Sunday, December 03, 2006

Carolina Football - the Butch Davis Era Begins

Looks like Butch Davis is going to be making roughly the same money as Roy Williams. Ya gotta ask if that's reasonable (and lots of people are doing that). Roy's coaching a program that is expected to contend for a national championship year in and year out - should we expect the same from Davis? There's been a lot in the sports pages the last couple of weeks about whether it is reasonable to expect a UNC or an NCState to be a perennial contender for the MNC - my opinion is that it probably is not.

Bill Dooley teams in the 70's consistently won 8 or 9 games and went to a mid-level bowl almost every year (that they typically lost) in an ACC that was half the size it is today. He was fired not because he didn't win but because he won boringly.

Dick Crum was brought in to get some excitement but after his first team finished 5-6 he went back to a more run-oriented attack and had tremendous success for a few years, winning at least 8 games a year in a 5-year stretch (including an ACC championship 11-1 season) and took the teams to bowl games that they actually won most of the time. But Crum never learned how to recruit the state and after a number of 5-6 win seasons he was booted (and he left the cupboard extremely bare).

Mack Brown survived a couple of 1-win seasons to get the team back near the top of the conference (although he never won it), producing 3 10+ win seasons and teams that were almost always in the Top 25. Only one team in his last 6 failed to win at least 8 games.

Neither Torbush nor Bunting have approached that kind of success, each having their best season with players that their predecessor recruited. Clearly Carolina is capable of more.

So what's a reasonable expectation? With NC State down, now's the time to rebuild the in-state recruiting that Mack Brown did so well and one of the ways to do that is by winning early. If the reports on the players that Bunting is leaving behind are at all accurate, Davis should be able to win some games next year, especially with the disarray among the Florida teams right now. He's got a head start on whoever State brings in for recruiting the next class and success feeds success. Given the record of the last 35-40 years, I see no reason why Carolina shouldn't typically field teams that win 8 or 9 games a year, contend for a slot in the ACC Championship game as often as not, and occasionally put together a team that has a shot at a BCS Bowl and even the mythical national championship. What I can't see is this program, regardless of the coach, getting to the same level as the basketball team or that schools like Tennessee or Michigan have attained in football. That's not necessarily a bad thing - I'd be happy with teams that play hard and win more than they lose, where 6-6 is considered a down year and 9-4 is meeting expectations. Davis would seem to be capable of that but back to the original question - should we be paying him as much as the basketball coach that just won a national championship? I think not.

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