Monday, September 25, 2006

Clemson 52, UNC 7

Let's revisit a few sentences from last week's blog about the Furman game:

1) "There's no defensive players in here. I've killed them all."

That's what John Bunting told reporters after UNC's narrow victory over the Furman Paladins, during which UNC's defense(?) gave up 521 yards of total offense.

2) Now my question is, if Bunting killed them all, who's going to play defense(?) against Clemson this weekend?

Well, ladies and gentleman, we now have the answer to my question! Absolutely no one!

I don't think I need to go into detail about what went wrong here. The defense didn't show up. The offense didn't show up. The final score looked like a score we're accustomed to seeing for Dook, not us.

Here's a very important consequence of Saturday's loss: my dad has decided he wouldn't mind if John Bunting gets fired.

For those of you who don't know my dad, he's rather passionate about Carolina football. He goes to the games and yells. If you didn't know better, you'd think he's always waiting for the coach to get fired so he can get a chance at the job. But in reality, he's usually on the coach's side. His saying has always been that you don't fire a coach mid-contract over a matter or wins and losses.

Don't look for him to start contributing to anytime soon. But his statement that he would not disapprove of Bunting being fired is, for me anyway, quite a strong statement.

So what's caused my dad's change of heart? Read on. I've inserted some of my own commentary as well.

1) This is John Bunting's program.

That's right. He's been the head coach since 2001. The recruits are his. The system is his. He's had time to dismantle any remnants of Carl Torbush's system.

Dick Baddour axed Torbush after a mere three seasons, after he had racked up a 16-18 record (17-18 if you count his first game as head coach, the 1997 Gator Bowl). Torbush's biggest problem was that he was the first head coach after Mack Brown. Brown compiled a 62-32-1 record during his tenure as UNC's head coach, including a 20-3 record in his last two seasons. UNC had big expectations and a renovated stadium. 16-18 wasn't going to cut it. You can argue that Torbush got a raw deal. After all, Brown went 2-20 during his first two seasons. But that's a whole different line of discussion.

What is up for discussion is that Bunting now has a 25-39 record at Carolina. That's 9 (or 8) more wins in 5+ seasons than Torbush had in three seasons. And he's already lost more games than Brown lost in 10 seasons. Lucky for him that he's the second coach after Mack Brown and not the first.

All this talk leads to...

2) The program isn't going anywhere.

If anything, it's going backwards. Sure, it's great that we can beat State and Dook most years, and the 2001 win against FSU and the 2004 win against Miami were nice. But when you give up 40+ points and have to rely on a last second field goal to beat a Division I-AA team, and then lose 52-7 the next week, people begin to dismiss your team (if they haven't already).

Let's go back to Carl Torbush's first win as UNC's head coach, the aforementioned 1997 Gator Bowl.

I remember this game quite well. I was visiting my family in Miami. On the day of the game, my dad, brother, and I boarded a commercial flight to Jacksonville, rented a car, went to the game, and then flew back to Miami. The next day, we got in the car (with my mom) and drove home to Virginia. Don't worry if those arrangements don't make any sense to you.

Anyway, the Tar Heels were ranked #4 in the nation, and had a legitimate argument that they should have gone to a BCS bowl. Denied, UNC played an up-and-coming program who many people had never paid attention to before, and won the game 42-3.

The team they beat? Virginia Tech.

As I said, the program isn't going anywhere. And unfortunately, that all leads back to Bunting.

3) The natives are restless

It's nice to think that Tar Heel fans will sit back, smile, and root for their team regardless of performance. But this never happens in reality, either in college sports or professional sports.

Look, going to games is time-consuming. You have to find and pay for a parking spot. You've got to walk to the stadium. You've got to push your way through the crowd. You've got to pay for the overpriced concessions. You've got to watch the game while avoiding getting your eye poked out by an over-enthusiastic pom-pom waver. Then you've got to find your car and wait 5 years to get out of the lot/deck. I'm not whining. I love going to games. But the more disappointing the team, the less likely people are going to be to go through the whole ordeal, especially when they can watch the game at home and flip to a better game when necessary. It's no coincidence that good teams play to packed stadiums, and bad teams play to empty stadiums. And no amount of arguing that "fans should support their teams no matter what" is going to change that.

John Bunting knows this. That's why he thanked the fans during their support during the Furman game.


Okay, so we've established reasons why Bunting should go. Now, let's not do silly things like expect the first top-name coach we can think of to take the job should it become vacant. I've seen the names Jimmy Johnson, Lou Holtz, and Tommy Bowden all thrown out on Don't be disappointed if none of those coaches are there next season. For all we know, Bunting will still be there. A few years ago, many Tar Heel fans started talking about Steve Spurrier coming to Chapel Hill. The only problem was that the team didn't have a coaching vacancy. And Dick Baddour says he's not planning to fire anyone.


dan said...

For the number crunchers out there, here are some more stats regarding new coaches that were hired in 2001. Things do not look good for Bunting.

Archivalist said...

Hey, don't despair too much. You could be this guy: