National Columnist

I really expected more from UNC faithful


Hate Mail: I don't do nice

Congratulations, North Carolina fans. You're just like everybody else.

No, you're worse than everybody else. You're phonies and hypocrites, North Carolina fans. You're liars and excusers.

Tar Heel Nation sure is upset these days ... but at Gregg Doyel? (US Presswire)  
Tar Heel Nation sure is upset these days ... but at Gregg Doyel? (US Presswire)  
Not all of you. In fact, it's the handful of winners among you who give me the strength, and the desire, to expose the losers in your midst. Because after I wrote Tuesday on the moral depravity within the UNC football program -- two different scandals being investigated, a top assistant coach already pushed out, more than a dozen players suspended for the opener -- the losers among you freaked out.

And you freaked out at me. Like this is my fault.

Butch Davis hired John Blake -- a recruiting whiz who had worked for years alongside a top NFL agent. As if the two keys phrases in that previous clause, "recruiting whiz" and "top NFL agent," are completely unrelated. They're not, and that's why Blake is gone. He's gone because he is way too close to agent Gary Wichard to work for a college as noble as UNC has strived to be. Blake's best players have a history of hiring Wichard, including the Tar Heels' top defensive tackle in years, Kentwan Balmer. It is Balmer, by the way, who has been accused -- on the record, by former UNC player Cam Thomas -- of funding a trip to California for current Tar Heel defensive tackle Marvin Austin.

You see all those dots? Connect them. You're smart enough, UNC fans.

And this is why I'm so disappointed in you. Because you're too smart for this. And, yes, I said "disappointed." Not angry. Not defensive. Look, I've had this job at for seven years, and before that -- some of you might recall -- I was at the Charlotte Observer. Since 1997 I've been writing caustic stuff and getting the requisite responses. I've been threatened physically over the years. Death threats? Sure, a few.

The point being: This isn't my first rodeo, and UNC fans didn't hurt my feelings -- they made me sick. Because I thought they were better than this. Swear to God, I really did.

And lots of them are. Some rather important UNC graduates -- people on and off campus, people whose names lots of you would recognize, people whose names I won't repeat here but whose names I've given to my boss -- have written me in shame this week. My bosses have seen the e-mails from these people, good men who are embarrassed that Butch Davis' players allegedly accepted improper benefits from agents and cheated en masse in school. They're humiliated, because stains like those aren't limited to the guilty parties. Stains like those spread, a glass of wine spilled on the white tablecloth that had been North Carolina's reputation.

It's those people who wrote me out of embarrassment for their alma mater -- that high-ranking UNC official, that nationally known professional in the Northeast, that pastor in the South -- who force me to remember that the best parts of UNC are better than this scandal.

But the rest of you fans? You're as bad as the alleged cheats in this story, because you're excusing it. You're deflecting. You're accepting.

In the 24 hours since that story went up, more than 500 of you wrote me. That's a rather large sample size, and this is what you frauds said:

  • You want to kick my ass. I'll print some of those e-mails next week in Hate Mail, because it will be fun to have my way with each of you individually. I looked up lots of you who threatened me. You're all over the map -- professionals and students, overweight and in shape. And all of you missed the point: Your players have made your school look bad. Your players are the cockroaches; I'm just the 120-watt bulb that exposed them to light.

  • UNC didn't deserve to be written about so harshly because other schools cheat, too. You want to know why I'm not writing about Southern California. What about the agent scandal at Florida and Alabama and other places? That's what you told me. As if the large patch of weeds in your yard is excusable because there are more weeds in other neighborhoods.

  • I slandered Butch Davis and the football program. That was your biggest beef -- that I jumped to conclusions. Which is hilarious, because if I jumped, I followed UNC off the diving board. UNC suspended more than a dozen players for the opener because the school didn't believe in them. Innocent until proven guilty? Not for UNC. Those players were judged guilty ahead of time -- and good for UNC for trying to get out ahead of this scandal. The North Carolina Secretary of State's office has subpoenaed Austin for answers. John Blake resigned, and no doubt was pushed out, because the school already fears it knows those answers. But I jumped to conclusions? Jeez, people. Jeez.

  • I went to Duke. Or North Carolina State. Or East Carolina. That's the only way lots of you could come to grips with such a story -- deny the facts, deflect the attention from your school to the person who wrote it. It's his fault!

I've heard it all before. Heard it from Arkansas fans a week ago. Heard it from Boise State fans a few days ago. Heard it from Tennessee fans for 14 solid months, those knuckleheads defending Lane Kiffin, and why? Because he coached Tennessee.

None of this is new to me. I'm long past being bothered by a fan base's naiveté.

But I am bothered by mine. Because I was naïve enough to think the UNC fan base was better than that.

Gregg Doyel is a columnist for He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.

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