Friday, September 3, 2010

Game storylines all revolve around UNC scandals - who's motivated more?

Marvin Austin has been suspended indefinitely and now AP reports that leading receiver Greg Little will be left in Chapel Hill when North Carolina travels to Atlanta to take on LSU Saturday - this as a result of an NCAA investigation into inappropriate perks from sports agents.

With all the talk about that investigation and a UNC internal investigation into players turning in papers written for them by a tutor, a lot has flown under the radar. For instance, all the talk may actually benefit UNC quarterback T.J. Yates who would have been the biggest story heading into the season. Sure there will be pressure for him to answer critics, many of which booed him at a Carolina basketball game earlier this year, but imagine the spotlight that would have shined on him without the scandal.

Also, LSU must be feeling overlooked with most of the national attention on the Carolina troubles. This could motivate them to show that there should have been more talk about them.

Many are saying that Carolina doesn't have a chance if seven defensive starters believed to be involved in the academic scandal don't play. That has to irritate the backup players who probably believe they are ready to start and play well. As Yates said, no one comes to play backup at Carolina - everyone wants to start.

This is probably the most intriguing game of the opening week. Who will play for Carolina? How good are those substituting for the projected starters? Do the intangibles go to LSU, which feels overlooked, or Carolina, which is tired of hearing about the scandals and wants to prove that they can beat LSU regardless of who's on the field.

Like Las Vegas, I haven't a clue as to how this game is going to go and how Carolina will react to the adversity. If the Heels overcome it all and manage to win, this could still be a special season. If they lose, especially if they lose badly, it could be a long season.

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