|North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson (right) and other members of the Tar Heel football coaching staff were introduced Tuesday by incoming head coach Larry Fedora (left). ROBERT WILLETT photo|
In other words, the three most interesting things overheard yesterday when UNC coach Larry Fedora introduced his new coaching staff – well, most of his coaching staff, anyway:
“I think the unknown is the toughest thing because as long as there’s this unknown sitting out there, that’s what everybody’s going to use – they’re going to make it the worst-case scenario possible. Where really that’s not what it’s going to be. So we’re going to deal in what we do know and we’re going to move forward from there.”
This, from Fedora, talking about the “unknown” of the additional NCAA sanctions that might – or might not – await UNC in the wake of the NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits and academic fraud.
The most important priority for Fedora and his staff right now is simple: They need to recruit. And don’t have much time to do it. National signing day is fast approaching.
It’d be difficult enough for a new staff to come together and finish off a class in the span of about a month. Throw in the unknown of the additional NCAA sanctions, it’s even more difficult. You can bet that North Carolina’s rivals are reminding recruits of what could be coming down at UNC.
Is a bowl ban out of the realm? Probably not, considering Ohio State received one.
Are additional scholarship cuts coming, which would make it more difficult, arguably, for the Tar Heels to compete? Possibly.
The bottom line is, though, that no one knows what is coming, for sure. All anyone can do is speculate. And negative speculation is bad on the recruiting trail.
Fedora and his staff are in the uncomfortable position of having to dispel myths without the benefit of having all the facts. Yet.
Will we hear something from the NCAA before national signing day? It’s possible. But that, too, is unknown.
“He steps in from time to time. He helps watch film and makes suggestions – good and bad. But at the end of the day, he puts it on my shoulders and we’ve got a great staff. To me, he’s just a great resource for me to pull from. I could always close the door and say, what do you think about this – or was I right or wrong here? And the thing I’ve been pleased with, he doesn’t second guess.”
This, from UNC offensive coordinator Blake Anderson, on how much Fedora is involved in the nitty-gritty of running the offense.
(Later I asked Anderson how much Fedora is involved in the in-game play calling, so look for more on that at some point soon.)
Many people have been wondering how the UNC offense would be organized given that Fedora has been an offensive coach his entire career. Some head coaches with offensive backgrounds might have an offensive coordinator on staff, but it’s still the head coach who’s running the offense. It’s that way at Florida State, with Jimbo Fisher.
But it won’t be that way at UNC. Fedora gave Anderson complete control of the offense at Southern Miss, and it worked out extremely well. Of course, Fedora has a say. He’s there if Anderson needs him. But he trusts Anderson enough to make the right decisions – both in games and leading up to them.
“Well I tell you, I had opportunities to have some other roles at some other schools that required some coordinator things and a lot more zeros past the dollar sign. And this far outweighed [those opportunities]. It wasn’t even a choice. I felt like to have an opportunity to come back to Carolina … was just a unique experience, obviously, with Larry being a friend and being able to work with people that I knew and Blake and other guys and just having some fun.”
But no one is probably more grateful to be in Chapel Hill than Brewer, who coached with UNC from 2000-04. He then went to Oklahoma State, where he and Fedora worked together on the Cowboys staff. It was there, Fedora said, where he and Brewer often talked about Brewer’s days at UNC.
Fedora admitted that those talks “planted a seed” in his mind about coaching at North Carolina. I asked Brewer if he’d been wanting to get back to UNC ever since he left. Didn’t take long for him to answer, and he broke out into a big smile. You can tell that this place is special to him. And when you think about it, Brewer probably played a larger role than anybody realizes in helping Fedora land the job.
After all, without Brewer’s influence from their days together at Oklahoma State, how much interest would Fedora have had in the UNC job?
Funny how things work out.
-- Andrew Carter