OK, so I lied when I said I was taking a Bunting break. Actually, what I said was I was taking a break barring any new information which this most definitely qualifies. Caulton Tudor, who I am presently putting aside years of previously held animosity because he is so spot-on correct in his analysis of this situation, has posted on the ACC Now blog an interesting little story.
In 2000 Tudor wrote a column advocating FSU offensive coordinator and present Georgia head coach Mark Richt as the best candidate to fill the job at UNC. In short Tudor recounts how he was contacted by Richt's agent to see if Tudor had any inside information on Richt's canidacy. Tudor knew nothing because Dick Baddour had said nothing but the column apparently had an effect and Richt was interviewed by Baddour and UNC Chancellor James Moeser in Atlanta. According to Richt's agent, Baddour pretty much had his mind made up on Bunting because of a small contingent of former UNC players and NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer(who apparently was somewhat a candidate except he wanted $2 million.) Bunting was hired and so was Richt at the University of Georgia where has been 56-12 in arguably the toughest football conference in the country. Tudor concludes by saying:
Did Carolina make a mistake? Absolutely, which is evident not only by Richt’s record at an SEC school, but the offensive vacuum, specifically at quarterback, created by Richt’s departure at FSU.
Hindsight supports but doesn’t change Richt’s overriding advantage in 2000. He was more qualified for a head coaching job in college, whereas Bunting was more qualified for a head coaching in the NFL. There’s a big difference in the job demands.
Did Baddour have reason to think he was making the right move? Yes. There was a small army of supporters pushing Bunting. Had Richt been hired, Baddour would have been the target of much second-guessing.
OK, this is new information for me. And it many ways it does not surprise me that Baddour sought to appease a handful alumni by hiring John Bunting than actually taking the best candidate available. This faux interview business is vaguely similar to the treatment Baddour gave Larry Brown after Roy Williams returned to Kansas. Baddour never had any intention of hiring Brown but gave him an interview and then hired Matt Doherty who simply was not ready for the job. It seems that he pulled the same stunt with Richt by interviewing him but really planning to hire Bunting anyway. And I disagree with with Tudor's assessment that Baddour had "reason to think he was making the right move" Baddour made this move because he was getting alumni pressure since he botched the hiring of Frank Beamer. It was more of that "in the family" stuff that plays out like patronage for UNC alumni. In the span of six years UNC has hired two coaches to head the two major sports programs based on UNC affiliation first and qualifications second. In both cases it has not turned out so well.
Baddour was duty bound to find the best coach possible. In the year 2000 with FSU having been the best team in the ACC since it joined, one could logically assume that an offensive coordinator on Bobby Bowden's staff who was tasked with the job of creating some of the most powerful offenses the ACC has ever seen might actually be a pretty good coach. In fact Charlie Ward won a Hesiman Trophy with Richt as the quaterbacks coach. Here is a guy who had previously been an assistant coach in NC at ECU which means he understands in-state recruiting and probably had a roledex full of contacts. Add to that the fact he had been at FSU and would bring tons of in-roads into recruiting hot bed Florida. On top of that Tudor describes his strongest traits as being his "organization, offensive insight, attention to detail and quarterback development." He was an experienced college football coach and by all indications in 2000 he was a good coach period. The 56-12 record he has at Georgia may have been a little more difficult duplicate at UNC but I would have to think it would be better than the 25-39 record Bunting has now.
So, if I might take this moment to take my blame spotlight off of Bunting for the moment and place it squarely on Dick Baddour. So how is that decision to hire Bunting working out now, Dick.