Real Rivalry – Amato v Bunting Continues

The media reports are in from yesterday’s Triangle Pigskin Preview
…and I don’t know who to believe.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Chuck Amato and John Bunting (again) took ‘digs’ at each other during yesterday’s Triangle Pigskin Preview. The Observer doesn’t make any reference to the digs being as ‘playful’ as the Durham Herald‘s report. But, I guess that it part of the beauty and fun of this. You really can’t tell how serious the sozens of Amato-Bunting barbs have been through the years. But, the sheer volume of them has to be somewhat telling.

I think Chuck Amato is a “Master Marketer” in the same cloth as Everett Case, Jim Valvano, and Lou Holtz. With that said, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if CTC actually “manufactured” rivalries with certain coaches and opponents, taking a page from old-schoolers like Case, Bones McKinney and Frank McGuire. But I do NOT believe that is the situation in the case of John Bunting – I just think that these two simply do not like each other….and I LOVE IT!

This is what it is supposed to be about! This is rivalry! This is the essence of competition when someone resides less than 20 miles away. This is the same kind of crap that every State and Carolina fan has to endure 365 days a year in our jobs, our schools, and within our families. What a wonderful feeling to see & realize that the people that are paid to represent their institutions and their programs can relate with the same feelings and actions.

Coaches, if you want to be a friggin politician, then go run for office. If you want to WIN and represent your “constituency” of fans, then show some damn guts and fire and go take on all challenges…including your jack-ass rivals.

As mentioned previously, yesterday’s barbs between “Chuck the Chest” (CTC) and “Bunting the Belly” (BTB) have been going on since the day that Bunting was hired in Chapel Hill. Most recently, Dave Glenn of the ACC Area Sports Journal highlighted the exchange between the coaches on signing day this year while also chronicling some of the past verbal exchanges between the two.

If you can ignore Glenn’s predictible defending of how the Carolina progam conducts its business, and his tired allusions that serve as back handed criticisms of Amato, then the other stuff in the article serves as a nice primer on CTC vs BTB as well as the current nature of college recruiting on the whole. The following are just a very few of the outtakes from the ACCASJ:

===> “Here’s the scene: Picture two bitter rivals situated mere miles from each other. Mix in a pair of head coaches who are both fiery, ex-linebacker alums of their respective schools. Add a responsibility to try to protect the state’s finest football prospects, both from programs outside the state and each other. Top it off with a high-profile de-commitment from one school to the other early in both coaches’ tenures. Welcome to the N.C. State-UNC football rivalry between Chuck Amato and John Bunting.”

===> Amato always has used the stage of signing day to both entertain and complain. One year, he serenaded reporters with Italian ballads in excitement over his class. Another time, he popped open a bottle of grape juice that looked like champagne. The next year, he roared into the media room on the back of a motorcycle.

===> This year, again, Amato didn’t disappoint. He took a shot at the growing perception — accurate in one case, absurd in others — that the Tar Heels pulled scholarship offers to numerous long-committed prospects in the weeks before signing day. ..”We didn’t even have to pull a commitment,” Amato said. “In what we do, it’s done in such a professional way that you keep track of all that. Because there are some people that will do that, and we ran into that quite a bit this year, all over. In fact, some of the kids that we actually recruited had things like that happen.”

===> Perhaps still stinging from the loss of (Montario) Hardesty, after the player’s initial commitment to UNC, Bunting got very animated when talking about honesty in the recruiting process. He mentioned that the meaning of a commitment has changed in recent years, and not in a good way for the school. “It means something different to every recruit,” Bunting said. “There was one player that as of last night was committed to one school, told two of us that he was coming to us, then went to somebody else’s school. Wow! All in a night’s work. So you just don’t know.”

===> Of course, the poster boy for the elevation of the personal rivalry between Amato and Bunting is A.J. Davis. Considered the No. 3 defensive back in the nation by Prep Star in 2002, Davis played for a strong local program at Northern Durham, which had become a productive talent pipeline for UNC. Long-time Carolina assistant Ken Browning, who has worked under three head coaches in Chapel Hill, previously served as the head coach at Northern Durham.

Davis initially committed to the Tar Heels, but he signed with N.C. State, drawing surprise and complaints from his high school coach and his own father, plus the ire of Bunting and many UNC fans. Adding fuel to the controversy, Amato told the media that he sang the ballad “Return To Me” to convince Davis to run with the Pack, then famously added that such developments in recruiting are only “life in the fast lane.”

===> Bunting was so steamed about the Davis situation that he repeatedly spoke of it at booster gatherings, and when the details (see archives) came out on and after signing day, long-time gurus confirmed that it was one of most bizarre recruiting sagas in memory. When a reporter once again brought up Davis at this year’s signing day press conference, Amato showed that he had grown weary of the three-year-old complaints. “There was such a big fuss made a couple of years ago, but it happens all the time,” Amato said. “The fuss was made because we did it. If somebody else does it, there’s never a fuss made. And yes, that does irk me. Why don’t you talk about those people?”

===> After noting that he “feels sorry” for Hardesty because of the decision he made to sign with the Volunteers, Bunting was asked about his personal way of handling the recruitment of a prospect who has committed to another college. “When a recruit tells me that he wants me to stop recruiting him, I stop,” Bunting said. “But if they are committed to another school and still interested in us, then we will continue to recruit them.”

===> During the weeks leading up to UNC-N.C. State games over the past three seasons, and whenever the rivalry comes up in interviews with the media, Amato and Bunting tend to choose their words carefully. Each coach has been known to take shots at his counterpart when speaking with boosters, but Amato has been unusually reserved with most of his public comments, and Bunting also has been far more diplomatic than not.

General NCS Football

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