RALEIGH – The man behind the UNC Football “money scandal” that led to the firing of head coach Butch Davis and the resignation of athletic director Dick Baddour was announced Monday morning.
WRAL reports the North Carolina Secretary of State found that Terry Shawn Watson of the Watson Sports Agency in Marietta, Georgia sent money to former UNC football player Marvin Austin and other players nationwide. At the time, Watson was not a legal agent in North Carolina as his attempt to register was rejected due to a bounced check.
Austin told investigators he received the money via FedEx which was later confirmed through shipping records. Watson associate Patrick Jones told them that was a normal form of fund dispersal.
When Everett Withers and the remains of the Butch Davis coaching regime were not retained, only one member of the old staff stayed in Chapel Hill.
John Shoop was still under contract for the 2012 season at UNC, so for the first time since grade school Shoop spent an autumn off the football field. Besides a completely new experience, he said it turned out to be one of the best years of his life.
He grew a beard and wore cool, outdoorsy clothes. He watched his son and daughter in their school activities, like a normal parent. The Shoops actually took weeks and weekends off to travel, see the world and visit family and friends.
While the early morning meetings and late-night game-planning were not part of his life and he barely stepped on a football field, the game he has loved forever was never far from his mind. He wrote a weekly column for Chapelboro, previewing the local college and high school games of note. He called Friday night prep games on WCHL radio with play-by-play sidekick Paul Connell.
And, as the only member of Davis’ staff who still lived in Chapel Hill, Shoop unobtrusively remained an advocate for the players he had recruited and coached at Carolina. He wanted them to succeed under new coach Larry Fedora and he supported the players who had been through two awful years of NCAA investigation and suspensions plus several entangled in the academic scandal.
“The year was an unbelievable blessing for us,” Shoop said this week after being named the new offensive coordinator at Purdue. “I loved helping out on the radio, filling in for D.G. Martin occasionally, doing the high school games and writing the column. We loved all of it. But the most important thing we did was to continue supporting the UNC players who had gotten caught up in some of what happened here. We advocated for student-athlete rights, particularly the young men who we had recruited to UNC.”
Shoop uses the word “we” when he speaks, because he and his wife Marcia are a team in such endeavors. Her website www.marciamountshoop.com became popular with UNC players and their families during the NCAA problems, and her spiritual blog “Calling Audibles” was often a frank and telling memoir of her view on the controversy and those it touched.
The Shoops were particularly close with fullback Devon Ramsay, who was suspended for much of the 2010 season and then reinstated when Ramsay’s mother hired an attorney and challenged the suspension. Upon returning to the field in 2011, Ramsay was injured and spent most of the last two seasons rehabbing his knee before graduating last May.
“We had a small party for Devon at our house before I left for Purdue,” Shoop said. “A lot of folks came, friends and teammates. He’s staying fit, hoping to get a shot in the NFL, and I’m doing everything I can to help him; he’s a really good fullback. Either way, that guy’s got so much on the ball that we all might be working for him some day. He is what’s right with college athletics.”
Despite how his tenure at UNC ended, Shoop holds no grudge over what happened to the coaches and program that earned four straight bowl bids from 2008-11. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“We have feelings deeply invested in this place and many of the people here,” he said. “We’re not bitter; it’s the reason we stayed. We wanted to do what we could to be part of the solution.”
Shoop knew he would return to coaching, continuing to network and stay in contact with the industry during his year off. He said he had several offers from colleges and NFL teams but found Purdue to be the best fit for him and his family.
With almost 40,000 students, Purdue is one of the biggest of the Big Ten schools and, though not nationally prominent in recent years, the Boilermakers have a rich tradition, having produced players named Len Dawson, Bob Griese, Leroy Keyes and Drew Brees. Shoop found similarities between Chapel Hill and West Lafayette, Indiana, particularly the opportunity to live out in the country as he did here but still close enough to campus. He has known new Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell and offensive line coach Jim Bollman since they worked together with the Chicago Bears, where Shoop was the offensive coordinator for three years including the 2001 season when they finished 13-3 and made the playoffs. Hazell and Bollman moved on to work for Jim Tressel at Ohio State. Every year, the Carolina and Ohio State staffs spent time together. With Hazell and Bollman landing at Purdue, going with them felt right.
“Our offensive philosophies were kind of similar at Carolina and Ohio State,” Shoop said. “We both liked to be physical, run the ball from a pro style offense. We see the game similarly. And I’m excited that this is the first time I’ll be an offensive coordinator for an offensive head coach. I’ve always worked for defensive head coaches, so this will be fun.”
He did not settle on Purdue until it became clear that Butch Davis was not taking another head coaching job for the 2013 season. Shoop said he stayed in touch with his former boss over the last year “and it is fair to say he was close” to starting over again at another school.
“It’s something we would have considered,” Shoop said of going with Davis, “and I’m surprised he didn’t get one. But he will, he deserves another chance.”
Happily, Shoop has gotten his.
(Read John Shoop’s final, touching column for Chapelboro)
My one-day stint as a Carolina and Duke Football Recruit
It’s no secret that UNC and Duke squabble over basketball recruits. From Michael Jordan to Jason Williams, each school has coveted its neighbor’s latest gem.
But that’s old news. What about the other side of the equation? What about a prospect’s fight for the affectations of a revenue sport at either school? That I can tell you, because I’ve spent a day in the life of a football recruit for each program. Literally. One day.
In the fall of 2006, John Bunting and Ted Roof’s football programs at UNC and Duke, respectively, entered their death throes. Bunting would be axed at the end of the year despite prevailing in a 45-44 classic over the Blue Devils, while Roof would follow suit soon after falling to Butch Davis’ Heels the next fall in Chapel Hill.
Amidst this chaos, I quietly blipped onto a few area radars, and even more quietly bowed out. Asking an unpopular coach’s staff to recruit you is akin to playing in the band aboard the sinking Titanic; it’s a nice gesture that you’re interested in smoothing the transition, but no one’s really got time to hear you out.
Especially if you’re a kicker in the Barth era.
Specialists aren’t exactly a prized gem in a college scout’s recruiting board. We are allegedly entrusted with putting a ball through two long pieces of metal, but the job is really about what you aren’t supposed to do. Unlike quarterbacks, wide receivers or returners, we aren’t given measurable goals of yardage or points. Our goals are negative and contingent upon opportunity: don’t get it blocked; don’t kick it out of bounds; don’t mess this up. Imagine being a spot basketball player whose only job was to shoot other people’s free throws. High pressure, no reward.
So, why even try to kick? Moreover, why even try to kick at long-struggling programs continually playing second fiddle to their respective basketball juggernauts?
Like so many drawn to admire the athletic prowess of these two schools, the answer was convenience.
Personally, picking up the art of placekicking as a soccer player was an almost pre-destined trope. A lifelong witness of Triangle-oriented rivalries, the thought of playing for either shade of blue was beyond appealing. Kenan and Wallace Wade being 13 and 27 minutes from my house, respectively, was too good to pass up.
While I began kicking between two trees in my front yard, I honed what little skill I had in these two historic venues. I inched my first 60-yarder over the bar from just a few feet to the side of the Gothic “D” logo; I hit my first “spiraled” punt with my toes dug into the crisp white paint of the iconic, interlocking “NC”. I even had my first brush with the law in Chapel Hill, being chased out of the stadium after being caught climbing over a locked gate. (To all you looking to find a point of entry, there’s still a weak spot under a small Maple, between the Northwest gate and the University Health Building; it’s a rectangular-but-hospitable gap between the railing and the roof of a sidehouse used to store concession equipment.)
Yet for all the desperate antics, hoping each time that a coach would catch me instead of a DPS official, I only made a brief appearance on each school’s recruiting board through an unorchestrated coincidence.
For Coach Bunting, I was just another face in the crowd at each summer football camp; just another tape at the bottom of the video pile. I was never called back to the end-of-camp meetings where the top prospects were notified of the staff’s interest; never called to talk about the film I’d sent in. About the closest I’d ever come to a placekicking spot on the roster was standing next to Tampa Bay standout and former Carolina great Connor Barth (he of Miami-beating, 2004 field-storming fame) for a quick picture and handshake.
Needless to say, I was lucky to find that an assistant coach (whose privacy I’ll respect) for my high school knew a special teams coach at Carolina. He had a scout sent out to see me in action against that August. For all the fence-jumping, my best chance at an in with the program had been barely ten feet away from me each summer, grimacing at my every shank.
After two blocked field goals and an embarrassing kickoff returned for a touchdown, I can’t say I blamed Bunting’s staff for not calling after a train wreck of a first date. Neither can I argue with Davis’ call to go with Connor’s younger brother, Casey, a fantastic competitor who eventually eclipsed even his older brother’s star (despite several injuries).
Roof’s limited period of interest seems even more far-fetched. I met him the day after his (eventual) last game in 2007 while dining with a friend at the Red Robin on 15-501 near New Hope Commons. He’d just been sabotaged by his own special teams, relying on two different kickers who provided two makeable misses in an overtime loss. Needless to say, I caught him in the most perfect of circumstances.
Keeping my powder-blue Schadenfreude behind a façade of conciliation, I offered my services, and he offered terms: if I sent in my film (and he was still the coach the next day), he’d offer me an opportunity to try out as a walk-on the next year.
The next day, just as mysteriously as he had entered the Triangle coaching game, Roof was gone. Again, I was on the outside looking in.
After deciding to run track for Carolina, these two opportunities have more and more seemed far less notable as points when my life could have improved. Having the honor to run with another “renaissance athlete” who also wanted to kick in college, I’ve seen that picking your battles can prove strangely venerating despite seeming like conceding defeat. Ranked even higher on the national high school recruiting sites than I was, this individual (now a coach for Syracuse’s Track and Field team whose privacy I’ll also respect) chose to run track at Carolina over kicking for one of the few schools in the nation – Penn State – whose football program is recovering from more turbulence than ours.
Despite all the grief the football programs at Duke and UNC have gotten – Duke for its losing and UNC for its NCAA issues – these programs will always attract more recruits than they have time for. Want to make it past a one-night stand with either program? It’ll depend on much more than your own capabilities. Take it from me – if you want it badly enough you’ll get a chance at least, no matter how improbable it seems. Instead, your success will hinge on the connections you make, and how you handle the opportunities you’re presented. I haphazardly stumbled across the contacts, but needlessly squandered the chances.
The trick is simple, yet oh-so-difficult, like any kicking coach will tell you:
Just don’t mess it up.
You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @JT_Gerlach.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-student-athlete/dont-mess-this-up/
With the 2012 season in the books and the Heels finishing out 8-4 and Coastal Division champs, I would say that there is a lot to be proud of in Chapel Hill and at the Kenan Stadium Football Center!! Here are just some quick observations/reasons about why I and so many others are “all in” with Fedora and this staff and are thrilled with what the future holds.
1. No excuses!! Coach Fedora came into an absolute mess with NCAA sanctions and with it, the opportunity for upper classmen to hit the road and transfer. Additionally, there was a wavering fan base that was upset with any number of matters – some fans were upset with the way Butch Davis was treated and how he was shown the door; the Ivory Tower academia group was upset with the “over emphasis” that is put on college athletics and have strayed away from academics; some fans just wanted to move on and forget the entire nightmare of the past two years. And then, in rides Coach Fedora and the first thing he does is install an up-tempo spread style offense that requires pro style players and a 4-2-5 defense even though he inherited basic 4-3 personnel. Again, there were no excuses, but more of a challenge to the fan base to bond together to support these players on those magical seven Saturdays every Fall in Kenan Stadium. The rallying cry was be loud in the Tar Pit, be obnoxious and come early/stay late! From all accounts I’m seeing and hearing in the community, Coach Fedora as well as Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham have made huge strides with all fan groups and that’s what leaders do.
2. He’s not a politician and does not deflect blame. The common thread in college football and the NFL is that when a new coach comes in and there are bumps in the road the immediate response or tilt of the coach is that “these are not my players” or “once we get my kind of kids/players in here, the results and style of play will elevate.” Coach Fedora came in with the immediate attitude of winning NOW and winning every game. Again, against all odds of the no postseason carrot and the opportunity to technically be the conference champion, Fedora found a way for the players to buy in. To me that is truly deserving of ACC Coach of the Year status even ousting the miraculous doings of what David Cutcliffe orchestrated over in Wallace Wade this year.
***I cannot continue without stating many thanks to Coach Davis and John Shoop, who did a fantastic job of leaving the shelves pretty well stocked in the transition year….Thank you coach!
3. Momentum. These assistant coaches and Fedora have so many great selling tools going into this recruiting cycle and offseason. An 8-4 record and being Coastal Division champs (technically), the gaudy and X-BOX type numbers you can help generate in this offense which is recognized on a national level (RUN GIO RUN), a team that produced 10 All-ACC players this past season and lastly, against all odds, the Heels could well be Coastal division pre-season favorites with the way the division is trending and shaking out. These are all points that will be made in living rooms across the country as Coach Fedora brings in top level talent to run his Nascar-style offense and attacking defense.
4. Culture change. Southern Miss, do you guys wish you tried a little harder to keep him as your head man? For those of you who do not know, Southern Miss was 12-2 in 2011 and were Conference USA Champions under Coach Fedora. A year later, not so much. The Golden Eagles went 0-12 after Coach Fedora settled down in Chapel Hill. My memory of college football may be limited to the last 30 years but I can’t remember (and didn’t find online), a team that swooned so fast. This might be a first in college football. Is this all representative of only the head coach? No. But he is a pretty big piece of the puzzle and I guarantee if you ask those returning players at Southern Miss, they would be dying to have had Coach Fedora back. At UNC, a big culture change was the uniforms, swag, colors, threads, gear or whatever you want to refer to it as, but that not only rejuvenated the players but it fired up the fans including this one especially when we saw the fighting Fedoras come out of the tunnel rocking the Chrome Foot helmets against the Wolfpack. If you don’t think that had a huge impact on that game just take a look at this all-access video and see the reaction from the players. If you think that the uniform combinations have been awesome this year just wait until next year. Word from a source is that new combinations of colors were ordered recently with Nike and it will put us on track to be the “Oregon” of the Southeast. I can’t wait to see them – and more importantly neither can the players and the recruits whom we’re pursuing who will be wearing the new threads.
What does 2013 hold for the Heels? I know that we will start out of the gate with a daunting task in Columbia, South Carolina against the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the Ole’ Ball Coach, who will have in his back pocket the preseason lock national player of the year in Jadeveon Clowney. With that being said folks, the future is extremely bright on the Hill. We have our leader in place, our fan base is unifying again and the black cloud is leaving beautiful Chapel Hill!!
Smart. Fast. Physical. 2013 Here we come!!
Davis talked about his current job with the Tampa Bay Bucs, turning down a coaching opportunity with the team to be a consultant. That, of course, allowed him to keep his entire $2.7 million severance from UNC, thanks to a loosely written contract that said he could not take another “coaching job” and be paid off.
He counted himself among the “innocent victims” of the UNC scandal, even though Davis padded his already enormous bank account with the 10 million bucks he made at Carolina since 2007. He said several times that he will coach again, hopefully leading a college or NFL program. His alma mater Arkansas will be hiring after this season, and Razorbacks’ Athletic Director Jeff Long will have to decide whether Davis passes the smell test to take over that scandal-ridden program.
Gravley followed the popular tack that the timing of Davis’ firing was unfair. To whom? The coach walked with his fat severance, the football program he left behind faced a season with an interim coach no matter when he was fired, and the school quickly hired what looks to be an outstanding athletic director and exciting new head coach. So when Davis was fired remains a moot point.
Davis opined that the escalating NCAA and academic investigations got him and “if they eliminated me from the scenario” it was a sign that UNC was cleaning up the program. Precisely because, whether directly complicit or not, a six-figured CEO has to take the fall when the company’s reputation is at stake. Part of the job, not to mention a major NCAA violation by anyone on his staff was grounds for firing in his contract.
Asked how a head coach could not know all the things going wrong with his program, Davis said “there was so much to know” and diverted to how he cleaned up Miami football and had to dismiss 18 players from the team his first year at UNC, saying something about “hundred dollar bills laying on their beds and putting it on Facebook.” Fact checkers, let’s get on that one.
He called his coaching staff “as proactive as any in the country” in monitoring their players. That was the perfect entrée for Gravley to ask Davis why they didn’t know what the half-dozen potential first-round draft choices were doing when Marvin Austin’s tweet from a South Beach bistro set off a chain reaction that brought down a program. A sign-up system ensued, but the damage had been done.
Davis continued to distance himself from John Blake, his long-time friend whom he taught in high school and coached with at Dallas in the NFL. He said Blake passed all vetting from UNC Human Resources to the NCAA and, due to two 12-year periods when they did not work together, claimed the only knowledge he had of Blake was as a great defensive line coach and recruiter. Gravley mentioned that Blake “was a little shady” but did not pursue his widespread recruiting reputation that gave him the industry nickname of “Black Santa”. Virtually every athletic director and football coach in the country knew about that side of Blake except, apparently, the ones at Carolina.
All in all, it was a good recruiting tape to show Arkansas and anyone else looking for a new coach. “I’m not done,” Davis said, “absolutely, I’ll be coaching again somewhere.”
Above each locker in the UNC football locker room, there is a nameplate. Beside each nameplate there is a sign that reads either “resistant,” “existent,” “compliant,” “committed,” or “compelled.” These labels were derived for each player based on coaches’ evaluations of their level of effort shown in pre-season workouts and practices. The titles are pretty self-explanatory: a player who has shown a dedication to self-improvement and has contributed to the collective progress of the team is deemed “committed” or “compelled”, while a player who has shown little or no work ethic is given a less flattering designation.
In watching Saturday’s game at Louisville, I could only wonder what these evaluations would look like if they were to be updated for the halftime locker room based on the day’s performance. For much of the game, the Heels looked as if they could barely be considered “existent.”
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals’ offense seemed to score at will, averaging nearly ten yards per play in the first half. The Tar Heel secondary was ripe with missed defensive assignments, allowing Bridgewater to find more than his fair share of open targets. This was only ameliorated by the fact that the defensive line appeared entirely disinterested at the prospect of having to shed their blockers in order to make a tackle. Describing Carolina’s defense as porous would be a drastic understatement. The UNC offense was little better, putting up just seven points in the first thirty minutes of play.
Of course, those of us who demonstrated the intestinal fortitude to continue watching into the second half saw a completely different story begin to unfold.
In stark contrast to their lethargic first half performance, the Heels began to make plays. The defense came alive, swarming to the ball and shoring up what had earlier been gaping running lanes for Louisville. In stopping the run and putting greater defensive pressure on the quarterback, Carolina was able to hold the Cardinals to just 3 second half points.
In a similar fashion, Bryn Renner and the Tar Heel offense finally began to resemble the cohesive unit that was on display September 1st against Elon. Renner finished the game with 5 touchdown passes and tailback Romar Morris played like a man on fire, earning ACC Receiver of the Week honors for his 202 all-purpose yards, 2 touchdowns, and block of a Louisville punt.
In the end, however, it was just another tale of too little too late. Watching as Renner’s fourth-and-goal pass was wrenched from Erik Highsmith’s outstretched hands, I, along with everyone else, could only wonder where this Carolina team had been in the first half. Where was this intensity? Where was the passion? Better yet, where was the commitment?
This was still in the forefront of my mind as I walked past the Old Well on my way to class Monday morning. I didn’t think twice when I passed the news van parked in front of South Building: in the midst of the media circus of recent months, rarely a week has gone by without at least one news crew adding to congestion on Cameron Avenue. Little did I know this particular van would come to represent the close to a tumultuous chapter for the Carolina family.
I was in Spanish class when the news officially broke that Chancellor Thorp would be stepping down. And so now, it seemed, the purge of the former system was to be complete. From Butch Davis, to Dick Baddour, and now to Holden Thorp, the situation had come full circle.
Without getting into the politics of the matter (and believe me, there’s one heck of a discussion to be had), it’ll suffice to say that the slate has been cleaned. It’s been incredibly disheartening to see a place that I love so dearly to be ravaged by scandal, but I refuse to allow my opinion of this institution to be permanently swayed by the dishonest actions of a few. The damage has been done and now we must move forward.
Retired Southern Mississippi Athletic Director Richard Giannini knew he would have a hard time retaining his own football coach, Larry Fedora, late in his breakthrough season with the Golden Eagles. So when they talked about where the multi-million-dollar offers might come from, they discussed the UNC job. A former assistant A.D. at Duke, Giannini thought Fedora would be a great choice for the Tar Heels.
“Larry’s going to win 11 or 12 games with us this season,” Giannini said at the time, “and we’ll never be able to keep him. If he leaves, I’d love to see him in Chapel Hill.”
Bubba Cunningham, who came from Tulsa, and Giannini both worked in Conference USA. Bubba liked Fedora all along but knew Texas A&M, where Fedora grew up and his father and brothers still lived, was also courting him.
Fortunately, outgoing Texas A&M Athletic Director Bill Byrne could only interview Fedora and give his name to the school’s president, who would then offer one of the recommended candidates the job. Carolina was much farther down the road.
Fedora accepted a seven-year contract at UNC after Southern Miss won the Conference USA championship but before the Golden Eagles played in the Hawaii Bowl on December 24. He was introduced as Carolina’s new coach on December 9.
“Don’t miss the press conference!” Giannini said. “You’ve never seen anything like it. The guy’s unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
“Fast” Larry proved his old boss right, warning fans watching live over the Internet not to leave their seats when Carolina has the ball lest they miss a touchdown. And he continued to do it through his first spring practice, his first summer training camp and his first game on the home sideline at Kenan Stadium.
Forward to the season opener against Elon, when Fedora’s fast break attack scored 62 points and ran up nearly 600 yards of total offense while breaking a school and ACC record for return yards (260).
As advertised by Giannini, the hyper Fedora has taken Tar Heel Nation by storm with his non-stop work ethic, his willingness to talk to alumni, fans, students and faculty wherever and whenever, and his commitment to not only play smart, play fast and play physical, but also to demand dedication and accountability from his players. Bet the guy doesn’t sleep four hours a night, fueled by Red Bull all day long.
He’s refreshingly candid, sharing more in media sessions and on his weekly radio and TV shows than any Carolina coach in recent memory. And when he doesn’t want to talk about something, such as an injury report or the weather, he’ll just say so. No coach speak. Just the plain old truth.
Catch his press conferences on www.goheels.com and listen to his Tuesday night weekly radio show on 97.9FM from Top of the Hill. He’s funny, a bit flippant and very fair in his assessment of everything to do with his new program.
For example, he wants to run as many as 100 offensive plays a game, and the Tar Heels might have done it had Fedora not called off the dogs late with 18 minutes left vs. Elon. He will also use versatile Gio Bernard as a runner, pass catcher and punt returner without fear of overworking, of injuring, the sensational sophomore.
“In whose hands would you like to see the ball more?” he asked quizzically.
But despite Bernard’s star-studded performance, center Russell Bodine was the offensive player of the game because he had 19 “knockdowns”. A knockdown is a block that puts an opposing defender on the ground, where he can’t make a tackle.
Accountability is as much a part of his Tar Heel program as the Xs and Os. Each player has his own level of commitment written on his locker. A number of players have already earned the highest level — “Compelled”. According to the coach, accountability is not only taking care of yourself but watching out that your teammates are not making bad decisions. One of Fedora’s pledges upon taking over was that “we will win with good kids on and off the field.”
Fedora’s charisma is infectious and the Southern Miss secret will soon be out in the open at Carolina and around the ACC. The clouds that linger over the UNC football program and athletic department fall into Fedora’s philosophy, like the weather on game day: Don’t worry about what you can’t control.
He’s confident without seeming cocky, that he can turn the Tar Heels into a title-contender worthy of a giant ticket scrum before every home game. He praised the estimated 50,500 fans who showed up for the opener on Labor Day weekend in 90-plus degree heat and wasn’t fazed by a near-empty house at game’s end. He figures an exciting, winning team will fill the stadium early and keep it full.
When Fedora met with certain players who were eligible to transfer to other schools without sitting out a year due to the NCAA probation, they one by one decided to stay because they sensed something special was about to happen here. Citing Fedora’s intensity, they have all bought in early.
Ironically, the talent he came into from Butch Davis’ program and the bowl ban he also inherited have put his first team in the position to play all 12 of its games with great intensity and without much pressure. The Tar Heels will take them one at a time, try to win them all and be happy with the mythical “state championship” if they can defeat all five opponents on their schedule from North Carolina.
Next up is Wake Forest, Fedora’s first ACC road game. Fedora has admired Deacons’ coach Jim Grobe for years and respects how they have overachieved in his 12 seasons at WFU. Thus, he expects a well-coached and hungry Wake team that barely beat better-than-Elon Liberty University in its opening game.
With one day to put in the game plan (Tuesday), one day to take out what won’t work on such short notice (Wednesday) and one day to polish what’s left (Thursday), Fedora and the Tar Heels will go to war in Winston-Salem, combining a level of talent and tenacity that has rarely been seen here.
The Larry Fedora love affair at Carolina is catching on. Fast.
The Daily Tar Heel recently published an analysis of the latest budget of UNC’s Department of Athletics. While expenses in the $75 million budget are slated to increase by about 4%, salaries and benefits will increase a generous 11.7%. Apparently there are “contractual obligations” to coaches based on all sorts of incentive clauses in their contracts.
In my opinion, individuals should be free to seek the compensation they think they deserve, and employers should be free to compensate as needed to secure the best employees, so I do not envy the football coaches or basketball coaches or athletic directors whose salaries place them in the very upper percentiles of university compensation. I do, however, believe that the 1.2% increase in compensation that state employees are scheduled to receive does oblige the citizens of the university to ask some questions about an increase of 11.7% for our athletics colleagues.
First, what effect does the athletics revenue stream have on the ability of the university to carry out its mission of advancing research, scholarship and creativity? For example, UNC has struggled with faculty retention in recent years. Talented faculty are recruited away by other prestigious universities.
Currently, there are two rewards systems in public universities. The academic system is driven by state budgets, tuition, acquisition of external grants, and the generosity of donors. The other—in athletics—is propelled by entirely different incentives of media contracts, corporate sponsorships, ticket sales, and, remarkably, student athletic fees. We have ample evidence of the harmful effects of a wild athletic revenue model on the university’s mission, so perhaps it is time to acknowledge this and send the athletics enterprise off into the world of professional sports leagues.
Second, in the face of this lucrative revenue stream, how do we justify and accept the fact that the athletes from whose talents these revenues flow do not have the right to a financial return? Even if one accepts the unsupportable claim that their scholarships are fair compensation, are their stipends increasing by 11.7%?
Third, where in its budget does the department of athletics compensate faculty, students, and staff for the harm of the damaged integrity of the university? Academic dishonesty involving athletes now appears to reach back at least 12 years and likely beyond. While we have been told that the department of athletics will pay for some of the mounting legal and other investigatory expenses, the cost of the damage to the integrity of the university is not so transparently assessed.
Finally, do these contractual obligations mean that Butch Davis will see an increase in the $590,000 that he is receiving for the next three years? In fact, can anybody explain why this former head coach is receiving any compensation, given the harm to the university that has been disclosed under his watch?
I hope that the coaches make good use of their 11.7% increase in compensation. I have already decided what charities to support with my 1.2%.http://chapelboro.com/columns/the-commentators/a-few-questions-about-compensation-for-coaches/
It’s finally that time. GAME WEEK!
No more long days/weeks of training camp at the football facility (including, if you were lucky, naps you might be able to catch by hiding in any available dark spot in the facility), coaches on your back 24 hours a day, waking up to the 5:30 am bullhorn, uncomfortable dorm living arrangements (although not for this year’s team that stayed at the Aloft hotel for training camp…I never thought I would be so jealous in my life), or being locked away from civilization as we know it.
When you are locked-up in training camp, your normal everyday life is snatched away from you and your primary focus is solely on getting better as a team and as a player. When you can muster the strength or find some down time, another important priority is to joke around with and forge new bonds and friendships with your 120 teammates. These are the guys that you are going into the “Arena” with on the football field and who will become your brothers off the field and in the game of life.
We are now a mere 48 hours away from kicking off with Elon and for a lot of these guys it will be like getting back on a bicycle and, for some, the jitters will be at an all-time high. The anticipation and build up to that first kickoff to the season is unlike any feeling a player can have. I wish there was a way to bottle it up — it’s something that I miss every year around this time, and if you ask anyone who has laced it up at any level, they are probably going to tell you the same thing.
There is nothing like college football, especially in the South.
Carolina Football fans are very excited to see this new era of Carolina Football begin under the leadership of Larry Fedora and the era of Butch Davis finally coming to a close. With Coach Fedora and his staff’s high flying “basketball on grass” type offense and attack style 4-2-5 defense, he is the right man that this team and University needs to take this program where all Carolina fans want it to be – to first win the Coastal Division on a consistent basis and then win the ACC to play in a BCS bowl.
Yes, this can happen with this man at the helm; I truly believe it can be executed with the support of the UNC community and its fan base. As funny as this may seem, Saturday will be an important step in moving that ball forward. Fans want to support this program and rally around these young men (they are not kids) and this new staff, and I believe they are going to get it done in an impressive way.
There are several reasons to be excited about what we’re going to see this year. As a former offensive lineman, I believe it all starts up front and with an O line that has been ranked in the top 5 nationally by several major publications, this unit is led by preseason All-American Jonathan Cooper and Future NFL 1st day prospect James Hurst and will lead the charge out of the gates. They will be opening holes for preseason ACC-Player of the Year candidate Gio Bernard as well as protecting our gun slinging, fiery quarterback Bryn Renner.
On the other side of the ball, we have a true leader at linebacker to lead this year’s defense in Kevin Reddick. When all is said and done, there is a lot to be excited about in Kenan Stadium this year!
Come early, tailgate, enjoy beautiful Chapel Hill and all it has to offer, be obnoxious, be loud and stay late.
Also, “understand that if you go up to get a drink, you just missed a Tar Heel touchdown.” – Coach Fedora.
Let’s get ready for a new and exciting era of Carolina Football to begin!http://chapelboro.com/huddle-up-2012/the-players-perspective/from-the-eyes-of-a-heel/