Tag:North Carolina
Posted on: October 6, 2010 12:15 am

Don't ask Nick Saban about John Blake

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Alabama coach Nick Saban has made his feelings towards agents pretty well known in the past.  I believe Saban compared agents to "pimps" back in July when discussing the ongoing problem between agents and college athletes.  So, as you can figure out, he's not really a big fan.

He's also not a big fan of answering questions about any other college coaches who may be friendly with those pimps.  Coaches like former North Carolina assistant John Blake.   Something which will be pretty hard for Saban to avoid considering the reported interaction between Blake and Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus.  

Which is probably why he took such a dismissive tone when asked about that relationship on Monday.

"First of all, I don't know anything about this," Saban said Monday of a story that Yahoo! Sports reported late Sunday night.

"Secondly, to me, it's water that's been under the bridge for several months now. It's somewhere down in the Gulf of Mexico now. I really don't have much care about talking about that.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for the honesty, integrity and professionalism of what we do as coaches, and if somebody does something to violate that, everybody can make their judgment as to what that is."

Saban then went on to say that he wasn't going to comment on other coaches or what they've been accused of doing, and that he wanted to talk about South Carolina -- Alabama's opponent this week.  Well, you can probably guess what the next question was about.  Yes, that's right, John Blake.  A question that then set Saban off.

"Is that South Carolina?" Saban said. "I guess I must stutter. Did I stutter? I'm not very clear on how I articulate. Maybe I need to go back to West Virginia and get some more hillbilly slang and maybe everybody can understand me a little better."

Nick Saban: he may not be a pimp, but he keeps that pimp hand strong.
Posted on: October 4, 2010 5:39 am

John Blake contacted Alabama's Dareus for agent?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

There are reports emerging late tonight that John Blake, the now-fired assistant coach to Butch Davis at North Carolina, contacted Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus on behalf of agent Gary Wichard.

Assuming all of this is true, two quick observations and one long one:

1. John Blake is now completely unemployable in D-I football.

2. Using an assistant coach at a Top 25, BCS-conference school as a runner is like the top alpha-male move an agent can make.

3. This should never happen.

Obviously it's not much of an intellectual feat to decide that this revelation is bad for college football, but the when we've gotten to the point that an agent asking an assistant coach -- regardless of whether they're prior acquaintances -- to act as a runner for a player and the coach accepts, then we're past some sort of rubicon. That would mean that both the agent and the coach had decided that to engage in this activity was in their best interests, and that the reward outweighed the risk. Furthermore, Dareus did accept over $1,700 from Wichard, leading to his two-game suspension, so evidently Dareus agreed about those best interests.

Perhaps it's a failure on the NCAA's part that these type of deals go on. Someone like Dareus would face significant punishment if he came forward to the NCAA about the nature of his involvement with people like Blake and Wichard once he accepted an illegal benefit -- regardless of whether he knew at the time it was inappropriate. At that point, it becomes in Dareus' best interests to hide this fact, not report it. With the benefit of retroactive immunity as a whistleblower, however, he can report the details of Wichard's and Blake's dealings to the NCAA without fearing the severe punishment that would normally await him.

Obviously, this would have to go hand-in-hand with an equally punitive measure against agents; recall that Wichard had to think this was all a good idea too, and that's because he doesn't face any serious professional repercussions over this mess. Sure, he's going to have some negative publicity, but Wichard still gets to be other players' agent. His agent's license (which is to say, his livelihood) isn't seriously at risk here, and as long as he and his peers are treated more favorably by the appropriate authorities than their potential clients, this type of silliness will continue unabated.

And yes, this new arrangement would sort of encourage a high-profile player to momentarily abuse this position of trust by the NCAA, but not only would it significantly discourage this strange courtship from being instigated in the first place, it's also time that the NCAA started empowering its most high-profile athletes to help protect its cherished amateurism, not assuming they're undermining it at every step of the way.

Posted on: October 1, 2010 2:42 am

Amazingly, Butch Davis has UNC's support

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's been generally accepted fact since the revelations about North Carolina assistant John Blake and his monetary involvement with agents that Butch Davis is, in all likelihood, the most fired man in college football. Fired-er than Tim Brewster. Fired-er than Dan Hawkins*. FI. YERD.

All of that is apparently news to Davis' employers, however, who reiterated their support for Davis in an interview with the Daily Tarheel:

In an interview, athletic director Dick Baddour said calls for Davis’ resignation are without merit.

“I continue to give Butch Davis my support,” he said. “Clearly we’ve identified some areas we need to work together to be stronger and I believe that Butch should be a part of that effort to lead this football program in the way that we know he can.”

Bob Winston, chairman of the UNC Board of Trustees, said the latest revelation has not shaken the board’s confidence in Davis.

“They have confidence in Coach Davis to lead the University of North Carolina football team,” Winston said

This type of talk goes far above the usual type of rhetoric involved in votes of confidence; Baddour and Winston are unequivocally handing the job to Davis, no more questions asked, for 2011 and beyond. There's no other way to interpret their quotes without assuming the administrators are being so deliberately misleading that a new football coach would have no reason to want to work for them.

So if Davis' job really is safe, in retrospect, it shouldn't be all that surprising; the LSU brass who came thisclose to hiring Davis twice over the last 11 years still talk fondly about him, even knowing what turmoil the UNC program was in at the time. So if Davis has this essentially universal support among administrators who've had the opportunity to interact with him, it stands to reason that he's got one more chance, and UNC wants him to have that chance in Chapel Hill. But man, if he (or any single one of his assistant coaches) messes up again, man... 

*Doesn't "Brewster Davis Hawkins" sound like a competing ad agency to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? Is that just me? Fine.

Posted on: September 30, 2010 6:17 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2010 6:18 pm

Butch Davis isn't resigning

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The more we learn about what's gone on in Chapel Hill with the North Carolina football program and their connections with agents, the more obvious it becomes that at some point the NCAA is going to drop a sledgehammer on the Tar Heels.  We don't know what the punishment will be, but it may end up being very similar to the "death penalty" the NCAA gave SMU in 1987.  After the smoke clears to reveal the rubble left behind, Butch Davis isn't going to be left standing.

He'll be gone.  Maybe he should be already, and there are plenty of people who are already calling for Davis to resign from his position, but it's not going to happen.  When meeting with the media on Thursday Davis was asked if he felt it was in the best interest of North Carolins for him to resigh as head coach and he said "no."

He also had a message for those who feel he should.
"I'd like for them to understand that we're doing everything we can to [be] a class program, to win football games the right way, to graduate players, and that we're going to do better. Anything that I can do, I'm absolutely willing to take a look at our program … and anything we need to do, whether it be from an academic standpoint, looking into the backgrounds of coaches, we're going to do that."
That's all well and good, but the fact of the matter is, you still let this happen.  If somebody burns down their house playing with matches, they learn a valuable lesson about not playing with matches, but it still doesn't change the fact that they've burned the house to the ground.

As a head coach of a football team, I have no doubt in my mind that at some point Davis has talked to his players about taking responsibility for their actions on the field.  If you make a mistake, you hurt the entire team.

It's too bad Davis isn't taking the same approach with his own life.  Instead he just stands there, match in hand, pretending he doesn't know what happened.

Posted on: September 30, 2010 4:21 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2010 4:37 pm

UNC's Searcy cleared by NCAA for ECU game

Posted by Chip Patterson

Until Thursday afternoon, the North Carolina athletic department had not had a very good day.  It began late Wednesday night, when a Yahoo! Sports report traced a paper-trail that linked NFL agent Gary Wichard to recently resigned assistant coach John Blake and Marvin Austin.  Then on Thursday, highly touted basketball recruit Austin Rivers cancelled his final visits with North Carolina and Kansas, verbally committing to Duke.

But there was some good news from Chapel Hill on Thursday, with the Tar Heels learning that senior safety Da'Norris Searcy had been cleared by the NCAA and will be on the field Saturday when the Tar Heels host the East Carolina Pirates.

Searcy was one of ten players still waiting for a verdict on their eligibility due to the ongoing investigations into academics and improper contact with agents.  Fellow defensive backs Deunta Williams (four games) and Kendric Burney (six games) received suspensions, but are appealing them on Friday.  

While North Carolina has been competitive through the first three games of the season, the secondary has been sorely missed.  Losing all four starters put inexperienced defensive backs on the first team defense earlier than head coach Butch Davis had hoped, which led to holes in the special teams which needed to be filled by potential redshirts.

North Carolina's appeal on Friday will be for shorter suspensions for Williams and Burney.  As it stands, Williams will be back on the field October 9 against Clemson, while Burney will be out until October 23 against Miami.

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Posted on: September 28, 2010 10:44 am

Tar Heels could lose two more starters to injury

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Tar Heels have dealt with serious personnel issues the entire season, arguably an issue that has cost them at least one victory out of their 1-2 start.  With the status of ten players still undetermined, and defensive backs Kendric Burney and Deunta Williams suspended for at least another week (Burney is out for three more games), the last thing North Carolina wants to hear is the word "injury."

But with running back Johnny White and starting linebacker Quan Sturdivant both suffering injuries in the Tar Heels 17-13 victory at Rutgers, an already weakened starting lineup looks like it could be even thinner.

White turned his right ankle in the third quarter, and Sturdivant tweaked his left hamstring tackling quarterback Tom Savage in the fourth.  Neither starter returned the game, and head coach Butch Davis is unsure whether if they will be available against ECU on Saturday.  

"We'll get a much better, clearer picture as to their availability probably by Thursday," Davis said Monday. "They'll get all the treatment that they can and we'll have a better idea later on in the week."  

With 12 players still sidelined by an NCAA investigation, UNC can't afford to lose any available starters, not ones as valuable as White and Sturdivant, senior quarterback T.J. Yates said.  

"To not have one of those guys would be big for us, especially Quan on defense," Yates said. "He's the guy that gets everybody going; he's the quarterback over there."

"I'm pretty confident Johnny will be back," Yates said. "We would be fine rolling with Shaun, but I think the defense would struggle without Quan."

Sturdivant was cleared to join the team just hours before they kicked off the season against LSU in Atlanta, so North Carolina has not had to play without the team's leading tackler yet this season.  He will likely be replaced by Zach Brown if he is not cleared to play.  Brown saw significant time against LSU and has been a frequent contributor on special teams.

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 7:26 pm

Big East has one more week to justify existence

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Big East is an automatic BCS-qualifying conference, and as one of the six "power" conference, they are afforded a certain amount of respect. Thus, we owe it to the conference and its members to begin this entry with a compliment. So here it goes: The Big East is three games over .500 against all competition this year.

And that's about it. Because even that lackluster 12-9 record among the eight Big East teams is misleading. For one, every single team is 1-0 against FCS competition. So, good news, Big East: if the conference as a whole were to be relegated tomorrow (unlikely as that may be), they'd be very good all of a sudden. Against the FBS, though, not so much; the Big East is 4-9 overall, which includes a 3-3 record against teams that aren't even in automatic-qualifier conferences. For example, Connecticut lost to Temple last week. By 14 points.

That brings us to the meat of the Big East's resume, and that's play against quality competition. It almost couldn't possibly be worse. The conference is 1-8 against BCS conference teams. Only West Virginia -- who beat a truly miserable Maryland team last Saturday -- has such a win under its belt. That, friends, is poor performance nonpareil.

If that's all going to change in the Big East's favor at all this season, it's going to have to be this weekend; Miami visits Pitt on Thursday, Oklahoma travels to Cincinnati, West Virginia is at LSU, and Rutgers hosts North Carolina. Four difficult -- but winnable -- games against high-profile competition. Among the four listed games, WhatIfSports.com only gives Pitt better than even odds to come away with a victory, so don't be terribly surprised if the conference can't break even against its "real" competition this weekend.

If there's one saving grace to all of this, it's that a conference is usually judged by its highest achievers. The SEC has always been able to rest its laurels on the members who would run through the conference undefeated, for example, because those teams almost always win their national championship games that await. Nobody would demean a conference that could produce a 14-0 Alabama team if that Crimson Tide runs through 14-0 Texas as happened last year, after all. So, West Virginia now has a similar opportunity. While we're not positive that even an undefeated Mountaineers team is guaranteed a BCS Championship berth, they will certainly face high competition during bowl season when that time comes (even if they drop a game between now and then). Win that matchup, and people will pay less and less attention to the cupcakes littering the Mountaineers' conference path.

Posted on: September 20, 2010 1:09 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 1:11 pm

North Carolina is the only winless BCS AQ team

Posted by Chip Patterson

The North Carolina football program has stayed in the national spotlight for most of the last three months thanks to a string of off-field issues that has resulted in 12 players still being held out of the lineup due to eligibility concerns.

North Carolina has started the season 0-2 after a pair of 30-24 losses to LSU and Georgia Tech.  The Tar Heels have only been able to clear one player, running back Shaun Draughn, since opening the season September 4 in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff.  Unfortunately, their off-field issues do not work as an appropriate excuse for shortcomings on the field.

The Tar Heels started the season ranked No. 18 in the AP Poll, but now stand as the only team from a BCS AQ conference without a win.  Entering this weekend only North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Oregon State, Virginia Tech, and UCLA were lacking in the W column.  Each of those teams were able to pick up that elusive first win except the Tar Heels.

"We don't play for moral victories," head coach Butch Davis said after the LSU game.  

No, but for a team that was expected to be playing in the postseason, they need to start collecting real victories soon.  

North Carolina's next three games are crucial for salvaging the 2010 season, and they will not be easy.  The Tar Heels play at Rutgers on September 25 before hosting a talented ECU team and Clemson in back-to-back weeks.  The 2-1 Pirates gave a scare to Virginia Tech and Clemson is beginning to look like the new favorite in the ACC.  If North Carolina does not win two of those three games, they will put themselves in serious jeopardy to reach the postseason, a task that Butch Davis has accomplished the last two seasons.

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