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HTS 2019: University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

In which my vitriol for Carolina serves as a way to underhandedly throw shade at Athens.

Georgia Tech v North Carolina
It’s Tobias Time again, my dudes.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

What’s a pirate’s favorite pattern? Argyle! What’s a tar heels’ favorite pattern? Systematic abuse of the state of North Carolina’s system of higher education! With the Fake Exam taking Fake Rams rolling back into Atlanta with Mack Brown 2: The Legend Continues, it’s time to take a look at what they’ve been up to in the past (hint: not that much on the gridiron), what Brown has brought to the table in the past (well, at least he won it all in Texas?), and what petty things you might need to get your gears grinding already here on this Friday morning.

North Carolina Tar Holes

Opponent Background:

  • Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference (1953 - present)
  • Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • All-time Record: 693-545-54 (.557)
  • 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: 2 - 9 (1 - 7 ACC)

Past Results:

  • Team Head-to-Head Record: 30-20-3-1 (.587)
  • Recent Meetings:
    2015 - 38-31 North Carolina (Atlanta, GA)
    2016 - 48-20 North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)
    2017 - 33-7 Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)
    2018 - 38-28 Georgia Tech (Chapel Hill, NC)
  • Coach Head-to-Head Record: 0-0-0 (N/A)
  • Tech record against North Carolina in this week’s venue: 19-8-1 (.704)

2019 Football Schedule:

2019 Football Schedule

Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes Attendence
Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes Attendence
August 29 8:00 p.m. (ACCN) @ Clemson (1) Atlantic Coast 51-32-2 Memorial Stadium, Clemson, SC 14 - 52 L Rivalry 79,118
September 7 2:00 p.m. (ACCN) South Florida American Athletic 1-1-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 14 - 10 W Group of Five, Whiteout 46,599
September 14 12:30 p.m. (ACCRSN) The Citadel SoCon 10-1-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 24 - 27 L (OT) FCS 42,871
September 28 3:30 p.m. (CBSSN) @ Temple American Athletic 0-1-0 Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA 2 - 24 L First Meeting, Group of Five 31,094
October 5 4:00 p.m. (ACCN) North Carolina Atlantic Coast 30-22-3 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 22 - 38 L Family Weekend, Hall of Fame Game 45,044
October 12 12:30 p.m. (ACCNX) @ Duke Atlantic Coast 51-35-1 Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC 23 - 41 L 21,741
October 19 12:00 p.m. (ACCN) @ Miami (FL) Atlantic Coast 13-12-0 Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL 28 - 21 W (OT) "54,106"
November 2 4:00 p.m. (ACCNX) Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast 5-9-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 10 - 20 L Homecoming 41,219
November 9 12:30 p.m. (ACCNX) @ Virginia Atlantic Coast 21-20-1 Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA 28 - 33 L 44,596
November 16 3:30 p.m. (ACCNX) Virginia Tech Atlantic Coast 7-10-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 0 - 45 L Rivalry, Heroes Day 43,263
November 21 8:00 p.m. (ESPN) NC State Atlantic Coast 19-10-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 28 - 26 W 38,198
November 30 12:00 p.m. (ABC) Georgia Southeastern 44-68-5 Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA 0 - 0 TBD Rivalry, Senior Day, Toy Drive
2019 Football Schedule Jake Grant

Don’t Ask the Result in 1990...

I’m going to by and large keep what I wrote in this space last year pretty consistent. Because I like it. It’s informative and yet also petty. North Carolina, much like Duke, is a school that Tech has played annually for years, and yet it seems like our fanbase couldn’t give two shakes about the Tar Heels of Chapel Hill. Well, consider that at least somewhat alleviated, because the more I think about the baby blue boys of the real Carolina - on this, at least, I’ll kowtow to them over that school in Columbia - the more agitated I get.

If you want to talk about a brand that knows exactly what it is, for better or for worse, depending on your opinions of sky blue and argyle, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the place to start. Turns out some alumnus designer added argyle to the uniforms in the 90s, because he liked his 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. And, if we’re being honest, it’s a part of their school’s academic culture, as well. It’s North Carolina, or something like that.

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 also claims to be the oldest public institution in the country. Yet it was chartered in 1785, first accepted students in 1801, and first graduated them 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. But that’s all a story for another column.

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. Georgia Tech, to this day, maintains a losing record against places like Sewanee and Carnegie Mellon, and North Carolina isn’t much better with losing slates against Transylvania and Fordham.

The first edition 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.”

I am not sure what is in the water between Chapel Hill and Athens, but between the passive-aggressive [Police] match between the schools about founding year, rivalry length, location, and name, and the general plagiarism of architecture, symbolism, and customs, its really a quietly significant beef.

Back at the turn of the twentieth century though, 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. That says something, I think. Good school, though.

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, following up their first-ever ACC title.

Next, it is notable 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. Again, what’s with the imposter syndrome between the Bell and the Well? 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. Meanwhile Auburn, and half the other teams in the south, just sit back and enjoy their hedges in peace and tranquility. Sadly, the [“iconic”] hedges were a casualty of the recent renovations to the stadium, so I can no longer make fun of them for that. But, they existed. So there. And 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, though 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 - both 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. In 1988, the Tar Heels hired Mack Brown, and his first two teams went 1-10. Good news, Tar Heels! This new edition of Mack is already outperforming the last one! 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. Conveniently, their new capacity in 2018 was...50,050. Mack Brown’s massive expansions in facilities may not be for naught, but his vastly increased stands now seat almost 13,000 less fans than they did in 2017.

Brown coached in Chapel Hill for a decade, bringing the Tar Heels to relative excellence and six straight bowl games to round out his tenure before he 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, 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 on average okay, with one exceptional season in 2015, though they fell off a cliff after an 8-5 showing in 2016, leading to Fedora’s timely demise.

And, as one last aside, not only is most of their football iconography unoriginal - Jordan brand from basketball, head coach from...themselves, but thirty years ago..., stadium from Yale, etc. - 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.” Chapel Hill is joined by the school in Athens in having appropriated Annie Lisle. Because of course they are.

I’m telling you, I can’t make this stuff up.

As far as Tech football history goes, From the Rumble Seat has been taking a look at it since May 2018 over at Rearview Mirror. The short version is that Tech football began ignominiously 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. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also how Tech got its colors. Apparently gold is a color for cowards, if the residents of Athens are to be trusted. 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 protegé, 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. What’s more, Dodd and Institute president Edwin Harrison had decided to go independent to make a stand not only for football principles, but its intrinsic academic ideals 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. By the end of the decade, coach Bobby Ross brought the Jackets from the utter depths of football irrelevance to win a national championship, Tech’s fourth. It is hard to overstate just how terrible Tech was at its nadir. 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. Tech’s years of triple option play - the heights of an Orange Bowl win to the lows of a three win season - would come to an end following the 2018 season. The Jackets have an all-time record of 737-504-43.

Tomorrow, the Tar Heels roll into Atlanta for the fifty fifth meeting (30-20-3-1 all time) of this not-a-rivalry-but-should-be kick off to their ACC Coastal slate on the Flats. Toe meets leather at 4:00 pm. The game will be shown on ACC Network and can be heard over the radio in the usual suspects, 680 AM / 93.7 FM and the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Radio Network, featuring the voice of the Yellow Jackets, Andy Demetra, as always.

With the appearance of the historical matchup preview, that means it’s after Friday at 10:00 AM and that concludes From the Rumble Seat’s regularly scheduled pregame content. Tune in tomorrow starting at 6:00 AM 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!