I don't often yearn to spend money, but I would gladly schedule an annual auto-draft from my bank account if it meant that every April the Tar Heels had another National Championship banner-producing season.
The Story Behind the Object
If you've been a Carolina fan long enough, someone has undoubtedly told you that the University will hang a banner in the Dean Dome for anything. I have only one response to that statement. Before I share that one response... If you are a Tar Heel fan, read on. If you are a fan of NC State or any other school not named UNC, skip past the paragraphs in blue and meet me again when the text returns to black.
Are all of the enemies gone? Ok, good. Just between you, me, and the internet, I do think we probably have too much stuff in the rafters. Half of your heads just exploded, but stick with me here.
Let's start with jerseys. The retired jerseys, those I'm cool with. I mean, I don't know much about Jack Cobb or George Glamack, but they were both named National Player of the Year, so I'm willing to blindly agree with their inclusion. There's probably some old geezer from the class of 1924 hobbling around somewhere reminiscing about Cobb the way current fans do about Tyler Hansbrough. As for the other retired jerseys, I don't think anyone anywhere (Carolina fan or otherwise) would question them.
But all of those honored jerseys? It's just a lot. And yet not enough. Look, we all look back fondly and remember the amazing skills of some player from nearly every team or time period, but I'm not convinced that means we need to hang their jerseys. It's obvious Michael Jordan should be hanging instead of Reyshawn Terry, but can you make the same statement about Joseph Forte vs. Ed Cota? George Lynch vs. Shammond Williams? Don't get me wrong, I loved Forte and Lynch. But I also loved Cota and Shammond. I'm just saying, maybe if the gap between who is honored and who isn't is so easily debatable, then possibly we just have too many. Or we can add 25 more, but taking some down seems more reasonable. (And honestly, at this point, is there anyone who would oppose removing the McCants jersey? Though for whatever reason, I still like that guy. The diamond. The X. Poor guy was just born to be hated and dying to be loved.)
Banners celebrating seasons, on the other hand, I think we've almost nailed. There's a single banner listing every year with an NIT appearance. Another banner listing every NCAA tournament appearance. Another banner listing Sweet 16s. Another for Elite 8s. Final Fours and National Championships each get their own individual banner, which is well deserved. ACC Tourney and regular season titles get their own individual banners, and that's what I'd tweak. I move that those all be combined into two banners "ACC Tournament Champions" and "ACC Regular Season Champions," with the years listed just like the NCAA Appearances (or, for that matter, the Southern Conference banner).
For the record, I'm also opposed to the "Perfect Season" banner, because we already have one for the 1957 NCAA Championship - a second seems redundant. But let's just keep all of this between us, ok?
Welcome back, opposing fans. As I was saying, there is only one thing to say regarding the number of items hanging in the Dean Dome: The banners at the Smith Center are perfect just how they are, and you're just jealous you don't have the illustrious history that we take for granted in Chapel Hill.
To celebrate this illustrious history, I have National Championship banners hanging from the ceiling in my bonus room. I was going to wait and review these when March Madness rolled around, but as I mapped out my posts for the next six months (yes, I plan to be a fixture on this site that long and yes, I've actually mapped out when to post what - I'm moderately OCD) I realized I already have March booked solid with other items. So now seems like as good a time as any to post about the banners.
As I said, these are hanging from my ceiling. That may be easier for me to do than for most people, because the ceiling in my bonus room slants down at the side of the room. Actually, if I had to describe it, I’d say the ceiling in the bonus room is quite similar to a roof. Editor's note: Well, editor just rolled his eyes. Carry on. This roof-like ceiling allows me to hang multiple rows of banners without the ones in back being completely obstructed by those in the front. Of course you could also mount them on the wall, so it's not like they have to be on the ceiling. But the fact that they are is pretty stinkin' cool.
Carolina Collectibles Description
I have hung the seven that I own (yes, I have a 1924 one despite not truly believing that's a "title") using thumb tacks. The head of a thumb tack is the smallest possible item that wouldn't sneak through the banners' grommets, and these seemed like the least destructive thing to poke into the ceiling/roof. Though I will say that from time to time (maybe twice a year) one will take a tumble and need to be re-hung. This doesn't generally happen randomly, it's usually because one of the kids has touched it and wiggled the thumb tack just loose enough to fall.
From an aesthetic standpoint, if your banner has a crease in it from being folded at any point (like when it was in a gift box), do not assume that crease will just go away if you leave it hanging long enough. Mine have been up six or seven years and a couple still have a faint line somewhere on them. Nothing all that noticeable unless you are inspecting them up close prior to writing an entire column about them. I could probably iron them, but (1) I'm not 100 percent sure you can iron this type of felt material without ruining it and (2) I'm 33 years old yet don't actually know how to iron. But aside from that (truly minor) detail, they look awesome and have held up great for the last few years.
As I referenced earlier, I am definitely OCD, so one thing that does bother me with the banners is that to me it's obvious the 1924-2005 banners were designed/produced all at one time (likely after the 2005 title) and then 2009 and 2017 were produced individually later (you know, like after the 2009 and 2017 titles). Everything about the layout and formatting of 1924 through 2005 is exactly the same. Then suddenly, in 2009 and 2017, discrepancies appear.
Between the large/bold "NATIONAL CHAMPIONS" and the schedule, all of the banners say "COACH: Coach's Name." Except 2009 and 2017. For some reason, Ol' Roy isn't referenced on these.
Beneath the schedule, at the bottom of all of the first five banners, the last line of text reads "CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: UNC XX - OPPONENT XX." However, on the 2009 banner, it reads "NORTH CAROLINA 89 · Michigan State 72." No reference to that being the championship game. NORTH CAROLINA instead of UNC (and the opponent is in lower case, so it's like we're screaming at them). Also, between the "89" and "Michigan State" is a vertically centered dot instead of a dash. (Fun fact: that vertically centered dot is called an interpunct and is used for interword separation in Latin script. Do you know how to type one on your key board? Trick question, because after three minutes of searching I determined it doesn't exist. So you copy and paste it from the Wikipedia entry describing it, just like you did with the definition.) Another Editor's note: Option+8 for the win. • ta-da! In 2017, we did stop screaming at them, and it reads "North Carolina 71 · Gonzaga 65."
On the first six banners, under the basketball on the right side, it reads “Record: xx-x.” In 2017, it doesn’t say “record,” it just says 33-7. I actually think this change is an improvement, but still find it disturbingly inconsistent.
Carolina Collectibles Comparison: Smith Center Banners
Obvious comparison, but I'll make it anyway. These small banners perform the exact same function that the giant banners in the Smith Center do. They pay homage to seven spectacular seasons in Carolina Basketball history. In the comfort of your own home!
Carolina Collectibles Rating: 4 stars
If you've got a spot to hang them, these are a fun centerpiece or conversation starter for a room. When people walk into our bonus room, these are often one of the first items they comment on. "Love the banners," they say. Or "hey, cool banners." You know, things like that. Also, if buying as a gift, it's great that you have multiple price points for the same item. You could buy a single one for that person you're not overly concerned with impressing or all of them for that special someone in your life.