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Need a one-stop shop to catch up on the top sports stories big and small? Time Out For Sports airs Mondays on WFAE's "All Things Considered" and has what you need to know about everything from Charlotte-area high school football highlights to the latest updates on the Carolina Panthers.

It’s a good time to be a college football fan in the Carolinas

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.
UNC Football
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North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

The Carolina 10 (Clemson, NC State, Wake Forest, UNC, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, South Carolina, East Carolina, Duke and Charlotte) have a combined win-loss record of 17-6 so far this season. Six teams are undefeated and three are nationally ranked. And, if you can believe this nugget, North Carolina’s “Big Four”(the Atlantic Coast Conference’s NC State, Wake Forest, UNC and Duke) are all 2-0 or better for the first time ever. That dates back to 1892, when all four schools first all fielded a football squad.

And, after nearly upsetting UNC, and hanging 61 points on them, the Appalachian State Mountaineers rolled into College Station last Saturday and upset No. 6 Texas A&M 17-14, not only turning the college football world upside down but also stealing the Aggies’ coveted ESPN’s College GameDay spot. The show will travel to Boone, N.C. for the first time to feature the Mountaineers game vs. Troy on Saturday rather than the Miami-Texas A&M matchup in College Station.

Side note: when the SEC and Big Ten are done creating their 25-team super conferences, the ACC should look to raid the Sun Belt Conference. That just might be the best Group of Five conference in the NCAA.

So, with all of that, I give you the Carolina (DI) Top Ten NCAA football teams. My disclaimer is that there is absolutely no science to this. This is my smell test and gut reactions to the early play (national ranking is in parenthesis).

  1. Clemson (5) — (2-0): Until they lose, they stay at the top. Simple formula for this.
  2. Appalachian State — (1-1): What? No. 2 you say. Yes. They just beat the No. 6 team in the country at their barn. Additionally, hook any UNC fan to a lie detector and ask them if they want to play App. St. again.
  3. Wake Forest (19) — (2-0): Wake has looked impressive in their wins, especially since Sam Hartman has returned.
  4. NC State (16) — (2-0): Barely won against East Carolina (missed extra point and missed late field goal). The Wolfpack will have to win back my confidence.
  5. Coastal Carolina — 2-0: This is a squad that is going to have to gel — the backend of their schedule is brutal (Old Dominion, Marshall, App. St., Southern Miss. Virginia and James Madison).
  6. Duke — (2-0): The Mike Elko era is off to a grand start.
  7. North Carolina — (3-0): How is UNC ranked No. 7 in this poll you ask? They allowed a 20-man short Florida A&M team to post 24 points on them. One week later, App. St. hung 61 on them in a two-point loss and then last week, they beat Georgia St. 35-28. Georgia St. not Georgia. Right now, their only quality win is a shootout with App. St. I will say that QB Drake Maye looks like the real deal.
  8. South Carolina — (1-1): Life in the SEC is tough. And folks were more obsessed about the nickname of the sideline rooster than the play on the field.
  9. East Carolina — (1-1): The life of a kicker can be a lonely one. ECU would be in the top three of this poll if only…
  10. Charlotte — (0-3): Oof.

The Absurdity of sports: Baseball purists

Following the conclusion that contemporary analytics have made baseball a slower, less interesting sport, Major League Baseball will implement some of its most drastic rule changes for the upcoming season, implementing a pitch clock, increasing the size of the bases and limiting defensive shifts.

As always, players and purists were out there like old men sitting on park benches, shaking their fists at the pigeons and squirrels.

Charlie Blackmon, pitcher, Colorado Rockies: “I’m actually very against how it’s happening. It helps left-handed hitters like me. But anytime you have the boss implement something against the will of the players, that’s not good for the game of baseball. … It would be really great if we could have arrived at a conclusion together, with compromise. That would have been nice. It sounds like something we should have addressed in the (collective bargaining agreement), which, I guess is our fault as players.

Sadly, these purists and players don’t realize that these rules have been tested in the minor leagues. Players coming up are now used to some of these changes. And, quite frankly, Major League Baseball needs to get it together. The NBA and the NFL make rule changes every year. Rarely do these rule changes chase people away. Had Major League Baseball slowly implemented these changes over the past 20 years rather than quibble over the universal designated hitter, the sport would probably be in better shape and ratings would be up. Instead, the league has implemented sweeping changes, purists are having knee-jerk reactions and people like me are saying, “It’s about time.”

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Robb Crocker is a digital editor with WFAE. Originally from New Jersey, Robb grew up in the Washington, D.C. area. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, where majored in print and broadcast journalism and also studied English and creative writing. He earned a Master's degree in Communication from Rutgers University and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at VCU's Media, Art & Text program. He is a veteran news/sports reporter and digital editor with stints at the Washington Post, Hanley Wood magazines, Richmond.com, WTVR CBS 6 and WRIC ABC 8. He has also produced the Writing Our Way Out podcast.