July 30, 2011

Timing of Davis firing bad for Heels

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in college football.

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: North Carolina fired coach Butch Davis on Wednesday. Your thoughts on the decision?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
Honestly, I thought when Davis wasn't fired immediately after last season that he was fine. I thought the boosters, donors and administrators were so glad that UNC football was becoming relevant again that they would be happy to make John Blake the scapegoat for all the issues going on. Like everyone else, I'm mostly surprised by the timing of the move. Had Davis been fired in December or January, I wouldn't have blinked. Firing a coach a week before August camp begins is stunning to me. What's more stunning is the administration saying they needed to make the move because the university's reputation was tarnished. It was tarnished long ago. It took this long to figure that out? I'm guessing there may be more issues involved that just haven't come out yet.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I can't say that I'm shocked. But I am a bit stunned by the timing, as the school is a week away from training camp. This seemingly came out of nowhere, as Davis attended ACC Media Days and gave no indication that he was on the way out. Still, there was so much smoke swirling around Davis that you almost had to think some fire had to be there. There were the links to agents and players, there was John Blake, the rogue agent. There were allegations of academic fraud. It all apparently came to be too much for the UNC brass. Perhaps the school uncovered a new revelation that led to Davis' ouster. For now, UNC is left scrambling with interim coach Everett Withers. Is he ready for this? Bottom line: Another talented North Carolina team may underachieve because of off-field issues.

David Fox's answer:
Doesn't it feel like this news should have come long ago - as in almost a year ago? It has been written before this week, but this much is true: These schools seem to be the last to know when a change needs to be made. Though Davis was not personally implicated in the NCAA report last month, the conclusion was clear: North Carolina needed an overhaul in leadership, at least in its football program. North Carolina felt it needed more, which also led to the departure of athletic director Dick Baddour. Last summer, it was tough to see Davis getting out of this scot-free, but he did for a year. The delay means the Tar Heels will have a lame-duck season in 2011 - interim coach, recruiting on hold and so on. The Tar Heels may hire a fine coach, but this decision could have been made in December or January, saving Carolina a year of confusion.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
For a good academic institution, UNC sure seems to have some dumb administrators. In announcing Davis' firing, chancellor Holden Tharp said an overriding concern was that the university's reputation was being tarnished. Uhh, I think it was tarnished when the news first broke last year. Then, it was further tarnished earlier this year when the official NCAA findings were announced. The timing is awful; if you're going to fire Davis for these transgressions - Davis sure tried to shift all the blame to former defensive line coach John Blake, throwing Blake, a longtime friend, under a fleet of buses - fire him when they first came to light. The timing basically means another lost season for UNC.

Steve Megargee's answer:
What took them so long? North Carolina should have pulled the plug on the Butch Davis era months ago, when the NCAA cited North Carolina's football program for nine major violations. Frankly, they probably should have made this move last year, when the severity of the dual scandals - one academic, the other agent-related - came to light. When school officials continued to back Davis in the wake of all these revelations, it always seemed as though they were merely delaying the inevitable. Now they finally have forced Davis out - and at the worst possible time for the program. Waiting this long wasn't fair to the players currently on North Carolina's roster, since the timing of the move will cause off-field distractions to wreak havoc with the Tar Heels' season for a second straight year. And it certainly isn't fair to the recruits who signed with the Tar Heels in February under the nave assumption that the investigation ultimately wouldn't amount to much more bad news for North Carolina's football program.


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