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The Secret Weapon

It was astounding. Sportswriters in the state of North Carolina took a break from all of those stories about what went wrong in Japan, Coach K’s chances in the 08 Olympics and how Ol’ Roy’s Freshmen are raring to have a go at hanging another banner in Dean’s Dome to actually write a football story. And this with basketball season a scant three months away. Imagine that. Let’s see, why was it again that NC schools have so much trouble with football?

It seems like just last week that the cheerleading good old N&O was informing us that this was to be the Year of the Ram. In fact, it was last week. That lasted about as long as it took for the Rutgers game to end, then it was back to business as usual. You’ll get them next year, Big John.

There seemed to be a flicker of football life left, however. There was a story snuck in amid all of the basketball ones. It seems that Big John Bunting’s Tar Heels have a secret weapon ready to unleash on Virginia Tech this Saturday, one that was obviously kept well under wraps last weekend. That would be former Tech Assistant Coach Without A Position Danny Pearman, now overseeing Big John’s defensive line.

The guy who no longer fit in following Frank’s off-season staff shuffle is now the shining star of the Carolina one. Either this is the biggest staff mistake made at Tech since Duke Strager or you have to scratch your head and wonder why the really big Baby Blue bucks are being handed out to OC Frank Cignetti, the guy who designed the offense that lit up the DORKS and DC Marvelous Marv ‘What’s A Run Defense?’ Sanders. Or maybe not.

In all fairness, Danny is a fine coach and all-around great guy [I write that from personal experience] who no doubt will do a fine job at Carolina . He simply could not find a role in the way Frank wanted his staff organized. That sort of thing happens, sometimes to very good coaches, causing me to again wonder why in the world anybody would want to coach football. It is much easier and safer being a fan.

Danny Pearman does have nine years’ worth of Merryman experience to draw on this week. There are insights he can offer as to the tendencies of Tech personnel and how things are done by Frank. But, if Big John needs Danny to tell him what Tech will do then Carolina ’s big guy really should be checking out the real estate listings in Barcelona . It is not exactly a state secret.

This Saturday and every other one Frank Beamer plans to line up and play smash-mouth football. Game plans at Tech do not vary greatly or even a little bit, often to the chagrin of some Hokie fans. Frank concentrates on fundamental football, still the surest way to build a long-term successful program.

This past summer the good old N&O informed its readers that Big John Bunting had invented a new style of football. It was going to concentrate on defense, special teams and a strong emphasis on the ground game [obviously a West Coast guy was the perfect choice to install that ground game, as Chuckie discovered]. Big John called it Bunting Ball. In the sincerest form of flattery, Frank twenty years ago copied the new Bunting Ball verbatim. Danny has probably passed along to Big John that it will be seen Saturday.

Virginia Tech does battle with North Carolina Saturday in Kenan Stadium. When the ACC first released this year’s schedule, I took one look at the placement of this game and thought, “Uh-oh.” Despite the serious ineptitude displayed by the Heels last weekend, I still feel that way. Thanks a lot, ESPN.

The first road test faced by this young Tech team is going to be a tough one. Carolina is that first road test. Right now, this Tech team is not nearly as good as the one that steam-rolled the Tar Heels into the Lane Stadium turf last November. The chances of it eventually turning into a pretty good team seem high, but it ain’tat the moment. Throw in that Tech will now be facing an ensemble of Desperate Tar Heels, and you have the makings of a very tough game.

There have been, during the Carolina tenure of Big John Bunting, quite a few seasons written off by the second week of September. He simply cannot afford to keep letting that happen, especially with the upgraded talent he has brought into the Kenan Center . His back is getting fairly close to the wall. If this is not a must-win for Big John, it’s not far from it, either. Tech will very likely see a much different Carolina team than did RUTSgers. Watch out, Tech.

There are a couple of other ACC games this weekend. A very interesting one will take place on Chestnut Hill in that scintillating football atmosphere of Alumni Stadium. I’m guessing that given the parking situation there, all of the Clemson RVs will be parking in the Big Dig. Either Fredo or the Tigers will join Florida State atop the Atlantic Division standings.

Over in Winston-Salem , Duke and Wake Forest will square off in their annual battle for the Powder Puff. In recent years, Jim Grobe has taken most of the drama away from the rivalry. The Devils sure hold on to the Powder Puff a lot longer than they do the Victory Bell.

In the always rugged OOC faced by most ACC teams [it sure seemed that way last weekend], the Hoos host traditional power Wyoming . It is considered that the Great NFL Legend actually has a shot at this game, what with playing a team from the non-BCS Division and all. It really takes Balz to keep defending algroh.

NC State hosts Akron and Maryland the Directional Tennessee State Whatevers as Chuckie and the Fridge try to schedule their way to bowl games before things toughen up a bit for both next week. Georgia Tech should find points a bit easier to come by while the Florida teams get to catch their breath. It is a short week, meaning less time for the message boards and talk radio to blister Larry Coker. The Canes host I-AA [I don’t care what the NCAA wants to call it] Florida A&M. Plenty of good seats remain in the Orange Bowl.

This correspondent Friday afternoon will be heading for Blue Heaven. A special treat this weekend will be that Internet Legend and my personal hero BobLee Swagger will join the Internet-renowned Clubhouse Tailgate. SwaggerSays there will be lots of laughs. Hopefully, somebody will alert the media over at Dean’s Dome. Danny Pearman can tell Big John that we have a lot of fun.

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