An Open Letter To incoming UNC-CH head Football Coach Butch Davis.
From Paul Lambeth
Coach Davis, welcome to your new job as Tarheel football skipper. I am sure you are aware of many of the fine advantages of coming to Chapel Hill, history, alumni, academic reputation, etc. Here though are some other things you may want to know before you fully settle in to the position, knowing and dealing with these will make your stay in the â€˜southern part of heavenâ€™ just a little more enjoyable. I donâ€™t have the answers on how to change them. I just wanted to let you know first hand from someone who has seen every game in Kenan Stadium for the last twenty-five years what exactly you have gotten yourself into.
First, you have a soft fan base. This is the main reason you were hired, to give the fans something to be excited about because there has been precious little to get fired up about since Mack Brown left for Texas. Not that UNC football fan cheers loud for much of anything on the gridiron. For years Mack Brown preached for the crowd to arrive early, stay late and be loud, which is a mantra that was for the best part ignored during that era and which has become only worse since he left. The average UNC football fan shows up about halfway thru the first quarter and is gone midway thru the 4th, oftentimes even during a close contest. That is if they bother to come in the first place. Football has always been seen as a lounge act in Chapel Hill, and UNC fans act like they are in a jazz club.
2nd, donâ€™t try to compete with the basketball program. You will to lose sleep at night wondering if your talents wouldnâ€™t be better appreciated elsewhere. It did in both Brown and Dooley. Carolina fan will always care more about the basketball team. Itâ€™s just how they are wired. Use this to your advantage. Getting this program to the point where it produces 7-10 wins a year is easily obtainable and would suit Tarheel fan just fine. Anything else would be gravy, and if you turn UNC into a BCS contender you will be hailed as a savior, just donâ€™t get bent out of shape when â€˜Ol Royâ€™s crew still rules the roost.
Third, professors and administrators fear becoming a â€˜football factoryâ€™. And they are convinced that becoming a power cannot be done without compromising academic credibility. You showed at Miami that it can be done, however even if you equal your accomplishments in this regard you will still be expected to do more because the basketball program again set a standard that is tough to match. Standards are very high in Chapel Hill and the administration does not bend them, especially for athletes. Not that you canâ€™t win under the standards in place, itâ€™s just that things are a little tougher in Chapel Hill then at most major division one programs, and it is this standard, no matter how right and noble, which has put Tarheel football in the situation it is now.
Lastly, the press dismisses Tarheel football as lightweight. History has a lot to do this, aside from those freak occurrences against FSU and Miami during the Bunting era. UNC has never beaten a top five team. How is that for irony? Even when this program has produced teams of quality they have failed to meet expectations. Therefore UNC football, unlike itâ€™s hoops counterpart, will never be given the benefit of the doubt in terms of how they are perceived. Then again Carolina basketball has proven the ability to win the big game time and again, win a couple you shouldnâ€™t and this perception could change quickly.
If you can changes these perceptions of your program then UNC just MIGHT become the â€˜sleeping giantâ€™ that everyone expects one day to awaken. And if you do so, then this program will become everything that long suffering UNC football fan has waited their entire lives for, yet no matter how high you take this program it will always take a back seat to basketball, you could be number one in the BCS, and number two on your own campus. Good luck, much as it pains me to say it, your going to need it.