Sibling Rivalry

Carolina’s football program landed a critical recruit this weekend when highly touted QB Mike Paulus announced his attention to go to UNC. Yes, Mike Paulus – younger brother of Duke’s freshman point guard Greg Paulus.
You might recall that the elder Paulus was considered to be the best high school quarterback in the nation, but picked Duke basketball over Notre Dame (and others) football.
This sort of story has happened before, where brothers choose to attend rival schools. Jason Capel played basketball at Carolina a few years after his brother Jeff finished up at Duke. There were two key differences to that situation though. First, Jeff had already left Duke before Jason showed up in Chapel Hill. There would be no concurrent rivalry. More importantly, Jeff had a rough go of it at Duke. He was on the disastrous ’95 team and he was once famously booed by the Cameron Crazies. There was a feeling that Jason’s choice of the Tar Heels was a bit of an F-U to Duke on behalf of his brother.
But this Paulus thing is different. Very different.
I understand that it’s tough to be a younger brother of a star. His whole life, Mike has had to answer the question, “oh, so you must be Greg’s little brother?” He probably feels like he’s never had a real chance to forge his own identity – to build his own legacy. How can you when your older brother is one of the more heralded high school athletes ever?
So, I understand why Mike would choose a different school and different sport from Greg. He wants to blaze his own trail. But why UNC? It’s not like it’s a regional thing. The Paulus’ are from Syracuse, NY. Mike could have gone to a number of fine programs, including Southern Cal. Of all the far-away schools to choose from, why pick the one eight miles away from his brother? Why his brother’s arch-rival?
The only reasonable answer is that he doesn’t just want to make his own name, but he wants to do it in his brother’s face. Greg will likely be a starter at Duke for four years and given his skin color and position, he’ll probably take over from J.J. Redick the role as most-hated-athlete in the ACC. Mike, meanwhile will be taking over (he hopes) the most critical position on the Tar Heel football team. He can be the perfect compliment to his brother – the quarterback of Carolina’s football team versus the quarterback of Duke’s basketball team.
I’m guessing Mike put up with a few too many beatdowns from his brother in the backyard, driveway and basement. I bet he’s answered “yes, he’s my brother” a few too many times, only to then have to listen to a story of his Greg’s past greatness. Little Mike wants revenge and he wants to get it smack in the middle of college sports’ biggest rivalry.

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