Three reasons why Larry Fedora won’t lose his job this season.
With a 1-6 start following a 3-9 record last year, Fedora is under heavy heat from some UNC fans who expect more from their football program. Well, that’s okay because Fedora expects more of it, too, and has actually been close to winning at least two more games this fall. But here is why The Fed will be back in 2019, regardless.
First, athletic director Bubba Cunningham hired Fedora before the 2012 season and his new coach reeled off four straight bowl teams after the one-year probationary period he inherited. So the guy proved that he could recruit and coach even under the NCAA cloud.
When the AD hires the coach, that usually buys him at least one more year. And this season is it, even if the Tar Heels win only three games again. So the second reason Fedora is safe is that Cunningham gave him a new contract two years ago with a substantial buyout to deter Fedora from leaving. The amount Carolina would have to pay Fedora on his way out the door is something like $14 million, which UNC can hardly afford on a coach in whom it is so heavily invested.
The third reason is basketball. There may be a lot of grousing right now, but coaching football here is both a curse and a blessing.
The curse is that while the Tar Heels always have good football players, some good enough to reach the NFL, they usually don’t have enough of them to make up for injuries and recruits who don’t pan out. And lack of depth has been a major issue the last two years.
But the blessing is truly the “B” word. When late October rolls around and things aren’t going so well on the gridiron, most of the attention turns to basketball and one of the perennially powerful programs in the college game. That takes a lot of the public scrutiny away from football and replaces it with excitement over Roy Williams’ next team.
Some football coaches at Carolina haven’t liked playing second fiddle to hoops. But Williams and his predecessors have always been supportive of all the other sports, and basketball’s success takes the heat of some coaches and their teams not living up to expectation.