Duke has Pig Flu – UNC has “Stunted Growth Syndrome”

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):

The Good
-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.)


28 Responses to Duke has Pig Flu – UNC has “Stunted Growth Syndrome”

  1. Wufpacker 08/19/2009 at 7:13 PM #

    In response to the first half of the title, it must have started in the cheerleading squad.

    Yeah, I said it. And if I hadn’t someone else would have.

    Edit – just to add that “endemic” is usually used as an adjective to describe an expected or common trait or characteristic of a place or people. “Pandemic” is probably the word better used above…pretty much means the same thing but in noun form. Not saying you’re wrong technically, but in the medical and epidemiological world that is usually how the terms are used.

  2. McPete 08/19/2009 at 7:31 PM #

    If UNC has a few injuries on the offensive line, they will really have a young and inexperienced line. it would be very bad for them. They have only 3 guys that have started a single game on the O line (they have one upperclassman who moved from defense). if that line can’t run block, their offense will be in serious trouble.

    I’m just glad it’s almost time to make these preseason predictions totally useless; only two weeks till kickoff. I am guilty of reading all of it, but i’m ready to shut up some South Carolina fans.

  3. Wufpacker 08/19/2009 at 7:34 PM #

    “This site also explains in their 2009 UNC Football Preview that the Tarheels like ‘em young”

    Now thats funny right there. I won’t yield to the temptation to comment further, though. I already tempted karma with the first post.

  4. Cardiac95 08/19/2009 at 7:44 PM #

    What was that line from the Smack Brownie days? “They practically have an embryo starting at Left Tackle…” or something like that.

  5. StateFans 08/19/2009 at 8:08 PM #

    How great is this frickin entry? Thanks so much, GAWolf!

    Mack Brown was the KING of always whining about being so young.

    Do you remember that sports caster/comedian who ended up in Indianapolis that used to be a weekly guest on 106.1 WRDU (I think of Fridays)? His name was Mark (something).

    He had a great imitation of Mack and used to say some of the funniest stuff in relation to Mack’s constant posturing about their perpetual ‘youth’.

    Speaking of old RDU…Bob the Blade was a big supporter of the origins of the SFN team – the old InfoPacks. He was a reader and would share stuff with us from time to time.
    I remember

  6. Clarksa 08/19/2009 at 8:54 PM #

    ^Not sure if you’re in the area…but Blade is on 96.1 afternoons now…

  7. Tar Heel Fan 08/19/2009 at 9:24 PM #

    Two of the top three receivers are young. The offensive line is getting younger by the day it seems. The rest of the team is good and seasoned so any talk of youth is…shall we say…a tad lazy on the part of the writers. This UNC fan ain’t buying it. The better word is unproven.

  8. TheCOWDOG 08/19/2009 at 9:37 PM #

    GAWolf, glad to see that you have a bit more time for summations away from court tort.

    What you have stated in your opening is worthy of Nancy Grace getting pancaked by the slot guy.

    Hey…well done!

    I’m young too, 55 and going on next year. In fact, with everything I’ve got goin’, I should be ranked in the top 15 for sure!

    Damn, I’ve forgotten my Ponce De Leon story

  9. packpigskinfan23 08/19/2009 at 9:59 PM #

    This is one of the best pieces that SFN has done.
    Great work GAWolf!!

  10. wolfonthehill 08/19/2009 at 10:12 PM #

    Tar Heel Fan – When you’re QB’s a 3rd-year starter, your RB’s quite solid, and your line comes back with experience, you’re neither young nor unproven. You’re a college football team from which some folks graduated.

    Get over it, stop making excuses, and realize that every college team is unproven before the season begins. Every single one. The rest of us don’t whine about it & make excuses, just in case you fail to live up to preseason expectations. We just accept that it’s college football & make the best of it.

  11. highstick 08/19/2009 at 10:15 PM #

    Yea, and one of those young UNC students that keyed my danged car in Chapel Hole last night has started a war with me. I better not see a car with a Tarhole sticker anywhere near me in the dark cause I’m gonna pay back the parents of the slimeball that they procreated! If it takes me forever~

  12. highstick 08/19/2009 at 10:16 PM #

    Cowdog, stopped by and saw the “best second baseman” this afternoon. Will update you, but he’s looking forward to seeing or hearing from you.

  13. GAWolf 08/19/2009 at 10:21 PM #

    I think Tarheelfan was saying that he, for one, doesn’t think it’s a legitimate story every year. And truthfully, they are young at places but some of those places are positions where guys have been “shown the door” in some sketchy way or the other. And that’s the “rest of the story” as Paul Harvey would say….

  14. TheCOWDOG 08/19/2009 at 10:40 PM #

    Got ya ‘Stick and for any Wolfcracker that gives a rat’s ass, the best 2nd baseman to EVER play for you/us is Jerry ( freakin’ ) Mills!

  15. rdjennin 08/19/2009 at 10:52 PM #

    I know this probably isn’t the right place for this, but I’m looking to buy a couple of tickets for the South Carolina game, if anybody is or knows someone who is looking to sell a couple of tickets, or even just one. let me know.

    [email protected]

  16. McCallum 08/20/2009 at 5:05 AM #

    Wonderful article!!

    We all know the slogans preached over in chapel hill should things go wrong:

    1) we played poorly

    2) the other team played the best game in the history of their school

    3) we were cheated

    now we have a 4th entry that will pour from the lips of Woody Durham like the timeless water rolling across the rocks of the Cullasaja River.

    These tar heals are young.


  17. BJD95 08/20/2009 at 6:18 AM #

    The Holes have a fetus and a toddler with a lazy eye in the two deep. True story.

  18. GAWolf 08/20/2009 at 6:34 AM #

    Stuart Scott has a kid???? And he plays football at UNC??????????

  19. JEOH2 08/20/2009 at 9:07 AM #

    RIP Paul Harvey…

    Great entry…

    Excuses are Tools of the Incompetent
    Which Build Monuments of Nothingness
    Those Who Engage in Them Seldom Succeed in Life

    The Men Which We Strive to Be
    Do Not Abuse, Misuse
    Nor Do We Excuse…Excuses

  20. VaWolf82 08/20/2009 at 12:08 PM #

    Great job!

    (Would this be a bad time to point out that some State fans never run out of excuses either?)

  21. Wufpacker 08/20/2009 at 2:46 PM #

    ^ Sad, but true.

  22. bradleyb123 08/20/2009 at 3:08 PM #

    ^^^ “This is one of the best pieces that SFN has done. Great work GAWolf!!”

    I have to agree. This was an excellent read. As I was reading the Carolina part, I had a half-smirk/half-smile on my face the whole time. How lame is that, claiming to be a “young team” for so many consecutive years. And even if they are, it’s of their own doing.

    I look forward to this year. State games should be fun to watch, and Carolina games will be fun to watch if Yates is running for his life on nearly every play because their weak (young?) O-line can’t protect him.

    There is potential for this to be an all around great year for State fans!

    If we can only start off the season with a win over the chickens!

  23. tjfoose1 08/20/2009 at 4:54 PM #

    “Edit – just to add that “endemic” is usually used as an adjective to describe an expected or common trait or characteristic of a place or people. “Pandemic” is probably the word better used above…pretty much means the same thing but in noun form.”

    Actually, a pandemic is a widespread epidemic, a la the influenza pandemic of the early 20th century.

  24. highstick 08/20/2009 at 7:12 PM #

    Good to talk to you this morning, Cowdog!! Glad you’re going to make that trip south to see Jerry!! He’ll appreciate the visit. You might introduce yourself as “Guido from Fredonia” and you’ve come to collect a past due payment.

    You might be a little difficult to disguise though!

  25. packpowerfan 08/20/2009 at 11:01 PM #

    Highstick I can’t be allowed near cars with non-permanent UNX memorabilia. I made a promise to my friends that if I see any exterior decals or magnets in Raleigh, we throw them in the woods. THAT’S RIGHT UNX FANS…YOU BRING THAT CRAP TO MY SCHOOL AND I’LL THROW YOUR $30 MAGNET IN THE EFFING WOODS.

    So far I’m easily over $200 dollars in throw magnets and stickers, and yes, I am very proud of this rebellion. Almost Barrel Monster-eqsue.

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