The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday June 24th

SportsSaturday - Rating the Rivalry

My father has always liked to cause trouble. He is an Auburn fan.

It doesn't seem like it's a big deal, but his entire family worships former Alabama coach Bear Bryant.

You know how North Carolina fans idolize Dean Smith? It doesn't compare.

According to certain members of the family, besides my dad's evil alliance, he had the further bad taste to infect one of his two daughters (me) with the Auburn fever.

Thank god. Alabama's nothing but a bunch of cheaters.

Last weekend while at my cousin's wedding, my dad's family actually hissed at me because my cousin announced I was an Auburn fan.

With a family like that, I learned early on that there's nothing quite like a football rivalry.

Alabama and Auburn is one of the best of the bunch, along with Texas and Texas A&M or Florida and Florida State.

It doesn't matter if either team is actually any good that year. Alabama and Auburn could be at the bottom of the SEC and have lost to Vanderbilt - and they'd still be as hyped to play each other as if it was the Sugar Bowl.

North Carolina doesn't have that.

UNC has a running feud with Duke in basketball, but in football, it is sadly lacking for enemies.

Maybe North Carolina can learn from its neighbor down I-40. Fans of N.C. State circled this game a long time ago. For them, it's Revenge Day.

They understand what a football rivalry is supposed to be. State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox stepped over the athletics director and personally gave former 'Pack coach Mike O'Cain the heave-ho after UNC squeaked by the 'Pack 10-6 last year.

Do you think O'Cain would be wearing Carolina blue if David Bomar and Errol Hood hadn't made that stop inches from the end zone?

Of course he wouldn't, because O'Cain would have delivered what the fans wanted - a victory against UNC.

That's how much the Wolfpack wants to be beat UNC. They fired a well-respected offensive whiz who upended FSU in 1998.

Mack Brown was still UNC's coach the last time State managed to get a `W' in 1992.

By sending O'Cain packing and picking up former FSU assistant coach Chuck Amato, State's powers-that-be showed that beating UNC is a part of Amato's responsibilities.

It's also part of UNC coach Carl Torbush's job description to defeat State. Last year, the win might just have saved his job.

But the State game could get him this time. If UNC fails to top the 'Pack, expect Torbush's chorus of doubters to lift their voices anew.

Despite the fact that Torbush is a good man who inspires loyalty in his players, his critics have been waiting for something to sink him with. Unfortunately, those critics might suddenly claim that today's game is huge just to destroy Torbush.

That would be a shame.

Rachel Carter can be reached at rachel@heelmail.com.



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