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HTS 2018: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Jackets venture up to everyone’s favorite hedge-lined tar hole.

North Carolina v Georgia Tech

Welcome to From the Rumble Seat’s weekly historical matchup lecture. Throughout the season, each unit in this class will examine the head-to-head matchups of our opponents in the 2018 season. This week we look at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill edition. Real Carolina? Sure, you goats. If you like argyle, this is the column for you. Let’s get down to brass tacks.

North Carolina Tar Holes

Opponent Background:

  • Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference (1953 - present)
  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • All-time Record: 690-539-54 (.559)
  • Home Stadium: Keenan Memorial Stadium (Capacity: 50,500)
  • National Championships: N/A
  • College Football Playoff Appearances: N/A
  • New Year’s Six Bowl Games: 8 (Sugar: 2, 1947, 1949 Cotton: 1, 1950 Peach: 5, 1970, 1976, 1983, 1993, 2001)
  • Conference Championships: 10 — (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association: 1895 Southern: 1922, 1934, 1946, 1949 ACC: 1963, 1971, 1972, 1977, 1980)
  • Division Championships: 1 — 2015
  • 2017 Season Record: 3 - 9 (1 - 7 ACC)

Past Results:

  • Team Head-to-Head Record: 29-20-3-1 (.587)
  • Recent Meetings:
    2014 - 48-43 North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)
    2015 - 38-31 North Carolina (Atlanta, GA)
    2016 - 48-20 North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)
    2017 - 33-7 Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)
  • Coach Head-to-Head Record: 3-3-0 (.500)
  • Tech record in this week’s venue: 10-12-2-1 (.458)

2018 Football Schedule

Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes
Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes
September 1 12:30 p.m. Alcorn State Southwestern Athletic 2-0-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 41 - 0 W FCS
September 8 12:00 p.m. @ South Florida American Athletic 0-1-0 Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, FL 38 - 49 L First Meeting, Group of Five
September 15 12:30 p.m. @ Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast 5-8-0 Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA 19 - 24 L
September 22 3:30 p.m. Clemson Atlantic Coast 50-31-2 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 21 - 49 L Rivalry, Hall of Fame Day
September 29 12:00 p.m. Bowling Green Mid-American 1-0-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 63 - 17 W First Meeting, Family Weekend, Group of Five
October 5 7:00 p.m. @ Louisville Atlantic Coast 1-0-0 Cardinal Stadium - Louisville, KY 66 - 31 W First Meeting
October 13 12:20 p.m. Duke Atlantic Coast 51-34-1 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 14 - 28 L Homecoming
October 25 7:30 p.m. @ VPISU Atlantic Coast 7-9-0 Lane Stadium - Blacksburg, VA 49 - 28 W Rivalry
November 3 12:15 p.m. @ North Carolina Atlantic Coast 30-21-3 Kenan Memorial Stadium - Chapel Hill, NC 38 - 28 W
November 10 7:00 p.m. Miami Atlantic Coast 12-12-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 27 - 21 W Whiteout
November 17 3:30 p.m. Virginia Atlantic Coast 21-19-1 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 30 - 27 W (OT) Senior Day
November 24 12:00 p.m. @ u[sic]ga Southeastern 44-67-5 Sanford Stadium - Athens, GA 45 - 21 L Rivalry
December 26 5:15 p.m. vs. Minnesota Big Ten 0-0-0 Ford Field - Detroit, MI - First Meeting

Don’t Ask the Result in 1990...

First off, what’s a pirate’s favorite pattern? If you said plaid, I’m sorry. If you’re still wondering, it’s argyle. If you want to talk about a brand that knows exactly what it is, for better or for worse, depending on your opinions of baby blue and argyle, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the place to start. Turns out some alumnus designer added it to the uniforms in the 90s, because he liked his argyle sweater. This story - that of a bevy of questionable substance gilded in the splendor of the overconfidence of assumed excellence that just the fact of their very existence exudes - is the story of [North] Carolina football, and, to be fair, their athletics in general.

The “oldest public university in the United States” - as a Tech fan, I support the much-clearer College of William and Mary claim, having received their royal charter in 1683 - has had open doors since 1795, after being outlined in the state constitution in 1776, chartered in 1789, and beginning construction in 1793. The first graduating class was in 1798. I ramble about this simply because the school in Athens, chartered in 1785, first accepted students in 1801, with graduation first happening in 1804. The first building was complete in 1805. I leave you with one question: how the heck did that work? Did they sit under a tree in some field up there in Athens? On second thought, that wouldn’t be too surprising.

Anyways, football. The first year of [North] Carolina football was in 1888. The Tar Heels went 1-3, begging the question that, if all of these teams, including our own, were so terrible in the beginning, who was even winning the games? It’s a puzzling question. The first of 122 editions of the “South’s Oldest Rivalry,” against the Virginia Cavaliers, was played twice in 1892, which the two teams split 1-1. They claim a conference title in 1895, but their Wikipedia page makes no mention of that season, so it clearly wasn’t important enough to add when they went back and inserted a line about being the true “Carolina” in every University of No Classes sports page. In 1898, they beat a high school 11-0. Good job. That same year, they beat the school in Athens 53-0, a game described as “such a crushing defeat as Georgia sustained at the hands of North Carolina today is almost unparalleled in football.”

They then proceeded to do what could be boiled down to as “not much” for a couple of decades. Carl Snavely, who would coach two separate stints in Chapel Hill, didn’t accomplish too much in his first. In his second, however, he finally achieved what the Tar Heels had always lacked: respectable football. In fact, his teams went to the Sugar Bowl twice, in 1946 and 1948, and the Cotton Bowl another time in 1949. Fittingly, they won exactly zero of those prestigious games. Then, Snavely departed once more, this time for the job at Washington University in St. Louis, a school which isn’t even a Division 1 school anymore, let alone in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

In 1953, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill helped charter the Atlantic Coast Conference, an organization it continues to enjoy membership in to this day. A decade later, they got their first-ever bowl win, in the 1963 Gator Bowl.

I would like to take this sentence to note that this leading-edge, prestigious oldest public institution of higher learning hired Bill Dooley, brother of the head coach of that other most-original original public institution located in Athens, Georgia, Vince Dooley. To be fair, he did pretty well in his time at the helm of “football in a forest.” There isn’t much forest left around Keenan Memorial these days, though, speaking of flora, it probably isn’t a coincidence that two rows of privet hedges showed up along the field in those days, either. The propaganda-like histories of each stadium, Sanford and Keenan, maintain the splendor of their respective bush, even though the obvious answer is that they both stole the idea from the Rose Bowl. Keenan Memorial, which dates from 1927, proceeded the opening of Sanford in Athens, its architectural derivative, by a few years. The Carolinian Dooley left in 1977 for VPISU (remember, pronounced like it is spelled) after leading the Tar Heels to three conference titles, including one in his final season in Chapel Hill, having never achieved the lofty heights of his brother in Athens. Both his brother’s school’s national championship and his own school’s conference title in 1980 remain their most recent, respectively.

1981 was the last year North Carolina would finish with double-digit wins for a decade and a half. This time of Dick Crum, though, vaulted him to the school leader in wins all-time. In 1988, the Tar Heels hired Mack Brown, and his first two teams went 1-10. His 1990 team finished 6-4-1. I shouldn’t have to remind you what the tie was, but more on that later. The school’s football team, long overshadowed by the basketball program, finally had some student support. The 62,000 fans that showed up to Keenan Memorial to watch Brown’s Tar Heels face off against the powerhouse Florida State Seminoles remain the state’s largest-ever crowd to watch a college sports game, in a time when the capacity was just 57,500. This especially notable considering the capacity of the stadium peaked at 62,980, which means North Carolina hasn’t sold out its stadium in at least a decade. Their average attendance last year, for reference, was just 50,071. This offseason, they ripped out the steel bleachers and replaced them with chairbacks. Mack Brown’s massive expansions in facilities may not be for naught, but his armies of bleachers now seat almost 13,000 less fans than they did just last year.

Brown soon left for Texas and was replaced by a mediocre Jeff Torbush. After three okay years, he, too, was forced out and in came John Bunting. Though Bunting led the Tar Heels to what are, to date, their only two wins against top-ten foes in his time in Chapel Hill, he was also subpar and was replaced with Butch Davis. Davis would lead a handful of mostly bad seasons later marred by accusations of academic misconduct and improper benefits, which are always a nice touch, spoiling the pleasant news of the addition of a nice end zone facility to their stadium. After a year with an interim coach, the Tar Heels hired noted neurologist Larry Fedora from Southern Mississippi, who took the sanctioned Tar Heels to the top of the division. As most know, it was Tech playing in Charlotte at the end of the year, though, as the 8-4 Tar Heels were not permitted a shot at the ACC crown, postseason play, or a Coaches’ Poll ranking. Since then, the Tar Heels have been mostly okay, with one exceptional season in 2015, though they appear to have fallen off of a cliff the past two seasons after an 8-5 showing in 2016.

And, as one last aside, not only are their hedges unoriginal, but so is their Alma Mater. Annie Lisle, the tune to which Hark the Sound is set, was first used by Cornell. Since then, “literal legions of schools [have used] “Annie Lisle” as their alma mater, from Syracuse to Alabama, and Indiana to that resort in Dirty Dancing,” (Grant, Rearview Mirror). Chapel Hill is joined by the school in Athens in having appropriated Annie Lisle. Because of course they are.

As far as Tech football history goes, From the Rumble Seat has been taking a biweekly look at football history since the beginning of the summer over at Rearview Mirror. And it hasn’t changed much since last week. The short version is that Tech football began ignominiously with a middling season in 1892. A game up in Athens in 1893, which Tech won, set the stage for one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport and also is one of the mythic origins of the Ramblin’ Wreck nickname, as well as how Tech got its colors. Tech was pitiful, to put it nicely, for quite some time until one man, Frank Turner, started an initiative to hire a bonafide legend as a football coach. That resulted in John Heisman. Heisman, innovator and champion, saw much success on the Flats until he dramatically left town as part of his divorce. The old man was replaced by William Alexander, who was known for his team’s strong academics and his own 1928 national championship. Coach Alex was, in turn, replaced by his own protege Bobby Dodd. By the end of Dodd’s tenure, Tech had amassed three national championships, twelve conference championships, including five in the Southeastern Conference, which just mean more, and had decided to go independent to make a stand not only for its football prominence, but its foundational academic principles as well. Dodd and Tech would not sacrifice student-athlete education and well-being. The independent years were lean for Tech and did not result in the dream of a “Notre Dame of the South” status. Eventually, Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in the beginning of the 1980s. By the end of the decade, coach Bobby Ross brought the Jackets seemingly from nowhere to win a national championship, Tech’s fourth. Since then, the Jackets have seen average-to-great years, the most recent excellent year being 2014, when Tech was a few plays from the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Jackets have an all-time record of 724-491-43.

The history between North Carolina and Georgia Tech should be longer and more notable than it is. There have been, after all, more than fifty matchups between the school, including thirty eight in a row. Tech beat [North] Carolina on the way to a national championship in 1928, and lost to them in the next year, a letdown dud of a season if there ever was one. But, after that, Tech played the Tar Heels a few more years in a row, then only sporadically until joining the ACC. What this series really boils down to is two games: firstly, the 2014 edition in Chapel Hill, where Tech took one of their unfortunate losses on the year, keeping them from perhaps an appearance in the College Football Playoff. The other, the 1990 tilt, also in Chapel Hill, was a miraculous field goal from the legendary Scott Sisson away from flushing Tech’s national championship hopes down the drain. Had that been a win, and Tech would have unquestionably been the national champions in the AP Poll as well, despite the bending over backwards the pollsters were willing to do to keep Colorado in the picture. Had that been a loss, and Tech’s season, while very good at the revised 11-1, might not have been so, well, exquisite. But, despite these two games and some healthy history, Tech and North Carolina just...exist. A lot like Duke, actually. We’ve played them ten times more than Tennessee, but if there was another game announced against the Volunteers, the vitriol and eagerness to play the boys from Knoxville would be through the roof. Whereas the hate for old SEC foes is understandable, these are Tech’s matchups now. Bring in that same passion. There’s plenty of valid reasons to despise the Tar Heels. There’s no reason that every annual game on our schedule shouldn’t at least churn up some emotion. It’s North Carolina homecoming this weekend. A nice place to start might be to spoil their days.

The Jackets took their third straight _in against the Virginia Poly_echnic Ins_i_u_e and S_a_e Universi_y Hokies with another road tilt against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels (29-20-3-1 all time) in week nine at Kenan Memorial Stadium Saturday at 12:15 pm. The game will be aired on the Raycom Sports Network and can be heard over the radio in the usual suspects, 680 AM / 93.7 FM and the Georgia Tech Football Radio Network.

With the appearance of the historical matchup preview, that means it’s Friday at 10:00 AM. Tune in early tomorrow for How to Watch continuing through the gameday thread and the postgame recap. Less than 36 hours until toe meets leather! As always, go Jackets!