Amato's "Song" & A Fan Comparison
Quite a few N.C. State fans took umbrage with what I wrote in last week's Musings regarding Chuck Amato's recruiting practices. Unfortunately, I mistakenly failed to place quotations around the passage that read, "Amato called Davis right before national letter of intent day last February and sang a song to him over the phone, luring the talented athlete to Raleigh."
The quotations were intended to attempt mocking the situation, which had been blown out of proportion by some UNC fans, and was supposed to be another example of how this football rivalry is intensifying.
As the scribe who penned those words, I take full responsibility for the oversight. In one respect I am glad it happened, however, because the number of e-mails I received from N.C. State fans – which was at 47 when I stopped counting – lend more credence to my point about the escalating rivalry. Just why are State fans reading IC, and why would so many of them go to the extent of e-mailing a "Carolina graduate," for which I am not? (I did not attend school at any level in North Carolina – I attended school in Virginia)
The e-mailers' passion wasn't surprising, although some of the language certainly fed an NCSU stereotype. I have always enjoyed the ways of N.C. State fans. Wolfpackers are often quite different from UNC fans, and there are things to like and dislike about both sides.
State fans appear more passionate at games. They are louder, more supportive in wearing their colors, and seem to live and die by every shot or snap more than their rivals from Chapel Hill. Despite lots of losing over the past decade, they remain extremely supportive, and don't take winning for granted. And the atmosphere for excitement at Carter-Finley and old Reynolds Coliseum blows away Kenan Stadium and the Dean Dome, although the ESA needs some work.
But most of them also have much bigger chips on their collective shoulders. They think every journalist in the state went to UNC and is out to get the Wolfpack. They appear to get more satisfaction out of a UNC failure than a State success. They still think the Tar Heels get all the calls too, and that their football program has been more successful than UNC's, which isn't even debatable. Although I have no scientific evidence to support this claim, this must come from having some blood ties with those purple folks from Greenville!
Carolina fans are extremely supportive in a more quiet way. They donate whatever funds are needed for building and upgrade projects, prompting the question if it is mandated in Chapel Hill to constantly build sports-related structures? Does UNC feel a particular need to show they can build anything at a finger snap, as if cognizant folks aren't already aware of the Finley Golf Course, the soccer and field hockey upgrades, and of course, that Kenan Stadium renovations and the Dean Dome were paid for with private money? Most real UNC fans follow the Heels on the road, and are usually well informed about Tar Heel history as well as their opponents. Carolina passions are subtler, and usually treat guests with respect.
Carolina supporters, however, often come in all emotional shapes and sizes. As opposed to the knowledgeable fans I just mentioned, many "die hard" UNC fans I have interacted with are actually major league bandwagoners. It appears as if it isn't cool to wear school colors or cheer loudly at Kenan or the Smith Center. Too many guys and gals are on dates at both facilities, and mothers and children constantly travel up and down isles to restrooms and getting refreshments, especially at Kenan.
There are no chips on UNC shoulders. Instead, a great number of Tar Heels think success is a baby blue birthright. They arrive late and leave too early for basketball games, which has never made sense. Many are snobbish, and don't care much about what's going on in Raleigh because, well, that would mean they care! Get it?
I guess my point is pretty simple. As the rivalry intensifies, it becomes clearer that the differences between State and Carolina fans are about the same in the schools' colors. State fans are Popeye's chicken, mashed potatoes, baked beans and canned beer, while UNC fans – sorry folks, but Sam Cassell was on to something – are wine and cheese! For better or for worse, perhaps I'll drink a glass of wine at Carter-Finley this year and a cold can of Bud before a UNC game just to shake things up.
But then again, there's no need to blend these "cultures." It's what makes State State and Carolina Carolina. I wouldn't have it any other way.
This Week's Question
Do you think I am off my rocker or right on target with how I see most State and UNC fans? Remember, I did not indict all fans from either side, just the majority that I have experienced.
Last Week's Response
Last week I asked readers who the most underrated football player in UNC history is. Danny Glover, Jr., an attorney from Elizabeth City, N.C., wrote, "I agree with your pick of Stanicek as the most underrated player at UNC. At least he was the most underrated Tar Heel that I have ever watched. I can remember watching him make option pitches 10 - 25 yards downfield with either hand. There were several times where, from the bleachers it appeared that he had been tackled and the play was over, and then our running back would go sprinting down the sideline, and we were left to wonder how in the world Stanicek had delivered the ball to him from the pile of tacklers."
Andrew Jones is in his seventh year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also entering his fifth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.