Duke football is dealing with a near-epidemic case of Swine Flu, and to date there isn’t much you can do to avoid a random H1N1 attack. You could obviously help your odds a bit by wearing a mask to work, confining yourself to a bubble, and/or canceling your vacation to that third-world-country paradise resort. But what sort of life is that? In all seriousness, we wish all of the Duke players a speedy recovery. Honestly.
(Quick lesson on words before we move on: an epidemic is typically a rare disease/virus that strikes a relatively small cross section of a group in a small amount of time. It is not considered normal. An endemic, to the contrary, is an affliction that becomes so regular as to be expected. Someone living in Africa might expect to get malaria at some point in his life because it’s so widespread and common, and therefore malaria in Africa is an example of an endemic as opposed to an epidemic.)
Perhaps even scarier than the H1N1 outbreak in Durham is what’s going on just a few miles away in Chapel Hill. Doctors are baffled by it, sports writers are mesmerized by it, and the rest of us just can’t believe it. There’s an endemic that has manifested itself in the rank and file of the UNC Football team since Butch Davis was hired. One would think that a University with a nationally acclaimed medical school would know a little something about nutrition, exercise, love, and whatever else might help perpetuate the maturation process of young men in their late teens and early twenties. It seems, however, such is not the case: the Tarheels have got a serious case of the Stunted Growth Syndrome.
Butch Davis and the UNC Tarheels have, yet again, provided a crutch to fall back on should they fail to meet the lofty expectations placed on them by the media. The problem is that they’re young, and that finally leads us to the million dollar question:
How many years in a row can one team be young?
The Bleatcher Report is “going out on a limb” (with a safety net) with this prediction:
There are a lot of unknown variables with this young team, but the talent, explosiveness, and speed is there. I am willing to go out on a limb and say the University of North Carolina Tar Heels will win 10 games in 2009, and will play in the ACC Championship Game.
BCS or Bust???
Our good friends Heather Dinich and T.J. Yates (who has miraculously avoided affliction of this disease as an upperclassman – Junior) also believe the 2009 Tarheels are young but capable.
This site also explains in their 2009 UNC Football Preview that the Tarheels like ‘em young. But how young?
But wasn’t that the story last year??? Mr. Tarheel blogged two games into the 2008 season that UNC was “a good young team on their way to an 8 win season.” Even the folks over at Carolinablue.com used the “youth excuse” to wane expectations for UNC’s 2008 bowl game against WVU (good thing they did since the Heels fell to the Mountaineers 31-30). They reported last year:
Although perennial powers Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), and Florida State are all expected to significantly improve in 2009, it appears that the Tar Heels are on pace to keep up with them. They are young and, by all accounts, have a solid recruiting class coming in for next year. Right now, however, the focus is on Charlotte and the West Virginia Mountaineers (8-4, 5-2 Big East). Heels fans will be ready to talk about 2009 on Sunday, preferably with a bowl win in the rearview mirror.”
Talk about what in 2009? Oh right. They’ll talk about just how young they are… I mean like footie-pajamas-young?
So that means the Heels must have been loaded with Seniors and Juniors in 2007, right? I mean it goes to reason if they were so young in 2008 and continue to be in 2009 then the attrition in 2007 due to graduation must have been ungodly. Right? RIGHT?
Wrong. The Sporting News in 2007 reported that preseason workouts left Coach Davis hoping that the inexperienced Tar Heels would learn fast. In 2007 UNC reported their youth as a cause of concern for the year ahead. Specifically, this was said:
“Calling the Tar Heels inexperienced barely begins to describe it. Of their 84 scholarship players, 59 are either freshmen or sophomores, while only 10 are seniors – meaning that Saturday’s opener against James Madison will be as much about on-the-job training as starting the Davis era in Chapel Hill.”
After the 4-7 2007 season for the Tarheels, the Bleacher Report dubbed the program a “Young Squad on the Rise”.
The 2007 Bleacher Report pointed out “The Good” for UNC football fans to look forward to (presumably in 2008 and certainly at least in 2009):
-Many returning talented underclassmen now having seen experience
-Good redshirted talent looking to play next year along with incoming freshmen
-The young team gets older and loses only 10 scholarship seniors
-A year of Butch Davis Ball under their belts
-Greg Little emerged as a superstar RB in the last two games
So what is really going on here?
Now I was no math major at State College, but I majored in most everything else before I finally found a way to graduate. With the help of a friend and with the knowledge I gained from one of those random “numbers” classes, I think I can figure this one out using the information provided by The Sporting News. That SHOULD mean that of the 84 scholarship players on this year’s UNC roster, 59 SHOULD be Juniors and Seniors. Now that should be correct in a vacuum. A “vacuum” is that place where you have no Butch Davis Waiver Wire (as previously discussed here at SFN), no arrests, and no injuries, both real and maybe real (we’ll also discuss the topic of convenient career-ending injuries at a later date).
You see the Tarheels are young only because under Davis the program has conveniently gutted the upper classes to make room for incoming players. (Again, this topic will be addressed more directly by SFN in the near future.) Truthfully, this is an issue of their own making… if it’s an issue at all.
And that leads me to the only logical conclusion: The Heels whining about being young this year is like “that girl” who is a complete bitch to every guy she meets yet incessantly complains that she can’t find or keep a boyfriend. Someone should just smack ‘em in the head already.
(This story derives from an interesting conversation between the Wilson brothers and me over email. Sorry, Ladies, these are not “The Wilsons” from Hollywood, CA but rather the (only slightly) less famous Wilson brothers from Scotland Neck, NC. Thanks for the links.)