Fourth and Long

Published 2:04 pm Friday, November 25, 2011

I have been an open and avid supporter of UNC football in this column for years. Over the last few months I have remained mostly quiet regarding the immense amount of speculation surrounding the search for the Tar Heels next head coach.

There were several reasons for my silence.

I wanted to concentrate on the players and current season. With all the hoopla surrounding Carolina football over the last year and a half I thought readers might appreciate someone discussing the games and those who play them.

I must also admit that I was rooting for interim Head Coach Everett Withers to do well enough to keep the job. I have and continue to be a fan of his and since taking over the program I have been impressed with how he has carried himself and represented UNC football.

Despite my support of Coach Withers and his staff (aka Butch’s staff) I can no longer ignore what seems to be an inevitable change at the helm of Tar Heel football. The Heels have lost four out of their last five games and currently sit at 6-5 with a conference record of 2-5 and a tough matchup today (Saturday) against Duke in their regular season finale.

New Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham has insisted publicly that Coach Withers continues to be a candidate for the job, however, those of us that follow Carolina athletics closely doubt seriously that even a 3-5 conference record (assuming a win against Duke) would be enough to earn Withers the post.

The next inevitable question then is…who will the next coach be? I don’t have an answer for that and if you are looking for speculation regarding the subject the internet is chock full of reading material for you.

I can, however, tell you who I think it should be, or at least the kind of person I hope it will be.

First and foremost, the next UNC football head coach should embody and reflect the attribute most UNC fans are proud of the most…the “Carolina Way.” This requires honor, intelligence, ethics, leadership and discipline.

Secondly the next head coach should be a winner. While doing things the “Carolina Way” is non-negotiable in Chapel Hill, what most people fail to remember is that winning is also a part of that. The Carolina Way means excellence without compromising impeccable standards and in athletics excellence is measured in wins and losses.

He should be a good recruiter of both players and staff. College football is constantly evolving thanks to an ever growing media market and if Carolina hopes to contend both in conference and nationally then they too must market themselves to players across the country while dominating recruiting in North Carolina.

The education, athletic facilities and atmosphere in Chapel Hill is second to none. A respected and talented staff combined with the before mentioned resources should be all UNC needs to compete on a national level.

Lastly, and personally, I hope the next Carolina head coach is passionate and inspiring. UNC football has long played second fiddle to the basketball program and I have no dreams of that ever changing. However, there is plenty enough passion amongst Carolina fans to support several athletic programs.

Many UNC football fans still feel betrayed by the Chancellor (myself included) and if Bubba Cunningham has any hopes of reenergizing the fan base then he must find someone who will inspire fans to once again get excited about the future and pledge their money and support.

Two years ago 30,000 rabid UNC football fans showed up to a spring game. With the right leader that can happen again. Needless to say Mr. Cunningham has a tall task with which to begin his tenure in Chapel Hill.

I look forward to seeing how he does.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at