So, I spent a few long hours sorting and trashing 20 plus years of everything from "they will be worth something sometime" magazines and newspapers on down to old love letters and notes passed in class back in high school (see, I told you I save everything). While I saved the truly important things, I was amazed at how much trash my summer cleaning produced.
One item, or rather many items, that made the ‘save it' cut were old ticket stubs. Ticket stubs from Broadway shows, pro baseball games, a couple of Charlotte Hornets games, a World Series, the Masters, the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, and way too many concerts (including a KISS stub from 1976 – when I was five – that may explain a lot) all tucked away and scattered in a smorgasbord of places. After this weekend, those stubs and many more find themselves in a big shoebox marked "NEVER THROW AWAY" while I figure out the best way to preserve them.
Along with that variety, I have countless ticket stubs from Carolina basketball games ranging from the USSR all stars to the 2000 Final Four and many more in between and since.
And then there are the Carolina football ticket stubs. Too many I care to count. Most coming from the fact that I have been blessed with parents that have had the same season tickets since the 1960's and many more coming from my years at Carolina and the road trips to away games.
Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking about saving ticket stubs until around age 14 so the vast majority of those early years until around 1985 are in some landfill somewhere in North Carolina. But, I do have a few from the late 1970's and then after '85, the collection really picks up.
As I checked out each stub, I recalled the many memorable games I've seen since coming into this world in 1971.
For the record, I attended my first game either in 1973 or 1974, according to my mother, and promptly cried in my seat while everyone else jumped up and down cheering a Carolina touchdown on the opening play from scrimmage. (Coincidently, I did the very same thing the moment Hank Aaron hit his 715th on the floor in my parent's den as everyone else celebrated the record breaking feat.)
And while my mother tells me I probably attended three or four games a year up until 1981, other than a vague recollection of some guy named Tony Dorsett running down the field, my first clear memories are of Kelvin Bryant running over ECU, Miami (Ohio) and Boston College for 14 touchdowns in the first three games and the "Fog Bowl" in Jacksonville, FL. How can I forget that Gator Bowl? Carolina survived a late Arkansas comeback and a homegrown kid by the name of Darrell Lucas had an interception.
During the mid- to late eighties, my Kenan memories are clogged with a lot of converted third and longs by the opposing team and won loss mediocrity culminating with three I can never forget.
1) Randy Marriott's drop against Clemson. Everyone should remember that one. 1987. Clemson had just taken the lead 13-10 after a long drive and field goal. Carolina gets the ball back and Mark Maye hits Marriott in stride as two Clemson DBs collide and fall down. The ball bounces off Marriott's chest and Carolina proceeds to lose 22 of the next 24 games.
2) The 1988 Louisville shootout in the rain. Has it ever rained harder at a game in Kenan?
3) The Navy debacle. Enough said.
Rolling into the 1990s, you have to begin with the goal line stand and tie against the soon-to-be National Champion Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in ‘90. The Carolina program turned the corner that day.
1992 brought the back-to-back wins over ranked foes as Virginia and Georgia Tech fell. The Peach Bowl after that season remains the best bowl game I have ever attended.
The 1993 Florida State game had nearly as much electricity as 1997s washout versus the ‘Noles and Kenan has not been much louder as it was when Bucky Brooks snagged the games opening touchdown. Of course, Derrick Brooks was right when he yelled, "here comes the talent!" just after that score as the ‘Noles rolled Carolina 33-7.
1998 and 1999 were nothing to write home about in Kenan. Losing to Miami of Ohio kicked off a slow burn that Houston and Furman helped fan and sustain through the 2000 season.
Last year's rout of FSU and the tension filled wins over ECU and Virginia set the plate for this year. It is entirely possible that Carolina could stumble this season, but whatever the win/loss record, the ship has been righted. Coach John Bunting and the Tar Heels are ready to take off and they need you there cheering them on.
So, with a home schedule kicking off in just over four weeks that includes Texas and the hated Wolfpack, are you ready to Answer the Bell? Memories will be made -- will you be there to witness them?
Have any Kenan memories to share? Tell me about them at email@example.com.