CHAPEL HILL – Tough journalist ask tough questions. Then there is me.
In this field there is a time and a place for every kind of question. Some questions presented to coaches/players can be uncomfortable, but need to be addressed. University of North Carolina coach Larry Fedora has been on the receiving end of those hard questions for most of his career in Chapel Hill.
Rarely do I go into a weekly press conference so determined to ask Fedora a single question, but last Monday was the exception. Let me give you the backstory first. On Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. the Tar Heels clinched the Coastal Division crown with a 30-27 overtime win over Virginia Tech.
In the post game press conference Fedora said he couldn’t even remember what he told the team – the magnitude of the accomplishment yet to set in. Shortly after leaving Lane Stadium I settled into the backseat of the car, grabbed my phone and started scrolling through Instagram to kill time on the three hour ride home. That’s when I saw it.
Fedora was standing in front of the team, addressing them before he met with the media, players still wearing their uniforms. Out of nowhere, Fedora broke out the dab dance. Not once. Not twice. Triple dab on them.
The dab is the latest dance phenom sweeping the country. We have the rap group ‘Migos’ to thank for that. The first time I saw the moved performed was on an Instagram post from UNC defensive back Des Lawrence, striking the pose during the South Carolina game back in September. I saw the same thing from Carolina defensive tackle defensive tackle Robert Dinkins a few days later. So this ‘dab’ had my attention.
Fast forward to now and everybody is doing it. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney (when you have Dab in your name, I mean come on) has done it and Panthers coach Ron Rivera did it a day later than Fedora in the locker room. This thing went mainstream, in my opinion, after Rivera’s quarterback Cam Newton did the dance after scoring on the Tennessee Titans a few weeks ago. Newton told the media he got instructions from his younger brother to “dab on them folks.” That’s what he did, and wouldn’t you know, the dance has blown up and found it’s way to the visitors locker room in Lane Stadium.
So at the 11:38 mark of Fedora’s 20 minute press conference, I felt it was time to lighten the mood and get to the bottom of this.
“Coach, shortly after the game ended on Saturday, a video went viral of you doing a dance in the locker room. Was that something you had planned, or spur of the moment?”
“Spur of the moment,” Fedora said grinning ear to ear. “The guys always want you do a dance, they always want me to do stuff.”
I wasn’t done.
“Did you practice that? Because it looked pretty good.”
For the record, Fedora’s dab was nearly flawless. The dab is a cross between sneezing into your sleeve and Usian Bolt’s race celebration. Fedora’s technique was perfect.
But did he practice? When asked, he gave me a don’t be ridiculous look before replying, “No (laughs), no I don’t practice.”
Now other media in the room are getting in on the act.
“Who taught you the dance?” Fedora was asked.
“They do,” Fedora said, now all in with the dab conversation. “They say, ‘coach you know how to dab don’t you,?’” Then they’ll show you.”
UNC quarterback Marquise Williams said Fedora’s dancing was the “funniest thing ever.”
Obviously, the Migos liked it enough to post it on their official Instagram page as I was informed by linebacker Jeff Schoettmer. Schoettmer said Fedora’s moves were good, noting the coach has come a long way. When he says this, I thought he meant in the coach being able to show that side around the guys. However, Schoettmer refreshed my memory that this wasn’t Fedora’s first time busting a move in the locker room.
“He’s done a good job for himself,” Schoettmer said. “I don’t think he’s danced in the locker room since the Belk Bowl win a couple of years ago.”
Ahh, the Belk Bowl. How did I forget? After Carolina defeated Cincinnati, 39-17, Fedora introduced the world (well at least me, who is always behind on the latest dance moves) to the ‘Nae-Nae.’
It’s true. There is footage out there. So is his ‘Dab’ better than his ‘Nae-Nae?’
“I think so,” Schoettmer said before turning to Williams asking if he agreed.
“His Nae-Nae sucked,” Williams said.
Schoettmer said the Dab came out of nowhere. A few steps away, linebacker Shakeel Rashad said that wasn’t 100 percent true.
“He did it at practice last week,” Rashad said, obviously anxious to get in on this Fedora dabbing conversation. “It was pre-practice and we were walking by and he did it. I thought to myself, ‘what is happening?’”
So maybe on December 5 when Clemson plays UNC in the ACC Championship game, instead of a coin toss, we can have a pregame dab contest between Dabo and Fedora.