Sometimes as a North Carolina athletics beat reporter – that is, a reporter assigned to cover one specific organization or entity – you find yourself writing about odd things.
“You know, I don’t know,” Fedora, the North Carolina football coach, said on Monday after the annual Pigskin Preview. He almost sounded a little embarrassed to talk about his beard, which he began maintaining at some point in the summer.
But it’s there, short and trim, well-maintained, purposeful, intentional. It’s especially noticeable, after years of clean-shaven Fedora.
As is the case with these things sometimes, Fedora’s beard can be traced to the women in his life – his daughters, Sydney, Peyton and Hallie, and his wife, Christi.
At some point this summer, the continued growth of Fedora’s facial hair became a topic at home.
“They were trying to decide on how long I could keep it,” Fedora said of his daughters and the beard. He sounded a bit like a young boy who’d just brought home a lost puppy: How long can I keep it?
Then Sydney, a University of Texas student who’s interested in a career in sports broadcast journalism, executed a daring maneuver. She sought the opinion of people on the Internet. She posed a simple question with a poll on Twitter:
A little more than 350 people voted. Among those, 72 percent said yes, Fedora should keep it.
So here he is, bearded and answering questions about it. Perhaps Sydney will ask him about it on camera. She’s interning at Fox Sports and will be covering the ACC Kickoff in Charlotte on Thursday, when she’ll have a chance to interview her father.
It’s a question about as relevant as any other in mid-July – that purgatory between the longest days of the year and the start of preseason practice. The beard was a topic after the Pigskin Preview and during it, too.
Fedora described it as “just a little bit of summer relaxation.” It’s unclear how long the beard might remain, how long it might grow. Yet for now, Fedora said, “My wife, after 28 years of marriage, gets to look at a new face every morning.”