Apparently there are, after all this, a few adults left over at the Flagship. Holden Thorp isn’t one of them. In fairness to him, he very possibly belives this nonsense (ABC11.com):
To restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program, it’s time to make a change,” said Thorp in a statement released by the school. “What started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this University’s reputation. I have been deliberate in my approach to understanding this situation fully, and I have worked to be fair to everyone involved. However, I have lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution. Our academic integrity is paramount and we must work diligently to protect it. The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change.”
Regardless of what Thorp says, something changed. Was this a last ditch effort to convince the NCAA to go easy on the upcoming punishment? Did Jennifer Wiley finally talk to the NCAA?
Matt Hayes at the Sporting News says they followed “Ohio State’s path:”
It’s pathetic, really. The rats see a ship sailing to probation, and it’s every dirty, cheating program for itself.
Ohio State got out first, and now North Carolina sees the opening. Soon enough, Oregon will too…
Seriously, you don’t think North Carolina saw this? You don’t think the hoity-toity, stuffed-shirt crowd in Chapel Hill saw that Ohio State’s arrogant response to the infractions committee was to blame Tressel for everything this side of the trees at Toomer’s Corner, change their story from Tressel resigning to being forced to retire and then plead ignorance to the entire mess?
Dear NCAA: We’ve fired our coach. Have mercy on our soul.
Our own VaWolf82 says that maybe Butch lost his biggest fan (UNC’s version of Bob Kennel):
This looks to me like BobLee was right all along. As long as Butch had BOTBob in his corner, then he was safe. The first BOT meeting after Winston rotates off, Butch is gone. Doesn’t look like a coincedence to me.
It also looks like Holden Thorp has to get permission from the BOT to take a leak (Shawshank reference for those in Faison).
Andy Thomason at The Daily Tar Heel offers support for this:
The announcement comes on the same day that lawyer Wade Hargrove was elected chairman of the Board of Trustees, succeeding Bob Winston.
ESPN’s Pat Forde asks “Why Wait?”
There are two reactions to North Carolina’s firing of Butch Davis on Wednesday.
It’s about time.
But it’s also about timing.
And the timing makes a whole lot less sense than the termination itself.
This could have and should have happened much earlier. North Carolina had a dozen compelling and reasonable occasions in its miserable, scandal-scarred past year to fire Davis, and it declined to do so. A partial list of opportunities:
When the NCAA began investigating last summer and suspected that agents were crawling all over the Tar Heels’ program, Davis’ job was safe.
When the school had to bench 14 players for the season opener — and several of them stayed benched for the entire 2010 season — Davis’ job was safe.
When associate head coach and recruiting coordinator John Blake — a longtime Davis friend — was linked monetarily to agent Gary Wichard, Davis’ job was safe.
When former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley — at one time privately employed by Davis — was linked to allegations of academic fraud, Davis’ job was safe.
When the NCAA notice of allegations was delivered to the school in June and the Heels were formally charged with nine major violations, Davis’ job was safe.
And when Carolina sent the coach to Pinehurst, N.C., on Monday to meet the media, discuss the entire sordid affair and describe his support as “overwhelming,” well, it certainly seemed Davis’ job was safe. I listened to him talk for an hour — in fact, Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com and I followed him out of the room and probably were the last reporters to talk to him as UNC coach — and there was absolutely no way Butch knew he was getting fired. Not in the next five months, and certainly not in the next 48 hours.
Now, boom. He’s gone. After allowing a year of tarnish to build up before taking action.
Andy Staples at SI.com has the same question as Forde (and many of us), “Why do it now, UNC?”
If someone does the right thing at the wrong time, is it right, or is it wrong? Or is it a little of both?
Maybe there is another explanation. Maybe a revelation is forthcoming that will make the timing of the firing of North Carolina coach Butch Davis make sense. Maybe a smoking cell phone record surfaced. Something. Anything.
ESPN’s ACC blogger Heather Dinich says “future in limbo for UNC:”
That’s how long North Carolina has to name an interim head coach, get a plan together, and develop a new identity before they line up on the field for the first time as a team during fall camp.
For the second straight summer, North Carolina’s football program has absolutely no idea which direction it’s headed. Just two days after Butch Davis sat at a table at ACC media days and talked to reporters about the support he had from the university, he was fired.
And fans were concerned about the October date with the NCAA.
They should be more concerned about their leadership at the university, or lack thereof.
Tony Barnhart at CBS Sports says to understand this, “you have to understand the culture” over at the Flagship:
To understand why this played out the way it did, you have to understand the culture of this university and the importance it places on its reputation.
In 1961, UNC chancellor William Aycock forced popular basketball coach Frank McGuire to resign after a series of scandals that included charges of point shaving. Aycock hired 30-year-old Dean Smith and told him not to worry about the wins and the losses. Smith’s No. 1 job was to run a clean program.
And he did, winning 879 games and graduating 96 percent of his players over the next 36 seasons. Smith also won two national championships and went to 11 Final Fours without even a whiff of a rules violation. Smith’s value system set the standard for the entire athletic department for a couple of generations.
That changed when the football program received its notice of allegations from the NCAA. On that day, North Carolina was lumped in with all of the other big-time football schools that have been caught cutting corners over the years.
What the school had to face was that Butch Davis had done exactly what he was hired to do. He brought in top-tier talent to Chapel Hill. That was borne out in the 2011 NFL Draft when North Carolina had nine picks, more than any other school.
But along with that exceptional talent, there has been a series of world-class embarrassments.
WRAL’s Erin Summers feels sorry for Butch, which seems to be a common theme among UNC fans tonight:
Too bad Butch Davis cant get back all the stress endured over past 13 months they coulda saved him years on his life doing this last yr #UNC
And why shouldn’t they feel sorry for him? Other than hiring Blake and Wiley and letting Austin tweet, he was nothing but a class act who simply
packed out Kenan and beat the lowly Wuffies and won championships represented The Carolina Way to the best of his ability.
Some of Carolina’s fans offer up their version of the Carolina Way, by tweeting their displeasure with Thorp.
Wiley’s attorney speaks, but good luck trying to make sense of it.
Meanwhile, Don Curtis has no comment.
Thursday 9AM Update:
Luke DeCock at the N&O says that Carolina faces “a season in purgatory.”
By firing Davis now, Thorp and the trustees put the players on their football team who didn’t do a thing wrong – the vast majority of the players on this year’s roster – in an almost impossible position going forward. After waiting this long, after Thorp declared last November that Davis and athletic director Dick Baddour would return for the 2011 season, what was the harm in letting the NCAA process and the football season run their course
A coaching change a week before the start of training camp is about as big a negative as you can slap onto a team’s season. It’s an uphill climb for the Tar Heels now, a season in purgatory, and there are a lot of innocent players who already saw last season diminished by the misdeeds of their teammates.
Butch Davis makes his own statement, where he claims he isn’t naive, but don’t tell that to the UNC fans that support him this, since they all clearly feel that was his only real crime in all of this.
Danny Flynn at The Bleacher Report talks about how “North Carolina football will fare in 2011:”
With so much talent on defense and so much potential on offense, this is a team that should in no way be thinking about waving the white flag right now just because they lost their leader—if you can even call Davis that after all of these allegations and rumors.
Remember, if there’s one thing Davis could do right, it’s recruit.
He brought that old Miami mentality to Chapel Hill, and he ended up with a roster ripe with future pros and quality depth. There’s a reason North Carolina had nine players picked in the 2011 NFL draft.
Davis may have lacked control of the players that were actually on campus, but he excelled at promising young star high school recruits an awful big future and convincing them of that future.
Sadly for Davis, he won’t be on the sidelines anymore to see his recruiting gems blossom into highly coveted pro prospects.
Kyle Tucker at the Hampton Roads Pilot asks “Who else pays the price?” and shows us some of the sad comments from recruits who were convinced this would all be over by Friday.
This obviously puts the football program in a tough spot. But the folks I’m most curious about today are the Tar Heels’ newest players, the Class of 2011 recruits who signed with UNC in February after Davis and his staff sold them on the notion that nothing too terrible was going to come of all this NCAA investigation mess. What now for those guys? Will they get a break, be cut loose from their obligation, without having to sit out a year for transferring (two if it’s within the ACC)? And could they even find suitable teams that can take them on such short notice?
It’s a pretty unfortunate situation, and one that must be absolutely maddening to Virginia Tech fans, who watched in frustration as Davis and UNC stole several of the Hokies’ top recruiting targets in the Class of 2011. One of them basically even said he’d have picked Tech if it hadn’t been for Davis’ assurances that everything was going to be OK.
Thursday 10AM Update:
Bruce Feldman and Heather Dinich both think Bud Foster is a good choice to replace Butch, and to be honest, that sounds like a realistic candidate. Many UNC fans (and apparently Joe Schad is enamored with the rich football tradition in Chapel Hill) probably still believe theirs is one of the best jobs in the nation and Urban Meyer will jump at the opportunity to continue the Heels’ march to
Charlotte football dominance, but those folks are just as delusional as folks like LRM were to think we actually had a shot at Billy Donovan or Sean Miller. But just in case, some of the IC folks may want to stake out RDU for Nick Saban sightings.
The overwhelming, common response — from UNC fans and rivals, the media, radio personalities, and supporters and detractors alike — to this has been: the timing makes no sense. Thorp and Baddour are scheduled to address the media at 11am, and if the previous 12 months have been any indication, will no doubt make the picture even less clear than it already is.
This isn’t the end. This is more like the Normandy invasion; the Flagship still has to respond to the NOA and then take it’s spanking. And it will be no suprise if Baddour and/or Thorp “resign” in the coming days, as it’s starting to look more like they don’t have the support of the new Board of Trustees (which is even a theory Greg Barnes suggested this morning on 99.9). There will no doubt be more to come, so stay tuned.
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