Buck Sanders: Let’s just get this topic out of the way off the top. In every preview you read about North Carolina football, the author leads with the bowl ban and how that can potentially impact how the team will perform this year. Maybe we’re devoting too much time to it, but it’s a subject that has to be addressed, given the way it is played in the media. What impact do you guys think the bowl ban will have on the competitiveness and “want to” of this year’s team?
Matt Baker: I think, personally, Larry Fedora’s just too competitive not to see this team give its all. Like you see in most places, the identity of the team is going to follow the head coach. I don’t think he’s going to allow them to feel sorry for themselves because they’re going to miss a bowl game. I’ve seen them say it before; it’s a 12-game season. That’s what it is – it’s 12 games, you know what you’re going to play. So, you’ve got to go out and play every game. You know you’re not going to have any more; it is what it is and you move on. So, I really don’t think it will have any effect this year.
Mark Paschal: I agree with Matt. When you’ve got the senior class, they are well aware of the penalties at hand and what’s going to be in effect. This is their last year; this is their last year to really go out there and represent the University of North Carolina – go out there and play for each other. These guys have been through a whole heck of a lot the past couple of years.
So, I think that with everything that has happened the past 36 months, we’ve got a great opportunity – the senior class does – to go out and really make a stand and say, 'No matter what else has happened, at the end of the day, we’re going to go out and we’re going to do the best we can to take care of our business and make sure that we look back when we’re old guys and say we didn’t get to play in a Bowl game, but we won a lot of football games and have a lot to be proud of. Like Matt was alluding to, you’ve got to look to your leadership and see the football team take on Fedora’s intensity and attitude. I think we’ve got something special. Obviously, we haven’t played a single snap yet but, from everything that you read and everything that you hear about, the team and the way that they’re taking accountability, from working out and going to class, it’s a good mixture of what we’ve got and I think the seniors are really going to rally around each other and make sure this is a special year to kick them off.
Scott Lenahan: I think I have a different opinion on the bowl ban. I think that a lot of these guys, at least the seniors, they’ve been to a bowl before, they kind of know what it’s all about. So, I don’t think they’re really going to be missing too much -- except the freshmen, I’m sure they’ll be missing out on getting the bowl experience. Overall, during the year, I really don’t think they’re going to be thinking about the bowl ban too much. I think when it’s really going to bite them in their rear is come the holiday season when they’re home when usually the past 3-4 years they’ve been at a bowl or getting ready for one. Instead, they’re going to be at home and watching then on TV. I think that’s when it’s going to make a difference and be a little bit different for them. But, throughout the year, I don’t see it making too much of an impact.
Brian Chacos: A bowl game is not a guarantee. Just because you’re playing the season, it’s not guaranteed. So, for everyone saying, 'Oh, we have a bowl ban,' it’s not guaranteed. What Coach Fedora has been saying is we have to be focused week in and week out on just the opponent at hand. So, again, he’s come out with a quote saying, 'Wach week, we’ve got to be 1 and 0.' It’s really cliché, but at the same time, he’s absolutely right. We’ve got to go into each game and be focused and we’ve got to be ready to play. I think we’ve got a great leader in Kevin Reddick, who has really been a leader on the field, but now, give him an opportunity to be in the media some more, he’s really done a good job talking to the media.
But, again, I think this bowl ban, it’s just one extra game, and I think these guys are really looking forward to having a great year, banding together, and just getting this out of the way and really looking towards to the future. We’ve got a lot of great young talent on this team and we have a couple of games circled. I think that Virginia Thursday night game is almost like it’s going to be a quality bowl game -- ESPN, primetime. That alone, in itself, is going to have the atmosphere of a bowl game. So it can be a great season – a lot of excitement around the organization and the program.
Check back tomorrow for Part II – The Offense
Featured Lettermen in Today’s Roundtable
Matt Baker quarterbacked the Tar Heels in 2005, while amassing the 7th-highest season passing yardage total in school history. Following his UNC career, he was a member of six different NFL teams.
Brian Chacos’s UNC career (2001-06) included 35 starts at offensive tackle, a selection to the Lombardi Watch List, and All-ACC Academic honors.
Scott Lenahan manned the center position in Chapel Hill from 2003-07, overlapping two coaching regimes. Nicknamed 'Tank' for his weight room exploits, he earned the top senior honor on the '07 Tar Heel team.
Mark Paschal captained the Tar Heels in 2008. As a middle linebacker, he led the team in tackles prior to a career-ending injury and didn't miss a game in his four-year career up until that point.