Fourth and Long
As any regular reader of my column knows I am an unapologetic and die hard Carolina fan. I am also married to a Tar Heel supporting, but Buckeye born and bred Ohio native.
Throughout our relationship I have been amazed at the number of similarities between North Carolina and Ohio. That would explain why so many of them come down here to visit and never go home. It started with the Wright brothers and hasn’t stopped since. I am certain their desire to fly stemmed from their need to get from Ohio to North Carolina more quickly.
Both states have large amounts of flat land dedicated to farming. Both states have beaches. North Carolina’s beaches look out over the Atlantic Ocean and Ohio’s beaches face Lake Erie, but still both are beaches… kinda (great lakes look like oceans when your feet are in the water).
The biggest similarities between the two states are the people that reside in them. Both states are filled with small communities comprised of friendly and prideful people that have a real passion for sports.
With all that has happened recently with the University of North Carolina and Ohio State University football programs the parallels between the two state schools and fan bases have been greater than ever.
Despite their similarities I have noticed one major difference that I think will never change, the sports with which both fan bases are passionate about.
Ohio State football has been through some rough times as of late, however the basketball program has flourished. The Buckeyes enter this year’s NCAA tournament as a pick by some to win it all. Buckeye nation is encouraged by the success of their hoops program and excited about the possibility of making a run to the Final Four.
Despite their excitement it has become clear to me that any basketball success, no matter how great, will still play second fiddle to the football program.
Ask Ohio State fans if they could choose to win 10 men’s basketball national championships in a row, but it would mean a decade of losing to the state up north (Michigan) in football if it would be worth it and you might be surprised by the answer.
I asked a few Ohio friends and it became apparent to me that Buckeye fans would rather beat the Wolverines and simply contend for a Big Ten title in football than win a national championship in basketball.
This seemed ridiculous to me until the question was changed a bit and asked to me. Would it be worth it to play for and win BCS championships in football if it meant losing to Duke every time UNC played them in basketball?
The thought of a crystal football on display in the Charlie Justice Hall of Honor makes me giddy and as far as this Tar Heel is concerned it would be well worth the losses to Duke in basketball for one season if it meant winning it all on the gridiron.
The thought of losing to Duke year in and year out, however is unthinkable no matter how many football championships Carolina might win.
In Ohio football rules all and in the great state of North Carolina basketball is king. Don’t believe me, ask State fans if they would trade one of their five consecutive football wins for a victory over Carolina in basketball and I bet they would jump at the chance.
Maybe next year Wuffies, but I sure hope not.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.