Fourth and Long

Published 10:13 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I do love this time of year.

It’s almost Christmas and I get to watch college football, college basketball and the NFL, heck even the NBA is returning soon.  My wife reminds me that they are playing hockey as well, but with everything else going on I haven’t had more than a few minutes to pay attention to it.

Hockey aside, here are a few observations from a rabid sports fanatic.

The Tim Tebow phenomenon has gotten a little out of control. I have never been a Florida Gator or Urban Meyer fan, but I have always enjoyed watching Tebow and his physical style of play. He surprised me with his effectiveness against NFL defenses and I have found myself cheering him on week after week.

While his will to win has been extraordinary the hoopla surrounding him has become ridiculous. Last week, Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater kicked a 59-yard field goal to send the game into overtime and a 51-yard field goal to win it in extra time. Regardless of such a clutch performance by the kicker, credit for the win in most media outlets was given solely to Tebow.

Apparently it was Tebow’s awesomeness that propelled the ball off of Prater’s foot 59 yards through the uprights. Tebow is fun to watch and more often than not the man can find a way to help his team win football games. I can only hope more people recognize what an incredible job his teammates have done of changing their style of play to accommodate Tebow and doing whatever it takes to win.

Former UNC quarterback T.J. Yates was thrust into the Houston Texans starting lineup a few weeks ago due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. All he has done since then was take control of the offense, earn his teammates respect and win football games.

While everyone is talking about Tebow no one has noticed that the Texans have earned a playoff berth with their third string rookie quarterback behind center. Yates has shown he belongs and it appears that the Texans have found their quarterback of the future.

Speaking of UNC football, it is now official that Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora will bring his spread offense attack to Chapel Hill. While it remains to be seen how his unique variation of the spread offense will work against the rest of the ACC, it does promise to make watching UNC football a little more exciting. I can only hope they erect a billboard with Fedora’s picture on it welcoming everyone to Chapel Thrill.

While much of the focus on his hiring has surrounded his offense, it is the prospect of him bringing the 4-2-5 defense to the UNC that really intrigues me. While it was successful in Conference USA few think it could be successfully employed against ACC competition. I am not so sure it can’t. Either way Fedora has already kept one promise, the excitement surrounding Carolina football continues to grow by the day.

I said earlier this year that I don’t remember a time when the eventual National Champion was so unpredictable. The season thus far has done nothing but support that opinion. While UNC has shown some kinks in the armor Kentucky, Ohio State and Syracuse continue to impress. It appears March may provide more madness than normal this season.

Kudos to UNC and Charlotte for providing an all North Carolina National Championship soccer match. The Tar Heels prevailed, but barely, and despite not being considered a serious contender, Charlotte proved against Creighton and UNC that they belonged.

I wonder what ended the NBA lockout faster, the threat of a settlement in court or the realization that nobody seemed to care that they weren’t playing.

I’m guessing a little bit of both.


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