Mike: Bryant Flashback

Tommy Ashley brought up a painful memory this week when writing about Saturday's matchup with Georgia Tech. His reference to Kelvin Bryant's knee injury sustained against the Jackets down at Grant Field reminded me just how close the Heels were to bringing home a National Championship that year – and also reminded me just how much I despise Astroturf.

Now I know that a healthy Kelvin Bryant would not have ensured Carolina winning it all that year as Clemson, Maryland, and Nebraska would have certainly had a few things to say before all was said and done. But not unlike the injury which felled Kenny Smith in 1984, the '81 football Heels were gaining locomotive steam up until his injury and were never quite the same in his absence and later in his somewhat hampered return.

Yes, injuries are part of the game, but I have always believed that Astroturf injuries are ones which shouldn't be happening. Like it or not, football is an outdoor sport, meant to combat the heat, rain, cold, or snow. Injuries do occur on natural grass, but turf injuries tend to occur at a higher rate and often with much greater severity.

Of course, it's crazy to blame one school for an injury that occurred over 20 years ago which may or may not have had an impact on a team's season, isn't it? Yes, it is, but it is also the prerogative of a fan.

The problem with Tech is that the Astroturf grudge, while painful and historically significant – especially after a few Jack and Cokes – is a testament to how deep I have to go to dredge up any real dislike for the Yellow Jackets. I hate to admit it, but there are things to admire about the bees from Atlanta.

As far as tradition is concerned, Georgia Tech has the best overall football history of any team in the ACC. It's true that the Jackets were originally part of the SEC before their independence and subsequent jump to our fair conference, but I am given to believe that they had too much going on upstairs and not enough going under the table to really fit with the SEC. (In the same way, it's clear that South Carolina was always an SEC team waiting to happen.)

Heck, I have to admit that "Ramblin Wreck" and "Up with the White and Gold" are two of my favorite football songs to hear on a crisp football Saturday and the opponent doesn't hail from Chapel Hill. I would definitely prefer not to hear much of those tunes tomorrow, though.

Thankfully, the players will be motivated by different and more important ideas, such as a chance to show improvement after the two weeks of back to basics camp on defense, and the opportunity to play against their former defensive coordinator, Jon Tenuta. Moreover, there are only a few, if any, players on the current Carolina team who have participated in a victory over Tech – the only team in the ACC for which that is true.

Personally, though, I'm hoping the Heels win this one for Kelvin, and what might have been in 1981.

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