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David McKnight


It's good that so many sportwriters enjoy traveling over to Durham or Chapel Hill to cover the regular-season Duke-Carolina games each year. And Peyton and Eli Manning of the Super Bowl champion Colts and Giants of the last two NFL season were also in attendance at Saturday night's game at Duke.

Which Manning brother is trying to get a sportwriting spot with The Observer during the off-season and which one is angling for a position with The N&O?

All of which makes us wonder: now that you have found the secret to getting press credentials for the Carolina-Duke game, what does it take to gain admittance to press row for the State-Wake game? Is it as hard as getting to cover Minnesota-Iowa?

tom tanner


Charles Lawson

I grew up in Alabama. The Auburn/Alabama football game isn't a matter of life and death--it's much more important!!

David McKnight

The Alabama-Auburn football rivalry is indeed one of the greatest. Though raised on ACC basketball hoopla, I have twice resided in Tennessee and once in Louisiana, and I wish to witness to my Tobacco Road hoops friends that indeed, Southeastern Conference football so often contributes storybook chapters to the saga ofcollegiate rivalry sports: Vanderbilt-Tennessee, for example, or Mississippi-Mississippi State or that great tailgating extravaganza, Georgia-Florida in Jacksonville every year.

But Auburn-Alabama is the best of all because if it is possible to celebrate the ambience of Southern chivalry at a football game, the Tiger and Crimson Tide faithful are able to set the scene for a great gathering of Alabamians each autumn and still witness, between the sideline markers out on the field, some of the most artful and exciting football that you will see anywhere in the country.

Big Four ACC sports in North Carolina is spectacular, but the closest thing you see to the kind of fellowship and intrastate celebration that you have at the Alabama-Auburn football game is when North Carolina and N.C. State play in football because you will often see sweaters or T-shirts featuring the scarlet and the baby blue on folks in the same trio or foursome entering the gates to the game. In fact, it is not uncommon for students from State and Carolina to go on a date to the game, the guy wearing one set of colors and the gal the other.

Guess what, fellow ACC basketball fans, it's not the end of the world if people supporting different teams in an athletic conference can actually be friends during the prime time of the season rather than just bottom-line, businesslike analysts zealously intent on watching out for the short-term post-season fortunes of their favorite schools!

Yes, Charlotte follows ACC's great basketball chase as closely as any other city in North Carolina, but Charlotteans are also enamored with all things Southern, including the misty backdrops of historic football rivalry games in the meadows, hills and valleys of the SEC. Plus, they've got great cuisine on display at SEC pigskin classics, and our ACC basketball buffets could use a little variety and spicing up if you ask me so that we too can say with our friends down on the bayou: "Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

Indeed, one of the most cosmopolitan and intellectual fellows I knew in my high school years in Charlotte loves his Davidson and ACC hoops, but that didn't keep him from getting his Ph.D. in The Land of the Dawgs. So from Grantland Rice to Condoleeza Rice, here's to the good folks of the SEC.

Dave Thompson

Oh, David. I don't think Charlotteans are necessarily "enamored with all things southern," especially the SEC. 1 of 2 Charlotteans was born elsewhere, and many of these elsewheres are places like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, hardly hotbeds of SEC interest. I'm a Charlotte native and I grew up hearing about the ACC and little else. When I went to Chapel Hill, the talk turned to the SEC only when their teams were in contention for national titles, not because there was any on-going interest in them.

North Carolina is a southern state, but it also on the east coast. Perhaps you do, but I know very few people here who care about the south-central part of the country.


Basketball is the only thing NC can root for. Football both at the college level and all other professional sports in NC are weak. Weak for their records and weak for their fan support. Stick to tabacco and hoops NC. Oh and by the way keep recruiting those great out-of-state players. Hope no NC team make it past the final four....just to shut up this state!

David McKnight

I appreciate Dave Thompson's comments about my previous post about the SEC. I sort of had the same view as long as I was calling Charlotte home, but in getting involved with North Carolina statewide or "intrastate" journalism, working at newspapers in Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh and Fayetteville, then being in three political campaigns, one of which was in a statewide primary for U.S. Senate, I began learning a lot about how other North Carolinians see Charlotte and why there seems to be such a gap in appreciation by others of Charlotte's historic role in North Carolina affairs. (Gov. W. Kerr Scott, serving from 1949-1953 in the mid-20th Century, once called Charlotte "the engine that drives the North Carolina economy.")

And in Raleigh, I began to pick up on a real bitterness toward and perhaps jealousy about Charlotte's proximity to South Carolina and close ties to the Palmetto State, not only in terms of folks from South Carolina coming in to the Charlotte area to work every day but also Charlotte's great connections with the breadth of the Palmetto State.

That's when I realized that Charlotte, like perhaps Columbia, S.C., is a true "Southeastern city" in addition to being an important urban corridor of the two Carolinas. Having once been a sports writer, I would go dashing down to South Carolina (Greenville), Alabama (Birmongham) and over to Tennessee (Knoxville and Memphis) to follow the Charlotte baseball team on some road trips, and before that I had attended a number of intersectional football and basketball games involving schools from North Carolina traveling to Columbia, Atlanta, Nashville and other Southern destinations.

So after that I switched from viewing Charlotte as primarily or exclusively Carolinas-oriented to seeing the larger picture of Charlotte's connections in banking, transportation, communications, manufacturing, education, utilities and other endeavors with the greater Southern region, not to mention of course these economic links to the rest of the entire country.

(Look at Johnson C. Smith University and Davidson College--they draw students from all across the South plus other parts of the country.)

I came to the view that some people in the influential Triad-to-Triangle corridor from Greensboro to Raleigh actually begrudged Charlotte's broader Southern regional outlook, so instead of always trying to "apologize" for or "soft-pedal" this Southern vantage point or try to demonstrate over and over again (especially in statewide political campaigns by Charlotte candidates) how much we care about the rest of the state of North Carolina, why not just go ahead and acknowledge that we are little like Denver in the Rocky Mountain states and like Boston in New England--we care about what is going on within our immediate two-state region of North and South Carolina but we are also proud of being good neighbors with cities and towns from Richmond to Mobile.

Yes, the East and the Midwest are very important to Charlotte and have been since I was a youngster growing up in Charlotte in the 1950s with so many of our visionary municipal leaders having come south from Northeastern and Midwestern climes from New Jersey to Ohio, where Knight Newspapers were once based in Akron. For those who were around then, just think back on the beginnings of big-time NCAA basketball showcases at Paul Buck's Charlotte Coliseum in the '50s and '60s. You had Davidson, North Carolina and South Carolina from our region and then schools like Princeton, Penn and St. Bonaventure coming in to play from up north.

So I agree about the importance of the North in makeup of Charlotte's present population. Indeed, Charlotte broadened its sports frontiers as well as its outlook in other areas. I mean, Charlotte's first hockey league had teams like the Johnstown Jets from Pennsylvania, the Clinton Comets from New York State, the New Haven Blades from Connecticut, the old Philadelphia Ramblers and teams like that along with our Piedmont neighbor Greensboro. So we learned plenty about the mid-Atlantic when it came to sports. Frank McGuire brought New Yorkers to play college basketball at North Carolina and South Carolina. But look at ex-New Yorker Bobby Cremins, who played for McGuire at USC--he's been a coach at Georgia Tech and College of Charleston, so he's also a Southern Sophisticate in his own unique way. And Mr. Detroit himself, Dick Vitale, just loves mixing and mingling in Durham and Chapel Hill when Duke and North Carolina tangle in basketball.

But in broadening our reach to the North, we didn't let go of the Deep South in doing so, which is why when Charlotte musicians want to strike up songs like "Georgia," "Stars Fell on Alabama," "Leavin' Louisiana in the Broad Daylight," they can always find a receptive audience for everything from jazz and country to blues and R&B from the Southland.
Plus look at all of Charlotte's leaders from banking to journalism who "came north" instead of "going down south" to reach Charlotte--from South Carolina to Mississippi to become many of the anchors of Charlotte's great growth in the last third of the 20th Century and on into the 21st: Hugh McColl from South Carolina, Bob Inman from Alabama, Ed Williams from Missouri by way of Mississippi.

So that's my view of it--perhaps we're not quite as "Dixie" as Atlanta or Nashville, but we are a lot like Columbia, Birmingham and Memphis in urban outlook in my view of things anyway.

We must be inclusive of all these regional ties so that we will not always get counted out at the political roundtables in our state capital of Raleigh or in our athletics programs at UNC Charlotte and other area colleges and universities, or in the performing arts or in education across the board. And we need Major League Baseball in Charlotte and iwll have to have a strong Southern base to support it between Atlanta and Washington.

In fact, if Raleigh were more like Charlotte in reaching both to the north and the south, the Capital City would not be letting go of the fine MEAC basketball tournament, which is making its final run after three tours in Raleigh. True, Raleigh lost the CIAA tournament to Charlotte, but it needs good ties to Norfolk and the Chesapeake region just as Charlotte has with cities like Roanoke and Charleston, WVa., so I feel that Raleigh is making a huge mistake in turning up its nose at the MEAC, an important historically African-American collegiate tournament featuring teams like South Carolina State, Norfolk State and N.C. A&T State.

But they're not going to listen to someone from Charlotte unless he or she gets elected governor or something.

Still, those who have come south to a new home in North Carolina--whether to Charlotte or over here to the Raleigh-Durham area where I have been living recently--these new Carolinians should want North Carolina to be a "winning state" and not a state that just "places" in various forms of educational, economic and professional competition. Hey, Northerners who move to Dallas or Austin expect to become "part of the Texas scene." They relish it, go after it with gusto and become great Texans just as Jerry Jeff Walker did in music coming to the Lone Star State from New York.

So ex-Northerners should not settle for having North Carolina be some sort of "outpost" or "colony," not really engaged with its own region of the country. North Carolina history and culture are more elusive and challenging to learn about for newcomers than that of some other Southern states but this is because of North Carolina's unusually geography, geology, literature, music and having been the only one of the original 13 colonies not founded on a town. Why not make an effort to learn a little about it--the great African-American jazz pioneers who were from the Carolinas, the German-American chapters of Western Piedmont history, the Scottish Highlanders' story of the Cape Fear, the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountain folk ties to Ireland and Scotland, the almost Shakespearean, Elizabethan attraction of the Carolina coast to England even after several centuries.

It's an adventure of discovery worth pursuing. Besides, if the "Lost Colony" had not gotten "lost" in the 1580s when Shakespeare and Galileo were turning 20 in 1584, who's to say they might not have come over to "The New Virginia" to write a play or two or to gaze upwards toward the stars from the shores of "the Goodliest Land Under the Cope of Heaven?"

Gary Rossington

The ACC is without a doubt the best conference in College Basketball history, but their fanbase sure hasn't evolved.

For the most part, it's still just a bunch of Mongoloidal Hayseeds who've never even set foot on a college campus. Very frustrating and embarassing for the region and alums.

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