Posted by Chip Patterson
While the news has been official for a few days now, North Carolina was proud to tie up their loose ends and announce former Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora as their next football coach.
On Friday morning the Board of Trustees approved a seven-year deal with Fedora earning more than $1.7 million annually, with more bonuses for division or conference championships as well as high graduation rates. With the specifics settled, Fedora was officially introduced to the media in a press conference on Friday afternoon.
"Today is the first day in a new era of UNC football," Fedora said as he took the podium for the first time. "It's going to be exciting. You better buckle your seat belts and hold on, because it's going to be a wild ride"
The last two seasons have already been a wild ride for North Carolina football, under the cloud of an NCAA investigation into the football program that began in the Summer of 2010.
Fedora steps into the position with a two-year probation and scholarship reductions already self-imposed by the school, and possibly more sanctions coming from the NCAA in the coming weeks. The scandal, especially the dismissal of head coach Butch Davis just days before the opening of training camp for the 2011 season, has divided the North Carolina football fan base over the last few months. The idea of unifying the North Carolina fans was mentioned by Chancellor Holden Thorp, new athletic director Bubba Cunningham, and driven home by Fedora himself. He described the "UNC brand" as being recognized nationwide, and needed the support of "everyone who bleeds Carolina blue" to build a successful program.
Fedora was fiery and energetic throughout his first meeting with the North Carolina media. While he has no experience recruiting in the area, he pointed to his wife as an example of what kind of recruiter he is - even using the expression "I out-kicked my coverage" The off-field troubles and discontent within the fan base resulted in some disappointing attendance during the 2011 season, and Fedora offered a message for the fans.
"We need our students and fans to make game day an unbelievable experience in Chapel Hill," Fedora exclaimed. "We need you to pack Kenan Stadium, we need to be here early, and we need you to stay late. You need to understand, if you get up to get a drink - you just missed a Tar Heel touchdown."
Fedora's arrival brings arguably the most dramatic on-field change to North Carolina football in more than a decade. The former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator plans to make North Carolina's offense a no-huddle, single back spread. He said he plans to sit in on every offensive meeting, and joked that the plays that work will be the ones that he had called. Defensively, he plans to use multiple looks as well as disguised blitzes and coverages. Fedora promised the fans a unit that will be known for "flying to the ball" and "knocking the tar out of people."
He acknowledged the adversity the team has overcome already, and credited interim head coach Everett Withers for leading North Carolina to their fourth consecutive bowl appearance. No decisions have been made regarding Fedora's staff, but he indicated that both members of his staff at Southern Miss and currently in Chapel Hill will be considered.
Fedora also plans to coach the Golden Eagles in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24, his final game with the Conference USA Champions.
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