The buildup to this year's rivalry football game between Carolina and Duke has been overshadowed, not as much by the presidential election, but by a redesign of the winner's coveted prize known as the Victory Bell.
The winning team has traditionally painted the bell's platform in its school colors almost immediately after the game.
This year, athletic directors from UNC and Duke agreed to paint the cart both shades of blue before the game. It's split down the middle with the schools' respective logos and mascots.
"It caught me by surprise," UNC head coach Larry Fedora told reporters on Wednesday. Fedora said he spoke with UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham after he heard about the changes this week.
"Bubba has got his thoughts on it, and I've got mine. But I think, first of all, everything he does, he does for the love of UNC," Fedora said. "I think Bubba will come around. I really do."
Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said he, too, did not hear about the Victory Bell's makeover until Tuesday.
"My head's in the sand in that kind of stuff. I really just am trying to focus on that practice field," Cutcliffe said.
The paint job did not go over well with fans, players and alumni.
New Orleans Saints offensive guard and UNC alum Landon Turner tweeted:
This is so disrespectful to both parties lol not how this works pic.twitter.com/M889crJYpk
— Landon Turner (@El_Tee_78) November 9, 2016
UNC defensive tackle Nazair Jones also disapproved.
"Should we not keep score either? Let's run around for 60 mins for no reason," Jones tweeted.
Many fans said the redesign made the Victory Bell look like a "participation trophy." It became clear to both schools' athletic directors that the UNC-Duke rivalry would not allow them to share a piece of the prize.
On Wednesday, Cunningham announced, also via Twitter, that the original tradition would stand:
Ok ok. I hear you loud and clear(as a bell). #Paint It Up.
— Bubba Cunningham (@BubbaUNC) November 9, 2016
The nationally televised game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.