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Butch Davis: I Take Full Responsibility. Holden Thorp: Okay, You’re Fired.

Anyone who had “eight days before training camp opens” come forward to collect your winnings.

Let’s be honest here. The moment the NCAA showed up 56 weeks ago this situation was going to be ugly. How ugly it would become was always going to be a combination of the actual charges levied and how UNC handled it. In the intervening 13 months leading up to today UNC handling can charitably be called mixed. Certainly they get points for cooperation and where the NCAA is concerned they did more than their share of appeasing. On the other hand the PR has been haphazard at best from three headed press conferences to sending confusing messages at times. What happened today takes the cake in terms of being one of the most brazenly stupefying decisions in recent memory.

Now understand, for my money, the question up for debate here is no should Davis had been fired. Historical precedent for programs under NCAA scrutiny not to mention the forces in play from the hard core Carolina Way folks put Davis on thin ice as it was. The problem here is timing. If you want to argue Davis should have been fired feel free. The issue here is doing it eight days before training camp opens throwing the current team and football program in general into tremendous turmoil. While I acknowledge the house was already on fire that doesn’t mean you spray gasoline on it to make it burn faster. UNC’s first and foremost responsibility at this point was to figure out the best way to guide a wounded ship back to port, repair it and move on. That meant doing it with long term planning and not screwing the current players over right before the season starts.

We can certainty speculate on what precipitated this move now versus earlier or later when it would have made more sense. It is possible Thorp was content to support Davis during the early months since nothing was concrete until the NCAA said otherwise. Players were being punished and UNC could use that as proof of cooperation. Then came the notice of allegations which detailed John Blake and Jennifer Wiley’s roles. That was followed by the subsequent parking tickets issues and Michael McAdoo’s lawsuit which brought undiscovered plagiarism to light. At this point the honor court has been brought into question and the academic integrity of the school was under assault even more. While the case really didn’t change that much, the depth and breadth of the scandal was realized which obviously was too much for Thorp to stomach. The problem for Thorp is Bob Winston and possibly others on the BOT supported Davis. That changed this month and Thorp must have decided he could do this with their support.

So it might be the right move all things considered but it has been done at the wrong time. While I completely respect the obligation Thorp might feel to protecting the integrity of UNC, that train left the station long ago. If Thorp is willing do it now for the sake of all that is just and good why not do it after last season ended? Perhaps Thorp will tell us but the bottom line is there were windows during which this could have been done and caused far less damage. Firing Davis now really gains you nothing and makes a bad situation worse which I didn’t think was possible. Now it looks like UNC has no clue what it’s doing, makes the process for hiring the next coach even more difficult because Dick Baddour is still the freaking AD. Thorp had his chance before now and refused to take it. If he really, in his heart of hearts, wanted to fire Davis, there is still an obligation to do it in a way that does the least amount of damage. Thorp chose not to do that and I cannot imagine this ending well at all. This kind of decision impacts the ability to hire the next coach, the behavior of donors and destroys recruiting. There are simply better ways to handle this to safeguard those areas and still repair the integrity of the school.

Of course the real victim in all this is Gerald Henderson victims here are the players who have done nothing wrong. The current team members has endured the darkest days of this scandal and were looking forward to a season where the uncertainty of losing players to NCAA sanctions had been removed. Now their head coach has been fired in what could be seen as a signal from the chancellor that he doesn’t give a crap about them or the current season. That is probably a little harsh but I think the players deserve better. Its not their fault Davis hired Blake. Its not their fault other players broke rules. They did their part to represent the school and do it the right way. Leaving Davis in place to coach this season and afford them that stability would not have cost UNC any more than has already been taken in this scandal.

As bad as this look now, I hold out hope UNC might reap some benefit from it. Ohio St. apparently got points for Jim Tressell being shown the door. Thorp will likely be asked tomorrow if this is part of UNC’s response to the NCAA. If the players and coaches respond in a big way, the season may yet have value. At any rate, this 13 month NCAA scandal involving football continues to blow my mind with the twists and turns it takes. I have never been a fan of roller coasters or rides that test my gastrointestinal fortitude. In that spirit I say, “Someone please stop this ride, I really want to get off now.”

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10 comments to Butch Davis: I Take Full Responsibility. Holden Thorp: Okay, You’re Fired.

  • yawper

    I feel bad for the kids. Whatever we thought, pro or con, this was a bungled, disastrous decision. The players obviously loved Coach and rallied around him. The recruiting class was told that he had the university’s backing. They have to feel betrayed and lied to. You just can’t do this now, not if you care about the players or the program at all. If you didn’t pull the trigger immediately when this came out or after the 2010 season, you have to wait til this season is over. It’s just mind-boggling. As Deunta Williams said, Davis was the guy who held them all together last year; who will play that role now?

  • GAtoVAHeel

    So Holden Thorp is troubled by the damage to our academic reputation? He needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

    When all of the academic problems were going on, they were happening under the nose of the academic support program, which was administered by the College of Arts and Sciences, which was run by… Holden Thorp.

    Maybe Butch does have to go. But if he does, then Thorp has to go, too.

    And I couldn’t agree with you more about how bad the timing is. The NCAA couldn’t deliver more harsh punishment than Holden Thorp has visited upon us.

  • TarheelCuz

    What a screw up-

    Insert name here———-

  • OldSchool

    Talk about ruining the univeristy’s reputation. This latest fiasco makes the university look incompetent. Just 8 days before practice starts and these fools ditch the head coach that they stood behind for over a year now. Pathetic, sad, and extremely unprofessional handling of this long and painful episode. Our football program will not recover from this for a very long time. Get ready for a Torbush/Bunting hire… and lots of bad losses. Having fun yet?

  • wpe022

    The best conclusion to draw from the timing, is the change in the BOT. Thorp, either want to get rid of Davis, when the situation broke but didn’t have support of BOT; or the new BOT wanted Davis gone. If the later is the case Thorp’s job is still in question. Baddour continues to be the luckiest man in NC.

  • ncsu1987

    BOT was very likely the driver here. I suspect Baddour will be gone soon. Thorp is probably ok. Agree that timing really sucks, especially for the remaining returning kids who did nothing wrong, and most especially for the incoming kids who were probably misled to some degree about the likelihood of sanctions.

  • ncoutlander

    Please tell me there will be some latest revelation that hasn’t been released yet. Why else would the Chancellor & the trustees make such a bonehead move after supporting Davis all these months? Since the University didn’t act months ago, when they had all the information on what had happened, it looks to me like the Trustees are just now offended. If they weren’t offended months ago when this happened, why didn’t they fire Davis back when all this was going down. You shouldn’t offer support and stand behind someone,only to throw them under the bus at the last minute. This latest action by the Chancellor and the Trustees is just as offensive as the violations. It looks like the people in charge of the University are really complete idiots, which now serves as further embarrassment to University Supporters and fans. The situation of the NCAA investigation and suspension of 14 players last year was bad enough. It’s not fair to do this the current players at the 11th hour, who had to suffer through this humilation last year. Shame on the Chancellor and the Board, who had an epiphany that Davis should just now be fired. Please tell us it is because of some new revelation, not just a sudden whim that it’s the right
    thing to do now. If there is no new revelation, I think the Chancellor and the board need to step down also. Facts show Butch Davis may not have been privy to what was going on. The Chancellor and the Board however where privy to the facts in the investigation, when a decision about Davis could have been made months ago. Time for the Chancellor and Board to Go along with Davis.

  • Asheville Heel

    Stupidity thy name is Holden Thorp if he is the driver. If not, then he has lost all and will never regain credibility as a man of truth. He has proven that he has no backbone whether he waited until the new BOT took the stage or it was forced down his throat. The BOT has set the stage where they are either putting themselves firmly in the driver’s seat or are bunch of sheep(no pun)with no forethought. If Thorp truly supported BD as he has said repeatedly for months then he caved like a 10-day old cookie and lied publicly during his statement. I have lost respect for everyone invloved in this whole debacle. This makes UNC-CH look like it’s being run by a bunch of clowns. All the players who have done nothing wrong have just been thrown under a double-decker bus! If this is the “Carolina Way” then that way is lost in the wilderness.

  • scl11

    So why do Dickie and Holden still have jobs?

  • deepenwide

    Quit acting as if Butch Davis is Joe Paterno. The players will determine if this season is a success or failure. From what I saw last year we have a strong-minded bunch of kids who know how to mix it up. There will still be games to play. There will be a coach to coach them. I believe we have enough time to hire a coach and play competitively in a relatively weak conference. The sky will only fall if you believe it is going to. Butch wasn’t that good. Let’s quit griping and play some football.