Tom O’Brien To UNC?

David Glenn has a post up today with the details that he knows about the early stages of the UNC coaching search. The most interesting section is the one where he talks about the coaches who have initiated contact with Carolina. Two names stood out on that list – Rich Rodriguez, who talked about the Carolina job in a puzzling press conference yesterday and Boston College coach Tom O’Brien.
Rodriguez is intriguing simply because he is a hot name and would be such a great get. I mean, the man is coaching the #3 team in the country right now!
O’Brien is a different story altogether. While he’s not as sexy as Rodriguez, he has established himself as a very good coach and he’s built a very solid program. It would be highly unusual, especially in the new ACC for a head coach to leave one program for another. It would be especially strange if he were leaving one of the good programs. I think folks would understand if a coach jumped from Wake Forest or Duke to one of the power schools, but Boston College to UNC?
Why would O’Brien consider such a move?
The most plausible explanation is that he doesn’t really want the job at all. What he wants is the appearance that he could get the job. Being sought after gives you leverage. Leverage gets you a raise. It’s a standard part of the coaching game these days. Frank Beamer used the UNC job (intentionally or not) to get a huge bump at Virginia Tech. NC State earned raises for about half of the Division I basketball coaches in the country last year with their wide-ranging coach search. O’Brien may just be looking to line his pockets a bit with some of that extra cash the school picked up by jumping to the ACC.
Another possibility is that O’Brien feels that he’s done as much as he can at BC. Maybe he’s a bit tired of the job and wants a new challenge. Similarly, he may worry that the fans feel the same way. He’s certainly improved the program, but like a shark, fans always want their team moving forward. Have a losing record? The fans want to get to .500. .500? The fans want a bowl. Getting to bowls? The fans now want conference and national championships. O’Brien has BC consistently getting to pretty good bowls and on the fringes of the conference championship race. Maybe he’s worried that his efforts are now being taken for granted. A move to a new school would lower the bar and allow him to keep doing what he’s doing, but be appreciated more for it.
The only other explanation I can think of is that maybe O’Brien honestly feels that he has a better chance at going to the next level – national prominence – at UNC. If so, that’s a tough argument. As I’ve debated before, I believe that UNC is a first-tier national athletic program with the potential to be great at any sport. They have the resources, support and reputation. On the flip side, with Duke, Wake Forest, NC State and East Carolina around, there is a ton of competition for local talent. Sure, the northeast may not have the athletes that the southern states do, but BC doesn’t have too many schools to fight with for the players that are there. Recruiting is fertile, but extremely competitive down south. I think someone could turn UNC into a consistent power – Mack Brown was on his way there – but it won’t be easy. If that’s what O’Brien is thinking he can accomplish, he might want to reconsider. The grass isn’t always greener.

ACC Roundup – 10/30/06

Boston College – The Eagles are very quietly having an outstanding season. With all the turmoil in Miami, Tallahassee, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Charlottesville, it seems like BC’s 7-1 record just isn’t interesting enough. Or maybe it’s because they are – you know – in Boston. Either way, BC’s win down in Tally was easily their most impressive and most important ACC win yet. The Atlantic division is all jammed up with three teams at 3-1 and Clemson at 4-2 and several game left between those teams. It should be a hell of a finish. Hopefully we can start to focus on that and not as much on the flailing and failing teams (although it’s hard to avoid watching a car wreck).
Clemson – That loss in Blacksburg just seemed so predictable, didn’t it? Clemson was riding high after whipping Georgia Tech on national television and everyone said they were the league’s best team. Then they had to go to Lane Stadium on a Thursday night to play a Hokie squad that was angry and looking for a big win. Talk about your trap games.

Continue reading “ACC Roundup – 10/30/06”

You’re Kinda Fired

If it weren’t for YouTube, no one would have ever heard this tree fall, as it fell in ESPNU’s forest. An announcer, evidently Brian Kinchen, was talking about how you have to use your soft hands to catch a football when he decided to punctuate his lesson be observing that “that’s kinda gay.”
Whoops? Am I on TV right now? Oh, it’s just ESPNU and no one can actually hear me? Whew!

Chris Fowler’s Diary

Dear Diary,
Tonight was a tough night. And I really thought things had been getting a lot better with Kirk and the play-by-play job. I try so hard, and Kirk is a nice enough guy most of the time, but sometimes he just makes me feel like I’m two inches tall!

More of that genius can be found here.
I need to remember to read EDMBS more often. I get to that site rarely, but everytime I do I’m impressed. Funny, funny stuff. (More good Chris Fowler (and others) stuff here).
Thanks to StateFansNation for the find.

What Could Have Been

This story has to sting Tar Heels a bit. Six years ago, when Carolina hired John Bunting, Pete Carroll, who has built a dynasty at USC, was available and very interested in the UNC job. Dick Baddour never called him.
Ouch.
In fairness, Carroll was hardly a juicy prospect at the time. Sure, he had been an NFL head coach, but he was fired after floundering in New England. He had never been a college head coach.
But then, John Bunting had never been a head coach at any level.
Oops.

Carolina Going Butch?

Caulton Tudor wrote an article today about how Carolina could conceivably make a strong play for Butch Davis and hire him now instead of waiting. Since Davis isn’t currently working, there’s nothing stopping him from accepting a job now. If UNC goes after an active coach, they’ll probably need to wait until the season is over to gain approval from that coach’s athletic director to talk to him (not that that’s required, per se, but it’s expected these days).
While I get the reasoning, why would Davis go for this? Clearly he’s a man who thinks highly of his abilities – I mean he felt that Miami wasn’t a big enough stage for him when he ditched a great team to head to the NFL. Wouldn’t he want to wait to see if he couldn’t land a first tier job, possibly back at the U? On the flip side, there may not be any first tier jobs open this year. Miami is really the most likely opening and even that’s not a sure thing.
All that aside, would it really be a good idea for Carolina to go after Davis? For one thing, I have a hard time believing he’d be happy in Chapel Hill. If he is as successful as some folks think he’d be, he’d probably bolt for the first better opportunity he saw. I’d bet that Davis would like another crack at the NFL.
And has he really proven that he’s that great of a coach? Can’t anyone win at Miami? I’m convinced that they could hire me has a head coach and I could find enough good assistants and great players to go at least 7-5. Davis’ records at Miami – 8-3, 9-3, 5-6, 9-3, 9-4 and 11-1. Now they were on probation for a few years there, including that 5-6 debacle, but I’d bet that Miami on probation can still recruit talent about equal to what UNC can land now. The two years after Davis left Coral Gables, Larry Coker went 12-0 and 12-1, missing out on consecutive national championships by just one pass interference call. Sure, those were mostly Davis’ players, but does that say good or bad things about Davis that another coach did better with his players? As a point of comparison, the folks in Miami are ready to lynch Coker, but yet he’s won more games than Davis did and lost about half as many.
So I don’t know, there’s no way to know for certain what will happen with the Carolina coaching search, but I bet they don’t end up going Butch.

Bad Ad

We’ve all grown tired of the ever-increasing presence of advertising in our sporting events. First it was signs and then logos on the field/court and now even digitally-superimposed annoyances. But this may be a first, advertising that
actually seriously injures a participant and very nearly seriously affects the outcome of the event – in this case the Chicago Marathon.
But hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?

Who’s The Fourth?

I concede that this may not be the most original question in the world. This argument has probably been slobbered about in hundreds of bars and I bet if I Googled it, I’d find at least a dozen blog articles on this very topic. Regardless, the thought popped into my head – God knows why – and I can’t get it out.
If there were a Mt. Rushmore for sports figures, who would the four heads be?
Right off the bat, I came up with three no-brainers. It would have to include Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan. All were arguably the best ever in their sports (well, maybe not Ali) and all three were larger than life. Iconic. That’s what you need to be to have your face carved 60-feet high in granite – iconic. Simply being great isn’t enough.
So who would be the fourth? Wayne Gretzky is one idea, but Mt. Rushmore is American and Gretzky, despite his years playing in the states, is a Canadian who played a Canadian sport. Who else? An all-time-great like Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Jack Nicklaus or Bill Russell? Or an athlete who left his (or her) mark in other ways like Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe, Najeh Davenport or Jesse Owens? What about someone who excelled in multiple sports like Jim Thorpe or Babe Didrikson? Would we need to include a football player and who would that be in a sport where individuals are rarely recognizable? Jim Brown? Joe Montana?
I honestly don’t know who the best choice would be. If I had to make the call right now, I’d probably go with Tiger Woods for the fourth spot. His accomplishments may not qualify him just yet, but in my lifetime the only other athlete who’s been as dominant was Michael Jordan. And Woods is still going strong.
So who would you pick? Who are your four? And no, you can’t pick a damn horse.

UNC Punting Bunting

Give Dick Baddour credit, he didn’t make John Bunting suffer any more than he had to. After UNC’s crushing 23-0 loss on national television to the mediocre Virginia Cavaliers, it was no longer a question of if but of when Bunting would be let go. By doing it now, Bunting might just get a sympathy win when his team steps up in his honor. I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it now – UNC will beat State and they’ll do it for their coach. Then they’ll remember who they are and who’s coaching them and they’ll lose to Duke.
But back to Big John. Caulton Tudor has a nice (well, “nice” if you aren’t a member of John Bunting’s family) piece running down some reasons why and how Bunting failed.
Now comes the fun part, guessing who the next Tar Heel coach will be. I think Baddour learned his lesson – picking a guy just because he’s an alumnus is a bad idea. Being an alum is nice, but in the long run it’s completely irrelevant. Bear Bryant didn’t go to Alabama, Bobby Bowden didn’t attend Florida State, Mike Krzyzewski didn’t go to Duke and Dean Smith graduated from Kansas. Instead, Baddour needs to find a guy who’s been a head coach for a while, had been very successful and is ready to step up to a bigger program. No, UNC is not a major football program but they are big name overall in college athletics. The ingredients are there to be successful.
The N&O has a preliminary list of potential candidates (see the sidebar here). I’m guessing they they made this list up themselves without any inside sources to Baddour’s list. Of the N&O’s list, I’d say that Bobby Petrino would be the #1 candidate if they can land him. The one concern would be whether he could deal (or would want to deal) with the higher academic standards in the ACC and at UNC. At Louisville, he can pretty much bring in anyone he wants.
A more realistic get might be Paul Johnson of Navy, but I think he’d be a bad choice. He’s won at Navy by basically running an option attack that is successful in part because it’s so rare these days. That’s not going to work at a big-time program, because you’ll have a hard time landing top-flight quarterbacks and receivers. Also if conference coaches see it every year, they’ll figure it out quickly. I’d stay away from Johnson.
Whoever UNC goes after and gets, it should make for a very interesting soap opera over the next few months. I can’t wait to watch.
p.s. I’m an idiot. Bear Bryant did go to the University of Alabama. I got a bit overzealous there. You can substitute Tom Osborne if you’d like or maybe Ara Parseghian, Bobby Knight or John Wooden.

Party Over

Do you guys remember Dave Stewart, the former MLB pitcher, most famously of the A’s? He was a bad ass, one of my favorite players at the time.
These days, Stew is doing some online video work with a website called NBX.com. In this clip, he tells an awesome story about how former Texas Rangers manager Doug Rader ended a party with Rangers players. Did Rader tell the guys to wind it down because they had a game the next day? Or maybe steal the keg? Nope. Skip decided to do it the Najeh Davenport way – he took a dump in the corner of the room. In front of everyone.
Gotta say I haven’t seen that move. I’ve seen a lot of people do stupid, drunk things at party, but crapping in the corner pretty much one-ups any of my stories.
Thanks to the Sports Frog for that find.
BTW, this reminds me of my favorite didn’t-really-happen headline from earlier this year when the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Davenport because they weren’t getting enough production from backup running back Deuce Staley : “Steelers Sign Najeh Davenport, May Drop Deuce.” (This real headline was pretty decent though.)