Butch Davis fired at North Carolina and what it means.

Stunning news out of Chapel Hill, head football coach Butch Davis was fired on Wednesday as reported by InsideCarolina, just a hair over a month before the season begins and only days away from fall practices. Why now and what does it mean for UNC, the ACC, and College Football in general?

Let’s start with UNC…

I can only guess why North Carolina waited so long to fire Davis, but my guess is they wanted to see what happened to Ohio State and  some other schools that were under NCAA investigation this summer. I’ll have more than in a bit. They probably also didn’t want the Davis firing to be the total focus of the ACC media days last Sunday and Monday. So how will it affect the Tar Heel’s football season?

North Carolina was to appear before the NCAA infractions committee in October for a slew of potential NCAA violations involving academic improprieties, agents, former assistant coaches involved with agents, and on and on and on. Most people had already conceded the Heels football team was going to be distracted this fall.

Butch Davis did an excellent job focusing his depleted team last season amid player suspensions. He’s gone now. Davis was a fine recruiter and a pretty good coach. The Heels have talent, but the NCAA is still coming in October, and now there’s going to be a new coach. The distractions for the players just went up another notch. That’s too bad for the current Heel’s players because the schedule is quite manageable, and now a potential 9-10 win season is going to be 6-7 win season. I thought UNC was Virginia Tech’s biggest threat this year in the Coastal division. I can’t see them finishing better than 4th at the moment. Miami goes to Blacksburg, and the matchup with Georgia Tech is the only somewhat dangerous ACC road game on the Hokies schedule.

North Carolina fans will look back at the last two years as what could have been.  It’s not easy to make football relevant at a school where basketball is king. Davis was doing that. Forget it now, this whole saga including probably the upcoming probation will set the North Carolina program back 3-4 years.

Speaking of the probation, the potential hammer from the NCAA could have destroyed football at North Carolina for nearly a decade, but we’ve learned something the last few weeks. The NCAA will be lenient if you give the appearance of cooperating and being proactive. LSU got off with a slap on the wrist for recruiting violations. Ohio State avoided the dreaded lack of institutional control tag by parting ways with head coach Jim Tressel.

Georgia Tech received 4 years’ probation and a vacated ACC title for around $300 of merchandise given to a player by someone who might have been associated with an agent. The Yellow Jackets were cited for a lack of cooperation. The timing was bad, but the writing was on the wall that UNC was in big trouble. By firing Davis,  I’m positive North Carolina will avoid the NCAA’s harshest punishment.

Let that be lesson to AD’s across the country. The NCAA is inconsistent and confusing at best in their rulings, but it’s like mouthing off to a policeman for a speeding ticket. They are the judge and jury and like it or not they are in charge. If you feel like bucking up to the NCAA, by all means go ahead, but if the NCAA finds anything and I mean anything to charge you with, then you are going to get nailed. Just ask Georgia Tech.

As for North Carolina, it’s a shame that a football program so close to being really good won’t reach that goal anytime soon. Hey UNC fans at least Harrison Barnes came back and you’ll have a national championship caliber basketball team in 2011.

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