While I've consistently stayed away from pro football and basketball commentary, because its a very real concern in Charlotte, I'm going to have to offer some opinions, and that can be summed up in the notion that its allllll good.
Paul Silas changed the team equation immediately after taking over from Larry Brown, and going up-tempo certainly can't hurt the general perception that the 9-19 Bobcats were a plodding and under-achieving group. You might even add boring to that description. Every time you read Brown's bio you saw the words "Hall of Fame coach", but I honestly wasn't one of the believers in his ability to produce a winner here despite the fact of making the playoffs last year. When you can't decide on who is going to run the team *despite* having NC alum-fan favorite-productive Ray Felton, you are missing the boat, a fact that the resurgent NY Knicks with Felton would bear witness to. Silas has been using a 14-second shot clock in practice, and for a team that is 29th in scoring (91.7, only Milwaukee puts less on the board), seeing guys move will be a welcome difference.
As a Knicks fan, at least in the early 70s when they were the epitomy of TEAM with DeBuschere, Reed, Frazier et al, I feared Silas. My first comment to Hornets coach Dave Cowens when he took over the Charlotte team back in '95 was that I hated his competitive guts, but Silas, you had to admire how he bounced people around and always got the clutch rebound. I recall his previous tenure as the Hornets coach because the notion that "he is a father-figure to many players, and if Coleman (Derrick C. had a HUGE contract at that time) won't put out effort for him, when/who will he ever play for?" struck me as the pinnacle of Truth. That Silas was also LeBron's coach in Cleveland is an interesting extra, proving only that he's led horses to water, but if he can't get them to drink, look at the players.
My New Years wish is to cover the Bobcats as they usher in a new era of exciting and productive hoops, because as I've said often, Carolinians KNOW what good hoops looks like. Bob Johnson didn't put a quality team on the court, and "we" knew it. MJ has a very 'right' guy at the helm now.
Meineke will be bowing out of the bowl scene after this year, but congrats to them for putting Charlotte on the map. Charlotte has seen more quality football from having the stadium filled during ACC championship and this event than Panthers put out all year, and thats only half-way dissing the Panthers. I'll take Clemson, mostly because I'm sure my brother Mike, who attended USF, will watch the game and he has been Death for the team every previous time.
Coach Fox will probably get another gig in the NFL, there are currently or soon to be, seven available, but he never overcame, or seemed to have even TRIED to, the fact that teams stacked the box knowing he had no receiver other than Steve Smith and didn't have a QB worth talking about once the team axed Jake Delhomme. While DeAngelo Williams and Jon Stewart gained over 1100 yards each last year, all fans saw was them running into backs of O-linemen for minimal gains in 2010. You can't gimmick your way to a playoff-worthy record, but keeping the defense on the field constantly because you can't move the ball sucked the life out of everyone.
That he didn't utilize Tony Pike when the opportunity arose, picking "Door #4" (HUH?!) for someone to run the team instead, provoked immense dissatisfaction. I was part of the mob that left at end of 3rd quarter of Ravens game and probably got Mr. Richardson thinking about his letter. I will be a fan again in 2011 (I believe there will be games, just when 'real' ones actually start is a ??), even bought my DeAngelo jersey for $9 from the clearance rack at Belk, because I *KNOW* Mr. R. will make Andrew Long an offer he can't refuse and Andy being a really smart guy about accepting it means things will improve.
Oh, final note about the NASCAR Hall of Fame and fact that guy who projected attendance figures knew he was fudging things to a major degree: didn't ANYONE else look at the idea of how many people he expected to push through the doors before okaying the $$ that went into things?