Thursday, August 19, 2010

Herbstreit said probe's length burdens UNC

ABC and ESPN television analyst Kirk Herbstreit said today that as an NCAA investigation continues, it’s becoming a burden for North Carolina and other schools that have been under scrutiny.

Herbstreit will work North Carolina’s season opener against LSU on Sept. 4 in Atlanta. He said one of his difficulties preparing for the game is figuring out who is going to play and which players, if any, will have to sit out.

“You can imagine what it’s like living this every day for these coaches and these players,” Herbstreit said in a conference call with reporters. “As much as they’re trying to go out there and prep and get ready for these lofty expectations, make no mistake, this is an issue. It’s almost becoming a dark cloud that’s kind of hovering over their program until they get some answers from the NCAA.”

The NCAA is conducting a wide-ranging investigation of possible improprieties involving sports agents. Investigators have visited North Carolina and South Carolina twice, and visited Alabama, Georgia and Clemson.

Tar Heel wide receiver Greg Little’s father has confirmed that Little was interviewed. The Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer have received confirmation that defensive tackle Marvin Austin also has been interviewed.

Former North Carolina defensive tackle Cam Thomas said that former teammate and current NFL player Kentwan Balmer paid for Thomas and Austin to travel to California to train in the summer of 2009 in a trip that might be found in violation of NCAA rules.

Balmer’s agent, Gary Wichard, declined to comment about North Carolina defensive line coach John Blake because Wichard said Blake was being investigated by the NCAA.

“If I were Butch Davis, I’d want an answer [on the investigation] today,” Herbstreit said. “I don’t care what it is. I don’t care how many guys it’s affecting. Just make this problem go away. Let us know what we’re dealing with.”

Davis and North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour have repeatedly said that they are cooperating with the investigation and trying to help the NCAA proceed in a timely manner.

Putting, the NCAA issue aside, Herbstreit is watching with interest as the quarterback competition between senior T.J. Yates and redshirt freshman Bryn Renner unfolds. Herbstreit said it’s well documented that North Carolina is expected to have one of the best defenses in the nation.

“Assuming that the players involved are going to be out there, I think that’s almost a given,” Herbstreit said. “What I want to see is, how much are they going to improve offensively, and is Yates going to be the guy or is Renner going to get his chance to show the athletic ability and kind of that different level of athleticism that he could bring to the position?”

Asked about N.C. State, Herbstreit said he is surprised the Wolfpack hasn’t had more success in three seasons under coach Tom O’Brien, who’s 16-21 in three seasons.

“They’ve got a great quarterback in Russell Wilson who’s got a ton of upside, most of the receivers coming back, so he’s got some playmakers and some weapons to work with,” Herbstreit said. “But I think they need a landmark win to get themselves to believe that this could be a different year. I would guess that’s probably that high-profile game in the third week against Cincinnati on a Thursday night [Sept. 16].”

Herbstreit’s predicted ACC champion is Miami. He said that over the last three years the Hurricanes and coach Randy Shannon have used a lot of inexperienced athletes who are now ready to shine as veterans.

He said the Sept. 11 game at Ohio State could be a springboard for a big season for Miami.

“I just personally think this team is in great position and Randy has put them in position to compete for an ACC championship and get to a BCS bowl game and go from there,” Herbstreit said. “. . .All the exciting times are in front of you based on the groundwork he’s laid here these first three years.”

Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Not buying it with regards to Miami. Every year we hear how Shannon has amassed tons of talent, yet they continue to look poorly coached and undisciplined.

Canes said...

Anonymous ...

Yes, Shannon has been amassing talent, but the kids in his first full recruiting class are still only true Juniors and redshirt sophomores (Harris, Forston, Benjamin, etc). And his second class are still only going to be Sophomores and redshirt freshmen this year. This is the first time any of that talent finally has some experience. He had to clean out a lot of Coker kids who weren't buying into the program. He finally has some depth.

The program has improved each year he's been here, and I agree with Herbie, they should take another step forward this year, and start being a potential national champion in 2011 and onward.