Art Chansky

New Paradigm Needed

The pressure is immense on Holden Thorp to make the right hire for Carolina’s next Director of Athletics. Thorp remains under heavy criticism for firing Butch Davis a week before football practice began, and that scrutiny comes from wealthy donors who feel they were misled to average Tar Heel fans who want to win and saw Davis as their savior.   Thorp has support from the UNC Boards of Governors and Trustees, plus the faculty and many alumni who are embarrassed by how the football program was run in the Davis regime. This tug-of-war will continue through the 2011 season that begins Saturday, no matter how the Tar Heels of interim coach Everett Withers fare on the field. A forthcoming NCAA probation can only intensify the conflict.   I am wondering whether Thorp thinks his own job is in jeopardy over the football scandal, that he could actually be fired for firing a coach. That sounds absurd at a university priding itself on academic integrity and playing by the rules for a half century. But the news moves so fast, and now so viral, in big-time college athletics that widespread public discourse  has cost college presidents their positions, all the way back to when former UNC Chancellor Paul Hardin was fired trying to clean up the football mess at SMU in the 1970s. I am also wondering if Thorp realizes he...

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Roy's New Digs

Roy Williams’ “lamp story” best illuminates how much in need the UNC basketball offices were of expanding and upgrading.   “When we moved into the Smith Center,” Williams said of his days as an assistant in 1986, “I carried a lamp into Coach Smith’s office and put it on his desk.   “When we moved out to begin the renovations,” said the man who had ascended to the head-coaching job in 2003, “I picked up the same lamp and carried it out of the office.”   Williams and his staff moved to temporary quarters and immersed themselves in turning the inconsistent 2010 NIT finalists into a squad that won the 2011 ACC regular season and reached the East Regional championship game before losing a close one to Kentucky. Williams walked through the construction site one time, saying, “Just tell me when we can move back in.”   They returned to their enlarged and renovated suite a few months ago, and it is difficult to imagine any nicer coaching digs in the country. A majestic outside entrance has replaced non-descript glass doors from the 1980s. A bust of Dean Smith sits outside the luxurious, welcoming main lobby with a large front desk and a giant acrylic interlocking NC behind it, high definition flat screens on the walls to the left.   A 70-inch screen is the center piece of the lobby,...

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"Carolina Firsters"?

This notion of “Football First” or “Basketball First” fans at Carolina amuses me. Having graduated from UNC and been around for four decades, I am hard-pressed to think of a Carolina alumnus or rabid fan who roots passionately for one of the sports and disses the other. If you’re a Tar Heel fan, your pull for the Tar Heels. Period. Now, there are different levels of personal passion, for a number of reasons. You might like unrushed football weekends in Chapel Hill over traffic jams to and from the Dean Dome. Or you might like the sport of basketball (especially Carolina and ACC style) over the longer, weather-affected gridiron game. But I honestly don’t know a single person who wants one of the sports to succeed at the expense of the other. Including me, who has been painted by some as a “basketball-firster.” Indulge me for a moment. I actually like football better than basketball. Having played it from 6th grade through high school, and watched many more college and pro football games, I understand the sport better. Even if you see a football play for the first time, you can clearly watch it evolve from snap to whistle. Aside from the few sets that Carolina basketball has been running for 40 years before it goes freelance, I don’t recognize most of the plays. In basketball, you don’t need...

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Re-Emphasizing Football

  Maybe his timing shocked people and maybe he did not do it with the polish of a senior statesman (inadvertently committing a minor NCAA violation, himself), but it astounds me how Holden Thorp has become the villain in the firing of Butch Davis, who as the facts continue to seep out was, at best, an arrogant, see-no-evil football coach and, at worst, presided over a crooked program.   Those who support “Fire Holden Thorp” websites and actually send in money to erect billboards and hire planes to fly over Kenan Stadium are somehow blind to the fact that UNC is facing major NCAA sanctions after its October 28 hearing that, perhaps, Thorp lessened with his last-minute move. Indications are that Davis did not pay much more than lip service to “take full and complete responsibility” to see this never happens again.   And I contend now and throughout the coming season that the 2011 Tar Heels under interim coach Everett Withers will be better off without the Davis distraction hovering over the team, especially if more bad news keeps emerging. Head coaches are overrated on game-day preparation and sideline significance, anyway. The coordinators prepare the game plan and call the plays, the position coaches get the kids ready, and on Saturday the head coach mostly listens through his head set and occasionally flails at the officials. His weekend job...

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A Way Out

You remember the classic Kevin Costner movie in which he seemingly had No Way Out of his pickle as a double secret agent?   Carolina avoided that dilemma in the first phase of a path to restore its reputation and integrity. It can also keep its football program on track as a contender in the Coastal Division of the ACC, which could always lead to a conference championship and ultimate BCS game.   With Dick Baddour’s announced resignation, Carolina can begin the search for a new athletic director whose first duty will be to hire the Tar Heels’ next permanent football coach. So the right plan is in place; let’s not screw it up by adhering to Churchill’s old adage “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”   In other words, there are times when UNC might be able to promote a young star from within, but not this time, with such a big assignment on top of the in-basket.    Baddour has held the position for 14 years after being promoted from John Swofford’s senior associate in 1997, when Swofford became Commissioner of the ACC. Baddour, who had previously worked for the Dean of Students and the UNC law school, was basically a compliance guy whose job it was to know all the rules and make sure they were followed.   The late Chancellor,...

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Davis Should Go — Now

UNC can still begin moving beyond its regrettable football scandal of the last year, regardless of its final fate from the NCAA. Ohio State has conveniently provided Carolina with the model it should use in order to separate a scandalous past from a brighter future.   The Buckeyes, whose transgressions aren’t nearly as severe as those charged to the Tar Heels, immediately looked ahead by removing decorated head coach Jim Tressel after he bore responsibility for the violations by several of his players. The school installed assistant Luke Fickell as interim coach for the 2011 season.   The dirty laundry Ohio State still must deal with is off to the side and out of the public’s face, while its fans can focus on the new season without the controversy hanging over their heads on a daily basis. And perhaps Tressel’s firing and the Buckeyes vacating all of their 2010 wins, including the Sugar Bowl championship, may lessen their forthcoming NCAA penalties.   Carolina should do the same – immediately – before practice begins in August. Few objective observers truly believe that Butch Davis will survive the NCAA and academic allegations, for which he bears responsibility as the head coach and CEO of the football program but has yet to admit. Chancellor Holden Thorp, to this point a staunch supporter of Davis, told the Raleigh News and Observer that the...

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You Can Call Him Jones

A few things you may not know about the new radio Voice of the Tar Heels: His proper name is Monrovie Jones Angell, IV. That’s on par with Forest Orion Mixon, III, which is Mick’s official moniker, and a lot more eccentric than just Woody Lombardi Durham (the First). His dad is Monrovie, the Third, but goes by “Rovie” and is a retired Marine Corps officer who now works for the Marine Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville, N.C. Jones never knew his grandfather, Monrovie, Jr., who died when Jones’ father was a teenager. The original Monrovie? Jones hasn’t a clue and needs someone to build him a family tree. Jones’ mother is Elizabeth Makepeace Angell, who is a retired public a school teacher. Jones’ wife is Elizabeth Martin Angell, who was a public school teacher and is now a literacy specialist at Glenwood Elementary in Chapel Hill. Jones’ mother did not hand down any “EMA” embroidered towels to her new daughter-in-law. Young Elizabeth is actually three years older than Jones, lived five blocks away in Jacksonville and attended the same high school, but she wouldn’t give the pimply-faced freshman a second look when she was a pretty senior, Class of 1994. They both went on to UNC – as had Jones’ parents and his sister Molly – but never hung out together there, either, perhaps because Elizabeth was always...

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Carolinas Connections

A gala wedding party was thrown at Litchfield Plantation in South Carolina last weekend, and among other things it was a great example of why people who live in both Carolinas argue and joke over which is the REAL Carolina. Each state has so much to offer, no wonder so many people claim them both.   Because the bride is the daughter of former UNC basketball player and assistant coach Eddie Fogler, the Carolina mix was evident from the moment everyone arrived. Besides almost 200 friends from both states, many were people who live in North Carolina and summer in South Carolina.   Here are some of the uncanny connections.   Emma Lee Fogler was conceived in Chapel Hill, grew up in Wichita and Nashville (where her Dad coached) but for the last 18 years lived in Columbia, where Fogler finished his coaching career with eight years at South Carolina. Emma’s new husband is Boyd Jefferson (B.J.) Phillips, her high school sweetheart who went on to play football at NORTH Carolina.   Phillips, in fact, is the subject of a great UNC football trivia question. He played games in consecutive seasons in Kenan Stadium for DIFFERENT teams. After graduating from UNC in three years, Phillips got his Masters at The Citadel, where he played his last season of eligibility and returned to face the Tar Heels in 2009. (FYI,...

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You Da Boy!

Chapel Hill’s Ben Griffin is 5-foot-7 and 125 pounds soaking sweat from a summer afternoon on the golf course. He turned 15 last month and is a freshman at East Chapel Hill High.He is also the state high school 4A golf champion after winning on the second playoff hole at Pinehurst No. 6 last month. He beat a relative behemoth, a senior from Greenville Rose who is 3 inches and 40 pounds bigger and left the course in shock after the pipsqueak from Chapel Hill beat him by chipping in for a par on the 38th hole of the two-day...

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A Baseball School?

About 20 years ago, when Dean Smith had caught his second wind and was again dominating the ACC and college basketball toward the end of his coaching career, he was asked about his sport overshadowing all others at UNC. “A basketball school?” Smith mused. “We’re a women’s soccer school.” Smith was giving well-deserved props to one of his indirect protégés, Anson Dorrance, who by then had already won about 10 national championships, and when his women did not bring home the NCAA trophy it was tantamount to John Wooden not winning it all in his prime. Dorrance, as a UNC soccer player and then young coach, had become a student of the way Smith organized and tutored his team, using many of the measurements and methods that he observed as a privileged character allowed to attend Smith’s private classroom practices. Dorrance, of course, is still going strong, and Roy Williams, one of Smith’s successors to the Carolina Basketball Empire, has won two of his own national titles and will be a preseason favorite to bring home a third in 2012. But Smith’s legacy, Dorrance and Ol’ Roy all have to step aside this time of the year. Carolina is a baseball school. What Mike Fox has done with the once-sleepy version of the national pastime at UNC is no less amazing than what Smith and Dorrance have accomplished in...

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