Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The state's best football rivalry

Let's face it: North Carolina is a state of mediocre football. Heck, even the Panthers aren't very good anymore.

Bad football or not, blood still boils when State and Carolina kick it off each year. This Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, you'll be able to feel the intensity in the stands, let alone on the field. The fans of the respective schools love to give and take, and there should be plenty of that before, during and after Saturday.

Coaches Tom O'Brien (NCSU) and Butch Davis (UNC) are not leading their alma maters, like their predecessors Chuck Amato and John Bunting did. In fact, the two newbies actually get along quite well.

But don't expect the importance of this game to sneak past them.

“I’ve got an idea (what’s ahead),” O’Brien told reporters on Monday. “I don’t think any one game is any more important when you play 12 games. If there is a sense that one (game) approaches that, this has to be it because of who and what we are.”

O’Brien is confident that he has had the best training possible to contend with the rivalry’s demands [writes the Winston-Salem Journal's Bill Cole]. He attended the Naval Academy and played in the Army-Navy game for four seasons. He coached in the game for seven seasons as a Navy assistant.

And to O’Brien, there is no rivalry that can surpass Army-Navy.

“From 28 June, 1967, the day I reported, the first three words I learned were, ‘Beat Army, Sir.’ ” O’Brien said. “From the first day you’re there to the day your plebe year (first year) is over, that’s all you do. Everything there is to beat Army. Nothing else is important as far as athletics.”

Sounds familiar.

No comments: