We don't spend enough time thinking about the game that finally earned Tom O'Brien his pink slip. With the State game looming, let's take five minutes and rectify that, shall we?
The Story Behind the Item
October 27, 2012. Unless you have Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (look it up, it's a thing - I listened to a Planet Money podcast about it and everything), this date probably doesn't mean much to you. But what if I said that was the date of "the Gio game." Ahh, rings a bell now, right?
Yes, well, that particular fall that was also the date of the Pumpkin Run in Chapel Hill. The Pumpkin Run is a 4k race along a trail in Carolina North Forest. And in 2012, for the first (and, to-date, only) time, I decided to run said race. I should note that at this point in my life I have a few relatively deep connections to running. First, I ran cross country and track in high school. Don't be impressed, I wasn't fast then and am even slower now. But I ran. Second, I now make my livelihood serving as the Director of Finance for Fleet Feet Sports, a specialty running retailer based in Carrboro. So, help pay my salary - go buy some shoes people!
At any rate, my wife and I signed up for the Pumpkin Run in 2012. As I just typed that, I second guessed this entire post. I had to verify with my wife that our daughter was, in fact, born in September, 2012. (That’s right, I knew for sure that the Gio punt return was in October, 2012, but the birthday I had to verify.) And it’s confirmed that yes, my wife ran the Pumpkin Run approximately six weeks after pushing a tiny human out of her body (for a second time). God bless her. Anyway, despite my deep running connections, I actually hate it. I do it relatively frequently to avoid becoming a fat tub of lard, but I seldom find any aspect of it to be enjoyable. Occasionally I go on a running kick or look forward to a long run, but not as often as I'd like. I guess I do always feel good about going afterward, but I spend most of my time during the run wishing I was doing something else. Anything else. But, I’m sure if you run it’ll be different for you. You’ll love it. Seriously, go buy some shoes!
Anyway, we arranged for my in-laws to watch our two year old son and six week old daughter for an hour or so as we went out and jogged the two-ish mile trail. Carolina football, as per usual during this time period, had a 12:30 kickoff. I think the race started at 5:00. It may have been 4:00, but either way, we lived about 10 minutes from the starting line, so we should have had plenty of time to watch the Carolina/State game and make it there in time. But, also as per usual, a game that should be over in three hours stretched out to six or seven hours, and we were forced to leave the house after Casey Barth kicked a field goal to tie the game at 35 in the closing minutes. "We don't have time to watch overtime," I told my wife. Truth be told, I kind of thought we'd finish the race and get back home in time to see the conclusion. Football games take too long.
So we climbed into our car and headed down 86 toward the race, listening to second year play caller Jones Angell describe the rest of the game. And at about the same time Gio took the Wolfpack punt back to the house and I got my first real introduction to Jones Angell being the Voice of the Tar Heels ("NO HE'S NOT, YES HE IS!!!"), we realized we'd left our race bibs at the house. We had to call my father in-law, make a U-turn, and meet him in a parking lot to pick them up in order to make it to the starting line in time.
I make it a point to schedule most of my life around Tar Heel athletic events, but sometimes listening to a game on the radio is forced upon you, and up until this point in my life, every single one of those "radio required" games had featured the inimitable Woody Durham. Jones' Gio call, however, still gives me chills. Others may disagree, but in my opinion, it transitioned him from "Woody's replacement" to "the Voice of the Tar Heels."
Speaking of the Voice of the Tar Heels, back in the day when Stillman and I ran Carolina Water Cooler (shout-out to all of our former readers...and simultaneous apologies if you have no clue what this means), we were the masterminds behind a parody twitter account called "Heels of the Voice" that pretended to be Woody. It didn't take long for the real Woody, or his publicist, or Steve Kirschner, or somebody, to shut us down.
In much the same way I consider this game to be a watershed moment for Jones Angell, I feel the same way about Larry Fedora. It was either this 43-35 win over the Pack or the following week's 68-50 loss to Georgia Tech. I suppose the 2015 ACC Championship game is also an acceptable answer. You know what, maybe we should just let history decide when the Fedora transition occurred.
Carolina Collectibles Description
As I said at the beginning of this post, this all-time classic battle with the Wolfpack, featuring a Gio Bernard game winning punt return, came during the 2012 season. And today's item is the 2012 Carolina Football Poster, signed by none other than Larry Fedora himself. This amazing piece of history is 24" x 18" and has an architecture style them. It reads "our blueprint for victory" and some of the stars pictured on the front are Bryn Renner, Connor Barth, and the hero himself, Gio Bernard. Of course, Fedora is also featured front and center, and I had him sign the poster ("Go Heels! Larry Fedora") during the 2012 Meet the Heels day.
Carolina Collectibles Comparison: Joseph Forte
Joseph Forte was a really great college player. Have you ever taken the time to appreciate just how great he was? No, you haven't, because he played on two pretty crappy teams and then peaced out. This poster is a lot like Joseph (I have a hard time typing Joseph and not picturing Bill Guthridge cupping his hands around his mouth and shouting "Jo-seph!" while stomping his feet to get his attention). I mean, a poster autographed by Larry Fedora is a pretty cool item, but it is seldom appreciated because ultimately it's football themed. And compared to the success of Carolina Basketball over the last 100 years, Carolina Football is just a fluke Final Four you've got no chance at winning and a second round loss to Penn State.It takes a lot to earn five stars in this feature. Being a football coach who can sign your name isn't one of them. Try becoming a basketball coach and then give me a call, Fedora! But seriously, this is a nice piece - I just can't give Fedora the same number of stars I'd give Dean or Roy. Not yet, anyway.
Carolina Collectibles Rating: 4 Stars