Dissension In Tar Heel Land
October 10, 2013
Not everyone within the North Carolina Athletic Department is happy with how P.J. Hairston is being treated by head basketball coach Roy Williams.
Jack Halperin, a tutor who worked with UNC athletes for 23 years, announced his departure in a letter of protest directed at Williams. The letter, published in the Daily Tar Heel, calls Williams’ decision not to dismiss star guard P.J. Hairston this summer “disgraceful.”
Halperin, in the letter, indicated that it seemed like the athletic program did not learn anything from the “devastating football scandal.” His letter also told Williams that he, himself, would have been fired from UNC if he committed the same crimes Hairston did this past summer.
I have spoken of Hairston’s activities since last summer in these pages. To review, on June 5, Hairston was pulled over in a rented GMC Yukon licensed to convicted felon, Hadyn “Fats” Thomas, and was charged for misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license. A gun was found at the scene, although it was not tied to Hairston. The charges were dropped after Hairston completed a drug assessment program.
In July, Hairston received a speeding ticket that included an additional charge of careless and reckless driving.
Williams has indefinitely suspended Hairston, who has been practicing with the team since September. The Tar Heels coach has provided no timetable for a return other than saying there was no question that Hairston, who averaged a team-high 14.6 points per game last season, would play this season.
Sid’s NFL Observations
I watched a lot of football on Sunday and will share some thoughts/insights with you.
Though both Denver and Dallas start with the letter D, there was little D (defense) when the teams combined for 99 points in Denver’s 51-48 victory over Dallas. Tony Romo added some material to the late-game struggles within his resume. He tossed a game-deciding interception to Broncos linebacker Danny Trevathan with 1:57 remaining.
That was really the only mistake Romo made all day, but his career-best game was ruined by it, thanks to the last-second 28-yard Matt Prater field goal it set up. Romo threw for a team-record 506 yards and five touchdowns against Denver, but his pick took the spotlight off a Cowboys defense that allowed Peyton Manning to throw for 414 yards, with four touchdown passes and another score on the ground. The teams’ combined 99 points are tied for the fourth most in league history, and it was only the fourth time in NFL play that both teams scored at least 48. The game was truly ‘an instant classic.’
The Indianapolis Colts are for real. I know there were doubters last season when the Indianapolis Colts came out of nowhere to go 11-5 and make the AFC playoffs with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback.
Indy was the feel-good story of the year in 2012, mainly with the way Andrew Luck seamlessly replaced Peyton Manning and kept reeling off fourth-quarter comeback victories.
I read many stories over the summer that the Colts would fall back to earth this season now that they would not have a coveted last-place schedule to fatten up on. What I see in 2013 is an even better Indy team. They proved it again on Sunday at home, rallying to knock off the undefeated Seattle Seahawks 34-28, in a game that displayed the Colts’ resilience. Down 12-0 in the first quarter, and 25-17 in the third quarter, Indianapolis scored 17 of the game’s final 20 points and pinned a defeat on a very good Seattle team. Indy is now 4-1 and in sole possession of first place in the AFC South. In the span of three games, the Colts have throttled two of the NFC’s top heavyweights in San Francisco (27-7 on the road in Week 3) and the Seahawks, and signaled that they are in the Super Bowl chase.
Sticking with the Colts a bit longer. Do you feel, like I do, that Andrew Luck is a bit underrated at this time in his brief NFL career? While the media has gone a tad bit overboard with Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, Luck has quietly emerged as one of the game’s top five signalcallers. In improving his record as a starter to 15-6, Luck posted his ninth career fourth-quarter comeback, finishing 16-of-29 for 229 yards, with two touchdowns, a key two-point conversion pass to Reggie Wayne in the highly anticipated head-to-head matchup with Wilson. The former Stanford star once again showed the ability to close out a game, throwing for 132 yards and a touchdown in the second half, on 11-of-16 passing.
It is safe to say that the New Orleans Saints are back. And they actually have some defense this time around. Drew Brees didn’t throw for 300 yards against the Bears on the road at Soldier Field last week, and the Saints still won 26-18.
Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor
Brees entered the game with an NFL-record nine straight 300-yard passing efforts, but he threw for a relatively meager 288 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Chicago. The Saints are 5-0 for the first time since their Super Bowl season of 2009, and this was their most impressive win of the season. Next up for Sean Payton, who clearly has shown that his team missed him during his 2013 suspension, is a tough road game at New England.
Quarterbacks are falling fast in the NFL. Week five saw Cleveland’s Brian Hoyer and Buffalo’s EJ Manuel both going down in Thursday night’s Browns’ win. Hoyer is lost for the season due to an ACL injury and Manuel is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a knee sprain. On Sunday, Michael Vick was forced to leave the Eagles’ win over the Giants with a hamstring injury. He is expected to miss at least one more game. Jacksonville’s oft-injured Blaine Gabbert was also knocked from a loss in St. Louis with a hamstring pull of his own. This after Tennessee’s Jake Locker (hip), Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor (concussion) and Minnesota’s Christian Ponder (rib) all were hurt in Weeks 3-4, resulting in at least one game missed each.
How about the NFC Eastern Division. Not that long ago, this was the best conference in the league. Not anymore. Dallas and Philadelphia are tied for the top spot at 2-3, with Washington taking its bye last week at 1-2, and the woeful Giants sitting 0-5 for the first time in over 25 years.
Panthers’ Cam Newton
What about those Giants? Eli Manning is not enjoying himself as much these days as his brother, Peyton. The younger Manning brother has thrown 12 interceptions already in 2013. At 0-5, the Giants aren’t dead, because they’re only two games out of first in the weak NFC East, with 11 games remaining. It is true that no 0-5 team has ever made the NFL playoffs, but it likely also true that no 0-5 team has ever been in a divsion this bad. The Giants had a 21-19 lead late in the third quarter against Philly last week and wound up losing by 15 points. New York’s defense has given up at least 31 points in all five games this season.
Let me close with the Carolina Panthers. It appeared that everything was positive after the team blew out the Giants. Well, we now know that everyone is blowing the Giants out. We also know that the Panthers looked awful last week in losing 22-6 to an Arizona team that is not very good. Carolina, at 1-3, are a very frustrating team to watch. And they are back to the drawing board. Did you know that this is the fifth straight year that the Panthers have been 1-3 or worse after four games. Cam Newton took a major step backward as he tossed three interceptions, fumbled once and was sacked seven times, including for a safety. The Panthers look lost on offense and you have to think that head coach Ron Rivera is having negative thoughts when his phone rings.