Fourth and Long
It’s been a turbulent year in and around Chapel Hill and from the looks of things right now it doesn’t appear that anything will be getting better anytime soon.
With the most recent stories regarding former recruiting coordinator, defensive line coach and associate head coach John Blake and his allegedly receiving credit cards and wire transfers from friend and agent Gary Wichard, I am not only thoroughly depressed, but left with several unanswered questions.
How much of it is true? Did Blake accept this money and what was it for? Did he try and steer UNC players to sign with Wichard?
All signs indicate the he did take money and at least one credit card. The bigger question here is whether he attempted to “advise” or “pressure” any of his players to sign with Wichard. That’s the difference between looking like a runner and actually being a runner for an agent.
When did Butch Davis first realize that Blake and Wichard’s relationship might be inappropriate and what did he do? Davis has, in my opinion, been great throughout this entire process. His most recent statement that upon realization of Blake’s involvement he immediately distanced himself from him and that in hindsight he regrets ever having trusted Blake is a harsh, but necessary position to take.
Speaking of Davis, one of the biggest questions surrounding the investigation into UNC Football pertains to whether Davis’ days in Chapel Hill are numbered. While firing Davis would be the easy and PR friendly thing for the university and athletic department to do, I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do.
One of the biggest reasons for hiring Butch Davis to begin with was his credibility and reputation as a coach and human being. His reputation was not only that of a talented football coach, but also of a mentor that cared about his players and tried to run his program “the right way.”
While recent events have called into question his involvement and or knowledge of any wrongdoing, there has up to this point been no indication that Davis was involved or had any knowledge of impropriety.
Until facts surface that implicate Davis, the university would be best off standing behind their coach and giving him the resources required to help him clean up the mess that will be left behind when the NCAA has completed their investigation.
Ironically, he may be the best man for just such a job. He did a tremendous job cleaning up Miami’s football program during a time when sports Illustrated questioned whether they should even field a team.
Unless he is found guilty of a university or NCAA violation, hasn’t his reputation and past earned him the opportunity to clean up his own program?
David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.