UNC-Duke - The Fans

<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s Sherrell McMillan followed seven students on Saturday as they participated in their weekly rituals.

"Well guys I'm out", said UNC junior student Michael Tompkins. Tompkins's exit is followed by a chorus of "laters" from fellow UNC students, Brian Jackson, Jonathan Peele, Jeff Markman, Charles Watson, Jeff Richek and Twilla Tanyi. The day ended with seven weary UNC students, and began the same way.

10:00am – "I'm tired" says Jeff Markman. With that, the day begins with breakfast at the "Ye Old Waffle Shop." A Chapel Hill classic, and a tradition in the making among friends. Omelets, bacon, grits, pancakes, and waffles, oh my. Breakfast discussions include today's games, last night's hoops loss to Hampton, and papers due on Monday. Breakfast is over, time for the "Old Well Walk."

11:00am – Another, among many, of building UNC traditions, The "Old Well Walk." The aforementioned persons are members of the spirit organization "Carolina FEVER." The students, band, and alumni lineup along the sidewalk of Polk Place. The wind is blowing, the leaves are falling, excitement is building, and anticipation is mounting. Then from the front of the line comes a cheer. A bus is spotted. Down the steps come the cheerleaders hyping up the crowd, followed by our beloved Tar Heels. Obviously focused for the game, the team makes minimal motions to the crowd. They are instead marching, preparing for a great battle. Jeff Richek, known throughout campus as overly enthusiastic, screams to everyone "get hyped baby, to Kenan we go!"

11:45am – It's time to enter the stadium. The students head to Gate 5, get their UNC One Card swiped and enter perhaps the most beautiful college stadium in the country. The stadium is empty, however, this is not a problem for these "select seven" as this is a weekly ritual. "Get hyped baby!" says Michael Tompkins. This time in the stadium is what they like to call "lounging time." Another ritual of these students is to meet and greet with their friends. This means football team managers Brandon Wolfenberger and Brandon Reynolds. These conversations are especially interesting. Discussions range from "Miami is really an overrated football team" – Jeff Markman, to "This is depressing, I just spent $10.50 on a small pizza and a bottle of water." After saying goodbye to the managers, the students head back up to their seats. Fans are slowly but surely filing in and game time is fast approaching.

12:30pm – A loud cheer goes out. The group is pumped. Why you ask? The clock reads only 60 minutes until kickoff. This is crunch time for this group. These are the last few minutes before the rush of people enter BKS (beautiful Kenan Stadium). The mood is calm again, as pre-game preparations continue to take place. The group begins to give out, to the students, the white inflatable "thunder stix" which when hit together make a loud "thump" sound. Soon, the first players being coming out in full pads – Kickers, followed by quarterbacks, the return team, running backs, defensive backfield, tight ends, linebackers, and finally the defensive line.

1:00pm – Intelligent football discussion begins as the group starts to get anxious for kickoff. "All I'm saying is if Tennessee beats Florida, they have could beaten Miami says Markman. "The Big East is probably the worst conference in the country" Jonathan Peele replies in support of Markman. "But Grossman is a beast, and Gaffney doesn't drop balls" Charles Watson replies. This kind of talk continues for a good portion of the waiting time, going back and forth between the parties. Estimates to the attendance at the game are also taken. "I'm expecting about 35-40K today," says Jonathan Peele. Then yet another loud cheer erupts from the section. Rapper Petey Pablo's "Raise up" is being pumped out of the speakers on top of the "Alamo." Richek immediately follows the lyrics of the song and ‘takes his shirt off, and twists it around his head like a helicopter.'

1:15pm – The official pregame begins as the Pride of the ACC takes the field like only they can. Cheers and patriotism ring out from the student section, as God Bless America and The Star Spangled Banner are played by the marching band. Pregame predictions are placed. "Anything less than a 60 points and a 40 point win against Duke are unacceptable," says Brian Jackson in a sarcastic voice. "UNC by 20 …UNC by 35 … Duke by 7" are some of the predictions laid out. In a stoic manner Michael Tompkins says, "We shall soon see." Richek says it all "ITS GAME TIME BABY! GET HYPED!"

1:30pm – The bells ring. The band plays. The fans scream. Emotion builds. Then, the Tar Heels after singing in unison "We Ready" launch themselves onto the field in a fury of emotion and energy. It's time for the game. As the opening kickoff takes place, the stadium is not quite full. "There is a lot of steel over there" says Twilla Tanyi. "I hope they are gonna still come." Once the game begins its all about intensity. Yelling on defense, and being as quiet as possible on offense. This group exemplifies these traits. After Ronald Curry completed a TD pass to Sam Aiken in the first quarter, quietly chants of "Ronald Curry, clap-clap-clap-clap-clap" began. However, these feelings of cheerfulness were short lived as Duke got on the scoreboard – 14-7. "Is that supposed to happen? Duke just scored a touchdown on us. I'm gonna throw-up."

4:00pm – Enjoying a comfortable 52-17 lead, these fans don't let up. Aaron Leak now in and the QB scrambles on a 3rd and 5, but only gets 3 yards. Immediately chants of "go, go, go!" are started and soon the entire stadium is chanting. What happens? Coach Bunting decides to go for it. After what appeared to be a successful pass play the fans cheer wildly. Soon, though, the referees overturn the call and Duke takes over possession on downs. "That was a straight mercy call," says Peele. "Hey ref, blow the whistle not the game!" says Richek.

4:45pm – Game Over. As the Tar Heels celebrate their 12th straight victory over Duke, and their second straight 30+ point win versus the Blue Devils, the group sets in for the highlight and end of each home game. Each one puts an arm around the other and begins to sing "Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices ringing clear and true…."

So, as the day comes to an end, they all smile and look back on their football Saturday. "I'm tired," says Watson. He's greeted by responses of "yep … me too … me too."

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