Alright, this’ll have to be quick, mainly because I wasn’t able to go to the game, and a TiVo malfunction precluded me from watching the whole thing. In fact, I think I’ll supplement this summary with a Roy Williams anecdote, seeing as how basketball season is within sniffing distance.

The Tar Heels beat storied Notre Dame to continue their surprising season Saturday. OK, they didn’t exactly triumph over the Notre Dame of yore, but Charlie Weis’ team, after suffering through a hellish ’07, was 4-1 coming into Saturday’s game, and looks to be on the up. So, another win over a name team for the Heels, bringing their record to 5-1 and further cementing the impression that, in the long-term, Coach Butch Davis will make North Carolina a contender in the ACC, and in the short-term, North Carolina could be looking at some interesting bowl scenarios after the regular season.

What’s most interesting about the Notre Dame game is how UNC won. Much like last week’s win over (previously) undefeated UConn, a glance at the stats would lead a casual observer to believe that UNC probably lost the game. But the Heels have developed an expertise in turning opponents’ mistakes into pointsin this case capitalizing on turnovers by talented, precocious Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen.

So, the defense has been good at forcing mistakes (already exceeding their interception total for last season) and the offense has been able to score when it counts. This is promising, and it has to say something about defensive savvy and overall endurance. But the fact that UNC has had to scrap for almost every win (yesterday’s game against Notre Dame was decided in the final seconds, as was the win against Miami), and that they tend to let opponents score between interceptions and fumbles, is troubling. They’re going to have to play better to beat really good teams, but they seem to be closer to that level than they’ve been in years. And they’ve certainly improved their performance in close games over last year’s 4-8 squad, which lost four games by four points or less.

The other high point for UNC in Saturday’s game: QB Cam Sexton, filling in for injured starter TJ Yates, continues to get the ball to the team’s best offensive assets, receivers Brandon Tate, Hakeem Nicks and Brooks Foster. Against Notre Dame, Sexton passed for 201 yards and ran for a 4-yard TD early in the fourth quarter. Nicks had nine receptions for 141 yards. Tate, however, went out in the first quarter with an injury sustained while returning a punt. He walked off the field under his own power, but there’s no word on the prognosis yet.

Next up, a trip to Charlottesville for the even-steven Cavaliers (3-3, 1-1). This is the club that Duke throttled earlier this fall. This is also the club that knocked off East Carolina yesterday, 35-20.


So, a couple weeks ago, I spent all of five minutes with UNC basketball coach Roy Williams at a UNC football game.

Well, we waited for an elevator, rode on the elevator, and walked down a hallway together. I didn’t even try to talk to the guy. First of all, what’s the point? But even if I’d wanted to offer thanks and praises, or ask him to lay hands on me, I would have had to find an opening, because this guy was swarmed. I felt uncomfortable just watching. Everyone wanted a piece, and Roy just smiled and took it as everyone within a 20-foot range yelled greetings and, hilariously, basketball advice.

The strangest thing was how touchy-feely people were with Roy. He was accosted on the elevator by an alum, and this guy (Carolina blue sweater vest, pressed khakis, Titleist visor) stood inches from Roy’s face, talking about how he was sure he and Roy had some friends in common and wouldn’t it be great to go out to dinner sometime, and by the way he had no doubt, none whatsoever, that a national championship was in store for Roy’s boys this year. … And on he went.

When the elevator door opened for his floor, he didn’t just shake Roy’s hand, like many of the others I’d seen (a pattern which would repeat three times during a short walk from the elevator to the box where Roy was watching the game, culminating with a guy who I’m pretty was a janitor giving Roy a hearty handshake and mini-hug).

This good old boy patted Roy’s belly. Patted his belly! How is that an acceptable salutation?

Granted, as UNC coach, Roy is public property to some degree, and he also doesn’t have the forbidding mien of a Nick Saban. He looks like a nice guy, often has a grin on his face. … But how that translates into a license to pat his belly. … Roy just took it all with a happy smile. Maybe he’s been that way ever since Ty Hansbrough decided to play another year, or maybe he gulps down a handful of Xanax before facing the good burghers of Chapel Hill in public situations. All I know is that I had an almost irresistible urge to ruffle his hair and kiss him, softly, on each cheek, before we parted ways.