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Train Wreck At The Friday Center

Holy. Crap.

UNC held a press conference to discuss the dimissal of Butch Davis as head football coach and it was nothing short of being a complete and utter train wreck from start to finish.

First of all, UNC did not name an interim head coach in the press conference. Chancellor Holden Thorp said they would do that in a “few days” and are in the process of interviewing candidates which just add to how big a clustefark this has become. Your pool of candidates is roughly four guys right? Play a round golf, do rock-paper-scissors, draw straws. I don’t care but name somebody the freaking head coach today.

Secondly, AD Dick Baddour has asked Thorp to begin the search for a new athletic director. Baddour will serve out his contract which runs until June 30, 2012 but when a new AD is named, he will step down and take on other duties. Thorp said no new AD would be named prior to the committee on infractions hearing on October 28th since he wants Baddour in Indianapolis to face the lions. This is not a shock to anyone who has been paying attention. There was no way Baddour would be allowed to name the next football coach. The plan, according to Thorp, is to get a new AD in place by the end of the year and that person will hire a new football coach hopefully before everyone in the 2012 recruiting classes commits to another school.

As for the Davis dismissal, Thorp did not give a reason new or otherwise other than feeling like they couldn’t move on unless a change was made at the head of the football program. There was no tipping point, new information, a funny tingle in the arm or signs from above. Appeasing the NCAA was apparently not a motive. Thorp did say it was something he always considered and then the notice of allegations came out he knew they would need a new coach. However nothing in the reasons Thorp gave sheds any light on why the move had to be made right now. It is as if Thorp woke on Wednesday morning, toasted a bagel and said, “I’m firing Butch Davis today! Hey, honey, could you get my firing tie out please?”

Speaking of which, Davis is not being fired with cause to which some responded, “Um…why the %$#@ not?” UNC will be on the hook for a maximum of $2.7 million which will be paid from athletic department funds. There are various reasons for not firing Davis with cause. One is the case before the NCAA hinges(to some degree) on Davis not being culpable so firing him with cause would be a nod in that direction. Probably more important is the fact Davis would likely fight it and probably win since you have Thorp himself saying he didn’t think Davis did anything wrong. The notice of allegations does not mention Davis so I think firing him with cause would setup a protracted and painful battle that UNC would rather avoid even if it costs them $2.7 million dollars.

Thorp’s performance in the press conference was horrid. He offered nothing new or concrete to explain the timing of the decision. He droned on about the reputation and integrity of the university while at the same time failing to acknowledge that perhaps he bears some measure of responsibility since he is in charge. Numerous folks on Twitter have pointed out Thorp beat the “academic integrity” drum and his solution was dump two athletic department employees. If the academic integrity of the school is under assault shouldn’t the Chancellor also be held accountable in addition to the managers overseeing the situation in question? Again, I think Davis should be held responsible and to some extent so should Baddour but some of this blows back on Thorp too, especially the fact McAdoo’s plagiarism was missed by faculty and honor court alike. Of course Thorp is not out of the woods, no one is at this point. It is possible the Board of Governors might look to address Thorp’s accountability at a later date.

Finally, regardless of what you may think of Dick Baddour, he deserved better than being forced to announce his departure in this press conference. I know he has his faults but after 45 years of service to UNC he is entitled to more than falling on his sword like he did today as though he is the chief culprit in all of this. Hopefully he will get his due at some point but today was just awful for him.

I have no earthly idea where this goes from here. Naming a interim head coach to at least get the football program stabilized would be a good start and should have already been done. I think that speaks to how haphazard and sudden this decision was. There is plenty of talk that Thorp is doing this “for the university” which is great but can you at least not make a fool of yourself in the process? I can live with firing Davis and while I hate the timing I can get over that. However executing it in such a disastrous fashion means whatever benefit you might reap gets totally buried by people talking about the craptastic way it was handled. WTVD’s Mark Armstrong tweeted:

My takeaway - UNC still convinced Butch did nothing wrong, but sacrificed him to stop the drumbeat of bad press.

My response? It didn’t work.

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34 comments to Train Wreck At The Friday Center

  • JoeOvies

    Not to nitpick, but this post deserves the “Double Facepalm”

  • yawper

    We got buried on ESPNU discussion after the PC. A total of zero people thought this was a good move at this time. “Set UNC football back years” is the consensus. Only good thing is Joe Schad kept saying UNC football is a great job. But apparently he’s still living in 1997.

  • I agree but I already had the one above uploaded from the 2010 basketball season. ;)

  • robuck

    this latest debacle of the athletic/academic improprieties reminds me of the old Tarkanian line: “The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, it’s going to give Cleveland State two more years’ probation”.

    So, ultimately we’re most saddened by the academic side of the scandal that we’re gonna clean house in the athletic department at the MOST inopportune time as a way of dealing with it? Did I get my logic correct there?

    Also, WAYYYYYY too early to speculate about AD stuff, but didn’t we get Roy back based, in part at least, on his deteriorating relationship with the Kansas athletic department? What does Thorp do there - get a hire that appeases Roy, or get a hire that can run all 26 sports effectively at the risk of grating on Ol’ Roy’s nerves?

  • Stratplans

    Homer Simpson and “Doh” would have been appropriate (except for the obvious reference to a certain b-ball coach).

    The timing of this and the press conf are just the latest chapters in this farce. If Thorp had his mind made up after the NOA, he should have done it then. If he needed the BoT, he could have picked up the phone and sounded them out. You send the coach out on the media tour and then let him go?

    As for BD, whether he was aware or not, the misdeeds (alleged and actual) suggest a sense of entitlement among the players. Had he stayed, the accusations would likely never cease. There would be a blog post, tweet or phone pic any time a player was thought to be cutting into the line at the movies, letting a parking meter expire or taking an extra packet of ketchup at Chick Fil A.

    It is probably best to wipe the slate clean. I just wish it was done the classy way that Carolina used to do things.

  • Asheville Heel

    It was so bad that one reporter (don’t know who) asked if anyone outside the current staff would be considered as interim and if so could it be John Bunting since he has head coach experience? Triple face palm & LMAO at the same time. The reporter was taking a direct shot at the idiocy this bungling represents and it went right over Thorp’s head, but Baddour got it.

    The sports talk shows are having a field day at UNC’s expense, as they should!

  • The White Ghost

    Well here is my two cents. I’ve always loved Carolina and it’s athletics and still do. However, I always literally “put my money where my mouth was.” I helped finance that crowd my last time. I’ve given big wads to build this and that. My name is on “the wall.”
    NO MORE! Not another dime. Now I’m gonna’ just sit, watch and bitch. What a stupid thing to do! I well read the warnings about previous Davis messes. And now, here he leaves another legacy. I need not finance another coach’s contract. I’ll not support another athlete unfit a scholarship. I’ll not buy Dickey another sports jacket. And I’ll paid my last glass of wine for Holden.
    To Rome said Nero: “If to smoke you turn I shall not cease to fiddle while you burn.” To Nero Rome replied: “Pray do your worst,’Tis my excuse that you were fiddling first.” -Orm Pludge”

  • Heel To The End

    how is the interim someone other than Withers or Pittman?
    Shoop prefers to stay in the booth, right?
    sounds like in one press conference they managed to make us look more ridiculous than the previous year combined.

  • HeelYeah

    I just hope the university doesn’t do anything rash, well other than firing the head coach days before practice starts. I’d rather suffer through a year or so of crap so that we make the right hire for the future.

    What’s done is done. Hopefully UNC can start with a clean slate and get a top notch AD and a solid football coach. However, based on how things have been handled so far, I’m not so sure that will happen.

  • wpe022

    I might be whistling in the graveyard, but our football situation is more attractive now then ever. Unlike during past coaching searches, the cupboard is full. The facilities have been expanded and are first class and expectations continue to be modest. We are a plum job. If the NCAA rewards our forthrightness with minimum punishment, we should be able to attract almost anyone we want.
    In my mind it’s hard to make Baddour look good, but Thorp succeeded in that with ease. Another reason for the timing beside the change in the BOT, is they needed Davis to finish raising the funds to complete the expansion. When the news broke this time last year, we had raised $35 million of the $70 million needed. I don’t know where that stands today, but I assume that situation has improved significantly.

  • TwentyCharactersLong

    I do have two questions for the people who want the Chancellor’s head for this: Do you have any non-football-related reasons to want him gone, and if not, do you think that football is the only purpose of the University?

  • gregrustin

    as an alum…….this was SLOPPY. bad timing and a show of weakness at all levels. SLOPPY SLOPPY SLOPPY!!!!!! I LOVE CAROLINA….dammit.

  • JeffS91

    Obviously, the University’s purpose has never been football (hence the zero championships) LOL. Seriously though, if you’re going to fire the coach because he is responsible for his player’s actions (although he’s not directly cited in the letter of allegations), then why wouldn’t Thorp also be accountable for the academic issues and the Honor Court’s lack of thoroughness in determining McAdoo’s paper as fraudulent. Isn’t that part of the chancellor’s duties? Assuring academic integrity? The ax should fall both ways, if that’s the case.

  • Asheville Heel

    ^^^ 1) Yes, because he makes the university look like it is being run by a deceitful, no cojones’ moron. 2) NO, but see 1) above!

  • makeitWayne22

    welp, on another note, THF has to be loving the traffic on his site. Its like mid feb on here today..

    UNC could you of handle this any worse…….. wow

  • Santiago

    Thorp also looked bad with his “message” to the football players. It was extremely weak and ineffectual.

    Also (and I know I have a history of axe-grinding on this point), I can’t believe how Davis is being treated compared to Doherty (which reminds me, ask Roy Williams if he thinks UNC fires coaches at inopportune times). I don’t remember DB or JM thanking Doherty and his family for their service. I know he went 8-20—and I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been fired—but he was also an alum, on the ’82 NC team, and didn’t leave with a meeting with the NCAA looming.

  • makeitWayne22

    Davis didnt fire Dean Smiths secretaries thou….

  • chaucer1350

    Or maybe the personal phone records included calls to and from Wichard. Or calls to players while in California or Miami. Something that completely blows the NCAA strategy out of the water and sends the NCAA back to square 1. Or perhaps the new BoT just forced the issue right now, no matter what.

    This had “damage control” written all over it. Something forced Holden’s hand.

    I remain in awe of academic administrators who think they can command a room and look good in front of a camera, especially fielding questions. Most are just utterly inept in that environment, and no one around them has the guts to tell them.

  • 52bgJ

    ^Bingo-or a previously silenced Faculty member came forward, but to be sure it wasn’t willy-nilly. I said a while back it would have been interesting to see how Butch would have reacted had he been approached about re-negotiating his salary. He sure didn’t have a problem hanging UNC out to dry when he re-upped.

  • chapelhillfan

    Spot on THF.

    To answer the question about whether there is a non-academic reason to fire Thorp…do you need one — he is, after all, the chancellor and not immune from scewing-up? His handling of this situation shows a level of ineptness that one has to reasonably wonder how he can lead the academic side of things. Plus, you are naive if you don’t think this situation and other athletic news don’t have a HUGE impact on the university and quality of life and, eventually, academics.

    This has been handled disgracefully.

  • 40yrheel

    weak, pathetic, those are my thoughts while listening to the PC

  • makeitWayne22

    only at UNC, Butch Davis would leave as the victim

  • 40yrheel

    withers is the interim.

  • Zwickers Revenge

    Let’s be honest, Thorp has wanted Butch gone since December but the BOT was Butch friendly. The second a new board was seated, Thorp went to them to have Butch removed. The timing is unfortunate, but that is what happened.

    Also, I have heard that Baddour resigned rather than fire Butch. That is why he is stepping down now and it was handled that way.

  • yawper

    Santiago, it’s not a huge mystery. Davis was well-liked by players (not just the football players either) and around the athletic offices. Doherty was a jerk who had alienated most of his team and the athletic department staff. Say what you will about the issues that came up, but nobody can doubt that Davis was very popular with the football players. Maybe his popularity partly explains the sense of entitlement that led them to make really stupid choices.

    Anyway, it’s time to move on from all of it. Could the last ten years have been any more tumultuous at UNC? I think Withers was the logical choice and hope he can keep the team together. There is more than enough talent on board to have a special season and salvage something from this mess.

  • faustus1500

    And Dick Baddour is stepping down…..not sure what this means to me…Matt Doh…….but…….

  • tarheelham

    I think that this was more about Baddour than Davis. I agree that Davis was a lame duck….He has been gone for some time now. This is more about politics that UNC athletics. It may that Baddour’s loyalty to Davis was his undoing. Why now? Becuase UNC had to get the man that they wanted for the AD job. Once that was done, then it was time to get rid of Baddour and Davis. It was done politically again….Davis is fired on one day making him look like the bad guy and then Baddour “resigns”. The new AD will be named within 30 days after the NCAA meeting on October 28….

  • Andy In Omaha

    Withers as interim head coach? Are you kidding me?????

  • UNCfansince76

    Is there any “Good News” from Chapel Hill????

  • jumpman23

    Call me what you will, but UNC should go after Bill Cowher right now. He probably wouldn’t come and he is a wolfie but who cares. He’s close by and he’s ready to coach and could start immediately and maybe salvage this season.

  • Won’t happen. You cannot just bring a head coach in mix him with staff that isn’t his and coaches he doesn’t know. And its not that Cowher is an NCSU guy, I am pretty sure he is loyal to the school which means he is not taking a job at UNC. Besides he would have to pass the compliance exam, leave his TV job and deal with a bunch of crap he probably wouldn’t want to deal with.

  • 52bgJ

    ^agree on all that THF, but it would be (imo) a smart move to at least approach Marty about it to see if there was any interest. The man is a brilliant teacher, and could provide a transition cushion, not to mention his vast network of NFL connections which would help recruiting. He would probably decline, but I’d sure as hell ask.

  • tarheelham

    Won’t have a new football coach until we have a new AD. Has to be his choice, his man. If Withers does well, which probably won’t happen, the new AD can pick him… Just hope that the new AD is a Carolina alum…

  • Asheville Heel

    ^ And that my friends is how we ended-up with Carl Torbush. No matter what happens this year we need to go outside and hire a new coach from outside the current program. If it’s a Carolina man then how about we make certain he has the bones to prove he can actually be a “head” coach.