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Is Caulton Tudor Trying to Play King Maker?

I am beginning to think that is the case. Last week he said UNC should pursue Butch Davis but made it known he had reservations. On Sunday, Tudor said that Paul Johnson would bring a similar offense to what Jim Grobe is running at Wake Forest and that will not get the job done.

Also mentioned have been several other possible candidates, one being Navy's Paul Johnson, a North Carolina native and Western Carolina graduate.

Where offensive systems are concerned, Johnson and Grobe are virtual carbon copies.

That doesn't necessarily mean Johnson would install the same run-oriented, misdirectional, low-risk schemes should he wind up in Chapel Hill. But first-year coaches normally don't stray far from their comfort zone, and the tactics that have generally worked for Johnson at Navy are much the same as those of Grobe.

No one is complaining at Wake Forest, of course.

Saturday's win sent the Deacons to 7-1 overall, 3-1 and tied for first place in the ACC's Atlantic Division, and all but locked up the league coach-of-the-year award for Grobe.


Grobe, at Wake, has kept it simple in blueprinting and complex in ground-game attacking. He is a good coach by anyone's definition and a great one by Wake Forest's standards. There have been long stretches in Deacons football history when seven wins would have been considered a big haul over a two-season period.

It's also important to keep in mind that Grobe has done it without an overwhelming degree of rancor in the stands or within the ranks. From the start, he had the solid commitment of the one person -- athletics director Ron Wellman -- who really counted. Most of the pressure to produce was placed on Grobe by Grobe.

The next coach at Carolina won't have that luxury. It's doubtful that the next coach will get as much as of a cushion as Bunting, whose record at the school fell to 25-43 overall and 1-7 for the season. Bunting and Grobe are in their sixth seasons, and while Bunting would be safe for at least another season at 33-33 overall, Carolina fans expect a good deal more than a break-even record from a coach on the job that long.

That brings us back to Johnson.

While it's probably harder to win games at Navy and Wake Forest, it's much more difficult to win and keep friends at Carolina. Even at the height of his success with the Heels, Mack Brown caught some grief in the stands for not being able to beat Florida State. That same situation won't return for years -- possibly ever -- but Carolina's next coach will have to do better than average over six years to genuinely energize the fan base.

I am really not sure what the real complaint is here because looking at Johnson's bio it is clear to me that while Navy is a ground attack is it also extremely productive. I am also not sure how you even compare the two coaches when you consider Navy is the 2nd in rushing behind #3 ranked West Virginia. Wake Forest is ranked 55th in rushing offense. Both teams ranked on the low end in passing offense. The point is that Navy, with possibly less talent than Wake Forest, is running the ball at will. Now, to be fair, the issue most people raise is that Navy is not facing the same talent levels as Johnson would in the ACC and such a rushing attack would be less successful against some of the defense in this conference. Of course 7-1 Wake does not seem to have a problem with it, which Tudor points out while also pointing out that Wake and Navy operate under far less stress than UNC does in this area. The contention Tudor makes is that Johnson would not have enough time to make it work since patience in Chapel Hill will be thin.

Over six seasons, he'll almost certainly win more than 25 -- even 33 -- games at Carolina. But odds are, the offensive system he has now won't win enough to make the Tar Heels a regular visitor to the nation's top 25.

And this is where I call foul, first on the sheer idiocy of the statement and secondly on Johnson's record at I-AA Georgia Southern with Tudor fails to mention a single time throughout the article. Now, I know I-AA is a different division but I also think matters of this nature are relative. Georgia Southern won back-to-back I-AA titles under Johnson and during the course of his tenure were one of the most powerful offenses in I-AA:

After Johnson took over as head coach at Georgia Southern in 1997, he returned the Eagle program to national prominence statistically and in the won-lost ledger. In addition to Georgia Southern's 62-10 mark, the Eagles scored 2,855 points (39.7 points per game), picked up 25,941 rushing yards (360.3 yards per game), 7,816 passing yards (108.6 yards per game) and 33,757 total yards (468.8 yards per game). GSU scored 380 touchdowns in the Johnson Era, an average of 5.3 per game. The Eagles' scoring margin under Johnson was +21.5 (39.7-18.5).(Source: Navy Sports)

What this tells me is that Johnson is a winner and is capable of coaching some extremely powerful offenses no matter what the level. In addition, the defensive units under Johnson have been anywhere from decent to very good, statistically speaking. Johnson did it at I-AA and now he has done it at Navy. In both cases not only have his teams become statistical offensive leaders but they also have begun winning an higher levels. In the case of Navy they went from 1-20 in the two years before Johnson to 2-10 in his first season and 31-14 since. Some coaches are just winners, period. Do we know Johnson will be one at UNC? No, because the whole thing is a crapshoot. However, Johnson's penchant for winning and fielding great offenses, even if they are running teams, is unmistakable.

No, the real agenda here rests on Tudor's apparent desire to be a king maker. What Tudor has given us is tantamount to the same kind of fear mongering politicians use to win elections. Tudor comes out and weaves this horrific tale of Paul Johnson bringing a running attack similar to Wake Forest which is largely seen as bruising and boring without telling us it is not the same thing and in fact is far more powerful. He dresses this up and tries to tell his readers that such an offense would be insufficient in winning games even though the record at Navy is contrary to that thought. Tudor fails to make any mention of the success at Georgia Southern which is an absolutely relevant point in demonstrating Johnson's pedigree as a winner and dealing Tudor's premise a serious blow. Tudor also slides a nice little paragraph in about how Mack Brown had trouble with the UNC fans because of his losing streak to FSU, which I remember was an annoyance but nothing more. He even goes as far as to mention Butch Davis again in a manner which makes him look less like a viable candidate. The point of this column was not to raise salient points about Paul Johnson or "concerns" about his offensive schemes, which by all accounts are winning football games both for Johnson and Grobe. No, Tudor's focus is to turn his readers off to Johnson and to a lesser extent Davis but only because already wrote about Davis last week.

Back in 2000, Tudor wrote an article advocating Mark Richt for the vacant UNC football job and in that case he was right. Richt actually got an interview because of the column but was not hired and then took the job at Georgia. Tudor seems to think that it is his responsibility to influence the coaching search by offering up pieces like this designed to cast a leading candidate in an unfavorable light.

So the real question here is who does Caulton Tudor want to be the next football coach at North Carolina?