UNC football avoiding most of national scrutiny
Posted June 22, 2011
Ohio State and USC have dominated national headlines for their national championship football programs. They have dominated headlines for their Heisman Trophy candidates and winners. They have also managed to get top national billing for their inability to follow NCAA rules. The University of North Carolina has managed to avoid all of these things - and still might.
The Tar Heels football program is still not producing national championship contenders or Heisman candidates, and even amidst what has been deemed to be major allegations from the NCAA, has avoided being a top national story.
The letter of allegations handed to UNC Tuesday highlighted nine major violations. Four of them were reported by the school, five were added by the NCAA. They spanned from agent dealings, academic infractions, improper benefits from outsiders and "failure by the institution to adequately monitor."
Yet, even with the quad-fecta of allegations, the UNC football program is only a top story on one major national news outlet. The idea that Oregon may possibly have committed infractions is getting higher billing than the fact that UNC did commit infractions on two major national news outlets.
How can it be that an ACC program - a BCS school - not get national attention for such actions? Andrew Jones of Fox Sports explains that it's because the Tar Heels are not as good on the field as the Buckeyes or the Trojans and that the alleged infractions are a cause of that.
“North Carolina isn't yet that giant on the gridiron, though it could have been a year ago if so many players didn't get caught up in a whirlwind of improprieties that thinned out the talented Tar Heels to the tune of an 8-5 season," he wrote. "But when the school released the NCAA's Notice of Allegations on Tuesday night, the thud that reverberated was that so-called giant falling to the soil.”
Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, who joined The Insiders on 620 the Buzz, tends to agree.
“It’s not one of the powerhouse programs in college football, it doesn’t involve the Heisman trophy winner, it involves a team that’s gone 8-5 each of the past three seasons." he said. " Until they become that team that wins 10-11 games and contends for the BCS bowls it just doesn’t have that impact for fans outside of North Carolina or the ACC.”
The national media that is opting to report the allegations, however, is not being gentle on Butch Davis' program.
“North Carolina received an extension notice of allegations from the NCAA on Tuesday. And the potential major violations outlined add up to one of the widest-ranging scandals in recent college football history," wrote Dave Curtis of the Sporting News.
Mandel scribed on SI.com - which is the lone national outlet to lead with the story, "The NCAA found more filth and disregard for the NCAA's rules at North Carolina than it did at USC or Ohio State."
One of the overriding differences in regards to UNC and the improprieties found at USC and Ohio St. is how the programs handled their situations. UNC was open, honest and forthcoming as an institution. The only misleading in the investigation was done by a player. Further, the athletic director, Dick Baddour, and head coach, Davis, appear to have legitimately not known. They are also accepting full accountability in their statements - unlike the heads of the other two programs.
“I feel terrible that these allegations occurred under my watch," Davis said in a statement from the university Tuesday. "I especially regret that the university has had to endure this scrutiny because of the football program. The responsibility for correcting any problems that put us in this position is mine, and I take that responsibility very seriously."
The programs at Oregon, Tennessee and even Boise St. will be or are being examined. Ohio St. and USC have recently had punishment handed down. Yet for a Davis coached team that has gone 28-23 under his control, the repercussions may not be as severe.
"(Jim) Tressel (former head coach at at Ohio St.) made one huge mistake and it cost him his career," Mandel said. "USC had one star player go rogue and it cost the school 30 scholarships. North Carolina is accused of nine major violations involving at least 14 different adults and roughly half its starting lineup, and yet its case may wind up causing the smallest ripple of the three."
Until the NCAA hands down punishment, UNC appears to have avoided the black eye that national attention can serve up.