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Happy Trails, Woody

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As much as we like using UNC folks as foils, given the proximity of Duke and Carolina and the accomplishments of both programs, there is inevitably a level of respect underlying the rivalry.  That's why you don't see the true sort of hatred you see in some lesser rivalries. There is a lot of water beneath the bridge, if you will, but always respect as well.

So it is with Woody Durham.  We never liked listening to his little digs at Duke -- and he made a lot of them over the years -- and he has always been an absolute homer, above and beyond the call of duty. We prefer Bob Harris, who, while also a homer, is a tad more objective.

Yet there's no getting around this: the man is superbly suited to his job.  Not only does he have a tremendous, highly distinct voice, but he has a phenomenal memory.

He also has a great feel for the theater and drama of sports.  When you listen to him, his cadence, his ability to match the pace of his voice to the action on the floor -- it's a gift.

Like a of Duke fans, we suspect, we listen to a lot of Carolina games as well as Duke's.  Durham -- how's that for an ironic name for a UNC guy (and what does it do but to further the tangled nature of the two schools) -- has always been great.  Like other key figures in the rivalry, we pick on him because he's from the Other Side.

That's just how it works.

Having said that, though, he leaves a void that will be very difficult to fill.  It's too bad in a way that Mick Mixon didn't stick around to take the main chair, although it's possible that he might return.

It's also possible that Woody's son, Wes, currently a broadcaster for Georgia Tech, could move back to the Triangle.

Whoever takes the job will have a tough act to follow.

The standards for American sports broadcasting have generally been set by professionals, and most often baseball professionals.  Red Barber, Harry Caray, Ernie Halwell and Vin Scully, for instance.  Johnny Most and Chick Hearn were the NBA equivalents.

College guys usually get placed a rung below that, but Cawood Ledford and a few others are as good as any broadcasters anywhere.  Even Duke fans, we think, would have to admit that Woody Durham was legitimately great.  We'll miss him. UNC will find someone very good we're sure, but their broadcasts will never be the same.

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