Posted by Chip Patterson
Ever since the investigations of the North Carolina football program began this summer, head coach Butch Davis has been placed on a permanent hot seat. At the peak of the drama many believed that there was no chance that Davis would be the head coach of the Tar Heels in 2011, with some even believing he would be gone by season's end. But Davis did not crumble under the pressure, and faced each challenge one week at a time with a constantly evolving (and often depleted) depth chart. Instead of waiting on the results of the investigation, Davis decided to hold out any players who might later be deemed ineligible. While that led to many players missing games they did not need to miss, it also ensured (to the best of his ability) the integrity of the five wins the Tar Heels have accumulated so far this season.
Davis' confidence in the program has been mistaken by some as blind faith, but that blindness to the wrong doings within the program may be what saves his job. University Chancellor Holden Thorp spoke on the issue Thursday with the Board of Governors, and (for the moment) stood behind the Davis as the leader of the football program.
"There's no information to indicate that he participated in or knew of any wrongdoing," Thorp told the Raleigh News & Observer. "Mr. Baddour and I are not having meetings deciding his future. He's our football coach."
Now at 5-3 with a 2-2 conference record, the Tar Heels are two games out of first place in the Coastal Division. While a division title is not highly likely considering the opponents left on the schedule, it is not entirely out of reach. The Tar Heels travel to Tallahassee this weekend to face an angry Seminoles team looking to bounce back from a loss to N.C. State last Thursday. Things won't get any easier either, after that North Carolina will host Virginia Tech and N.C. State in back-to-back weeks. How the Tar Heels fare in this three week stretch of currently-ranked teams will determine if/where the Tar Heels go bowling. Their final contest of the season, against Duke in Durham, should be a one-win safety net. But you can't count on anything in late-season rivalry games, especially in the parity-filled ACC.