Posted by Bryan Fischer
A state of shock.
That's likely what many North Carolina recruits are feeling following the sudden dismissal of Tar Heels' coach Butch Davis on Wednesday. That the school chose to wait until it did - two days after ACC media days and eight days before fall camp started - was a bit surprising to just about everyone.
So how does it affect North Carolina's recruiting? Only time will tell but it isn't going to be positive.
It was Davis who was chiefly responsible for luring the class of 2011 to Chapel Hill despite the possibility of severe NCAA sanctions stemming from violations involving former assistant John Blake and instances of academic fraud that caused several players to lose their eligibility. Despite the head coach being shown the door, that class has already begun college and won't be able to leave unless released by the university.
Undoubtedly many are upset after being told by the staff that things would blow over in short order. They obviously knew this could end up happening down the road and so far none are speaking out. According to The Virginian-Pilot, the players can't speak with the media after being told by the school to keep quiet.
For the upcoming class of 2012, things are a bit different.
Running back Greg Garmon had the Heels as his top school but following the dismissal, has dropped the school way down his list according to Scout.
"I no longer have a leader," Garmon said.
Defensive end target Sheldon Rankins had similar thoughts.
“It’s always a shocker to hear the head coach of the football team you really like got fired … but you take it as it is and go with it,” Rankins told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I was already looking at other options because of the NCAA sanctions, so it didn’t really affect me that much. Everything is still wide open.”
Though neither have completely ruled out the school, it's going to be quite the uphill battle for the interim staff to land either given the uncertainty. The pair doesn't speak for every recruit however. Offensive tackle Jon Heck is one of several UNC commits in the upcoming class to say they're still on board despite the recent news.
"It is unfortunate and I wish that I could still play under Coach Davis but like I said I considered this possibility from the get-go, so I am still a 100% committed to UNC," Heck told Rivals.
North Carolina currently has 12 commitments for the class of 2012 though none is considered an elite prospect. While it remains to be seen how many actually stick with their commitment on Signing Day, at least they'll be able to make a more informed choice than their peers in the 2011 class. Remember that all of this is before any possible sanctions handed out by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which will only make things worse. You can bet that opposing schools have already begun negatively recruiting and used all this against the Heels.
No matter how you slice it, it's going to be tough for North Carolina out on the recruiting trail.