Cowdog: Where Were You When You First Shunned The Baby Blue?

Originally published early morning of November 19, 2010

Here’s a great recollection of what it’s like to be a player in the State-Carolina game by long-time Statefans Nation reader and raconteur, Cowdog.  His tale takes us back to the 1972 State-Carolina game, one that older Wolfpack fans will probably never forget.  Enjoy! — Alpha

Everybody has a time and reason for making a life-long decision. I thought it might be fun to fire you up and get you recalling what it was that made you put the X in UNX and loathe the pastel blue.

I know where I was when it came to me, and if you feel like listening, I’ll tell you the story.

OK then…

I was in Kenan Stadium on the third Saturday afternoon of September 1972. This 18 yr. old freshman from Fredonia freakin’ New York was completely healthy, dressed and on the depth charts for the first time as a football player for the Red and White from NC STATE!

Actually, it was white over white with red lids and trim, white wristbands to the elbow and white spats. (Modified to go no higher than the ankles. Holtz rules on spats. )

(That was for you Highstick, if you’re listening.)

The Heels were ranked. We had tied Maryland in the opener and beaten Syracuse, and were on nobody’s radar. There I was, with a hundred Monarch butterflies ingested at pre game meal, or so I supposed. I was surrounded in light blue, with a fair share of red.

Crap, I’m getting ahead of myself. The question to the lead was… first shunned…

Midway through gearing up for practice on the first Monday before Carolina, in the bowels of Reynolds, I noted a lack of jocularity coming from the upperclassmen side of the locker room. They just weren’t cuttin’ up. Freshmen never cut up in the room.  Well, we did, in whisper-tone, amongst ourselves, but…we always wanted to hear what was goin’ on a couple of rows over. There was not much to pick up this day. Not for me anyway, ‘til we hit the practice field.

After quick drills, which were Lou’s form of calisthenics, we broke into positional units like we always did prior to game plan practice. For us wides it pretty much consisted of pairing up and throwing the ball to each other for about ten minutes with the “passer” doing his best to make the partner try to come up with the most ridiculous sideline catch ever.

On this day Steve Lester was my partner. Steve Lester was the  “other” starting senior wide out in 1972.  It was Lester who taught me how to take out a pitch man.

Before I threw my first pass to him that day, I heard him say, “Angelo.”

I kinda looked at him funny, like I expected more to follow.

“Lou Angelo,” as he snatched my quite less than perfect spiral.

When I asked him what heck he was talking about, I received no answer, just a nifty little bullet about 3 inches off the ground. The rest of the drill went pretty much silent, and Holtz’s whistle blew, signaling us to  “line it up!”

Practice was routine that day, getting the package for Saturday’s gamer installed. After dinner, the offense watched a little film of the Carolina defense versus Maryland’s from a few weeks past.

The thing about film was that for us wide outs, there really wasn’t a whole lot of information to be gathered. Very few teams ran the Twin Veer, so it was tough picking up tendencies watching a future opponent defend an I-formation. The best you could do is try and find the pitchman in zone and man coverage. The problem is, sometimes the outside LB was it, sometimes the safety, and even the DE. You never really knew until the play was in motion against the Veer.

Maybe midway through the session I saw a safety, # 11, put a wicked hit on a back that had lined up as a flanker. A bunch of “oohs” and “aahs” followed from the room.

Someone muffled,  “there’s your boy, Pat.” That didn’t seem to go over very well.

“Fuck him.”  That came from Lester. I looked over at Pat Kenney for a reaction.

Nope. Nothin’. Maybe a squint. The session soon ended, and for the second time that day, I was left with this question mark balloon over my noggin. I wanted to ask what just happened back there, but as a freshman dressing out for the first time, I felt that if they don’t tell ya, you don’t ask.

Tuesday’s practice was quite remarkable. The guys were really getting at it with each other. It was a mean practice, filled with plenty of expletive adjectives and verbs being tossed around, usually describing Carolina. I was beginning to think that this might not be just another game to win. Over dinner, Don Buckey broke a silence at our freshman round table. “ Hey. Who is Lou Angelo? “ I looked up and asked him where he had heard that name. “ Steve Lester said it to me today. He wouldn’t tell me who it was.” I told Buckey about hearing the name from Steve the day before, but knew nothing either.

As we walked out of Case for the evening, I spied Lester. I had to know. I gave Buck a head twitch and we caught up to the guy with the answer. Buck said it first.

“ Who is Lou Angelo? “

Lester looked at us like we had leprosy or sumpthin’.

“ He broke his jaw! On a cheap hit! “ Lester was pointing, pointing up ahead at Pat Kenney. He what? Pat? Kenney, our all everything? The player I had hoped to emulate? Broke his jaw on a cheap hit? Angelo, now I got it. Number 11.

Boys and girls, by Thursday, I had a whole new take on Saturday’s game. I not only was flushed by the prospects of playing in my first college game, but understood that I was now involved in some thick subplots. I was beginning to catch the current of despise for the coming opposition. Should I play Saturday, I was going to find a way to make Lou Angelo look bad. If the situation were to present itself, even make him pay without doing something cheap.

Midway in the third quarter, Carolina went up by 14. We came right back with a TD of our own. That’s the way the game had been going all afternoon. They’d pull ahead; we’d come back within striking distance. We played from behind, and we played with confidence. I had managed to play two complete series by the end of the third quarter. They were very unremarkable minutes. Nothing really came my way. Most of the plays were spent running off the corner or just chasing to get a pad on someone across the field.

At the outset of the 4th quarter, Carolina had punted and we took possession. Holtz threw up two fingers, meaning I was about to get another series. We moved the ball pretty well, with Roland Hooks picking up most of those yards out to about midfield. We stalled though. In fact on 3rd and long, I finally had a chance to make a play. I ran a sharp 7-yard slant and had no one in front of me. It just wasn’t meant to be as Buck’s pass got batted down at the line of scrimmage. Well, punt ithe ball was to be, so I stayed on the field.

I held my block until the thud and headed downfield, one on the ball the other on anything in blue. Pat Korsnick had kicked a beauty. It was high, deep, and to my side.

At around the 10yrd line I picked up the ball again. The return man was backing off, this one was gonna’ be mine baby! At that moment, I got lambasted. Hit from the side and behind my knees, my arms stretched forward while my legs were planted two inches into the sod. The ball trickled into the end zone.

I was pissed! As I reached behind me to pull the sonofabitch that just got me off, I saw two things at once. On the shoulder pads of the player was numeral 11. On the ground next to me was a pretty, little yellow hankie. We untangled and I got up first on shell-shocked pins. I extended a hand to pull #11 up along with the words,  “helluva play Lou.” Something else was uttered about cheap shot, maybe his mother, too.

The defense kept ‘em right down there and on 4th down, Mike Stultz did what he did best that year. He took their punt to the house, man, 27-27 with 6 and change to go.

The Tar Heels mounted a time consuming drive and with under 2 minutes left, punched it in for the go ahead score. Lou collected the offense and exclaimed “hey! hey! we’re gonna’ score!” And down the field the O went with a Bruce Shaw bullet here and a Bruce Shaw bullet there. I think we had a big gainer on a draw by Willie Burden too. With 00:02 and the ball resting on Carolina’s 26, we used the last time out.

Shaw came over and we listened to the call. Of course the guys on the sideline were a wreck, with the Baptist boys praying and the Catholic boys trying to cut deals, and the rest of the faiths putting theirs’ on the offense.

“ Left opposite Jet and Go. “ Lou released his grip on Shaw. The play put Lester wide to the right on the line of scrimmage. Pat Kenney would be the slot about seven yards inside of Lester. Lester would run a deep post, Kenney would cross under and run a wheel.

It seemed like the ball hung in space forever near the back corner of the endzone. To my line of sight, there was nothing but that baby blue in the area. Then superman sans cape but with a big 25 on his chest flew from nowhere over the corner, and over # 11.

Touchdown. With the clock at 00:00 and the scoreboard at 34-33 and the crowd in anguish mixed with holy glee, Holtz managed to get the entire team together on the sidelines. “Men, its up to you. Go for the tie or go for two? “ You probably already know the answer to that question.  We were going for two.  We were going for the win!

Lou called for a middle screen. Charley Young would be the recipient.

Looking up, the clock was burned in at 00:00 and so too, the score, 34-33.

The play  failed.

We lost.

Later in the locker room, Lou would tell us that the play was the worst he’d ever called.

Yeah, we were hurt, but we were also fiercely proud heading to the field house.

As we made our way on the cinder track to that field house, the Carolina band’s horn section was lined up on the edge of that track serenading us with a mocking rendition of “Ol’ MacDonald.” As I passed in front of the tubas, one blasted off a note not 6” from my ear hole. I don’t know what possessed me, but I bent over, grabbed a handful of gravel, and rammed it right down that fat bastard’s horn.

I never looked back and I’ve never looked at THAT color, that awful Carolina blue, with the same eyes since.

Big Four Rivals NCS Football NCSU Sports History

47 Responses to Cowdog: Where Were You When You First Shunned The Baby Blue?

  1. wufpup76 11/19/2010 at 7:25 AM #

    Very cool … thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. goforit 11/19/2010 at 7:31 AM #

    luv it cowdog.

  3. McCallum 11/19/2010 at 8:19 AM #

    The story reminds me of the time “someone” stole all the old ACC team banners out of Reynolds. Those would be the wooden banners that ringed the 2nd level of Reynolds. The State banner went up over the bar and it is still there. One brother had an old friend at Tech so he wanted that one, another guy was from Merryland and he attended Leftys basketball camps as a kid, and then there was one from the Lucky Sperm Club (wake) which went to a guy from Winston, then the one from Duke……..a friend of a friend was an old alum so he’d get that one and so it went until the carolina wooden banner came out of the pile.

    BURN IT!! 30 to 40 guys all at once………….BURN IT!!!

    And so we did as the last bonfire in down town Raleigh shimmered through our upturned King Cobra bottles.

    McCallum

  4. VaWolf82 11/19/2010 at 9:19 AM #

    What a great read. Thanks CD!

  5. LRM 11/19/2010 at 9:29 AM #

    Cowdog is easily my favorite SFN poster.

  6. WV Wolf 11/19/2010 at 10:15 AM #

    I agree, that was a great read. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Where was I when I first shunned the baby blue? It was on my high school campus visit to Chapel Hill. Growing up in WV I didn’t get much ACC exposure, I knew UNC was a good school and Jordan went there so that’s where I wanted to go. Since State was nearby I visited there too, the folks at State all acted like they wanted me to come there. At UNC the attitude was more “we might let you come here”. The final straw was a story about a girl who was borderline getting accepted. For the personal statement portion of her application she sent a box that when opened, blue balloons floated out. They accepted her application. I never filled mine out. I refer to that as “the day I saw the error of my ways”

  7. Sweet jumper 11/19/2010 at 10:30 AM #

    Great post Cowdog. I remember that game. I was in junior high and listened on the radio. After the game, I recall Lou saying that we came to Chapel Hill to win, not tie(no overtime in those days). I think he gained a tremendous amount of respect from State fans with that move. He gained my respect anyway.

    My extreme dislike for all things blue is not a sentinel event like Cowdog’s but more collective. Throughout elementary school, many of my friends who were UNX fans were very obnoxious and haughty about Carowhina and looked down their noses at State fans. Dean had established himself as a legendary bball coach and Bill Dooley was a good football coach. I remember that everytime UNX lost, these kids always blamed the refs, the weather or anything or anybody other than the hallowed coaches and players. They never lost a game: they were always “robbed.” They also never complimented another team for beating them or playing them a good game. If State won or lost against UNX or anyone else, all I heard was Moo U, Cow College and crank up the tractors. Then we finally get the upper hand with Lou Holtz followed by Bo Rein coaching football and the bball team wins the National Champioship in 1974, and all I heard from them was that we cheated to sign David Thompson and should have never been national champs. Then Sheridan and Valvano get us back on track in football and basketball, and all I heard for 20+ years is that we are cheaters and would not have been successful without Valvano’s cheating. I have never rooted for the baby blues once in my life. I pulled for the Russians in the exhibition game in the early ’80’s. I am a likelong Pack fan and a lifelong ABC fan, and it has nothing to with jealousy and envy as the UNX fans like to claim. It has to do with a superior condescending attitude that goes back as far as I can remember in my 51 years. Now they are dealing with a real cheating and payoff scandal(not an assistant coach playing in a pickup game with David Thompson after he had already signed his LOI or some of Valvano’s players selling shoes and tickets without the coach’s knowledge) and they need to deal with it. They are the cheaters, and they probably always have been. They just finally got caught. I hope the NCAA brings the piledriver over to Chapel Hole in the near future. Watch out Roy.

  8. bradleyb123 11/19/2010 at 10:32 AM #

    Great story… except for not completing that two-point conversion. But in the mid-80’s, we beat the Holes in Chapped Hole by one when they failed to make their two point conversion. Their receiver caught the ball and trotted into the end zone, but his knee was on the turf when he made the catch. Play over. Game, set, match — Wolfpack!

    I can’t recall exactly when I finally shunned the Carolinx blue. My family were all Hole fans, including uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, the whole lot of them. MOST still are. I knew I wanted to either be an engineer, an architect, or a software engineer. So the only school I applied to was NC State. I thought I would remain a closet Hole fan while attending State, and I even wore a Carolinx shirt (under my outside shirt) on the trip down when I moved into Lee Dorm for the first time freshman year. I did it intentionally as a symbolic move that the Holes were still my “real” team. Yes, I’m ashamed of that. It’s one of my few regrets in life.

    All I know is it didn’t take me long to figure out that NC State was MY school. One day it would be MY alma mater. And before my first semester was over, I came to HATE the Carolinx blue with a fiery red-hot passion. Today I feel like I have NEVER been a Hole fan, but my mind does still have the memory of it. I will NEVER pull for them again, except when their win helps State, like them beating FSU this year did. Otherwise, I’d pull for the Taliban against those a-holes.

    GO PACK!!!

  9. albunde6 11/19/2010 at 10:59 AM #

    Alpha Wolf, thanks for sharing your experience. It makes me boil inside everytime I think about the “goats” and this game. Wish Coach Holtz was a part of the university on a daily basis. Character, competition, class can be exist in college football.

  10. Homeboy 11/19/2010 at 11:02 AM #

    ^^ Sorry, but have you seen Holtz on ESPN in the last few years?

    He’s an embarrassment, sad to say.

  11. choppack1 11/19/2010 at 11:06 AM #

    Great stuff Cowdog!

    And like you – I’d rather avoid that place all together – especially this year because I feel like this whole thing, rather than embarassing them has emboldended them.

  12. Mike 11/19/2010 at 11:10 AM #

    I moved here when I was 9 from a pro sports city, and had never been truly exposed to college athletics. I was told I had to make a choice between the light blue or the red. Since my new neighbors were blue, I went along for the ride through high school. However, I still rooted for the red and white as #2 and did not see the hated rivalry.

    A miracle run of 1983 in hoops started to change things, and soon I realized this was where I wanted to go to school. Even after I was admitted and State moved up on my list, I still found a way to root for the blue except when they were against us.

    This all changed my senior year of 1989, when I met Mack Brown. What an arrogant jerk – coming off his first 1-10 season, I was covering the ACC Operation Kickoff in Pinehurst, golf, tennis, and a weekend of press conferences. All he did was whine, make excuses, and blame the players for the 1-10 season, because he and his staff had prepared them properly and they just did not execute. I thought I was going to throw up. I suddenly realized that Mack Brown was the epitome of UNX whiners everywhere and I too had had some of the kool-aid. Now, the only time I root for them might be if they are playing the Taliban, and even then there is some hesitation, LOL.

  13. durhamwolf19 11/19/2010 at 11:11 AM #

    I shunned the baby blue watching the 1972 NC State basketball team beat UNC 85-84 in Reynolds on TV when the fans rushed the court and completely took over the entire court. Paul Coder scored the last 7 points as State came back from a 6 pont deficit. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen at the time.

  14. Homeboy 11/19/2010 at 11:15 AM #

    What can we do to help Carolina fans to see State as their true rivals?

    Many of the Carolina fans I know say that they don’t really hate NCSU because they’re both public schools made to serve the people of NC, and they see lots more in common with State people than the yankees spending daddy’s money over in Durham.

    I see their point, but I don’t necessarily agree.

    How do we encourage a healthy rivalry and make them understand?

  15. coach13 11/19/2010 at 11:22 AM #

    I hate to admit but I am actually a convert. I grew up a UNC fan. It was not until I was approaching graduation that things changed. I applied to both schools. I was thinking Carolina but I was strong in math and considering engineering too. I was accepted to State and UNC put me on a waiting list. I was shortly thereafter accepted into UNC, but I was a bit ticked to be put on a wait list and took it as a sign. I did not care for State as a fan initially, but started attending some games, getting into it. Somewhere in there are started noticing when State did well at anything it never got much attention, and UNC could sneeze and it was news. I guess growing up in my youth I didn’t notice the incredible bias of the media. I just though UNC was better. I am a stickler for fairness and earning what you get or don’t get. Finally as I had grown up with several Carolina fans around home, when I would see them and sports came up, it wasn’t te same as I remembered it. Suddenly they were arrogant and condescending…to me! WTF? Assholes! Was I like that before? The seed of hatred bloomed. My love for the Wolfpack grew, and with it my disdain for Carolina and powder blue. I graduated from State in 96. I feel to this day UNC offers nothing educationally better than the degree I earned there. I will forver hate Carolina.

    Go Pack!!!!

  16. TheCOWDOG 11/19/2010 at 11:23 AM #

    ^ Homeboy, I get what you say, but there is absolutely no reason to make this a ” healthy” rivalry.

    Good stuff guys. Keep that ill will rollin’.

    Don’t let ‘em fool ya when they start spouting that “not a rival” crap.

  17. Homeboy 11/19/2010 at 11:29 AM #

    I see, COWDOG…what I mean by “healthy” is “reciprocal”…

    What needs to happen to stop them from the “not our rival” or “we don’t hate you” stuff?

  18. Prowling Woofie 11/19/2010 at 11:31 AM #

    My Dad was a Duke grad, my Mom was a Gamecock, so UNC had always been a cuss word in our house growing up.

    As a Senior in high school in Raleigh, I applied to UNC-CH for one reason, and one reason only – to turn them down !

    I had already applied to Washington & Lee University in Virginia, but wanted the satisfaction of saying ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to those baby blue bastards ;-)

    Money well spent…

  19. NCStatePride 11/19/2010 at 11:32 AM #

    #1 article I’ve read on SFN, bar-none.

  20. Homeboy 11/19/2010 at 11:36 AM #

    PW, where’d you go to HS?

  21. Sam92 11/19/2010 at 11:39 AM #

    i was raised on how great “Chapel Hill” was, and i came into my freshman year at State still loving them. i didn’t really start to get it until my sophomore year. i guess i had to actually be at state to appreciate how much they look down their noses at us. once that really sank in i got my priorities straight.

  22. Daily Update 11/19/2010 at 11:41 AM #

    Finally read this. Thanks for contributing. Great story.

  23. wolf_at_my_door 11/19/2010 at 11:52 AM #

    I have hated ANYTHING Carolina, News & Observer and Daniels family since I drew my first breath in 1953. You see my dad graduated from State in 1938 and worked for North Carolina Equipment Co. and Mr. Finley.

    GO STRAIGHT TO HELL CAROLINA AND STAY THERE!!

  24. Packfan28 11/19/2010 at 11:57 AM #

    Wow! Great read. It had me mesmerized. COWDOG, you should be a mystery writer. A thriller to the end. But write a happier ending next time. You win the game and after you dump gravel into one end of the tuba, you rip the other end out of the guy’s mouth and shove it up his ass.

  25. bradleyb123 11/19/2010 at 12:00 PM #

    What I don’t get is why so many Wal*Mart fans (or the trailer park contingent, as I like to call them) love Carolinx so much. Most will never set foot on that campus, except maybe to watch a game. But what they don’t realize is how much actual UNX students would look down their noses at them. Why would they LOVE a school that would treat them like that, I’ll never understand. Actually, I do. They just don’t know it. And they need to pull for a winner, so they chose the one that has won the most games over the years.

    If only they knew the truth.

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