The major theme of the University of North Carolina football team's 2010 story has – at last – shifted from remorse to resilience.
Last Thursday, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp endorsed Butch Davis in a manner that allowed observers to feel, perhaps, a corner has been turned in this NCAA investigation/academic scandal saga that began in July.
The following day (Friday), a prized recruit picked UNC, while yesterday (Saturday), North Carolina – a 10-point underdog – prevailed in dramatic fashion for a victory against Florida State, a vastly superior team that was out coached and outplayed. The victory on the field was matched with the triumph in the court of public opinion. And rightly so.
It has been an unfortunate span of time since July, and through it all, Butch Davis has handled himself with patience and resolve. While many in the media called for his head on a spit, Davis kept his team focused on the issues that they could control, such as playing as well as they could in each game.
Player suspensions, the NCAA investigation, the shameless, self-serving witch hunt of virtually every major newspaper in the state of North Carolina, including the Daily Tar Heel, kept providing challenges for Butch and the team. I say shameless because of the lack of due process, and the manner in which the media behaved reminded me of the Duke lacrosse team's situation – a truly shameless asterisk in the realm of justice.
What goes around often has a way of returning. Karma, like rust, the IRS and hope, never sleeps.
Saturday evening, UNC won its first football game EVER on the road against FSU. The Heels are now 6-3 in 2010 in what many predicted would be a lost season.