Marvin Austin, the former UNC defensive tackle who missed the 2010 college season when the university dismissed him for his role in prompting an NCAA investigation of the Tar Heels program, played Saturday night for the New York Giants in their 20-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Afterwards, the Giants’ rookie answered questions from a small group of reporters, including The Charlotte Observer’s Scott Fowler.
Q: Thoughts on the game.
Austin: Some of the guys I play with are my former teammates. The Panthers have got a guy, [former UNC defensive back] Kendric Burney, who was my teammate. So it was just good to go out there, get out there and get to work and also talk a little trash (smiles).
Q: Was it what you expected on the field?
Austin: It was fun. It was like playing in the backyard. It made me remember how much I really do love the game of football.
Q: What now for you?
Austin: Just working on my technique, trying to get better and more consistent in my play.
Q: What do you think about Butch [Davis] being fired at North Carolina?
Austin: I try not to get into what happened in the past at North Carolina. I don’t have too much to say about the whole situation with coach Davis. The school felt like it had to make a decision and it made a decision.
Q: Do you have any regrets about your time at North Carolina?
Austin: Nah, I had a great time at North Carolina. Met a lot of great people. I wouldn’t change anything about it. Things happen. I’ve learned from the situation. Now I’m in New York, trying to help represent their football team.
Q: How much did you miss being on the field?
Austin: Oh, I missed it so much. You don’t understand how much you miss it until you actually get a chance to get back and play. Just being out there with the guys, just being around the team… it was definitely fun.
Q: What have you learned in the past year or so?
Austin: You know, just take every day one day at a time. I don’t try to look too much ahead. But also just enjoy life. Enjoy the people around you. You never know when they’re going to be there… Do for others, don’t just do for yourself. Be unselfish.
Q: Do you think you were selfish at all [at UNC was the implication]?
Austin: Uh, I mean, everybody has a tendency at times to do selfish things. I made mistakes with some things that I’ve done. Obviously they were selfish. But at the same time, I didn’t intend to hurt anybody. Let’s move forward. I’ve learned a lot and can’t wait to get to my next contest with the NY Giants.
Q: You said from the get-go that coach John Blake was who you wanted to be like. Is that still the case?
Austin: Coach Blake is a great person, a great man. I don’t feel any different about him…. He’s a good coach.
Q: When the McAdoo stuff was happening, you were venting on Twitter…. Discuss that situation. [Former UNC defensive lineman Michael McAdoo, who was ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA, was denied a court injunction that would have allowed him to play this fall for the Tar Heels as his lawsuit against the NCAA and the University of North Carolina continued.]
Austin: I just feel like the McAdoo situation was just unfortunate that he wasn’t able to finish his career as a football player at UNC because it was something that he loves. In my opinion, the punishment didn’t fit the crime. But I’m not on the NCAA committee of anything.
Q: So you’re not mad at the school?
Austin: I’m over it, man. I had a little venting about it…. ‘Mac’ needs to find out what he wants to do. I’m going to be there for him.
Q: Do you feel for the players who have to go through this transition?
Austin: I feel for some of the guys who have to go through it. At the same time, I talk to a lot of the guys there and tell them to go out there and perform.
Q: How did you play tonight?
Austin: I felt like I played half-decent. I haven’t played in awhile, so I’m getting used to the speed of the game. I’ve got a lot to work on though.
Q: You’re not bitter about UNC?
Austin: I love the University of North Carolina. I went there when nobody was interested in me and had a lot of great times there, met a lot of great people. Unfortunately things happened and some of the things that happened, of course all of us were saddened by it.
The biggest thing is I hate to see some of the things the fans have to go through with this whole thing. Because they are the people who I went out there every Saturday and busted my butt for. I was loved by the fans like, like anybody.
I love the fans also. I just wanted to say that, because the hardest thing is to see how some of my actions have hurt a lot of people who love the university and put a lot of money into the university. Rebuilding the stadium…. I just want to move on…. Be stronger… Be a professional.
Q: So you’re not going to “spill the beans” as you said that one time on Twitter following the McAdoo decision?
Austin: That was just…. That was so hard. When you look at the man’s case [he was referring to McAdoo here], when you really sit down and look at it, you’re like, ‘C’mon. Are you really serious?’ But at the end of the day, you know, those people made their decisions and you have to live with it.
Q: When the school goes in front of the committee on infractions, what do you hope happens?
Austin: I don’t even think about that. I don’t have any thoughts about it. Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen. They will handle it however they see fit.
Q: Has it been hard to keep your focus on here and now?
Austin: No it hasn’t. That’s all I’ve been doing, worrying about the things I can control. The things I can’t control, whatever happens is going to happen. I try to do the things I do to the best of my ability.