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The Daily Tar Heel

Any Given Week

A look at how North Carolina prepares for a home football game.

From that vantage point, you can see all of Kenan Stadium.

At 6:48 p.m. Thursday, the stadium sits so calmly. Less than 45 hours from the Oct. 6 kickoff of North Carolina and East Carolina's long-awaited football matchup, the stadium looks perfect, primed for the game.

As the sun slips out of the sky, sending brilliant shades of yellow and orange to highlight the west end of the stadium, lazy activity keeps Kenan from standing completely alone.

A handful of football players, some still garbed in their practice gear, hang out in front of the tunnel, talking on cell phones or simply chatting. A girl and a guy finish running the stadium's steps and walk a lap around the field.

A slight wind blows across the stands, just enough to push the three fans dangling from the ceiling below the chancellor's box. The barely noticeable chill gives just a hint that autumn has arrived -- those crisp October nights of which Charles Kuralt spoke so fondly.

Forty-four hours and some minutes later, Kenan Stadium would no longer be the serene place of Thursday.

Instead, with the four big lights blaring, the stadium will be nearly full, with more people packing in -- a sea of purples and powder blues. Even when the fans aren't roaring for their teams, the hum of activity will be deafening.

The kid selling cotton candy. The scalper looking for a buyer. The little girl in a Tar Heel cheerleading outfit. The alcohol-fueled fan. The smooth administrator. The band member waiting to step onto the field. The excited football player.

It's all these things that fascinated The Daily Tar Heel -- things large and small that were wrapped up in a single football game. A Southern college town, like dozens of others, like no other, transforms itself six times a year into a grand production.

In August, the DTH decided to look at all the things that happen in front of and behind the scenes to put on a football game. Eventually the idea was whittled down to the moment the whistle blew Saturday, ending a North Carolina football game, to the moment the ball was struck by a kicker, beginning another North Carolina football game.

We looked at as many aspects as we could think of -- parking, the team, the media, tailgating, marketing. But as we talked to people, more ideas popped up. So many things were tied up in producing a football game that we couldn't fit everything in these pages; go to to get a more complete picture of what we found.

Saturday, UNC's football team will play Wake Forest at noon for Homecoming. Although the events in our story happened last month, most of them have been, or will be, done again to prepare for the game.

The team is the focal point of Saturday's game and will be in the two more home games to come. But the 100 plus players involved in the program are just a small fraction of the people who make a game happen.

The Sports Editor can be reached at

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