These are the last words I heard from Butch Davis as coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels (from my shaky flipcam video shooting skills)…
And now, he’s gone.
What. A. Mess.
So many things come to mind about this situation.
Obviously, it’s a poorly-timed fiasco. One of my immediate thoughts was Davis knew the new board of trustees at UNC wasn’t on his side – so he did his best pitch at the ACC Football Kickoff. On the whole, he was honest about the transgressions of the past year and relaxed in Pinehurst Monday.
And obviously, it didn’t work.
I won’t be the first to say this…and won’t be the last, but if you’re going to fire him, do it when all this is going on last season. Or much, much earlier in the offseason. Or by the end of this season if the NCAA brings the hammer down with penalties.
But not now, not this close to the season – it’s just terrible for the players, especially the seniors and new signees. Just not smooth at all. No matter how you look at it, the UNC administration comes off looking terrible in this ordeal.
All 12 ACC coaches took their fair share of tough questions, but overall, it was a relaxed weekend in Pinehurst. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)
First, here’s my selections of blogs from the ACC Football Kickoff so far from across the interwebs…
QBs the talk of ACC media day – Duke’s Sean Renfree, Maryland Danny O’Brien and FSU’s E.J. Manuel on the new class of QBs, Roddy Jones talks to the media about the vacated 2009 title and the call for more marquee wins from the ACC commish and Virginia Tech WR Danny Coale.
From unknown to Preseason ACC Player of the Year, BC’s Montel Harris approaches ACC record – A brief look at Montel Harris’ road to the preseason ACC POY accolade, Maryland linebacker Kenny Tate on the toughest place he’s played and Miami center Tyler Horn on winning that elusive title.
Mutual respect marks Clemson-Georgia Tech cross-divisional rivalry – Paul Johnson the Tigers/Jackets rivalry, Jim Grobe on RB Josh Harris being the key to Deacs’ success, Beamer on the offseason staff changes and Logan Thomas’ progression and Jimbo Fisher talking E.J. Manuel.
On to the post…
Man, I’m ready for football season now.
Two days. Wall-to-wall ACC football talk. And food – good, good food.
The ACC knows how to throw a party – it’s a very relaxed atmosphere – even down to the two, four-hour long staggered sessions with all 12 teams. I had a blast.
Here’s my (random) thoughts per team from the weekend in Pinehurst…
>The Eagles didn’t lack the star power with two of the top players in Pinehurst with RB Montel Harris and LB Luke Kuechly. That table in the writers’ area had plenty of folks surrounding it.
>Harris said BC has a backfield with “four guys that will play on Sunday.” It will be interesting to see how the carries shake out – especially with the ACC career rushing record on the line (Harris need a little over 1,000 yards this season – he’s eclipsed that mark twice already in his career at BC and came close in his freshman season with 900).
>I wasn’t around Frank Spaziani’s table for anything too earth-shattering, but he talked about gaining a players’ trust and learning from Penn State coach Joe Paterno. Spaziani said the key is to correct the players without causing resentment, a proverb he had picked up from Paterno and reading John Wooden’s advice on coaching.
>Spaziani is expecting Chase Rettig to take that next step this season, or the Eagles are in trouble. He talked about going from having no QBs and Dave Shinskie stepping in to fill the void a couple seasons ago. He said they’re “lightyears” ahead of where they started when he took over and with Kevin Rogers now in place to coach the position up.
>Because of my job with the Anderson Independent Mail, I found myself at their media gatherings for more than anybody else. South Carolina media focused aspects of the offense and dealing with new coaches to center Dalton Freeman – national/regional media wanted to know if Dabo Swinney is on the hot seat from both Freeman and DT Brandon Thompson. There were some interesting answers…
>Thompson referenced Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips giving Dabo Swinney a vote of confidence on the local sportstalk station. Freeman was asked about the same interview, and said he’d heard it as well. Freeman elaborated on why Swinney needs more time later on – clearly, at least from the two Clemson sent to Pinehurst, Dabo’s Tigers are all in with him.
>Monday, it was Swinney’s turn, and he used his opportunity to, when asked, give anyone who’d listen an earful on the ills of the proposed academic reforms being thrown around the conference commissioners. He said that multi-year scholarships “make no sense” and called raising the minimum core GPA “crazy.” His thoughts on each can be found here and here.
>Beyond that, Swinney shied from direct comparisons to Auburn or Oregon’s offenses by the media contingent – saying that Clemson will have its own on spin on the spread, continuing with the mantra that running the ball will be the focal point of the Tigers’ attack.
>As one of the elder statesmen QBs of the ACC, Sean Renfree actually fielded questions about other conference quarterbacks and dealing with first season jitters.
>Cutcliffe talked about his plan for Duke football – a plan he’s had since he came to Durham. Redshirting players was a big aspect of that plan – Cutcliffe raved about the affect of having that extra year for developing players: “We’re committed to the long term success of the Duke football program. This is no quick-fix.” He said any success from his plan might be for two-three-four years down the road.
>The ‘Noles, for both sessions, had the most-non-NCAA-investigated-recently-filled-up-table-area.
>E.J. Manuel’s confident in his ability, and his team. There’s a reason why he was the only new QB in Pinehurst – he can handle it.
>Jimbo Fisher talked really fast, but raved about Manuel a bunch. He also talked about the importance of size to a football team. His theory is the fit, big guys are able to take more of a beating on the field.
>With the format of players first and coaches the next day, RB Roddy Jones and NT Logan Walls got first dibs on the NCAA penalties’ media circus. Jones said they were all surprised when the penalties came out, but did hear through the grapevine that the NCAA was on campus awhile ago.
>Jones said he’s still proud to wear his ring and tell people his team won the 2009 ACC title.
>He equated playing by the many NCAA rules to “walking on eggshells all the time.”
>On improving the offense, Jones said limiting turnovers and penalties will be crucial (I know – hard-hitting stuff).
>Danny O’Brien talked about the value of last year’s starting experience for this season.
>On who will step up at receiver: “That remains to be seen. We have a lot of guys that don’t necessarily have the statline that Torrey had.”
>On the strength of the conference: “The ACC is always balanced – everybody can beat everybody in the league. You see that year in, year out. We just have to focus on beating Miami – they’re a very tough opponent.”
>Kenny Tate said Death Valley was the hardest place to play in the ACC.
>Didn’t get around to Edsall because Dabo’s talk was going on around then.
>Center Tyler Horn was pretty frank about the Hurricanes’ lack of ACC title hardware. He said they’ve had the talent for years to make that run, but haven’t been able to put it together because of the little things.
>Horn seems pretty confident in whoever will QB the ‘Canes (whether Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris). He said they’re very similar personality-wise.
>Al Golden joked about the use of swagger, which I found amusing. He’s obviously heard enough of it.
>He said he’s excited about the ACC opener with another rookie coach in the league, but later jokingly said the league office may have been giving them each the short straw there.
>The NCAA-investigated-recently-filled-up-table-area had LG Jonathan Cooper and DT Tydreke Powell on day one.
>Cooper said they’ve grown resilient through the NCAA investigation: “We feel like we have young guys who can plug in at any time and they’ll be able to play. As well as the obstacles we will face, they can’t be as tough as we’ve had to face. I feel like we can pretty much get through anything that’s put in front of us.”
>He didn’t have any idea when the NCAA announcement would come, and said all of the guys who were involved in the violations were “great guys” who made mistakes.
>Butch Davis said all the right things on Monday in regards to apologies and answering all the questions. It was interesting comparing and contrasting how Johnson and Davis were handling all of the attention simultaneously in the writers’ room at Pinehurst.
>Didn’t get to hang around the NC State tables’ much each day, but TE George Bryan hit on his confidence in Mike Glennon when I was around.
>I missed all of the injury declarations by the Wolfpack, but O’Brien talked about the importance of competition in camp.
>Mike London said ideally he’d like the four-way QB competition to conclude after the first couple weeks of fall camp when playbook installation comes into play. He also said the fourth QB in the mix would probably see a redshirt.
>Whether it was WR Danny Coale or Frank Beamer himself, the Hokies couldn’t seem to shake last year’s Orange Bowl…or James Madison.
>Coale used the Stanford blowout loss as motivation this offseason, and put it in the concept of the whole ACC needing to do better. On recent ACC performances: “(We’re) not as good as we could be. We have a lot of great teams across the board. It certainly doesn’t help when you lose a Orange Bowl game, and lose by a pretty large margin. There are a lot solid, marquee wins this season to turn that around a bit.”
>Of course, Coale fielded the punter/receiver Q’s. The one about being hit hard over the middle on a catch on third down and having to the punt the next down was pretty interesting. He said he didn’t want to put Beamer in a position to have to call a timeout on his account. It would definitely be a unique situation if Coale can win the job.
>Beamer fielded a wide variety of questions – from catching up non-Hokies media on his reasoning for the offseason staff changes to if he’s discussing staff succession plans with his son Shane. He said we’ll be seeing him in maroon and orange for quite awhile before any succession plans are made.
>Grobe said the great teams he’s had started with defense and special teams: “We gotta go back to playing great defense.”
>The Deacs had a good spring according to him – very competitive: “A lot of Rock’Em Sock’Em stuff going on this spring.”
>Grobe had a lot to say about sophomore RB Josh Harris, which I talked a bunch about in the third story up towards the top of the blog. But basically, he’s the key to Wake’s season.
>On recruiting against schools racking up the 5-stars like FSU and Clemson: Out of around 20+ kids in a typical recruiting class, Grobe said the Deacs get a handful of talented players…usually 15 or so that need to be developed more.