Look up ranking “guts” in the dictionary and you’ll see a picture of a younger, braver me, a prognosticator much more willing to take long-leap chances.

You would see me in 1997, when my pick of North Carolina as preseason No.1 in the Los Angeles Times lit up Clara’s switchboard in Mayberry.

This was before Twitter and Facebook so, by comparison, the news was basically spread by carrier pigeon.

I do, though, remember getting a call from a reporter in North Carolina suggesting I might need a frontal lobotomy, which reminded me of that ditty, “well I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than to have to have a frontal lobotomy.”

Thank goodness I never voted in the Associated Press poll or they may have revoked my license.

Anyway, my logic for North Carolina at No.1 was somewhat sane: The Tar Heels had rising star Mack Brown as coach, an NFL-loaded defense and a favorable schedule. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.