that included an 8 seed in that tournament and a miraculous surprise run, Guthridge decided that summer to call it a career himself.  

In the long run, the worst thing that happened was that loss to Weber State.  You could argue that had they lost in the Sweet 16 or later, Gut would have been happy with his two year run, retired, and Coach Williams would have come on in.  Nobody really wanted Gut to go out on such a surprising loss, though, and the man deserved a chance to finish his career the way he wanted to.   Unfortunately, that extra year probably resulted in what happened next. 

Everyone assumed there would be a press conference after Gut stepped down, probably the next day, to formally introduce Coach Williams as the next one.  By this point local author Art Chansky  had even written a book about Dean's life that included a promise Roy would be the man to take over.  

When Coach Williams hesitated, and looked conflicted, we started to worry.  By this point the Internet was prominent in our lives, and message boards were exploding, including the one for "Inside Carolina."  I checked daily looking for inside information, ones saying they had spotted Coach Williams, that a contract was in hand, and just waiting for word that the inevitable would happen.  And yet, it never did.  

Roy had a press conference in Kansas saying "I'm staying."  The football stadium never cheered louder in Lawrence, and collectively Carolina fans were stunned.  

And that moment planted a seed.  How DARE he decide that he didn't want to uproot his family from home and from a program he built.  This was CAROLINA, and COACH SMITH had ordered him to come home.  People were hurt, and people were left wondering what was going to happen.  

Reason 1 why people are quick to dismiss Roy: They've never forgiven him for turning down Carolina and what happened next.  

Carolina didn't have a backup plan, and by this point the athletic administration wasn't going to listen to Coach Smith.  He had Larry Brown ready to leave the NBA and come back to Carolina.  But his mercurial nature, and the way he had left two previous programs in NCAA trouble frightened administration (side note: you want to believe Carolina's athletics by this point were actively scheming to keep its players eligible, yet they wouldn't hire Larry Brown because of NCAA troubles?  Little odd don't you think?).  Meanwhile, over in South Bend, another former Smith player had ignited a dormant Notre Dame program to an impressive NIT finals appearance in only his first season.  He was on the Smith Coaching Tree, he had fire, and he was young.  The thought was he was someone who could come in and be the next long term solution. 

It sure seemed like the right call in the beginning.  Doh got a T in his first official game, and appeared ready to clash with his rival down the road.  the '00-'01 Heels ripped off to a solid start, climbed the polls, and looked like a team to be reckoned with in March.  

Then...the tires flew off.  

At the end of the season, Carolina lost some real head-scratching games, and sputtered into the tournament.  This included a real blowout loss to Duke at the Georgia Dome (Forever remembered by myself as the Food Poisoning Game...Yeah, imagine having to watch your team get blown out while a couple of hundred miles away from home and barely able to hold down food.  Not fun), a close First Round Game, and Second Round loss to Penn State.  

That would be the Peak.  

2001-2002 was the infamous 8-20 season, the transition season between when Doh's recruits came in and the last of Gut's recruits left.  God Bless them, there wasn't a star in the bunch, but even when there weren't, Gut and Dean had the experience to get something out of them.  The Heels were going to be bad, but no one...absolutely no one...expected that mess, and very clearly some guys just flat out gave up during the year.  When that happens, the coaches are to blame.  

Doh also didn't win many supporters in the Carolina Family.  He had ran off all of Dean's/Gut's assistants, became a lot more closed off to alumni, and exuded none of the warmth that they had all come to expect.  Word also leaked out about his coaching style, that it was turning off current players.  Still, in '02 he managed to bring in several great freshmen...thanks to help of that family...and hopes were 8-20 was just a Cleansing year.  

Doh's last season just brought more problems.  While they did manage to get back to the postseason with an NIT visit, it was still not up to the level Carolina fans expected.  There was a fight at the Duke game that Doh seemed to instigate more than anything, and the players appeared to be inmates running the asylum.  

Doherty was let go before the '03 Final Four, and it leaked out pretty quickly that Carolina was going to go after Roy again.  Roy, at that point, had settled back into a Groove at Kansas.  After several years of stumbling in the 2nd Round, Roy had led Kansas to the Sweet 16 and two Final Fours.  He had been Head Coach at Kansas for 15 years, getting to Four Final Fours, and Two National Championship games.  In each of the years that ended on the last weekend, Roy lost to the National Champion.  Sadly, he was getting the reputation of not being able to win the big one.  After all, Coach K had coached for less time before his first title, and he had some teams that arguably could have taken it all but for some miscues at the end.  

That last loss helped cement that legacy when Carmelo Anthony helped lift Syracuse over Kansas for Jim Boeheim's only title to date.  After the game, when the speculation over where Roy was going was at a fever pitch, he spat at a CBS Reporter "I could give a shit about North Carolina."  

Carolina eventually approached Roy, some hurt feelings were mended, and Roy gave a heart-filled good-bye in Kansas before coming to Carolina and promising that these kids were going to work.

So, Reason 2 fans are quick to dismiss Roy: He had a reputation that he couldn't win the big one, including some coaching miscues (real and/or perceived) that caused him to not give over the hump.

Reason 3?  Carolina had to beg him to come back after he had so publicly spat on the school.  

Since Roy came to Carolina-he has continued winning.  I'm just going to list out what he's done:

*Three Final Fours ('05, '08, '09)
*Two National Titles ('05, '09)
*6 ACC regular title/shares 
*2 ACC Tournament Titles 
*11 NCAA Tournament appearances 
*14 Current NBA players
*Restored Order to a program in turmoil.  

What the HELL are these folks who think Roy can't coach looking at?  Well, a few things.  

Most was right with the world after Carolina won the '05 title as Roy clearly got over that hump, and clearly cared about this team since he managed to get them a title.  Very little rumbling, with the exception of the occasional blurb here and there when they lost.  

Even in '06 when all that talent left and Roy had to completely restock, he still got the team to the NCAA's.  After being upset by George Mason in the Round of 32, I think that's when the tide started to turn.  

That core that played during that time, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green...they were good and going to the pros some day.  They had successful regular seasons after that '06 run, but never could get over the hump in the tourney.  They stumped at the end of the '07 Season with an Elite 8 loss to Georgetown.  Then...then 2008.  

The aforementioned squad breezed through the regular season and made the Final Four.  One of the most historical Final Fours Ever in that three of four teams there were number 1 seeds.  And who faced off in the premier game of the day?  UNC and Kansas for the first time since Roy left.  

Kansas throttled Carolina early.  I mean, demolished.  It was at least 20 during the first half.  We all sat stunned as the Jayhawks and Bill Self managed to just take apart a shell-shocked Heels team.  Somehow, Carolina got back to within 2 at one point, but eventually lost.  I remember having a long conversation with my brother about how horribly they played.  All across the country, Carolina fans were chatting about Roy.  Their worst fears seemed to be confirmed when Roy showed up Monday night for the title game wearing a Kansas sticker on his coat.  

"What the Hell!?!!?" Was the cry.  They just killed you, and you are no longer their coach, so why are you there cheering for them?  As if the moment he left Kansas he was supposed to cut out all of his friends still there, and just act as if that part of his life never happened. 

Reason number 4 fans are ready to cut Roy: they are convinced he never truly loved Carolina.  

That debate quickly abated in '09 when Carolina won the title in a game that wasn't ever close.  For a fan base used to games that had all come down to the last second, it was odd to see them win in a blowout.  Roy now had as many titles as Dean, and did it in a shorter time span than his mentor (not that Roy cared two licks about that).  You know how many fans would give their...well...anything...for one title?  In 6 seasons, Roy had won 2 of them, and recruited a great mix of Program building players with an occasional One-and-Done who was able to round them into shape.  

So, in the end, we get to 2009-'10 where Roy is humming along, and while there has always been a certain disquiet, that faction eventually was told to sit down by the fact that Roy was...good.  

Roy, for the most part, had good luck to go along with great coaching during that time span.  Sure he could have won in '08, but the level of consistency he achieved was amazing, and 2 titles in such a short time span, one with his players and one with "someone else's" showed that when faced with no major injuries, and players who stayed for long enough, Roy could build a program fans could be proud of.  

2010 saw a change.  There was another major talent drain, and the ugly truth was that Roy had not recruited a great Point Guard to replace Ty Lawson.  Larry Drew II spent a year behind Lawson and with a father who was an NBA coach, the hope was that he could hold down the fort to where the next Point Guard, Kendall Marshall, would create another great 1-2 punch.  Problem was that Roy's system relies on a strong point guard, much as Dean Smith's had.  The Point didn't have to be a future NBA star, but he sure had to be a guy who could lead the team and run the offense Roy put on the floor.  He had to be a guy who wanted to lead the team in the way that HE could.  Drew never seemed  comfortable with that, and that mistake in a lot of ways started what has become the rockiest stretch of Roy's tenure at Carolina.  

The Heels went to the NIT in 2010, not as big a deal coming off the title year but it sowed some seeds of discontent.  During the 2010-'11 season, Marshall came in looking to be the Freshman understudy to the Junior Drew.  Problem was, Carolina's offense ran so...much...better when Marshall was at the point.  Marshall was a past first guard who, even as a freshman, had such amazing court vision that almost everyone on the court seemed open.  The call was loud for Roy to make a change, but Roy stuck with Drew as the starting guard into the ACC season.  Combined with a projected One-and-Doner in Harrison Barnes, Freshman and Kinston native Reggie Bullock, and a long sophomore John Henson, big things were expected for Carolina, and the team, at least on the court, seemed to be begging for the freshman.  Roy eventually sat down the upperclassman, having Marshall start against Clemson.  

I was at Conte Forum a few games later for what one could consider one of the best games of their season.  It wasn't even close as Carolina blew out BC early, and Marshall/Drew seemed to play really well with their roles.  Fans were dreaming of a National Title again...

And then Drew just jumped ship.  Not at the end of the year, before the next damn game.  Kid basically left a note with his roommate and just transferred to UCLA.  It's always been assumed he was pissed that he was promised the starter's role and had it taken from him.  Without Drew, the Heels still made it to the Elite 8, but the unexpected lack of depth at the Point caught up with Carolina.  Still, Carolina came in as a favorite for the 2012 title.  Everyone was coming back. 

...and then Marshall broke his wrist in the 2012 Second Round game.  Again thanks to no Drew (who would have been a Senior), the Heels were forced to rely on Freshman Stillman White, a kid who was only recruited because Roy had a spot and he needed something. Stillman gamely helmed the team against Ohio and they almost pulled out a win in the Elite 8, but no Marshall was too much.  

2012 saw another mass exodus with Henson, Zeller, Marshall, and Barns all going to the pros.  The loss of Marshall hurt, as Roy still hadn't had a chance to fully recruit a real backup to Marshall, and the next season. opened with a lot of young blood but a couple of scrappers that allowed them to go to the Second Round.  One was PJ Hairston, who paired with Bullock to create a devastating 1-2 punch in the backcourt, taking a little pressure off the Freshman Marcus Paige.  Heels fans were optimistic, and yet sad at the thought of what would have been with Marshall leading the team with Paige as the backup.  But hey, they were going to have Reggie and PJ the next year, right?  Reggie got himself drafted in the first round (and good for him, if you are going to get paid, GET PAID), and over the summer issues with PJ started to leak out.  Between the company he kept and the cars he drove, PJ started the season on the bench, and the "will he or won't he" wore on the team.  Finally, they decided he couldn't play, and the Heels again struggled to a 2nd round finish, even though some of the youth had gelled, and Roy finally had two point guards.  

This year?  The Weinstein Report.  Roy loses his best friend.  He loses his mentor, Coach Smith.  He loses a buddy in the program Stuart Scott.  His wife has also been dealing with some medical issues as well, though we don't have a right to know what they are (we just know vaguely thanks to this article that came out around his death).  That alone would be a distraction, but damn if players on the team didn't keep getting hurt.  Paige dealt with a foot issue for most of the year, big men were hurt, the depth he had at Point Guard whittled away thanks to these injuries.  It was as if everything that could go wrong did. 

Reason 5 fans are ready to get rid of Roy: He hasn't won anything in SIX WHOLE YEARS!  Hell, he hasn't been to a Final Four.  He's clearly slipping.  

This is also known as a certain segment of the base is spoiled.  

So, to recap, Roy, in a lot of ways avoided serious bad luck from '03-'09, and hasn't been nearly so lucky since.  He's had some bumps with recruits (Drew and the Wear twins pop to mind), and Barns is the last real One-and-Done he's had.  Oh, and the fact that he wasn't immediately a star in the vein of Okafor, et all, is also Roy's fault in the way he coaches.  

This run of bad luck also hit at a time that social media exploded.  Fans had a new way to moan, and trolls could commiserate together in a public way.  Before, they all collected on the message boards and you had to dig to find them.  Now?  They can tweet right at you to where you have to actively work to avoid them.  After last night's game, their cry was strong enough that a local sports radio host posted tweets on-line in a compilation, and WRAL decided to put up a social media poll asking if Roy should be fired.  

Yes.  The coach who has won two titles, one more recently than the guy coaching the school he left, was "bad" enough to put up a poll up.

So, I have four words for those guys who are even pondering answering yes: Shut the Hell Up.  In fact, just put away your Carolina stuff, burn it, and pick a new team.  Take that stuff over to Raleigh where I'm SURE they'll enjoy you lamenting about a coach who only won two national titles, gets national television exposure consistently, never loses in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, rarely finishes below the top of the conference, and loses so rarely to their school that a celebration worthy of a national title erupted when they won a regular season game in Chapel Hill this year.

Oh, and, on your way out, could you please who in the Hell is coming to Chapel Hill?  You going to lure Brad Stevens away from the Boston Celtics?  Throw money at Shaka Smart (where his VCU team has now not been able to live up to their top seeds a couple of years in a row)?  Oh, I know, get some hot young coach on the Carolina tree, cause that worked out so well last time.  

Give me a flipping break.  Yeah, Roy has made mistakes.  The basketball IQ of this year's team frustrated me, too.  To a large level, that is the coach in college because he recruited the guys.  But he recruits the guys on assumptions on who will be there, and the way the team grows is based on practices throughout the year.  The guy who was the main cog to the team wasn't healthy all year till the last part of the season, and WHADDYA KNOW, they played some of their best basketball at the end of the year.  

Roy can't coach?  Why would this team have improved as much as they have if Roy couldn't coach?  Their last 7 games they went 5-2 with an ACC Tournament final and Sweet 16 game against the top seed.  Along the way they played four "stall" teams (BC, UVa, Harvard, Wisconsin) One team similar to them (Louisville), One Press team (Arkansas), and one three point dependent team (Notre Dame).  The Wisconsin and Notre Dame losses were due to small mental lapses against really good teams that took advantage.  But during each game Roy had a game plan that had Carolina in each and every game.  The year ended, sure, but by the end players were doing what Roy wanted them to do, and it was their failure to execute, not Roy's coaching, that cost both games.  

Roy is not perfect.  Far from it.  He'll be the first to tell you.  A criticism of Roy is fair for honest mistakes, i.e. sticking with Larry Drew too long.  But I swear to God, who would you want leading a team when so...much...went...wrong.  Lord, after all the crap that happened, THIS TEAM WENT TO THE SWEET 16.  That's better than pretty much the entire Big 12 and Big East, and they lost because the other team is a damn good team who executed well.  He has also finally been able to recover from all of the player losses to, for the first time since that '09 team, have a huge base of players, with the potential of a One and Donner coming in to round it out.  Yes, there is a chance of a couple of players leaving, but it's doubtful.  

How stupid are you to want Roy gone?  There are fans of the opposing team openly rooting for it to happen so they have a chance?  Fans.  Plural.  

I know this long rant isn't going to change your mind trolls.  Chances are you clicked on this article just so you would get something, anything, to justify your stance.  Hell, I bet some people will retweet this just because of the title.  

The real point of this was try and get something out there showing that most Carolina fans are a little more rational.  Roy has earned the right to coach for as long as he wants to, and frankly he's good enough to where when he decides to leave, he will eave the program in great shape.  He could never win another title and I will be happy.   I say that because I trust Roy will follow Dean's lead and leave while still at the top of his game, not just stacking wins like some others.  

Thank you, Roy.  I hope you continue to represent Carolina for a good while longer.