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Fourth and Long

This is one of those weeks where I have a lot of things on my mind but none important enough to devote an entire column to, at least not yet. In the meantime I reckon I can just do one of my patent pending rant and rave columns.

I’ll start, like I always do, with Carolina Football. Despite all of the controversy and scrutiny surrounding the UNC football program, the Tar Heels continue to find ways to win. After starting the season 0-2 with losses to LSU and Georgia Tech, the boys from Chapel Hill have won three in a row including wins at Rutgers and at home against ECU and Clemson.

There are still kinks in the armor, however and if they hope to continue their winning ways then improvements will have to be made all around. The biggest need for improvement is from freshmen along the defensive line. While it is a lot to ask of a true freshman to play along the trenches so early, there is very little depth behind Tydreke Powell and Jordan Nix.

Putting all of the controversy aside for a moment, I don’t remember the last time I was so proud of a UNC football team than I am of the one that has been taking the field so far this year. It would have been very easy for those guys to allow themselves to wonder how the season could have been and not focus on doing what is necessary to make the season everything it can be.

They have not given up on their program, their coaches or their teammates. In return the 60,000 fans that come into Chapel Thrill every Saturday have not given up on them. Anyone that thinks football is finished at Carolina hasn’t paid a visit to Franklin Street this fall.

While a lot is being said about the ACC having a down year, I’m not certain I believe it. Virginia Tech is not as good as they usually are and Miami will never be as good as the national media hypes them or hopes them to be. That being said, Miami is still pretty good. Florida State is good and getting better every week and in case you haven’t heard N.C. State may be the most dangerous unknown team in the country.

Boston College is improving. So is Duke and North Carolina may be the best 3-2 team in the country. While the ACC may not be on the same level as say Big Ten or SEC, nobody is. We are not, however, the MAC as everyone else would have you believe.

Want the quickest rundown on the NFL you will hear all year?

The Carolina Panthers are awful. My beloved Dolphins are mediocre. Brett Favre is old. The Patriots are still good. The Jets are great and (gulp) getting better every week. Kansas City is very good and will get better. Dallas is overrated…again. The Bears are overrated, but no one knows it yet. Washington is getting better. So is Pittsburg.

Peyton is great, but the Colts are not. Eli is ok but his Giants are preparing to shock a lot of people. As for the rest of the league, nobody outside of their respective cities cares about their team. In Jacksonville’s case, nobody inside the city cares either.

Hockey season is here. Is anyone but my wife happy? They should shorten their season, it’s too soon (and warm) for hockey.

College basketball is almost here. I think I’m going to make the drive to the Dean Smith Center Friday and catch a little Late Night with Roy. I have never been and think with my wife out of town it would make for a nice fellas only road trip.

While I will spend plenty of time and space discussing ACC basketball in the future let me drop just one hint of what I expect this season. Don’t be surprised is ACC purists are happy and the conference’s best basketball is once again played in and around Tobacco Road. That includes State and Wake.

Before I finish I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the retirement of Bobby Cox. Cox is a legend and he will be missed not only in Atlanta but everywhere TBS is aired.

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.