A bit of disturbing news via David Teel of the Daily Press.
Barring UNC winning one of the last three championships out there, the Heels will finish the 2013-14 season without winning a single official ACC title in any team sport. What's worse UNC only had one team finish in the first place. The women's tennis team ended up in a four way tie for first during regular season play. No other UNC team finished atop the standings in the other sports. Per UNC, the Tar Heels have never not won at least one ACC title in something.
Obviously this isn't good though it should be noted that UNC's is still 8th after the winter season in the Leafield Sports Director's Cup. The Director's Cup is measured on the basis of NCAA Tournament success so while UNC hasn't finished with any postseason ACC titles so far this season, the Tar Heels programs have been solid so far in NCAA play.
Still, not winning any sort of conference championships is not a great trend. Yes, winning league crowns is a little more difficult now with the addition of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pitt. However, UNC's biggest competition in this regard has been traditional ACC schools. Only two titles were won by the three newcomers which means most of the team titles in the new ACC have been captured by traditional members.
This kind of news casts a different light on comments Bubba Cunningham made a couple of months ago(emphasis mine)
But while the article largely explored the application of sound business practices within the athletic department – an enterprise with an $80 million annual budget and responsibility for approximately 1,500 student-athletes, coaches and staff, paid and volunteer – Cunningham ventured into commentary on the past as well. “When I first took over in late 2011, it became immediately evident that the culture of the department had stagnated,” he was quoted. “UNC had been incredibly successful for so many years, but the program was floundering. There was no mission, no roadmap on how to maintain that achievement, only the assumption that what worked in the past would somehow continue to work in the future.”
In that same piece, Barry Jacobs noted that some UNC staffers were unhappy with Cunningham's comments. Jacobs took the position that Cunningham had some work to do to smooth out these sentiments with staff members at UNC who felt he was denigrating their work from previous years.
In light of today's news that UNC might finish the academic year without winning any ACC championships, Cunningham may have been more on point than people were willing to admit. In fact, Cunningham's statement was incredibly astute, especially when you consider the potential coaching turnover that could come in the next 6-10 years in men's and women's basketball, baseball and women's soccer. The decision on those jobs as well as potential changes in other sports demand some forward thinking on UNC's part.
UNC has enjoyed a high level of success however maintaining that success requires vigilance and sometimes demands real change be made. Cunningham appears to be working towards that end and while he may have ruffled some feathers along the way, if it produces results then it is probably worth it.