Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Q&A: UNC coach Larry Fedora speaks about SI report on Oklahoma State

CHAPEL HILL — Before becoming the head coach at North Carolina, Larry Fedora was the head coach at Southern Miss. And before that, he was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, where he worked from 2005 through 2007.

That time period is right in the middle of one that is the focus of a lengthy Sports Illustrated investigation into the Oklahoma State football program. SI’s series, which is being released in installments, alleges that Oklahoma State players were paid, that they had coursework done for them and that drug use was rampant, among other things.

Fedora after UNC practice earlier Wednesday addressed the SI report. Here’s his Q-and-A with reporters:

Q: What has been your reaction to the Oklahoma State report in Sports Illustrated?

A: It was shocking when it came out. It was shocking to me. But I also understand it’s accusations and allegations. That’s what they are. They’re allegations. So whether or not there’s any truth to them or not, I don’t know, but I do believe this – I believe (Oklahoma State president) Burns Hargis, I believe (Oklahoma State athletic director) Mike Holder, I believe they will be aggressive and I think they’ll be transparent in their investigations. And I think if there is any wrongdoings, I have complete faith that they’ll get it straightened out and they’ll accept whatever’s coming to them and they’ll move on down the road.”

Q: During your years there did you see anything suspicious or anything that raised concerns?

A: Nothing. And let me tell you – I’ll tell you this. There was no doubt on my mind and every guy on that staff that it was clear from that administration and Mike Gundy that you were going to do things right there. No doubt.

Q: Have you read the two SI stories that have come out or read summaries?

A: I haven’t had time to read all of it. I’ve had people telling me things, you know. But I haven’t had time.

Q: Have you taken exception to anything SI reported, or disagreed with anything?

A: Well, what do you have five or six more parts, or I don’t know what it is. So I’ve had to wait until it’s all out and see what’s said.

Q: Did you get any advance warning that the report was coming out?

A: No, I didn’t. I didn’t.

Q: Have you had any discussions with UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham about the story?

A: Bubba and I and I have talked about it, yes.

Q: What were the nature of those conversations?

A: Well, because I was obviously at Oklahoma State from 2005 through 2007, and so it was just a natural conversation on what my thoughts were about the situation.

Q: Have you talked to Gunter (Brewer) about it?

A: Yes, I’ve talked to Gunter.

(NOTE: Brewer, UNC’s wide receivers coach, was on Oklahoma State’s staff from 2005 through 2010.)

Q: And what were those discussions like?

A: Same way. Same thing. Both of us were kind of in shock that all this came out.

- Andrew Carter

Monday, September 9, 2013

UNC, Chapel Hill leaders announce plans for Tar Heel Downtown

CHAPEL HILL — Chapel Hill will host a downtown block party before North Carolina’s nationally-televised Thursday night game against Miami on Oct. 17. Town leaders and Bubba Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, announced the plans during a press conference on Monday.
The event, dubbed “Tar Heel Downtown” will start at 4 p.m. and end at 7 p.m. The town will close off Franklin Street between Columbia and Mallette Street, and the event will be centered at the 140 West Plaza, which is a newly-opened residential and retail development.
Mark Kleinschmidt, the Chapel Hill mayor, said town leaders are expecting a crowd of 10,000 for Tar Heel Downtown. The event, which is geared toward families, will feature live music from the band Liquid Pleasure, and appearances from the UNC cheerleaders and marching band.
There will be bounce houses, face painting and other activities.
UNC hosts a similar event outside of Kenan Stadium, near the bell tower, before every home game. Moving the fesitivities to Franklin Street, Cunningham said, will help alleviate some of the challenges that come naturally to hosting a Thursday night football game.
Here is some logistical information for Tar Heel Downtown:
-West Franklin St., again, will be closed from Columbia to Mallette streets between 4 and 7 p.m. on Oct. 17.
-Free game day parking will be available at University Square. Fans are advised to arrive before 3:30 to take advantage of that free parking.
-Multiple locations downtown will be available for parking. See for details.
-UNC’s fall break begins the day before, on Oct. 16.

- Andrew Carter

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Duke's Jamison Crowder among ACC Players of the Week

Thanks in large part to his first-quarter punt return for a touchdown against N.C. Central, Duke's Jamison Crowder was named the ACC Specialist of the Week. Crowder, a 5-foot-9, 175-pound receiver from Monroe, N.C., scored his first career special teams touchdown with the 76-yard return. It's the second time Crowder has received ACC Player of the Week honors—he was the receiver of the week in last year's regular season finale against Miami after recording a 99-yard touchdown reception.
Here are the rest of the awards—guess who is Rookie of the Week—as voted on by a panel of ACC writers, which includes Andrew Carter and myself:
OFFENSIVE BACK – Tajh Boyd, Sr., QB, 6-1, 225 Hampton, Va.
Boyd completed 18 of 30 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions in Clemson’s 38-35 win over fifth-ranked Georgia. He also had 13 rushes for 42 yards and two scores, giving him 312 yards of total offense. He finished the game with five total touchdowns rushing and passing. It was the seventh win for Boyd against a top 25 team as the starting quarterback, tying the school record.
CO-OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Ryan Norton, Clemson, So., C, 6-3, 270, Simpsonville, S.C.
Norton, the only first-year starter in Clemson’s veteran offensive line, played all but one snap (78 total) at center in his first career start and was Clemson’s highest graded offensive lineman at 91 percent with four knockdown blocks. He was a big reason Clemson gained 467 yards and scored 38 points on offense and controlled the clock for 9:08 of the fourth quarter.
CO-OFFENSIVE LINEMAN – Brandon Linder, Miami, Sr., RG, 6-6, 317, Southwest Ranches, Fla.
Linder, a preseason All-ACC selection, anchored Miami’s offensive line that paved the way for 303 yards rushing – 8.0 yards per carry – and three rushing TDs in the Hurricanes’ 34-6 win over Florida Atlantic. Liner led an offensive line that produced 503 yards of total offense, the Hurricanes’ third consecutive game with 500-plus yards of total offense dating back to the 2012 season. Linder graded out at 94 percent with five cut blocks, three pancakes and no sacks allowed.
RECEIVER – Sammy Watkins, Clemson, Jr., WR, 6-1, 205, Fort Myers, Fla.
Watkins had six receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown in Clemson’s win over fifth-ranked Georgia. That performance included a 77-yard touchdown reception from Tajh Boyd in the first quarter that gave Clemson a 14-7 lead. It was the longest reception of Watkins’ career. The play took place on Clemson’s first play after Georgia had scored on a 75-yard run by Todd Gurley and provided an important momentum swing. Watkins finished the game with 154 all-purpose yards.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN – Robert Welsh, Syracuse, Jr., DE, 6-3, 2596 Bay Shore, N.Y.
Against Penn State, Welsh recorded six tackles, including four solo and a sack for a loss of four yards, and added an interception in his first career start. Welsh returned the interception 31 yards to the Penn State 1-yard line, setting up Syracuse’s touchdown that brought the Orange to within six, 23-17, with just less than seven minutes to play. His first tackle during the Nittany Lions’ first offensive series was on a 3rd-and-1 play on which he stopped the ball-carrier for no gain.
LINEBACKER – Spencer Shuey, Clemson, Sr., LB, 6-3, 230, Charlotte, N.C.
Shuey’s 12 tackles were a team-high and five more than any other defender as he led the Clemson defense in the win over Georgia. He also had a key fumble recovery that led to a Clemson touchdown. Shuey’s tackles were important during a 10-possession stretch from the second quarter to the fourth period, when the Bulldogs scored just one touchdown and had six possessions of four plays or less.
DEFENSIVE BACK – Anthony Harris, Virginia, Jr., SS, 6-1, 185, Chesterfield, Va.
Harris was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Defensive Player of the Week after recording 11 tackles, including three solo stops, one quarterback sack (first in his career), a blocked punt and an intercepted a pass in Virginia’s season-opening 19-16 victory over visiting BYU. Harris’ blocked punt in the third quarter set up Virginia’s first touchdown. Then, with the Cavaliers trailing 16-12 and three minutes left to play, Harris picked off a third-down BYU pass, returned it 10 yards and then pitched the ball to linebacker Henry Coley, who ran another 23 yards. Virginia scored the winning touchdown on the next play.
SPECIALIST – Jamison Crowder, Duke, Jr., WR, 5-9, 175, Monroe, N.C.
Crowder sparked the Blue Devils in Saturday’s 45-0 win over North Carolina Central with 113 yards on five punt returns, including a 76-yarder for a touchdown. The 76-yard runback was the seventh-longest punt return in Duke history. Crowder also logged a 25-yard punt return to set up Duke’s first scoring drive. The 113 punt return yards marked the fourth-highest total in Duke school history and the highest Week 1 total in 2013 NCAA action. Crowder’s 22.6 yards per punt return average was the sixth-highest single-game mark in school history. Crowder also registered team-highs of six pass receptions and 62 receiving yards for 175 all-purpose yards on the day.
ROOKIE – Jameis Winston, Florida State, Fr., QB, 6-4, 225, Hueytown, Ala.
Winston delivered a school-record setting performance as the 11th-ranked Seminoles opened their season with a 41-13 ACC road win at Pitt on Monday night. Winston completed 25 of 27 passes for a 92.6 completion percentage, topping the previous Florida State single-game record of 87.5 posted by Danny Kannell against NC State in 1995. Winston finished the game with 356 passing yards while throwing for four touchdowns and running for one more.
-Laura Keeley

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