Pigskin Preview: Fun & Games

CARY, N.C. -- North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, along with various other area college head coaches, answered a variety of questions at the 12th Annual Bill Dooley Chapter Pigskin Preview on Thursday.

This year’s installment, held at the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham/Research Triangle, drew over 500 people and raised over $10,000 dollars (from signed team football helmets) for scholarships while other proceeds are earmarked for the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame scholarship program.

The forum also provided Fedora, along with Duke head coach David Cutcliffe, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren, East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill and North Carolina Central head coach Jerry Mack, an opportunity to discuss a variety of college football topics in a more informal setting.

The tone of the question-and-answer segment became apparent when the third-year UNC head coach was asked how his wife feels about his job.

“The biggest question I get from my wife is what do we do up there all the time?” Fedora said. “You’ve got a ball and go over those white lines, and you have one group that’s trying to keep it from happening. What are you doing with all those coaches? The game is not that hard.

“Now she’s also asked me how many downs it takes to get a first down, and that was after 26 years of marriage. She knows who wins and loses and that’s about it.” Fedora jokingly thanked emcee Don Shea when he asked Cutcliffe about beating North Carolina in each of the last two seasons. He even playfully dropped his own microphone when Shea continued to press the issue.

Of course, there were more substantive questions asked, although Fedora didn’t give anything away when asked who the Tar Heels’ starting quarterback would be if the season started tomorrow.

“First of all, we don’t play tomorrow, so you won’t get an answer for that one,” Fedora quipped, adding that the staff would make a decision before the season opener against Liberty on Aug. 30.

Fedora also of the familiarity involved during the third year of his program.

“We’re at a point where everybody knows everybody and we know our strengths and weaknesses,” Fedora said. “We have the youngest team I’ve had in 26 years of coaching… and that’s where most of our talent is. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.”

One of the underclassmen that has really stood out, to the surprise of very few, is highly-touted freshman running back Elijah Hood. Fedora reinforced what he said at the ACC Kickoff on Monday in Greensboro when he called Hood a special young man “that should definitely be a contributor this season.”

Fedora continued to hand out praise when he was asked what made return man Ryan Switzer (the lone Tar Heel on the preseason All-ACC team) such a unique talent.

“He’s fearless on the football field,” Fedora said. “He’s got that little man syndrome where he wants to prove everybody wrong all the time. He’s got the speed and the quickness to do something special… He’s also very passionate about the game of football.”

Finally, all of the coaches were asked about what they thought about the new college football playoff system. Fedora highlighted the setup’s positives and negatives, as he sees it.

“I do like it,” Fedora said. “At the same time, we kind of already have that. We have a conference championship game, and if you don’t win that you’re out of the playoff.

“I’m not a proponent of adding more games, unless we’re going to get more scholarships and more players to play with, and that’s not going to happen because it all boils down to money.”

UNC’s signed helmet auctioned off for $2,500 for the second consecutive year. N.C. Central’s also went for $2,500, while Duke’s hat was auctioned for $2,200. ECU’s helmet went for $2,000 and N.C. State brought up the rear at $1,500.


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