Fedora, Jordan, & UNC

A hat tip to Claude Webb for pointing out this story earlier today.

Rufus Bailey was a professor in North Carolina before he headed west in 1858 to take over the presidency of Austin College.  His 4 year tenure was a challenging one.  The Civil War forced Bailey to temporarily close the college, and poor health eventually forced his resignation.  He passed in 1863, just before the death of the school’s most famous trustee Sam Houston.  Administrators at UT, A&M, TCU, SMU, Rice, Tech, Trinity, and Southwestern certainly didn’t struggle as much as Bailey in 1861.  Those schools did not exist. 🙂

Maybe it’s preferable for Roos to depart for the Tar Heel state instead.

Expectations were high for the 1981-82 UNC Tar Heels basketball team.  Already at 3-0, they took to the court at Carmichael Arena against South Florida and demolished the Bulls 75-39.  It was over by halftime.  Freshman Michael Jordan had 16 points, and let the bench get some game time in the second half.  The date was December 12, 1981.

It was a pretty good day for freshman receiver Larry Fedora and the Austin College Kangaroos as well. 😉

The Tar Heels kept rolling all the way through the NCAA tournament, advancing to the finals with a 31-2 record against Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas.  Down 1 with 17 seconds, Jordan mailed a jumper to give UNC the lead for good.  That shot, and the Tar Heel championship that it secured, propelled Jordan into global basketball stardom.

I bet ol’ Larry Fedora was watching.  He was probably in Baker or Luckett Hall, marveling at yet another epic national championship ending that year.  What was he thinking?  I’ll tell you what he was not thinking.  He was not thinking………”I’m gonna team up with that guy on a Carolina court in a few decades.”  Funny how life’s many long and winding roads meet up in unexpected places.

Jordan finished his career at UNC in 1984 as an NCAA All-American.  Ditto Fedora, whose last season in 1984 catching footballs earned him NAIA D2 All-American recognition.  Their paths since have taken them through multiple cities, sports, and professions.  But those paths crossed this week.

Jordan “Jumpman” brand of athletic gear has been the official gear of UNC basketball, and now it will do the same for UNC football.  The deal was announced at the halftime of what is likely the best rivalry in college basketball:  Duke vs. UNC.  The Chapel Hill hero had enthusiastic words for the tremendous turnaround Fedora has overseen for Tar Heel fans on the gridiron.

Great job Coach, and thanks for making us proud to be Roos.  We’re all just a little bit more Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred.