UNC Fan, John E.
September 4, 2010 was a sultry evening in Atlanta, but one John Exum had long been awaiting. His Top-25 ranked Tar Heels were set to face off against the highly ranked, eventual SEC runner-up, LSU Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome.
Clad in his powder blue polo shirt adorned with the Tar Heel logo, he endured the haunting sounds of the “Tiger bait” chants echoing from throats of obnoxious LSU fans. Desperately scouring the outside of the stadium for a ticket, he had no choice but to take the first and only ticket offered— a spot in the LSU section. It wasn’t more than five minutes of sitting cordially among the enemy with his true colors on full display, that John forcefully made his way toward the others more like him.
But the Tar Heels had been devastated by academic scandal. Star Defensive End Marvin Austin would be suspended for the season, with many more unavailable for that game.
Their defense was almost entirely second string, but one would have thought the special teams were the ones lacking their stars. Patrick Peterson almost single-handedly decimated their coverage teams with his incredible speed.
Alas, the Heels began to make some noise! A touchdown quickly chipped seven points off of the daunting LSU lead. Moments later Quarterback T.J. Yates would connect with fellow Tar Heel Jeremy Boyd for a 99-yard touchdown.
And just like that, there was once again a real game. A nail-biter. Despite initial apprehension about the unattested defense, chants of “YOU-CAN’T-BEAT...OUR SECOND-STRING” reverberated from the Carolina faithful. Just like a true, die-hard fan, John very actively participated, losing his voice in the very process.
Following another heroic defensive stop, the Tar Heels regained possession in the waning minutes. In what was shaping up to be an epic comeback finish, the stuff of ESPN legend, the Tar Heels drove the ball down the field. But suddenly the life was sucked out of the Carolinians side, when John and the thousands of other aghast Tar Heels saw the final play— an incomplete pass to Tight End Zach Pianalto in the end zone.
Call them bad sports, but Zach was held! Now six years later in the very same venue, John Exum is looking for his beloved Tar Heels to redeem themselves against a different but also very formidable SEC opponent.