If you’re interested in checking out North Carolina’s spring football game to get a glimpse of what the Tar Heels might look like this fall, you might want to get dressed and head out to Chapel Hill ASAP.

Because that’s the only way you’re going to see Make Brown’s team in action this afternoon.

The annual Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage was originally scheduled to be one of several spring games televised by ACC Network today. But because of a deal brokered by Brown, the network aired an “all-access” segment from a Tar Heels practice instead.

The Hall of Fame coach tried to explain the move at a media availability last week while answering a completely unrelated question about the quarterback competition between Texas A&M transfer Max Johnson and holdover Conner Harrell.

“We made a decision with the ACC Network that we didn’t want the spring game on TV because we’re looking at a lot of different things,” Brown said. “We felt that we could (better) highlight our players, especially in the NIL world right now. You can really celebrate your program easier in some ways if you have a highlighted all-access than just a game.”

All that might very well be true.

But c’mon. Let’s get serious here. It’s pretty obvious that’s not the real reason for the MLB-style broadcast blackout.

Football coaches are a paranoid lot, by nature.

They tend to be suspicious of anyone not associated with their programs. And they act as though everyone is working an angle to put their team at a disadvantage, with the media serving as an unwitting conspirator in revealing their most closely guarded secrets.

It’s the reason they use the word “OR” so liberally on their weekly depth charts and disdain the concept of releasing injury reports.

With only a few glaring exceptions, their skepticism is unwarranted.

That doesn’t stop them from guarding their schemes, game plans and personnel decisions as closely as the nation’s nuclear codes. You never know when a Conner Stalions might be poking around taking notes or Bill Belichick has sent someone to come spy on you with a camcorder.

In Brown’s case, the motive is more of a thinly veiled attempt at preventing opening-week opponent Minnesota from getting a headstart on scouting UNC’s newly revamped defense and an offense that will look significantly different than when the teams met in Chapel Hill last year.

“We felt like everyone else is doing spring games,” Brown said. “We’ve got some new things at quarterback we’re doing. We’ve got some new things on defense we’re obviously doing. So it wasn’t best to put it all out there.”

It’s a quaint notion. One that’s right on brand for a Get Off My Lawn old guy with a vivid memory of how things used to work.

The problem with that mindset is that there’s this thing called the internet, now.

And whether today’s scrimmage is televised live or not, video from the game will inevitably be posted on YouTube and every social media platform imaginable.

That’s assuming Gophers’ coach PJ Fleck hasn’t arranged for someone to be in the stands at Kenan Stadium to record the action on a ubiquitous smartphone. Not that he or any other coach would bother going through such great lengths for a spring game.

As Allen Iverson might say, we’re talking about practice!

Six months before the season begins.

It’s not as if the Tar Heels, or anyone else for that matter, is a finished product at this time of year.

Far from it.

Even though new coordinator Geoff Collins is introducing an entirely new defense than the one employed by his predecessor Gene Chizik, all it takes is a Google search of his previous defenses to get an idea of what he likes to do.

Besides, the version he’s currently designing for the Tar Heels is still only in the early stages of installation. He’ll only be showing a small portion of his hand this afternoon.

The same holds true for the offense.

The quarterback battle isn’t going to be decided until August. And while Brown has promised an actual football game with live hitting, it’s highly doubtful he’s planning to reveal any new wrinkles. Especially with most of his experienced receivers and tight ends not participating.

So why the secrecy?

Maybe it’s because spring practice didn’t go as well as Brown had envisioned and he has concerns about the kind of impression Saturday’s game might give his own team’s fan base – let alone Minnesota or any other 2024 opponent – before he and his staff have an opportunity to hit the transfer portal again.

By giving the ACC Network’s cameras “all access” at practice last Saturday instead at today’s spring game, Brown has effectively controlled the narrative surrounding his 1st post-Drake Maye team.

In that respect, maybe Brown’s initial assessment is spot on.

Though not exactly in the way he presented it.

Having sidelined stars Kaimon Rucker, JJ Jones and others talk up the program while their teammates go through generic drills that give away nothing is a much safer way of showcasing the program than televising a live scrimmage involving a team still clearly a work in progress.

So grab a light jacket, a hat to keep the sun out of your eyes and hit the road to Chapel Hill.

Because unless you’re an opposing coach with a good spy network, that’s the only way you’re going to be able to watch today’s spring game as it happens.