Chris Morris

Emphasis on de-emphasizing

Posted August 2, 2011
Updated August 3, 2011

As the dust continues to settle following Butch Davis's dismissal as football coach at North Carolina, the discussion has begun to shift from what  has happened in Chapel Hill to what will happen to the program in the future. Tar Heel supporters have been hungry for a nationally relevant football program since Mack Brown bolted for Texas in 1997. For many of them, Butch Davis represented an opportunity to return to that level, and his termination is viewed by many as a de-emphasis of the program.

They are right...but only to a point.

North Carolina has had good football teams before Butch Davis, and I venture to say that eventually they will have good football teams after him. Whether you thought Davis had direct knowledge of what was going on or not, the fact is that the program was broken under his watch.  He either truly had no idea about what was going on, or he knew and simply did nothing about it.  So which is better: ignorance or apathy? There is no right answer.

Chancellor Holden Thorp and the Board of Trustees felt that a change was necessary.  I do not disagree.  While having a successful football program is important, it is not the sole responsibility of the Chancellor and the BOT.  Their main interest should be to protect the integrity of the university. Players receiving illegal benefits from agents is one thing. Academic fraud is quite another.  Once the integrity of the institution was brought into question, that was the death knell for Butch Davis.

However, the timing of this move could not have been worse. UNC's reputation has already taken the hit.  Is it any better now that the coach has been fired just days from the start of practice? The only thing that has been accomplished by making the move now  is the on-field prospects of this year's Tar Heel football team have been damaged.  Everett Withers is a fine football coach, and he may very well turn out a great head coach one day, but he and his players have been put in an incredibly difficult position.  Coaching changes are almost always difficult for players to go through, but they are especially difficult right before the start of the season.  Why not let Butch Davis coach this season, and then let him go? No one would have been shocked to see Davis fired, but at least you would have given this year's team their optimum chance at having a successful season. By letting Davis go now, whether intentional or not, Thorp and the BOT de-emphasized the football least in the short-term .

When I say that the program has been "de-emphasized", that does not mean that all hope is lost for ever having "big time" football in Chapel Hill.  I'm sure that the administration does want a successful football program. They have certainly spent a great deal of money in  facility upgrades, and ultimately they want to see return on that investment.  But the program has to be cleaned up. What they had was not working. This is a case of taking a step back in order to ultimately take two steps forward.  Will Carolina be able to bring in a big- name coach to take over the program?  I doubt it.  Just because Butch Davis is gone does not mean this whole thing is over.  There will be sanctions, quite possibly severe ones, from the NCAA.  I am sure that there will be more thorough monitoring of the football program by the administration as well.  That will probably scare some potential coaches off.  But that does not mean that North Carolina football will never be able to compete on a national stage. The growth of UNC's program has been stunted, but not stopped all together.  UNC football is now in a similar position as NC State basketball.  It is not a job that will draw a "name' coach.  It is a place where a coach can come in, be successful, and make his name.

It worked for Mack Brown.



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  • Objective Scientist Aug 3, 2011

    I am a former multi-sport athlete, also coached, involved in some fashion in athletic programs virtually my entire life, as "passionate" as anyone about sports in general and about my favorite teams at all levels... My "college team" is Carolina... a campus on which I have spent a large part of my life with an infinite number of truly GREAT memories... a significant number involve "Carolina sports" but likely a greater number that have nothing to do with sports. I "beg to differ" with many posters. Clearly I differ with the irrational, ridiculous venomous diatribes of the ABCers... any of whom have read my posts know that I have been "far from easy" on my team... Carolina. But, I also vehemently disagree with my fellow "Tar Heels" who are incredibly angry at the decision/action taken by Chancellor Thorp. And it is not "just Thorp", I'd say the same with a Chancellor of any other name. A Chancellor is the CEO of his/her University and under all circumstances must consider the TOTAL well-being of the UNIVERSITY. NO ONE department, program... or SPORT TEAM is "bigger" or more important than the institution. One can argue all day, day after day, about the lack of any one specific problem with the NCAA being linked to Butch Davis. The "timing" of Thorp's decision can also be debated... should have happened at all, should have been earlier, should have been AFTER the coming season, etc. ALL times for that action would have been criticized! If the reputation of the University would continue to be weakened by Davis' presence - and I think that it would have - Davis absolutely could NOT remain! The UNIVERSITY comes before the football program, NOT vice-versa! There was NO immediate "smoking gun" to precipitate Davis' firing, but the initiating Austin incident cascaded into a series, one after the other after the other, of additional incidences. And Thorp is correct, it began as a "pure" football issue, but it became a University-Academic issue REQUIRING Davis' termination!!

  • NCSU72 Aug 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    I couldn't agree with you more Ken. Mays needed to let that one sit overnight and reread it the next morning before hitting send. That being said he is evidently a part-time journalist/commentator doing radio commentary and writes a weekly column for InsideCarolina -- you'd expect him to know better.

    "I have agreed to wait a week or two and decide a number of things; do we take the suite?, do I do Tar Heel Sports radio?, do I do my weekly column for IC? All of these things are decisions that I will have to make and right now I'm not ready to make them, as my anger has not subsided."
    Deems May

    He was obviously aware he wrote it in anger, so why not wait before sending? I guess he feels that strongly about the situation. They need to issue a gag order in Chapel Hill. The different factions spouting off their opinions is only making a bad situation worse. They're giving new meaning to "the lunatic fringe."

    He might have noticed his repeated use of "de-emphasizing" if he had re-read it.

  • I am not who you think I am Aug 3, 2011 think Bill Friday got it right. UNC put their emphasis on the wrong things when they hired Davis. This was about the same time Roy got a big raise also

  • bpayne812-take two Aug 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    I think the timing couldn't be more perfect.......then again I hate the Holes, so I would feel that way

  • Miscellaneous Aug 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    whether or not Butch was good or bad for the program, now, is irrelevant. Much of the agnst is the timing. UNC is screwed this year since there is a new coach, and there is no time to prepare. Then the recruiting for next season is screwed, since there is an interim coach, which affects the team for years to come. Add to this additional sactions, which buries them. Dookeis must be licking their chops, and TOB has nothing to worry about in this rivalry.

  • BeastOnTheHill Aug 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    and ncsuX football is like Wake tech and d00k. good luck with that.

  • bpayne812-take two Aug 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    I don't know. He had plenty of time to calm down before Joe interviewed him yesterday, but his tone was still the same. These UNC fans think it is Butch Davis or bust. I don't get it. They can get just as good a coach, if not better, to come to that program.........after the sanctions of course. UNC is a top job, not because of their previous success, but because of the money they are willing to pour into a program. To think that Butch Davis was the only guy for the job is asinine.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Aug 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    But where's the fun in that? ;)

  • Ken D. Aug 3, 2011

    View quoted thread

    A boss I respected greatly taught me to never mail a letter written while you are angry. You will always regret it. With e-mail and internet, it's so easy to hit "send" that a lot of things get said - irretrievably - that the writer regrets the minute he pushes the button.

    I wouldn't hold May to any of what he said.

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again02 Aug 3, 2011

    Regarding my previous post, I realize that was VERY offensive to Durham Tech.

    My apologies to Durham Tech!




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