Looking forward to this season

Published 10:10 am Friday, August 6, 2010

I have never hidden my loyalty and enthusiasm for all things Carolina but I have had a renewed passion for Tar Heel football following the university’s decision to commit the resources necessary to build a nationally competitive program.

The first step of that process took place years ago when the athletic department, the board of trustees, the chancellor and the Rams Club agreed that it was time to upgrade the athletic (primarily football) facilities on campus.

The plan they came up with encompassed multiple phases of construction and upgrades and, in the end, promises to provide one of the best athletic support centers in the country. Such a commitment paved the way for Athletic Director Dick Baddour to bring in a proven and successful coach.

The man they hired was Butch Davis and from the moment he stepped on campus people across the country began to take UNC Football a little more seriously. Since he took over the program Davis has not only managed to double the amount of wins from his first season, but he has ignited an interest in Tar Heel Football not seen since the 90s.

Any doubters were silenced when nearly 30,000 fans showed up for the annual Blue-White spring game. That becomes more impressive when you consider that there were conference games in the last decade that didn’t attract as many fans. The fact that it was broadcast nationally on ESPN also demonstrates the impact Davis has had on the program.

With fall practice beginning this week the Carolina Football program prepares to enter the fourth year of the Butch Davis era with a renewed optimism and raised expectations. Having consecutive 8-4 seasons with bowl game appearances has not only excited the masses, but has given them reason to want and expect more.

Gone are the days when UNC was not expected to win. The fans, the media and I expect the team itself knows that Carolina has the potential to beat every team they face this season.

In the end, isn’t that really what we as fans were hoping for when Butch arrived? The potential of this year’s football team is without bounds. Watching them strive to reach their potential is going to be a lot of fun. I know where I’ll be on Saturdays this fall…how about you?

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.