This is The Drive with Josh Graham Podcast.
Tune into The Drive weekday afternoons 3-7 on Sports Hub Triad. This Saturday night, 730, it's Virginia, and every single game, our next guest, he said it pretty well after the game, the Tar Heels have become TV darlings. Those were the words of Mack Brown, North Carolina's head coach, who is kind enough to spend time with us now, following the Tar Heels' dramatic win over Duke. You are the all-time winningest coach now at North Carolina. Has that title set in?
Josh, it really has. At first, I thought, well, it really doesn't mean anything for me. It's really about all the great players and staff members and guys who were involved in those 73 wins. And very honestly, that's kind of insulting to the university because it does mean a lot to me that I was here and brought those guys here and that it does matter. So I'm very, very proud to be the winningest coach, understanding that it represents the players. And one of the fun things this weekend with it being homecoming and us being back and so many of our guys for those 10 years came back. And it was fun to see the smile on their face when we won the game and know that they had been part of those 73 wins and the guys that are currently on the team, too.
So it represents a whole lot more than just me. Saturday night's game, like every single one of your home games, sold out. And here's something that needs to be pointed out. Some people, when they hear games are sold out, they think, OK, that might be like tickets sold. It's not exactly what the crowd looks like.
I made this point several times. These are legit sellouts. Saturday was completely packed against the Blue Devils and I envisioned the same thing this weekend. But I wonder, is this the kind of following you envisioned when you took this job, when you decided to return back to Chapel Hill? Did you think this would happen so quickly?
I did not. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when we sold out all the season tickets so quickly. And then we come back and now we've sold out all the games except Mercer and it's down to a few tickets left. And not only are they buying the tickets, like you said, they're coming, but they're making a difference. When I was here before, I don't really remember the crowd making such a difference.
Now, we didn't have either end zone like they are now and it's much more, it's much better for noise. But they're impacting the game and they like it. And I can tell, and they're coming early and they're staying until the end of every game.
I know they're close, but a lot of people would still leave anyway. They're tailgating, they're having fun. So the environment right now, our fans, especially our students, our students have been great.
This is much more than I ever envisioned. I'm loving it. I asked you a few nights ago, what does it mean to you to play meaningful football in the month of November?
You just said, it's pretty fun to do that and it's fun to win. But when did you know you had a team that was capable of competing for a Coastal Division title in year one? I actually thought when, in the fall, when all the guys that missed spring practice on defense came back, I said, you know what? We got a chance.
And then Sam Powell came up. So I really felt like that we had a chance. So we win the first two and nobody thought we would.
I'm not even sure I did. And then we go and we don't play well at Wake Forest and they've got a good team. We have three turnovers against App State here and we lose late. So I'm really disappointed at this point and can't believe it.
And so it just got to a point there where you start thinking about what we could have been, what we could be, and now what we are. And we're back with a chance. We lost late to Clemson. We lose late in six overtimes to Virginia Tech. Those are disappointing games. But then you come back and you play well at Georgia Tech. Could have beaten them by more, but didn't.
But that's okay. We're getting better. And I thought, unlike Virginia Tech, Josh, Saturday night is the first time that we had a chance to put the game away and we fumbled. And when we did that last year against Virginia Tech, we didn't step up and stop them. And the stop Saturday night against Duke, I hope, will be a step forward of confidence for this team so they know when things start going poorly that we're not going to lose the game.
We've got to step up and find ways to win it. And the man who helped make that stop, Chaz Surratt, he made the play. And your team is becoming one of the best stories in college football, but him individually one of the best stories as well, flipping from quarterback to linebacker.
But that story's been covered enough. I'm now interested in Chaz Surratt, the linebacker, who he reminds you of as somebody who's coached plenty of NFL talent at that position. Josh, I haven't really thought about it because he's so new to the position. I would have to go back and check the many great linebackers we've played.
But he's going to be in that group. He's a guy I think will definitely be an NFL guy in another year. He needs some more time to really get all of his reads and his instincts going with exactly all the steps and things to do as a linebacker. But, you know, he's 230 pounds and runs four, four, five, four, five. He's an amazing athlete.
And I do think the fact that he knew the game so well on offense at quarterback has really speeded up his process in learning how to play linebacker. It's North Carolina head football coach Mac Brown with us on Sports Hub Triad. The first college football playoff rankings come out this week. Last year at this time you were analyzing who you thought would be in certain spots and whether it was the right rating or ranking or not. Clemson is a team that interests me because I wonder what you make of the way they continued to get knocked. They beat your team by a point on the road and they drop a spot in the rankings. Then they beat Louisville by 35 points, the same Louisville team that beat Wake Forest, a ranked team at the time a few weeks ago, beat Virginia this past weekend. And not only did Clemson win, they won by 35. They drop a spot as well last week in the AP poll. What do you make of it?
I think we're all fools. I think they're undefeated and they just won the national championship. And you go back and look at it, these guys had lost to Pittsburgh and won a national championship. They beat Syracuse on maybe the last drive of the game last year and they go win a national championship.
So I went through this at Texas. When you're as good as Clemson, every year the expectations get out of the roof. And we're the ones that make those expectations, not Clemson. And we make them so high that then if they don't live up to them, then it gets us. But if you look at Dabo's teams, they always play better at the end of the year than they do the beginning of the year.
And I think they're just about ready to take off. Boston College has got a really good team and they beat them, what, 52 to 7 or 14 or something. And you start beating people in the 50s now, you're pretty good. And poor Trevor Lawrence, that guy's only 6'6, can run like a deer and is a great passer and a number one pick if he goes out today.
And we criticize him like he's never won a game, he's never lost a game. So I think the ones that, it's probably an insult to us that people say, you nearly beat them. We played pretty well that day. So I think that Clemson's going to be right in the mix. They'll be in that battle forward. I look forward to probably seeing them in the championship game again.
Keeping your analyst hat on, how would you describe the state of the Coastal Division and what is called coastal chaos? I think it's just that every team is about alike. Every team has got a chance to win. The games that we've had have come down to the end every week except Georgia Tech. In fact, Jeremy Sharp, our director of communications, found out that we've had the closest games in our seven, other than Georgia Tech, of any team since 1936 when they started. So it's unbelievable what it comes down to.
Somebody asked me last week, what about Newton? I said, just come the last drive. You don't need to watch the rest of the game because it's going to come down to the last drive. And it did again. So we've got to play good to make sure Virginia comes down to the last drive because they're a really good team. But I would think this will be a great game Saturday night as well. You brought the dance moves back on Saturday, Coach, and a lot of people were talking about that.
But here's something you might find interesting. You share company in Chapel Hill in terms of loathing the way that they dance with North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams, who at late night with Roy, he did the electric slide. We ran into Coach a few weeks ago, and apparently Coach is not on social media whatsoever. He did not see your dance after the South Carolina game. So we asked him about it, and this is what Coach Williams had to say.
Ooh. I'm really glad my boy's really a good coach. Neither one of us is going to win in a dance contest, but I'm really glad he's a really good coach.
Your thoughts? I think that's fair. I hate dancing. I like winning. And when these guys tell me, you've got to promise us every time we win, you'll dance, that's what I mean, boys. I love it. I don't care. Coach Cutcliffe said that he and Roy and I should have a Dancing with the Stars.
I said, that'd be great. I'll judge it, and you two dance with the stars. I'm not dancing except for this team. And I got a little smarter this week, Josh.
I said the first one was so bad because I got caught off guard. I didn't know I was going to dance. But now that they're making me, I said, okay, give me a go-to move. If you'll give me one go-to move, I'll be okay, but you've got to change it up after every win. And hopefully, there's some more dancing out there for me because that's just something they're enjoying.
And if they're enjoying me making a fool out of myself, I'll keep making it. How would you describe your go-to move? It's awful. Every move I've got is awful. The dancing's awful. I think that's why people like it.
It's hilarious because it's so bad. And I'm willing to make a fool out of myself in front of these kids to win. And then you forget that our staff, who I should fire all of them, are videoing it and sending it out.
And I don't watch it when they send it out either. But Sally says, you really look bad. My poor wife Sally says, you know you look like a fool. And I said, we won the game.
I came back to win the game. So I'll put up with bad dancing. Coach Cutcliffe was on this show and he said, for the record, he was unafraid. So you can do the dance-off competition. You can judge it, Dancing with the Stars style, as Coach Williams and David Cutcliffe duke it out.
Maybe we'll ask Coach K, too. Appreciate the time and we'll see you Saturday night. Thanks, Coach. Thanks, Josh.
Thanks for having me on. That is Mac Brown, who continues to dance on. And Des, I don't know if you actually saw the dance moves that he had.
It's one of those arms crossing his chest. I think that's the feedback that he got. That's what he should do. But apparently our show has gotten to inside the walls because he heard what Coach Cutcliffe had to say.
Coach Cut was unafraid to dance there. And now Roy Williams' comments are on the radar of Mac Brown. I think a wise, wise man named Fat Joe wants that, you know, just lean back. Maybe he should just do that rockaway, that lean back two-step.
Not bad advice, or maybe just like the movie Knocked Up, you can do all you need is the one move. And for his, it was the dice roll. He's doing the dice roll too much. I think that's all he has. He's got to have the confidence. I do think Saturday night is going to decide the Coastal Division.
I really do. Virginia, North Carolina, 7.30 kick inside Keenan Stadium. Each of these teams, they only have three ACC games left, counting this one Saturday. So whoever wins it is going to be 4-2.
And that means they have the least room for chaos to happen. Two games left for North Carolina in conference play. You have Pittsburgh on the road and you have to go to NC State. Those are the last two games for North Carolina after this one.
I think it's going to be North Carolina Saturday night and I'll tell you why. It's a home game and it's a legit home field advantage. What Coach Brown is describing is so. I've been floored by the 180 North Carolina football's taken in terms of the support for Tar Heel football. The fans are getting there early and they're staying late, even if the games are long. Granted, there's a lot of drama and the games are close, which makes things far more exciting to follow.
But it also makes things a lot more difficult for the visiting team coming in. Also, North Carolina, they're taking this role of a team of destiny. You heard the stat from Coach Brown. No team since 1936 has had this many close games. North Carolina having played eight games now, seven of them being decided by a combined 22 points.
It's starting to have that feel. The Tar Heels are a little healthier than Virginia is. Virginia's best player, who's probably going to be a first round draft pick, Bryce Hall, corner. He's out for the remainder of the season and you've seen Virginia kind of take a downward spiral since his injury. Losing to Miami on that Friday night, losing to Louisville on Saturday. Meanwhile, Myles Woolfolk, you'll remember, he's the one that had the handful of picks in the opener against South Carolina.
He's going to be returning, according to Jay Bateman, the defensive coordinator, earlier today. I also think North Carolina has an advantage at quarterback, Sam Howell over Bryce Perkins. And when it comes down to it, one of the most important elements we talk about in college football is coaching. And I'll take Mac Brown and his staff versus anybody other than Clemson and the ACC likely.
I'd go as far to say that. This seemed like Virginia's year to win the Coastal Division. Now it's starting to seem like they're cursed in some way. If Virginia doesn't win this year, will they ever win? They've never won the Coastal playing in the conference championship game since the team split into divisions.
There's still a lot of room for chaos, so I don't want to be taken wrong here. But the Cavaliers, they've just spoiled so many opportunities. Plus, they still haven't beaten Virginia Tech in 15 years. So they have the Hokies at the end of the schedule. You have North Carolina, NC State.
How much fun is that weekend going to be? Let's say if the scenario is Virginia needs North Carolina to lose, or vice versa, North Carolina needs Virginia to lose. And you have the Cavs trying to snap this long losing streak against their rivals in Blacksburg. And North Carolina, Mac Brown facing NC State for the first time since returning. That game being at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. A lot of drama there. But I know what I'm doing sounds like heresy. Trying to predict the unpredictable, trying to cut through all the nonsense and all the chaos and pick who's going to win the Coastal.
I think it's simple. Saturday night, the winner of Virginia, North Carolina, I think is going to be playing in Charlotte against the Clemson Tigers. If I had to guess who wins that game, I think it's the team of destiny in the ACC right now, Mac Brown's North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Carolina Panthers got whooped. And just as everybody started to come together in wanting Cam Newton back, Ron Rivera reminds us that he's still injured. Ron announced a short while ago, Kyle Allen, not Cam, will start Sunday in Charlotte against the Tennessee Titans.
And that is absolutely, positively, 100% the right decision. He isn't fully healed. He hasn't practiced yet.
And I feel like I'm constantly having to remind people that there is a different bar you have to clear in order to practice versus play. Just because Cam starts practicing doesn't mean he's ready to play on Sundays. In fact, with Cam working on the side last week, participating at practice, not practicing, but working on the side with trainers, traveling with the team, being supportive on the sideline, that's all a very good sign moving forward for his health. But he hasn't practiced yet. I'm not even saying he isn't going to practice this week. It might happen tomorrow.
It might happen on Wednesday. And when that happens, that doesn't necessarily mean he's game ready. You need to get that timing back with your receivers. You need to test that foot in such a way where Cam knows he can be Cam when that time comes, whether that's on the road at Green Bay the following week or after that Atlanta comes into Charlotte. Another reason why it's wise to play Allen here, you can beat Tennessee with Kyle Allen. Like, I'm not saying Carolina is a bad football team with Allen playing quarterback. Just because you lost to the 49ers in that manner yesterday by a score that's literally never been accrued, the same points put on the board as the Panthers and Niners did, something that's never happened. Just because Carolina got slaughtered doesn't mean Carolina can't be competitive with Allen.
I said it on Friday, this is the best test Carolina had this year so far. All the defenses that Kyle Allen faced on the four game winning streak, none of them were ranked in the top half of the NFL. That rush defense problem that everybody seemed to be ignoring because Carolina had improved sack totals and Thieves Avenue is turning over the football time and time again.
It reared its ugly head again and the Panthers couldn't get Tevin Coleman on the ground. So those are things that will appear when you play the top echelon of the NFL. The 49ers, what we learned yesterday, they're a part of that group.
I thought yesterday had more to do with San Francisco than Carolina, if that makes sense. That top group of the NFL, how many teams are a part of it? I think it's the Patriots, San Francisco, the Green Bay Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs, I'd still say are in that group when the Holmes is healthy. And aside from that, I don't think anybody else is there, maybe the New Orleans Saints.
That's the group. Is there anybody else we'd add to that? How many teams is that? I think that's five teams. Patriots in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC, then it's the 49ers, Packers, and Saints. Five teams. Other than playing those five teams, I think Kyle Allen with this roster around him can be competitive with anybody. You certainly can beat Tennessee on Sunday. The goal here for Carolina is to try and win a Super Bowl. The only way that happens is if Cam Newton resembles even the 6-2 quarterback from last year that completed 70% of his throws.
It doesn't have to be MVP Cam like 2015. Allen can't reach that level. Allen is limited. This is a guy that two years ago was benched, not for the Houston Texans, the Houston Cougars college football team. And that wasn't even a very good Houston team. That was post Tom Herman.
But I don't want this to turn into me taking shots at Allen. He's done an excellent job. He's exceeded every single expectation that anybody could have. 4-1 this year, 5-1 if you count that Saints game at the end of last season. So I'm not taking that away from him at all, but with Allen at quarterback, you are a playoff contender, a borderline playoff team.
You might get in and you're going to get blitzed in the first round. That's the ceiling with Allen. He could do a damn good job at that. If your goal is to win a Super Bowl, you need to have a healthy Cam. So I think most Panther fans are on the same page with that today. Your thoughts are welcome on Twitter at Sports Hub.
Try at 336-777-1600 is the phone number. I had quite the interesting weekend at North Carolina Duke and Keenan on Saturday. How many views did that video get?
Close to 65, 70,000 people viewing it on Twitter. I didn't know what I had when I first filmed that on the field. That scuffle, if you could call it that, Jordan Tucker after a Duke player put his hand in his face. Tucker was trying to get his helmet. Tucker's waving back at the Duke Blue Devils as they go into the tunnel. David Cutcliffe trying to separate him.
Got his hands on Tucker for a bit. A little bit of a forearm shiver, not a full shove by the Duke head football coach, but something bound with something like that was bound to happen when you have the victory bell, which North Carolina got back from the Blue Devils sitting right there in that tunnel. Where Duke's trying to exit following an emotional loss. So we'll get to that game in about 10 minutes. The drive is broadcast live in the law offices of Timothy D. Wellborn Studios.
You can learn about all the ways Tim Wellborn can help you online at TimWellborn.com. You'll know when you need us. Luke DeCock, the award winning columnist from the Raleigh News and Observer. He was in Santa Clara yesterday. He was also at Duke North Carolina on Saturday. He will be our guest in about 25 minutes.
We'll get his thoughts on everything that's happening here. Here's my prediction for when Cam Newton returns. It's going to be for the Packers game.
Not this Sunday, but the following Sunday. I think Cam's going to get some work at practice. He's been progressing nicely. He traveled with the team for the first time since the injury.
He isn't wearing a boot. He's jogging around doing his regular pregame warm up. He's working on the side last week. I think he gets into some practices. Then it just takes some time for him to get timing receivers and get 100% back. I think it's 100% the right call to sit him for this week against the Titans. He's not fully healed.
And until that happens, you don't do the rash decision thing where you lose to the 49ers and you throw him back out there. I'm a little surprised Rivera made that announcement today. Were you, Des? I was surprised because what did we see in New Orleans last week or yesterday? Drew Brees played, even though it was a completely winnable game against the Cardinals. It was a six to eight week injury. The injury was sustained exactly six weeks to the day.
He had to wear this strange thing around his wrist to give support to the thumb that he was coming back from. This week, they're on a bye week, too. I could get two extra weeks if you play Bridgewater at home against the Cardinals. But Drew Brees said he was even worried about the momentum with Bridgewater. He wanted to be out there with his teammates again. So I thought this week had all of that written on it. Cam back out there trying to be the savior following the Panthers blowout loss to San Francisco. I think it's the right choice by Rivera, but I'll be honest, I'm a little surprised. I mean, for me, it just tells me that, you know, Cam simply physically isn't ready to compete. I mean, it's hard enough to keep him off the field any other way. And if they're going at it like this on a Monday and saying, you know, he's not going to play. Kyle's the starter.
End of discussion. To me, that tells me Cam is still a couple of weeks away from being ready to rock and roll. But I don't think it's Cam making that call. I think it's Rivera who's saying, I'm not taking any chances. I bet if you ask Cam today, he'd say, I'm ready to go on Sunday, coach.
And that seems to be what happened in New Orleans. Common sense would be sit yesterday. Drew Brees have a bye week and then we'll return you after the bye.
But Brees seemed to be the one to make that decision and saying, coach, I'm ready to go. I'm a leader on this team. I'm a captain. I want to play something. I'm glad you mentioned that New Orleans situation, because I got into a couple of heated debates over Sunday about just random folk on Facebook and Twitter. You know, I spend my time during games. We've talked about this. Don't get into heated things. Do you know how much vile I've gotten in my mentions the last two days since posting that video from both North Carolina and Duke fans? Do you know how much I've gotten?
The sheer volume of stuff you probably get back far outweighs the amount that I get. So I have time. I got the time. But my point was the discussion was that people were telling me that, oh, Drew Brees isn't worried about Teddy Bridgewater taking his job, blah, blah, blah. These are the same people telling me that Kyle Allen should start over Cam Newton.
And I'm like, I get it. Drew Brees is the first ballot Hall of Famer. He's a legend and all this stuff. He's also human. And he's watching Teddy Bridgewater lead his team to, what, five wins in a row. Of course, he's going to want to get back as soon as he can because he doesn't want to get Wally pipped.
It can happen to anyone. If you want the best perspective, you will hear on Panthers 49ers, them getting whooped, old fashioned style yesterday. It's Panthers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy that provides it. Him being asked about this being a tale of the tape game where you measure yourself against the best in the NFC.
Here was the Panthers nose guard. Oh, we still have confidence in ourselves. Just lost, man. Like, we didn't want to lose that way, but we just lost. We got nine games left. We just lost. We not go, oh, we not as good as we thought. We just got beat today.
They showed up. We didn't. It's the NFL. That's how it works. You watch the NBA. The Clippers was hyped for the first two games and they lost to the Suns.
It happens. You lose games. We just lost very badly today. And it's going to hurt.
But after the film is over, moving on. You know who the Clippers got today? Those Clippers trying to bounce back from a loss to the Suns. It's the Charlotte Hornets tonight inside Staples Center. Charlotte put up a fight last night. Out of Major League Baseball World Series games being played and Sunday Night Football. I found myself watching the Hornets getting double doubled by Dwight Howard.
That's what I was watching as if it was freaking 2009. Dwight Howard blocking shots and getting buckets. But anyhow, that's very well said by Gerald McCoy. Coming up, backstory on a viral video I sent out from UNC Duke and Mac Brown having to respond to that today. By the way, Mac Brown, a guest on today's show.
This is The Drive. Now with us, one of the hardest working guys in the business this past weekend who I saw in Keenan Stadium on Saturday following North Carolina's narrow win over Duke. Not knowing that he was going to be on a bird soon after that Santa Clara to cover the Panthers blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers. I'm talking about Luke DeCock from the Raleigh News and Observer now with us.
Multi-time winner here in the Triad. NSMA North Carolina Sports Writer of the Year on Twitter, at Luke DeCock. Luke, the big news in the last hour or so, Cam Newton will not be playing Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. Kyle Allen will be getting the start. Do you believe once Cam starts practicing he will play or do you think there's a different bar you have to reach to play in a game versus being cleared for practice? Generally speaking, especially with the quarterback, you want to see them get two weeks of practice in before they play in a game. That was kind of even the way things went yesterday that it was going to probably be the Green Bay game and not the Tennessee game.
I don't know that the timetable has changed a ton necessarily. I do think what we saw yesterday was an indication that against good teams and against teams that know what they're doing defensively. Kyle Allen's limitations are more exposed.
So you can kind of scrape by for a period of time. But there were periods in that game yesterday where a quarterback who was more mobile, who had a stronger arm, all the reasons that Cam Newton is Cam Newton and Kyle Allen is Kyle Allen. You could kind of see them all in play yesterday.
And that wasn't always the case in the previous four games. I know there's this sentiment in some portions of the Panthers' fan base that Kyle Allen is their guy. And it's just very curious to me that when you have an unbelievable athlete like Cam Newton who can do things other players can't, you'd rather have this very limited game manager.
Nothing against Kyle Allen. I think in the four games he won, he played probably to the highest extent of his abilities and played well. Did some things well other than the fumbling. Did a lot of things well.
And then yesterday didn't do as many things well, which happens with everybody. But the sort of love affair with Kyle Allen and as always the people who take every opportunity to take shots at Cam Newton, this has been a particularly fertile few days for that. And to flip it to the other side of the ball, Luke, it seems to me if a defense is forcing turnovers and a defense is sacking the quarterback, the sexy totals, I like to call it on that side, you're willing to ignore a lot of things. And the things that I thought was ignored while the Panthers were winning games and turning over the ball and getting to the quarterback was the rush defense, which ranked 23rd in the NFL going into the weekend. And the 49ers, the second ranked rushing offense. And we saw that the Niners were able to exploit that. How big of a problem do you believe the rush defense to be? Because I don't want to do the show where we're overreacting to one loss when that one loss just so happened to be by a wide margin.
Yeah, and it's a fair point. The thing that got me about the rush defense yesterday, Brendan Marks, a colleague at the Charlotte Observer wrote a story about specifically the rush defense. How unprepared, generally speaking, the Panthers were for pretty much everything the 49ers did offensively. The 49ers didn't throw a lot. A lot of their really good passes were screen passes, they were a little dink and dump type stuff, but they were able with misdirection and some really clever play calling. The shovel pass for the touchdown was almost like a shovel draw.
It was a really cool play. They were able to really move the Panthers defense around. The thing the Panthers do really well is that you actually have this really aggressive pass rush that can get to the quarterback.
You've got Mario Addison, you've got Brian Burns when he's healthy. There's a lot of things going on there and they play aggressively. When you're a team like the 49ers that A, runs the ball well to begin with and B, can tap into this playbook full of misdirection. They just trapped and drew and screened the Panthers to death. They basically took the Panthers pass rush and used it against them. Do the Panthers have to be better against the run? Absolutely. There's no question about it. But their pass rush will make up for a lot of ills and you're making some choices there that you think you're going to have a better chance to win by having a more aggressive pass rush than a more passive defense that may have a little better gas control against the run.
There's a little bit of pick your poison there. What the 49ers did really well is they managed to really attack the Panthers' weakness while also neutralizing one of their strengths. Burns not being full strength certainly hurt them there. But to me, the Panthers do so many things well on defense that they can get away with it against the run sometimes.
The 49ers did a really good job of having their cake and eating it too. It's Luke Tkach from the Raleigh News and Observer spending time with us here on Sports Hub Triad. You can follow him on Twitter at LukeTkach.
Read his stuff in the Observer and online at newsandobserver.com. We're going to get to the Coastal Division in about 10 minutes or so. North Carolina facing Virginia this week in a game that's already sold out. This past weekend's game was too. And it was a legit sell out where the crowd completely full it seemed like at the very end as well as North Carolina held on against the Blue Devils. So this team in year one under Coach Brown is going to be playing a very important football game in the month of November coming up this weekend.
What do you view to be Mac Brown's biggest accomplishment to this point with this Tar Heel football program? You know, even the close games that they've lost, the number of close games that they've lost, every game except the Georgia Tech game is not a close game. They haven't won them all. But they've won some of these games and they've been in these games. And just to me, that's the turnaround from last year is the confidence to be in these games and then win them because obviously North Carolina had all the close losses the last two years and the last year especially. And to be able to turn some of those into wins, I don't think it's just chance. You know, the old rule about turnover margin is if you're negative one year you'll be positive the next year.
It's just there's too much randomness involved. I don't think that's the case with North Carolina and these close games. I think they lost those close games last year because they really did lack confidence and they lacked the ability to finish a game, which is a football cliche. But it means not getting nervous, not being over aggressive, not doing someone else's job and getting out of position, but having the confidence to play your game even in these really high leverage situations. I think what Mac has done, and I think what Mac's attribute as a coach is sometimes, is he's a salesman. And I don't mean that in the pejorative way, like that's all he does or he's a sheister or any of that stuff. I just mean he has the ability to talk to people and convince them that what he's saying is right or good for them or whatever.
That's why he's such a good recruiter. And I think what he's done is almost recruit this team, these players he inherited, and recruit them to believe that they can win these close games they couldn't before. And I think we've seen that. We saw that against South Carolina. We saw that against Duke. We've seen that in these other games. And they've been in all of these games.
They've been a competitive team, even the games that they've lost. The difference between last year, which was occasionally a competitive team that could never get over the hump, and this year, which is a team that's in every game and has gotten over the hump in some of these games, I think that's Mac's greatest accomplishment. To get this team believing that it's better than it was without, other than the quarterback position, a ton of change. It's basically the same team with Sam Howell at quarterback. Now, that's a huge upgrade because Sam Howell's really good. But Mac's ability to get the players to buy in and believe has always been what he's good at.
It's why he's such a good recruiter, and he's been able to recruit this team over to his way of thinking. So on Saturday after the game ends, there's Jordan Tucker looking for his helmet. There's another video, in addition to the one that I posted online on my Twitter account, where somebody in the stands saw a Duke player putting his hand in the face of Tucker to instigate things. Tucker was then waving and taunting some players as they went into the tunnel. David Cutcliffe tried to break things up and in doing so put his hands briefly on Tucker to try and separate things a bit. I'm sure a lot of guys would like to have things back, and Mac said earlier today that maybe don't have the bell in the same corner as the team that's exiting, following an emotional game.
Maybe moving forward that's the right place to be. But I love what you wrote in your story that ran yesterday in The Observer. Just simply comparing it to the rivalry status, say, that we saw in basketball, where you said those two programs would never get involved in something like this because, eh, they have a little bit too much to lose. What would happen, though, if we're talking in the hypothetical sense, if a coach confronted a player in the Duke-UNC basketball rivalry? Well, you know, you've seen it. You had, you know, not Duke-UNC necessarily, you know, look at the esteem with which Rick Barnes was held in by NC State fans for so long for standing up to Dean Smith when he was at Clemson.
So, you know, you see it, you see what happens in sort of different circumstances. You know, the thing about Duke-UNC basketball is, look, it is one of the greatest rivalries in sports. For fans, it's one of the greatest rivalries in sports.
And I've written this before, for the two programs, there's a lot more, and they have a lot more in common than they have that's different. And there are very few basketball programs that understand what it's like to be a Duke or North Carolina. You know, Kentucky, Kansas, you know, that might be it at this point, at that level.
There's less disgust, I think, is what you're saying. NC State and North Carolina, there's more disgust than, say, Duke and North Carolina play. Yeah, no, I'm not talking about State. I'm just saying, I'm saying the two programs, Duke and North Carolina, they are rivals on the court. Off the court, they have a lot more in common than they have that's different. They understand what it's like to be the premier program in college basketball, one of the four premier programs. No one else understands that.
You can't pick up the phone and call any number of people to ask them about how do you handle XYZ. There's only two or three schools in the country that deal with what they deal with. So there's a common ground there that you see. Now, there is that between Duke and North Carolina in football, too. But the difference in football is these teams are absolutely scraping and fighting for their football lives. Duke wants to beat North Carolina, and North Carolina wants to beat Duke. But their season is not going to end if they lose. They're going to have a chance to win the ACC tournament.
They're going to be a single-digit seed in the NCAA tournament. You know, if they ever played in the Final Four, you know, then it might be different. But for these football teams, you know, these are football teams that are living on the knife edge of six and six. This is a game that both teams desperately need to get one game closer to bowl eligibility. No one's cutting these guys any slack. CBS isn't, you know, allegedly cooking the brackets to get these guys to play Kentucky. You know, this is life and death, football life and death for these teams.
So there's so much more on the line than there is in basketball, and I think we've seen that in these football games. Now, to Mac's point with the victory bell, I'm going to give North Carolina a little bit of credit here. If you look, they were wheeling the victory bell into the end zone and away from that corner. They had security people doing it before North Carolina came running over it. So they anticipated exactly what Mac's talking about. Like, let's get the bell out of the Duke bench if we win so we don't have the kind of flashpoint that happens. You know, so, you know, I mean, they were thinking about this.
It just didn't work. But you see this in football. You don't see it in basketball. I just think because the teams have seen the rivalry in a much bigger picture. And in football, this could be for both teams as big a game as they'll play all season. Obviously, Carolina had the Clemson game. That's going to be tough to top. But, you know, and Carolina still has to play state. Duke's got to win a couple of games to get to a bowl. So there are going to be games that are as big.
But I don't know that there will be any bigger. Very well said, Doc. Rally News and Observer.
Follow his work in the pages of The Observer and at newsandobserver.com. Luke, good to hear from you. I know it's been a busy weekend.
We'll see you soon. Yep. Thanks, Josh. You got it.
That's Luke, the cop. I think the winner of North Carolina, Virginia, this Saturday is going to decide the coastal division. Now, I understand that rule number one of the coastal division is never try to predict the coastal division. But I feel like we're at this point now where some of the dust is settled and we know some of the combatants, some of the real contenders here for the division. There are four teams with two losses, but only two of those four have three wins. Those are the two teams playing each other in Kenan. So by my math, if North Carolina and Virginia, if either one of them wins, you're only going to have two conference games remaining, which is the smallest amount of margin of error available for any of the teams in the coastal left.
So I think I feel comfortable in saying it. I'm uncomfortably comfortable to say the winner of Virginia, North Carolina is going to win the coastal. And if I had to pick today which team's going to win Saturday night, I think it's going to be the Tar Heels.
Everything's breaking their way. It's a home game. Des, did you watch this Tar Heel-Duke game on Saturday?
I listened to bits and pieces of it on the radio. I was in the car most of the weekend. It was an excellent game, but it struck me when I got to field level how great the crowd was. It's not one of those phony sellouts where, all right, tickets sold, you got it. It's a sellout, but we see a lot of open seats. No, people showed up and they were supporting the team, got there early and were there in the fourth quarter.
When North Carolina needed the noise, when Duke was driving it and North Carolina got that stop with Chasserette picking off the pot path. So it's a home game and that presents an advantage. I think Team of Destiny applies to North Carolina considering the fact they've had seven of their eight games combined decided by 22 points. Think about that for a second. Seven games that are decided by 22 points combined.
That's lunacy, but they're coming out on the winning end of most of them. They're healthier than Virginia is. Bryce Hall is the best player on the Cavs. The Hoos, they really rely on this guy in the secondary. He's going to likely be a first round draft pick, but he's out for the remainder of the season. In the secondary, North Carolina is getting Miles Wolf look back. I'd take Sam Howell over Bryce Perkins. I'd take Mac Brown over Bronco Mendenhall.
So what else am I missing here? Tar Heels at home. I think they're going to win. I think they're going to be representing the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship game. I think we're going to get the rematch of North Carolina Clemson in Charlotte for the ACC title. If Virginia doesn't win this year, I don't think they ever will.
There's still room for a lot of chaos. You have Virginia Tech playing Virginia the last week of the regular season. At the same time, North Carolina is playing NC State. Imagine that. North Carolina trying to go to the ACC Championship game and they need a win against NC State to do so.
Oh boy. That game at Carter-Finley Stadium is going to be dramatic. You can tweet the show at Sports Hub Triad. 336-777-1600 is the phone number. The drive brought to you in part by our friends at Pie Guys Pizza and More. Pay them a visit in Clemons. You can find them right off of Lewisville, Clemons Road in the Kinnaman Village Commons. Try the Graham Slam Pizza, the Moravian Sugar Cane Pie. It's all good. Buffalo Wigs, awesome as well.
Find them online at pieguys.com. Yes, sir? I think if you asked a Carolina fan at the beginning of the year, would you be fine with, in Mac Brown's first season, an appearance in the ACC Championship game?
I think every single one of us would take that without even thinking twice about how we got there. I think if they lose every game the rest of the year, they should be fine where they're at. They've already won more games than last year.
Oh yeah, they are. Is this hoity-toity Carolina fan coming back out here saying you think they'd be alright with an ACC Championship appearance? No, I said I know. Every single Carolina fan would take that. Ah, you could check the tape.
You said, I think that's something they'll check. Meaning, there is somebody out there saying, I do say that the basketball program every now and then, they will find themselves winning an ACC Championship. This past year, they tied with Virginia even though they lost to Virginia and they shouldn't even be called themselves co-champs. I mean, if you lose on your home floor to Virginia and you're tied with Virginia, you shouldn't be the ACC basketball champs.
You shouldn't be allowed to call yourself that. But we were that, so the football team, when they get to that point, maybe I'll start caring about it. I'll tell you what, you know, I'll just listen to the game on the radio and not watch it on television. I'm not going to go to the North Carolina football game until, oh, when they go to the championship game when they start competing for the college football playoff title.
That's when I'll be there. One, I'm going to send you a screenshot from the acc.com where they recognize both of them as record season champions, so I'm going to go with them on that. Two, yes, they've won more games than they did last year and that's all fine, but we had low expectations for the football team to begin with. So, we're super excited that they've been competitive. That was the one thing I said when this season started. I just want them to be competitive. Don't be that team last year that just looked like they were mailing it in.
And even though they've lost a lot of close games, they've been competitive. What will it take to get you to go to a game? To a Carolina football game?
Yeah. Time and free tickets. Busy man, Josh. Time and free tickets. It doesn't take much to get me to get down there, but it's got to fit.
It's got to snuggly fit in that schedule, you know what I mean? Well, if I have to pay for it, I'm not going to show it. How much are tickets for Carolina games going these days?
One does not simply pay for Carolina-Duke football teams. I mean, it's probably about ten dollars. Ten dollars? Ten dollars you could probably find yourself into that stadium. Probably. I'm not sure if I could swing it in my budget to get over there for ten dollars.
I'm not sure if it's worth it. Rod Funderburk, he actually is a season ticket holder because he graduated from Carolina, so I might have to see what's up with him. Maybe Rod with him down there. Well, you know, only though if they're competing for a conference championships. That team, I'll tell you what, we have a standard here with the Tar Heels. I'm happy they beat Duke. Season done for me.
That beating Duke, that's just as good. Ten dollars is like the price of a container of Grey Poupon. That's two Whopper combos, man. See what you did there, Aaron? There's something else I'm very fired up about. I'm really upset about this.
Like, it's the thing that made me most upset this weekend, there's no question about it. The alphabet song has been altered. It has been changed. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, we all know the song, but it's been turned into something different and I have no idea why we changed it. Here is that song that has been changed from what we knew from our childhood.
V, W, X, Y, Z. And that's it! That's the end.
Like, there's no, now I know my ABCs, next time would you sing with me? Who's behind this? The song has changed! Who did this? Who is they? They changed it.
I want to fist fight whoever it is in the street. This is not going to be accepted. This is a thing now.
It's so awkward. This is a thing. No. Who determines what's a thing? Like, I don't understand why this is accepted. Is this accepted by the masses? Is it?
That's not even like... 3, 3, 6, 7, 7, 7, 1, 600. We all play along with this L-M-N-O-P. We all do that, but this song, it did not. It did something completely different. It totally went off the wall. It went ape bleep. I mean, they're trying to clarify the L-M-N-O-P part. It is life ruining. L-M-N-O-P-Q-R. Just bleep off. No, that's not even... You know what? It's not a good song. The other one slaps.
This one does not. I sing this song for my daughter to help her go to sleep. And, you know, it's educational. Alright? And I get it. L-M-N-O-P is kind of fast. It sounds like a word, whatever. I just slow it down for her, but you don't have to say L-M-N. We all know it. L-M-N-O-P. We all came out okay.
We can do it. It sounds like it's missing a letter. L-M-N-O-P-Q-R. It's not a good song. It's not a good concept.
Am I the only one that's alone and being infuriated by this? 3-3-6-7-7-7-1-600. I have a feeling we can start an army. The same way there's people going to Storm Area 51 saying that if there's enough of us, and we can run faster than their bullets, we can get a large enough group together to push against this crowd that thinks it's too hard to say L-M-N-O-P. What do you have to... What are you drinking? Like, when you're sitting there... What type of beverage are you drinking to be like, you know what needs to be changed? The ABC song.
It needs to be changed in a way that's new for all the new millennials out there. You remember the end of the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man where he's, like, passed out and he's in the... He's in the train. Is that Spider-Man 1 or Spider-Man 2? Ah. That has the goblin going after him.
I think that's 2. He's about to obtain Spider-Man who's passed out. Spoiler alert.
It's a 20-year-old movie. And everybody in the trucks... You have to get through me. And you have to get through me. And you have to get through me. Oh. That's where I stand on the ABC song, the original iteration. You are listening to WSJS Winston-Salem, WCOG Greensboro, WPCM Burlington, WMFR High Point. WMFR High Point, those signals making up Sports Hub Triad.
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