I am back after a couple of weeks off. Sorry that the blog hasn't been updated in awhile. Let's get that rectified with three quick thoughts:
-- UNC solidified its NCAA at-large credentials with a big home win Saturday over N.C. State. The Tar Heels would have to fall apart completely to miss the Big Dance now. It could be a banner year for N.C. in March -- Duke will be a No.1 or No.2 seed, State will certainly make the field and Davidson will be favored to win the Southern Conference again. And there could be more. After Sunday's disappointing 20-point home loss to Temple, Charlotte is on the outside looking in and would need a big run over the next two weeks -- but that's not inconceivable for a team that has beaten Butler on the road.
-- Saturday's NASCAR wreck was horrific, and after watching that race car disintegrate and spew into the stands I agree with Humpy Wheeler -- spectators need to be moved back and up, no matter how much it costs. When you injure your own customers, that's a seriously bad business model.
-- Our Joseph Person reports that the Panthers will likely try to keep all three of their running backs in 2013 -- DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert. I have previously advocated trading DeAngelo if the price was right, but I can see the logic of this move. Stewart was hurt a lot in 2012 and while Tolbert is a fine short-yardage back, you don't want him as your every-down guy. And if you're not going to get good trade value for DeAngelo, by all means keep him -- that 210-yard rushing performance in Week 17 shows he's still got a lot of juice left.
Lastly, if you haven't yet read this story by our Gary Schwab and David Scott on Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick -- one of the best running backs you've never heard of -- you owe it to yourself. It's fantastic.