Typically, our mothers taught us that it wasn't nice or very becoming to make fun of others, kick people when they are down or throw dirt on others' graves. Here at The Daily Bull, our journalistic ethics and comments are shaped each day by that motherly influence. But in an effort to keep readership engaged and well versed on current events, we occasionally make exceptions to this influence, particularly in the case of VPI and UNC.
Teel Time: How UNC's firing of Davis affects Hokies, UVa
By David Teel
8:53 p.m. EDT, July 27, 2011
Butch Davis’ colossally bad judgment and management should have ended his North Carolina football coaching career months ago. Why the university’s governing board and/or chancellor Holden Thorp and/or athletic director Dick Baddour didn’t man up until Thursday, less than two weeks before training camp, is a mystery we may never solve.
We’ve grown to expect such behavior from rogue schools that consider student-athlete a quaint concept for suckers. But North Carolina?
Call me naďve, but I expected better.
Whether Thorp and/or Baddour survive the purge in Chapel Hill, and whether Davis’ firing affects the inevitable NCAA sanctions for academic fraud and improper benefits, are other unknowns.
This much we do know: The Carolina saga has roots in, and will ripple through, Virginia.
The most immediate effect is in recruiting. At least three acclaimed 2012 prospects – receiver Joel Caleb of Clover Hill High near Richmond, linebacker Trey Edmunds of Dan River High outside Danville and running back Wes Brown of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Olney, Md., are considering Virginia, Virginia Tech and North Carolina.
Unless such talents are extraordinarily patient and willing to wait until the Tar Heels name a permanent replacement after this season and learn their NCAA fate -- they appear before infractions committee Oct. 28 – Davis’ demise can’t hurt the Hokies and Cavaliers.
That said, the NCAA scandal didn’t prevent Carolina from signing at least two priority Virginia Tech/Virginia targets in February: linebacker Travis Hughes of Virginia Beach’s Kempsville High and offensive lineman Landon Turner of Harrisonburg High. Moreover, quarterback Marquise Williams of Charlotte’s Mallard Creek High chose the Heels over the Hokies.
Long-term, how Davis’ departure resonates in Blacksburg and Charlottesville hinges on whether Carolina butchers another coaching search. For all of the raves about the progress Davis allegedly brought to the Tar Heels, he was 1-3 against Tech and Virginia, 0-4 versus North Carolina State.
Since Mack Brown left Carolina for Texas in 1997, the Heels are 1-6 against the Hokies and 3-10 versus the Cavaliers. This under Carl Torbush, John Bunting and Davis.
How different ACC football would look if Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer had accepted Baddour’s offer to replace Torbush in 2000.
“I think he came very close,” former Carolina tailback and long-time Tech assistant coach Billy Hite told me recently.
The Hokies had just concluded a 10-1 regular season with a victory over Virginia in what proved to be Michael Vick’s final game at Lane Stadium. Beamer believed that after losing five NFL draft picks from the 1999 squad that played for the national title, his staff had excelled in 2000, and he wanted them compensated.
Less than 24 hours after that win over Virginia, Beamer interviewed in Chapel Hill, and many Carolina faithful still claim he accepted the job before jetting back to his alma mater. The next day, Monday Nov. 27, Beamer and Tech athletic director Jim Weaver agreed to raises for Beamer (more than $250,000) and his assistants ($100,000 combined for the nine).
“It's very important to me that the staff and people I work with here are compensated in a manner that they deserve,” Beamer said at a news conference that day. Carolina “was a very good opportunity, but when it gets down to the nitty- gritty, I want to stay at this university and keep building this football program. This is what I want to do in life.”
In 10 subsequent seasons, Virginia Tech is 99-34, Carolina 55-68.
UNC makes tough, but right choice by firing Davis
By Tony Barnhart
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
July 27, 2011
I vividly remember hearing from my North Carolina friends in
2007 when the Tar Heels hired Paul Hilton "Butch" Davis as their head football
coach. They were excited because, after nine long years under Carl Torbush
(17-18) and John Bunting (27-45), the powers that be were going to pony up the
money and FINALLY get serious about the college football business.
On Wednesday, with the start of the 2011 season 37 days away, North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp decided he had seen enough and fired Davis, who was 28-23 in four seasons in Chapel Hill.
The university is set to appear before the NCAA's committee on infractions on Oct. 28 to answer questions about nine alleged rules violations involving academic fraud and excessive benefits. Until Wednesday, the conventional wisdom in Chapel Hill was that Davis was safe for this season but might not survive after the NCAA penalties were handed down in 2012. An embarrassed Board of Trustees, which had not met since the NCAA's notice of allegations was made public June 21, saw things differently.
Now a lot of things make sense. On Sunday night in Pinehurst, N.C. -- the site of this week's ACC preseason meetings -- I met with Davis to discuss the events of the past 12 months. I met with him again on Monday morning. In both conversations, he went out of his way to accept full responsibility for what had happened and vowed to fix it.
"Look, you can't minimize what happened and I deeply regret that it happened on my watch. I'm the head football coach. I accept responsibility," Davis said. "My job now is to do everything I can to make sure that all of the facts get out. My job is to work with our administration to identify the problems and to make sure nothing like this happens again."
Davis, who repeated his mea culpa to every media outlet that would listen on Monday, was obviously trying to make the case to save his job. It didn't work.
On Tuesday, he met with Thorp and UNC athletics director Dick Baddour. On Wednesday came the regularly scheduled meeting of the UNC Board of Trustees. The board advises, but Thorp is empowered to make the final decision. He decided the damage to North Carolina's reputation over the past 12 months had been too much.
"Our academic integrity is paramount and we must work diligently to protect it," Thorp said in a statement released by the school. "The only way to move forward and put this behind us is to make a change."
To understand why this played out the way it did, you have to understand the culture of this university and the importance it places on its reputation.
In 1961, UNC chancellor William Aycock forced popular basketball coach Frank McGuire to resign after a series of scandals that included charges of point shaving. Aycock hired 30-year-old Dean Smith and told him not to worry about the wins and the losses. Smith's No. 1 job was to run a clean program.
And he did, winning 879 games and graduating 96 percent of his players over the next 36 seasons. Smith also won two national championships and went to 11 Final Fours without even a whiff of a rules violation. Smith's value system set the standard for the entire athletic department for a couple of generations.
That changed when the football program received its notice of allegations from the NCAA. On that day, North Carolina was lumped in with all of the other big-time football schools that have been caught cutting corners over the years.
What the school had to face was that Butch Davis had done exactly what he was hired to do. He brought in top-tier talent to Chapel Hill. That was borne out in the 2011 NFL Draft when North Carolina had nine picks, more than any other school.
But along with that exceptional talent, there has been a series of world-class embarrassments.
John Blake, Davis' lead recruiter, was charged with steering some of North Carolina's best players to an agent, the late Gary Wichard. Blake, who had previously worked for Wichard, was charged with still receiving payments from the agent.
Not only was a tutor, Jennifer Wiley, accused of academic fraud, she also was charged with paying off parking tickets for players to the tune of almost $1,800. One player, Greg Little, had 93 parking tickets. The mere fact that an athlete believed he could get away with 93 tickets smacks of an entitlement mentality that alumni of the school found distasteful.
Davis was not named directly in any charges when the NCAA sent out its Notice of Allegations in June. He is scheduled to attend the Committee on Infractions hearing, the day before the Tar Heels are scheduled to play Wake Forest. If he still attends, the committee is bound to ask two very important questions:
1. Davis had known Blake for over 30 years when he hired him. How could he not know what the guy was all about?
2. How does a tutor, who was once Davis' personal employee, get to the point where she even considers paying parking tickets and buying airline tickets for players? How does that happen?
Here is the ultimate irony: Davis was hired at Miami in 1995 to clean up a program that had gotten totally out of control. He brought in great players but tightened up the discipline and totally changed Miami's renegade reputation. After an 11-1 season in 2000, Davis became the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Davis left the Miami program in such good shape that Larry Coker won the 2001 BCS title and lost in double overtime (to Ohio State) in the 2002 BCS title game. What Davis did in six years at Miami was one of the best coaching jobs I've ever seen. A lot of people thought he would do the same at North Carolina.
"I understand mistakes were made and things were not done the right way. I understand that this has been hanging over our program for a while now," Davis said on Monday. "But I promise you, we are going to get through this and be better and stronger than we were before."
On Wednesday, North Carolina decided it would begin the process of rebuilding its reputation without Davis.
ACC commissioner John Swofford is a former football player at North Carolina, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He served as athletics director at North Carolina for nearly two decades (1980-97) before he became ACC commissioner. Swofford does not comment specifically on NCAA cases, but it is clear he's not happy about this one.
"It doesn't happen often in our conference, but when it does, it's the thing about my job I dislike the most," Swofford said. "If you look at the history of Carolina, it is very good when it comes to rules compliance."
Exactly. But a bunch of the power brokers at North Carolina gave Butch Davis $2 million a year because they wanted to get into the college football business.
And now they have.
The Tony Barnhart Show will return on Aug. 30 on the CBS Sports Network.
Those closest to coaches last to know they need to be fired
By Gregg Doyel
CBSSports.com National Columnist
July 27, 2011
This took too long, and everyone outside of Chapel Hill knows
it. Butch Davis had to be fired, and he had to be fired months ago. Everyone
knew it. Everyone outside of Chapel Hill, anyway.
The people who run the University of North Carolina were the last to know, and by firing Davis on Wednesday, they set their football program back years. Not a single year -- years. The Tar Heels are toast for this season, which means recruiting is toast for next season. And from there, it's a vicious cycle.
By the time UNC emerges from this mess -- overseen by Butch Davis, made infinitely worse by athletics director Dick Baddour and those above him -- it'll be 2015 or 2020. That's how bad this one is going to hurt.
But that's not my problem. Not yours, either, unless you're a UNC fan, and to you, I offer my condolences. I've been hard on UNC during this scandal, but it wasn't personal. It wasn't a UNC thing -- it was a Butch Davis thing. He's gone, as he should be, and that's that. Time to move on.
But it's also time to reflect, and not just on North Carolina. Let's reflect on Ohio State and Tennessee, too, because there are parallels here.
For covering up the violations of his best players and lying about it to his bosses, OSU football coach Jim Tressel had to be fired. Had to be. Everyone outside of Columbus knew it, and after several stupefying months, the people above Tressel finally figured it out. This season, the Buckeyes will be lucky to win eight games.
That was Ohio State. Farther south, for lying to NCAA investigators about an otherwise minor NCAA violation, Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl had to be fired. Again, everyone outside of town knew it. The people who run that school were the last to know, and this season, the basketball team will pay dearly.
If the Volunteers break even this season on the basketball court, it would be ... well, it wouldn't be. It won't be. It won't happen. That's going to be an awful team, and Bruce Pearl isn't the only one to blame. His AD is to blame. His president. Everyone who stupidly hoped Pearl could survive, dragging this thing out to its eventual breaking point, is to blame for how bad this season will be for Tennessee.
Just like at North Carolina. And Ohio State.
There's not a manual for stuff like this. When a coach oversees or commits or even lies about violations to the point that he has to be fired, it's an imprecise thing. It's not like you can go to Google or your public library and look up a situation like the one that claimed Butch Davis, or Tressel, or Pearl. Those were original sins, unique little yucky snowflakes that called for the coach's termination.
How can you tell? You just can. It's along the same lines as something Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart famously said in 1964 about hard-core pornography: "I know it when I see it."
What had happened in tandem at North Carolina -- an academic scandal on one front, an agent's runner working as his recruiting coordinator on another -- was so bad that Butch Davis had to be fired. I wrote that on Sept. 7, almost 11 months before he finally was fired.
How did I know? I don't know. I just did. I know it when I see it.
What happened at Tennessee -- Pearl lying to the NCAA about a recruiting violation, then calling the recruit's family to suggest they lie, too -- was so bad that Pearl had to be fired. I wrote that on Sept. 16, more than six months before he was finally pushed out.
How did I know? I don't know. I just did. I know it when I see it.
Same at Ohio State. Tressel had to be fired. I wrote it on March 21, more than two months before he was finally forced out.
I know it when I see it, and now that Butch Davis is gone, I see only one more big-time college coach out there who has to be fired. Not "might" be fired. Not "could" be fired.
Has to be fired.
Oregon's Chip Kelly. Has to be fired.
Whether he was the one who did it, was the one who approved it, or simply was the one who allowed it from negligence, Kelly's football program at Oregon wrote a check for $25,000 to a bogus scout in Texas -- then landed that scout's best player, running back Lache Seastrunk. The scout sent a batch of recruiting info to Oregon to justify his fee, but the info was borderline useless -- names and number of players who in some cases were already playing at other colleges.
Chip Kelly hasn't sufficiently explained how that happened, because he can't sufficiently explain how that happened. There is no explanation, beyond the fact that he did something -- or approved of something, or allowed something from negligence -- that must be penalized by his termination.
Oregon administrators don't want to deal with it, and Oregon fans don't like hearing it, because Chip Kelly is a big-time winner. Hey, it happens. It happened to Jim Tressel at Ohio State. And to Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. And now to Butch Davis at North Carolina.
The question isn't whether Chip Kelly will be fired. He will be. How do I know? I know it when I see it.
The people at Oregon are the last ones to see it, but they'll see it eventually. People like that always do.
And always too late.
UNC examining honor court after McAdoo case
Following embarrassing revelations about a former football
player’s plagiarized term paper, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp told the school’s
board of trustees today that the university is working on improving the school’s
student-run academic honor court.
"Regardless of our situation with football, it makes good sense to look at the honor system and discus how we could provide resources to the students and faculty to help them in their academic work and understand academic honesty in the electronic age,” Thorp told the Board of Trustees today.
Earlier this month, it was discovered that UNC failed to discover that a paper in a Swahili course turned in by former Tar Heel player Michael McAdoo included substantial material copied from other texts.
The honor court failed McAdoo, suspended him and gave him an F in the course based on inappropriate bibliography citations, but did not notice the plagiarism in the paper. The material lifted from other texts was not discovered until McAdoo’s paper became public in a court case where McAdoo unsuccessfully argued to be reinstated.
N.C. State fans and later media members ran the paper through an online plagiarism checker. The News & Observer found that 39 percent of the paper was copied from other texts.
“I am deeply disappointed by the recent revelation of plagiarism in one student-athlete’s favor,” Thorp said. “…I wish we could have caught that.”
Thorp told reporters after the Board of Trustees meeting that he didn’t know what specific changes might be made to the student-run honor court, and said discussions are ongoing.
He said the situation has brought attention to the honor court, which has a long tradition at UNC.
"I am very encouraged by the discussions I've had with faculty members in the last couple of weeks," Thorp said
Students have pledged to abide by an honor code for more than 130 years. When students are accused of violating the code, they are judged by a court of their peers.
Katelyn Ferral and Ken Tysiac
Hardin: Can UNC football win the right way?
WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2011 (Updated 9:23 pm)
The end of the Butch Davis era came quietly and without warning. The future of Carolina football starts today in the long shadows of a disaster.
Davis was fired Wednesday after a series of embarrassing revelations left the school with no choice but to start over. Ultimately, this wasn’t about the football program but about the university.
It took UNC a long time to come to that realization, but it finally made the right decision after a lot of people made bad decisions.
Carolina must now decide if it wants to brush itself off and try again to make a run at big-time football. This isn’t over. The NCAA will inform the school in October of its findings at the end of an investigation into academic improprieties, dealings with agents and players taking illegal benefits.
The program is facing penalties that could wipe out of the entire 2009 season. And it’s likely to be worse than that.
Davis said over the summer, during a visit to Greensboro, that he believed the school had done everything it could to be truthful and open in its admission of wrongdoing. He claimed to the very end he had no knowledge of the things with which the NCAA associated his program.
And until Wednesday, the university backed him.
The decision to fire Davis was an admission that the school could no longer justify his presence at the head of the program. It might also mean that the school no longer wants to pursue a big-time college football program. We’ll see.
Carolina will play the 2011 season in the shadow of the giant Loudermilk Center for Student Excellence, a dubious addition to what was once a humble and stately football stadium completed amid the pine trees in 1927.
That was back when a run at big-time football didn’t come with a trail of NCAA investigators, cheating athletes and dirty football coaches.
UNC’s decision to cut down pine trees and build the $70 million end zone monstrosity, mockingly called the “death star” during last year’s construction phase, will forever stand as a reminder of the Tar Heels’ sloppy run at a national football championship.
Do they have the stomach to do it again?
Maybe not. This was dirty, and it stained a proud university. It was painful to watch the administration back Davis throughout the ordeal, even as his support eroded outside the program and the NCAA closed in.
“To restore confidence in the University of North Carolina and our football program, it’s time to make a change,” UNC chancellor Holden Thorp said Wednesday in a release. “What started as a purely athletic issue has begun to chip away at this university’s reputation.”
It took Thorp too long to come to that conclusion. We’ll have to see how much damage was done by waiting so long. Its effects on the football program will be immediate. Carolina will open its season in 37 days, not enough time to bring in a new coach.
The season will go on under an interim coach, in the midst of the NCAA investigation and in the shadow of a failed idea.
A year from now, a new head coach with a new staff will come in and try to clean up the mess. Will he have the backing of an embarrassed university? Will he come in talking about national titles? Will he be allowed to recruit the type of student-athletes it takes to compete for national championships?
Davis sold the school on the promise of riches, of football glory and gridiron honor. Those things don’t really exist, at least not in any collegiate model we’re familiar with. Football titles come with a price. Carolina has only just begun to pay just for the idea of trying to win a national title in football.
There might be a way to do it at UNC, to win without cheating. But the next guy will have to convince skeptical trustees that it can be done cleanly and without cutting corners.
The last time the school went through anything like this was in 1961, when the NCAA put Frank McGuire’s basketball program on probation. UNC reacted by firing McGuire and de-emphasizing the sport.
It was in the shadow of that embarrassment that the school hired Dean Smith and asked him to win with honor and never embarrass the school again. That was 50 years ago, and people still remember it.
Carolina won’t get over this one for a long, long time.
DeCock: Davis firing right move at wrong time
BY LUKE DECOCK - STAFF COLUMNIST
You have to hand it to Holden Thorp and the UNC Board of
Trustees. They stood behind Butch Davis for months, passing on every opportunity
to fire him, then pulled the trigger only days before practice for the new
season begins. It’s the right move, but at the wrong time.
Davis had to go. That much had been obvious to neutral-minded people for months. When an oil tanker runs aground, they don’t put the captain in charge of the cleanup. If Davis knew what was going on in his program, with John Blake and Jennifer Wiley and all the agents handing out goodies, that would obviously be bad enough. It’s no better that all of this was going on under his nose, with Davis claiming to be impervious and oblivious.
By firing Davis now, Thorp and the trustees put the players on their football team who didn’t do a thing wrong – the vast majority of the players on this year’s roster – in an almost impossible position going forward. After waiting this long, after Thorp declared last November that Davis and athletic director Dick Baddour would return for the 2011 season, what was the harm in letting the NCAA process and the football season run their course?
A coaching change a week before the start of training camp is about as big a negative as you can slap onto a team’s season. It’s an uphill climb for the Tar Heels now, a season in purgatory, and there are a lot of innocent players who already saw last season diminished by the misdeeds of their teammates.
Thorp has had ample reason to cut Davis loose for almost a year, ever since that awkward night he apologized to fans because the investigation had uncovered possible academic fraud and, oh by the way, the tutor we would soon know as the mysterious Wiley just happened to have worked in the Davis household. Even the day last month when the NCAA finally got around to handing down its Notice of Allegations would have been a better day.
Instead, the UNC chancellor let Davis represent the university last Thursday at the Pigskin Preview and then again Monday at ACC media days, talking endlessly about the university’s support for him.
Having stuck with Davis for so long, nothing obvious has changed to make this firing imperative. Did the university note the NCAA’s leniency with Ohio State once Jim Tressel was cut out of the picture? Was the rank embarrassment of defending the authenticity of Michael McAdoo’s term paper in court documents only to find it was thoroughly plagiarized the final straw?
It would make more sense if there were some new information that justified an immediate dismissal, but the university quickly ruled that out in the press release announcing the firing.
Given the timing, coming on the day of a Board of Trustees meeting, it’s entirely possible this has something to do with trustee politics, with Wade Hargrove taking over for Bob Winston as board chairman. Hargrove may have seen the football scandal more clearly and forced Thorp’s heretofore-unwilling hand.
Whether it was the internal dynamics of the board of trustees or merely the accumulation of embarrassment to the university that finally prompted the move, the timing of Davis’ firing is as baffling as the long delay in getting to this point in the first place.
Bad timing on Butch Davis' dismissal
By Pat Forde
There are two reactions to North Carolina's firing of Butch
Davis on Wednesday.
It's about time.
But it's also about timing.
And the timing makes a whole lot less sense than the termination itself.
\This could have and should have happened much earlier. North Carolina had a dozen compelling and reasonable occasions in its miserable, scandal-scarred past year to fire Davis, and it declined to do so. A partial list of opportunities:
When the NCAA began investigating last summer and suspected that agents were crawling all over the Tar Heels' program, Davis' job was safe.
When the school had to bench 14 players for the season opener -- and several of them stayed benched for the entire 2010 season -- Davis' job was safe.
When associate head coach and recruiting coordinator John Blake -- a longtime Davis friend -- was linked monetarily to agent Gary Wichard, Davis' job was safe.
When former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley -- at one time privately employed by Davis -- was linked to allegations of academic fraud, Davis' job was safe.
When the NCAA notice of allegations was delivered to the school in June and the Heels were formally charged with nine major violations, Davis' job was safe.
And when Carolina sent the coach to Pinehurst, N.C., on Monday to meet the media, discuss the entire sordid affair and describe his support as "overwhelming," well, it certainly seemed Davis' job was safe. I listened to him talk for an hour -- in fact, Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com and I followed him out of the room and probably were the last reporters to talk to him as UNC coach -- and there was absolutely no way Butch knew he was getting fired. Not in the next five months, and certainly not in the next 48 hours.
Now, boom. He's gone. After allowing a year of tarnish to build up before taking action.
Stop And Ask For Direction
Butch Davis' dismissal, eight days before fall camp begins, leaves North Carolina without clear direction for the second season in a row.
Heather Dinich | ACC Blog
There could be additional information that went into Carolina's jarring decision. Maybe the alleged Michael McAdoo term paper plagiarism fandango of recent days was the last straw. Maybe Davis' cellphone records, which he said will be released to the public soon, are more interesting and problematic than he led us to believe. Maybe Marvin Austin's Twitter threat to "spill the beans" is unfolding behind closed doors.
Or maybe not. Maybe the school finally got around to realizing the severity of the situation and the stain it leaves on both UNC's and Davis' reps. Maybe the reality of preparing a cogent response to the NCAA allegations ahead of the Tar Heels' appearance before the Committee on Infractions in October necessitated this move.
Whatever the reason, North Carolina owes everyone an explanation. And it better be a good one.
It owes Davis an explanation of why it put him through the dog-and-pony show in Pinehurst just days earlier. It owes the players, who are on the cusp of starting the season, an explanation of why their plans are now scrambled -- for the second year in a row. (If you're a North Carolina player who hasn't done anything wrong in terms of taking extra benefits or committing academic fraud, how happy are you tonight?) And it owes the fans, who have pumped money into season tickets for 2011, an explanation for why this trap door was yanked open now, instead of this past December or January.
One thing Carolina has reinforced with this move is the myth of administrative backing for an embattled coach facing an NCAA hearing. Administrators might say they support you fully … but they might not mean it in perpetuity.
Bruce Pearl had the unwavering loyalty of the Tennessee administration for months -- until he was fired before the Volunteers met the Committee on Infractions. Jim Tressel had Ohio State president Gordon Gee licking his boots and athletic director Gene Smith making statements of support -- until he was forced out on Memorial Day, two months before a COI hearing. Now Davis joins that list of popular winners who were ultimately deemed expendable.
The bottom line is that it's the right decision. But it was the right decision this past December, too, and North Carolina couldn't bring itself to do it then. Why the Tar Heels perpetuated and exacerbated this toxic situation into late summer is what's wrong.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.