Butch Davis Is Only The Symptom, Not The Disease At UNC

Some may think that the never-ending problems at UNC would be solved by the termination of Butch Davis, and to a degree they would be right: the Tarheels would be rid of the man who worries more about the blue pinstripes on his players’ uniforms than whether his assistant coaches are wantonly violating NCAA rules.  But that would not rid them of their problem.  That problem lay in the system and culture of entitlement at The Flagship, and while Davis is like a cold sore to them, he is not the disease.  He is the symptom.

Carolina, by and large, has operated for decades with a holier-than-thou attitude across the board.  From the very top to the common Wal-Mart fan, anyone wearing light blue in the Old North State is happy to tell you that their school is better than yours, and “better” can mean anything from academics to athletics, all the way down to the layout and architecture of their campus.  Folks here in North Carolina are no doubt familiar with “Blue Heaven,” “The Carolina Way,” “Public Ivy (we’re as good as an Ivy League school like Harvard or Yale),” and other similar passive-aggressive hyperbole that stream without end from Chapel Hill.   

Truth is, UNC is a very good school, and its graduates and staff do have a lot to be proud of, but heavenly or as good as Harvard?  Let’s get real, folks. By objective measure, UNC is not the largest school in North Carolina (NC State is,) its median salary for baccalaureates is not the highest in the UNC system (again, NC State’s is) and it is by no means even the most prestigious college in North Carolina either: quite honestly, that would either be Duke or Davidson.  It is an athletic powerhouse in college basketball, no doubt, and for a long time it owned women’s soccer too, and UNC’s women’s hoops program is indeed a player on the national stage.  It does win a great deal of championships in other non-revenue sports too, but there’s one glaring weakness on their resume — and here we begin to arrive at their problem — its college football program is hardly worth a second glance: UNC has zero national championships by any measure of annointing a mythical titleholder one might choose, it has fewer victories over teams ranked in the top five than one has fingers on one hand and they’ve not even won a conference title in one of the game’s lesser conferences in over twenty years.

But, they do have pine trees.  Those count more than anything to some folks like ESPN’s Heather Dinich.

So clearly, the Carolina Way failed UNC in its quest to dominate football the way it does hoops.  And they wanted that to change.  So badly, in fact, that they were secretly willing to believe that the ends justified the means over in Blue Heaven. 

Those ends involved bringing in a former NFL and “Big-Time Program” coach to replace an alumnus, and he was given one clear edict: take us to the top. 

Problem is, that coach had a checkered past: he kept the University of Miami at the top of the college game when they were on NCAA probation by gaming the system to work around the NCAA’s punishments.  Instead of offering top-flight football players scholarships he was banned from giving to them to play football, instead, he offered them track scholarships.  To play football. Some might claim that was brilliant, because it was not an NCAA violation at the time, exactly, but without doubt a violation of the spirit of the terms of the Hurricanes’ penalties.  If anything, it made one thing clear:  the NCAA and its silly rules were only an inconvenience to Butch Davis, and that they would not present guidelines or boundaries for him on his quest to win college football championships.

It nearly worked for him too.  Davis never led the Hurricanes to a title before he lied to their leadership about not leaving for the NFL the day before he…left for the NFL.  That too should have been a red flag to the UNC brain trust about the man’s character, but instead of shady, they saw glitter.  Davis was in at UNC, John Bunting was out.

Problems began nearly immediately: known scofflaw John Blake was hired by Davis to be his main recruiter.  That’s John Blake, the man who left a trail of tears and NCAA sanctions in his wake at other schools.  The UNC Brain Trust nodded and said nothing.  “Just get the job done!” their silence shouted, “We want to win!”

Within days, players with long-standing commitments to other schools were changing their address to play college football.  Instead of packed houses in truly huge stadiums full of screaming Seminole fans, for example, they chose to play at Carolina in front of empy aluminum benches and, of course, those pine trees.  Apparently, the scent of Carolina pine was far better than the the sweet scents of victory in front of 70,000 or more fans, and these events too were met with indifference by the UNC Brain Trust.  Perhaps those Top Brains even said, “Who can blame Marvin Austin? He’s not stupid, he must want to be part of our culture of sweetness, goodness and light!”  One can only imagine.

What is clear is that they said nothing, not to Blake, not to Davis, not to anyone, except “Just win, baby.”

And it didn’t happen. No titles. A loss to hated non-rival NC State in Davis’ first year. No BCS bowls. Not much to brag about, really, not that it stopped the normal hue and cry of the protypical UNC fan in March: “Just you wait!” they howled. “We’ve got the best group of players in the history of ever coming in and you will be lucky if we don’t beat you 72-0!”

Except it didn’t happen. Year two of the Davis era had its bright spots, but no titles. No BCS bowls. Nothing much to brag about.

Not even that drew the attention of the so-called brain trust.  “Just win, baby!” they claimed.  And, “And please don’t leave!” when Davis shopped himself for every college football job in the country, except possibly for the postition at Paduka Community College in Kentucky.

Something Wicked This Way Comes: The Troubles Begin In Blue Heaven

Never did anything to brag about ever happened under Davis’ watch until the evilness that is July 15, 2010 dawned.  Even this hardened NC State fan could not believe his eyes as he wrote the words:


Who would have believe THAT?

Well, to start with, most of the clued-in writers at Statefans Nation, who’s “obsession” with UNC had long hinted of improprieties over in Blue Heaven. To us, well, this was no surprise.  Except that it was: apparently the NCAA had blown a gasket, because they were now investigating one of its seemingly untouchable institutes of of higher learning, the holy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“It’s just an inquiry,” the UNC Brain Trust cried, “NOT an investigation!”

I don’t know about you, but it’s my experience that when the police knock on your door, it’s never because they are bringing good news.  In fact, it’s almost always the opposite: they are bringing bad news.  And indeed, that was the beginning of nothing but bad news emenating from Chapel Hill with the regularity of Old Faithful in Yellowstone.  Despite that, a spin cycle from Chapel Hill soon developed:

  1. Denial – a temporary defense.
  2. Anger – recognizes denial cannot continue, and develops “why me” thoughts.
  3. Bargaining – will try to somehow postpone or delay things, but begins acceptance.
  4. Depression – necessary process to detach oneself from people and things loved in life.

Knowledgeable readers might recognize the first four steps, they are part and parcel of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s “Five Stages of Grief.” The only step that seemed to be missing in the year that what’s now known as the UNC Football Scandal erupted is this:

  1. Acceptance – brings the peace and understanding that allows an end to the struggle, and a transition with dignity.

Until now, apparently, as even the most ardent of supporters like Art Chansky starting to call for Davis to be surgically removed from UNC athletics.  It’s not a bad idea, but that won’t cure the disease. It will only cure the symptoms.

The Real Disease at UNC

Carolina and quite many of its acolytes seem to have Entitlement Syndrome, the idea that they deserve to be “Number 1” just because they are who they are: Carolina fans.

That’s fine for sports fans and royal families, and there’s probably not a school in college sports that doesn’t have some number of people living under that delusion.  To a one, they can make an impassioned case for why “they” are the best and because “they” are who they are, why they should be number one in all areas of competition, year in and year out.  Our learned Carolina friend Bob Lee Swagger coined an effective term for them years ago when he called people like that “The Lunatic Fringe.”  Bob was right, even if his shotgun approach was far too wide.  There is a lunatic fringe of fans of every sport everywhere.  Even Newcastle United, one of the British Premiere League’s worst performing teams in the league’s history has its cadre of lunatics living in delusion.  That’s how widespread the phenomenom is.

Adults, however, are supposed to be in charge at places of higher learning like UNC Chapel Hill.  They are supposed to be rational, sane professional educators who are above all,  and stalwart in protecting the true main purpose of the insititution: preparing its students for a career in the student’s chosen field of study.  That mission is supposed to even include the school’s football players, young men who are ostensibly student-athletes.

Except at UNC the “adults” were fans.  Even more sadly, they appear to be part of the Lunatic Fringe.

They thought that they were entitled, because they were in Blue Heaven and they had pine trees. 

So for the last year, those men and women have spun in the media as hard as they could, deflecting attention away from the real problem, and sacrificing anyone along the way who needed to be excoriated in the media to preserve the goal: to make UNC #1 college football.  First it was tutors who would write papers for the “student”-athletes, then it was former players who were the assistant coaches’ bag-men, then the assistant coaches, now, apparently, even Chief Know-Nothing himself, Butch Davis.  It’s almost as though they think they can make another big hire, take a minor penalty such as writing book reports from the NCAA and get back on the trail that leads towards greatness.

And that’s the problem: them. Men like Bob Winston and Holden Thorpe, the ones at the top, the ones who either let the disease fester or didn’t nip it in the bud under their watchful eyes — or, if you prefer, do the job they were hired to do: manage the University of North Carolina effectively and to preserve and propogate its true intent: to educate.

If anything, those men have indeed been educators: they’ve taught the world that the Carolina Way is a sham, that Blue Heaven is a scam, and that they value winning over integrity.

And they have to go if this disease will ever be cured.

They ARE the disease.



ACC & Other UNC Scandal

55 Responses to Butch Davis Is Only The Symptom, Not The Disease At UNC

  1. IamGumbyDammit 07/18/2011 at 11:25 AM #

    Amen. This is why you’re the Alpha Wolf!

  2. old13 07/18/2011 at 11:35 AM #

    That would certainly be a good and obvious start to the cure. But, IMO, a much larger and wide-spread purge is necessary to completely rid the patient of the disease. And it may well need to extend into other areas of life in N.C. which would need to be forced by “the people!”

  3. LRM 07/18/2011 at 11:50 AM #

    Nonsense, Alpha. There’s far too much arrogant elitism over at the Flagship to ever be held accountable by the lowly citizens of North Carolina like me and you. They’ll determine if, when and how they shall be held accountable.

  4. TruthBKnown Returns 07/18/2011 at 12:03 PM #

    Well done, Alpha.

    Except for one word:

    “It’s just an inquiry,” the UNC Brain Trust cried, “NOT an investigation!”

    Just a technicality… and I could be wrong… but I think they referred to it as a “review”, not an “inquiry”.

  5. TruthBKnown Returns 07/18/2011 at 12:07 PM #

    Sometimes it boggles the mind to wonder exactly WHY they are clinging to Butch the way they are. I mean, he really hasn’t won much. He hasn’t beaten State in four tries. And frankly, if we’re honest, he even struggled a couple of times just to beat Dook.

    So why are they sticking with him? It’s not like he’s the Dean Smith of football. If they REALLY wanted to clean up their act, one would think the easiest way to accomplish that would be to simply cut Butch loose and bring in another good coach.

    So why keep him?

    I believe Butch has dirt on them, kind of like Marvin saying he has dirt on Butch. If Carolina kicks Butch to the curb, it may be HIM that sings like a canary. That might help explain why it seems more important to them to keep Butch rather than make life easier for themselves by firing him.

  6. TruthBKnown Returns 07/18/2011 at 12:12 PM #

    Again, this was a great article Alpha. And an important one. Because too many of them want to lay blame on Butch. Actually, not even Butch. They want to blame it on a few rogue players, a rogue tutor, and a rogue assistant coach. But beyond that, they MAINLY want to blame it on the football program. But like the article indicates, this is all a symptom of a bigger problem. It’s not just Butch, and it’s not just their football program.

  7. GAWolf 07/18/2011 at 12:13 PM #

    It’s amazing to me how many otherwise informed unc fans have no idea the extent of the scandal. I was with a huge donor this weekend who had not heard the first peep of McAdoo. It appears to me that most diehard Heel fans could care less.

  8. codebrown 07/18/2011 at 12:27 PM #

    They are who we thought they were.

  9. LKNpackfan 07/18/2011 at 12:44 PM #

    First of all, great article. It’s right on point; the problems over there lay in the system and culture. But I don’t think it goes far enough. Its not just the entitlement mentality, it’s the leadership strategy that Thorp has chosen to use.

    Thorp wrote a book called “Engines of Innovation: Advancing science with big teams, big money” (http://www.scibooks.org/reviews/45-thorp.html), and it’s practically forecasted everything that has transpired.

    (Seriously, click that link. Read the summary.)

    Thorp clearly attempted to use Bigtime Football as his Money Engine, which theoretically would then fund other initatives. The only problem, this created the wrong incentives. And “win at all costs” is self-destructing right in front of us.

  10. MP 07/18/2011 at 12:46 PM #

    Can this post be bronzed and placed in the Hall of Fame?

  11. Tau837 07/18/2011 at 12:51 PM #

    “They are who we thought they were.”

    Exactly. That sums it up perfectly.

  12. oceanman 07/18/2011 at 12:52 PM #

    Alpha Wolf is right on. UNX wants to be Harvard Monday through Friday and Oklahoma on saturday afternoon. Well, they are neither. They have even gone so far as to call themselves the “People’s University.” Everytime I hear that I want to vomit. UNX was started by the wealty aristocracy in North Carolina so they would have a college to educate their children. They still see themselves that way. I have a daughter starting at State next month. She was an excellent student and could have gone to just about any school she wanted to but she could not get in UNX. But UNX admitted a gang of thugs who propably can hardly read and right to play football Where is the justice in that. They took players that could not get in Clemson for crying out loud. Hooray for Clemson for showing some integrity.

  13. mwcric 07/18/2011 at 12:55 PM #

    Well, I’m still a jaded Wolfpacker and still fervently believe in Carolina injustice. I’ve been saying ever since the hint of a scandal first surfaced that no major punishments would arise, and so far that’s been the case. Lots of my Carolina friends have argued that there has been punishment levied, in the guise of player suspensions that derailed a potentially great season, but those were individual, not institutional, punishments, and the whole “what could have been” argument is a weak strawman case, particularly when examining Davis’ record at UNC up to that point.
    I still don’t think UNC will get anything but a symbolic slap on the wrist and the NCAA and ACC will sweep the conclusion under the rug and forget about it within three days of the announcement. I don’t think there will be any probation, any scholarship reductions, or any large fines; there may be a symbolic fine foisted upon Davis, and maybe the players will have to attend some kind of class on plagiarism. Davis won’t be fired – if he was in any danger he would’ve been canned by now; Carolina certainly wouldn’t, I don’t think, gamble on having to force its head coach out right before the season began, or mid-season. Obviously the powers that be still feel like, despite everything that’s happened, the situation is well in control and no hammer is forthcoming. It’s difficult for me to believe that the higher-ups would feel that way without reason, particularly with what’s happened at USC, Tennessee and Ohio State over the last couple years. If they feel that way, there must be security behind that confidence.
    And there’s another issue here that I don’t think has been discussed: NCSU and ECU, for starters, better really make sure all their i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, because with the cronyism and good ol’ boy network in NC – which emanates largely from a UNC alumni base – you can bet that the athletic programs in Raleigh and Greenville are going to be (maybe already are) being hyper-examined for the slightest deficiency in order to pull attention away from what’s happening at UNC. And regardless of how any potential problems at those schools may pale in comparison to what’s happening at the flagship, I’ve no doubt they’ll be uber-magnified by the press.
    Call my cynical, but it’s a learned cynicism.

  14. Pack78 07/18/2011 at 12:56 PM #

    BobLee states the following in answer to a question on his blog:

    BL: The Carolina Way has been an inside joke with many of us UNCers for quite some time…. It’s mostly the WalMarters that buy into that crap. WalMarters and Dickie. … Yeah, I did play Nostradamus on Ol’ Pale Rider didn’t I ??? hehehehe!

    Apparently, they have lived with it comfortably for decades over there…

  15. PackerInRussia 07/18/2011 at 1:07 PM #

    I’ve been wondering that too. Why so much love for a guy who’s produced mediocre results? The only thing I can think of is this: to seem is greater than to be. With Butch, they feel big time. They get big recruits, they have a big-name coach. They are ranked in the Preseason Top 25 each year and get called “Darkhorse National Champions.” Like a teenage girl, they’ve fallen for the flattery and close their ears and make accusations of jealousy (or obsession) when anyone tries to tell them the truth: the guy’s a jerk – dump him.

  16. graywolf 07/18/2011 at 1:07 PM #

    Just remember that some diseases are deadly…………one can only hope that they get this diagnosis from the NCAA.

  17. albunde6 07/18/2011 at 1:13 PM #

    One front page article is not a media explosion. We have had a couple of small articles in Greensboro news and record. No front page reaction to this story. The average fan does not see the big deal, nor do they expect any real punishment for the UNX. Hope they are wrong.

    Still waiting for Butch’s personal phone to be exposed.

  18. drgreenhouse 07/18/2011 at 1:23 PM #

    Great Article Alpha!

    You can try to hide behind your journalism majors and good ol’ boy network but the truth will emerge.

    Butch is a symptom, more will come out of this in the future. They’re protecting him because he is protecting them. Like the little Dutch boy holding his finger in the dike, Butch is currently holding back a massive flood.

    I was too young to remember the details of the Jimmy V scandal, but thanks to a little reading, I’ve read how much the baby blues gloated because of our misery. Turnabout is fair play.

    The best is yet to come…

  19. TheCOWDOG 07/18/2011 at 1:24 PM #

    Alpha. Always good to see you on the front.

    And clearly, it’s always good that all are reminded there are reasons otherwise conscientious, forgiving folk, cannot and will not shed contempt for anything, sans medicine, having THAT color associated with it.

  20. WalMartFan 07/18/2011 at 1:25 PM #

    The disease is called Carolina Fever if I remember correctly.

  21. graywolf 07/18/2011 at 1:34 PM #

    I still have my “Carolina Fever is a social disease” t-shirt. Maybe I should get it out and wear it soon.

  22. dindc 07/18/2011 at 2:04 PM #

    Duke is clearly the leader among NC schools, but Davidson? Are you kidding? Davidson is an outstanding liberal arts college, but Wake Forest has graduate and professional schools and is ranked among the top 35 or so national universities in the country. (Same category as Duke.) Davidson doesn’t even register.

  23. ncsu1987 07/18/2011 at 2:06 PM #

    mwcric: I couldn’t agree more. I’ve just seen it too many times. And you’re absolutely right (IMHO) about your last point – the other programs better watch their backs. I thought about this a long time ago and you’re right – it’s not discussed much. I strongly suspect that the investigations have been ongoing for quite some time. The fact that we’ve heard nothing to this point makes me very very very glad we have TOB at the helm. I concur: they will get a symbolic slap on the wrist, all three stooges will still be at the wheel, and everybody outside Raleigh will forget it ever happened.

  24. WolfBlood 07/18/2011 at 2:40 PM #

    Given the punishment G.T. just got for far less, I dont see how some of you think it will just be a slap on the wrist and swept under the rug. The NCAA has a great opportunity to make an example out of UNC, and I believe they are going to take it. This is the worst case of major violations in college football in over a decade. And you think nothing is going to happen? I dont buy that at all. The reason why UNX is keeping Butch around is because they know when the hammer hits, no decent coach is going to want to step into that role of clean up guy, might as well try and keep a good coach if you can.

  25. wolfpacker 07/18/2011 at 3:08 PM #


    Are you implying that butch is a good coach? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. He’s a joke of a coach. He can’t win even when he’s cheating.

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