According to David Glenn this morning on 620 AM Bunting was asked to resign but refused so he was fired effective at the end of the Duke game. One the financial side it makes sense for Bunting to forced them to fire him so he can collect the buyout. However, I honestly think that Bunting, being the passionate UNC guys he is and eternal optimist, did not resign because he honestly felt like it would "get better." It is things like this regarding his character and outlook which make such a firing difficult. You can only wish he had found a way to win along with all of the other positive things about the way he carried himself.
Caulton Tudor, who was the first to call for Bunting's ouster weighs in with his thoughts. Tudor points to the loss of defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta to Georgia Tech as the single most important loss Bunting suffered. Tudor also says the learning curve on issues such as building an offense and recruiting make Bunting's job difficult. He fails to mention the loss of players to discipline problems which is fine with me because I am tired of that being used as a crutch for a program that is struggling like this one is now.
Tom Suiter at WRAL.com blogged his take on the situation.
As for the press conference I listened to it via WRAL.com and it held nothing too earth shatterin. Inside Carolina has excerpts of the press conference here. Here are a few excerpts of interest:
On accumulating so many losses -
Bunting: About half those losses are in ’02 and ’03. I’m in charge of the program at that point, but I can tell you I not entirely responsible for that. We didn’t have many players to play with. Since the ’04 and ’05 season, we’ve been extremely competitive until this season, and this season has been a struggle."
In my opinion this is a cop out on Bunting's part and of the few times I have seen him make an excuse. I am assuming he is referring to the attrition that occurred during the transistion as well as discipline problems. I think that is a mitgating factor but he even says that he is "in charge of the program at that point" so yes he is entirely responsible for what happens under him. Had he been winning I am sure he would have taken full responsibility for what was happening at that point but since he was 3-9 and 2-10 then he is opting to make an excuse. He is right that they have won more in the two seasons prior to this one but this season is such a step back it is difficult to keep going. As for the number of losses, UNC is 25-42 under Bunting with 19 losses coming in the 02/03 stretch. In fact the first three seasons under Bunting included 24 losses. Counting the past two seasons and the present one, the loss total is present at 17 with five games left. UNC will most likely end up losing four of the next five and if that is the case the loss total will be 21 in the final three years. That constitutes only a slight improvement on the first three seasons, so he can complain as much as he wants about 02 and 03 but the numbers since then are not really much better when supposedly he had the players he wanted.
Bunting when asked why he disagreed with the decision -
Bunting: "We’re redshirting an entire class right now, and we have an unbelievable recruiting class that we’re on top of."
I would characterize this as too little, too late. I think had Bunting figured out two years ago or perhaps been able to redshirt whole classes like Jim Grobe does at Wake Forest he might be in better shape now. And yes there is a great class coming in but there comes a point where you cannot continue to operate on the promise of success when after six years similar promises are left unfulfilled. Also, Bunting is the eternal optimist and all of those statements he makes in press conferences about "getting better" and "reaching the point where they yada, yada, yada" are statements he truly believes.
Baddour when asked why he said recently he would never let Bunting go during the season -
Baddour: "When I was asked that question, I understood that question to be, ‘Would there be a circumstance under which Coach Bunting would not be allowed to finish coaching this season. So my answer had to do with him finishing coaching the season. In fact, we would be here today if we had a different answer to that. It’s extremely important to me – imperative – that he be allowed to finish the season. That was my answer to that."
Yeah, Dick, whatever you want to believe here. You know full well no one was asking Bunting to be fired and relieved of his duties on the spot following the Clemson game when you so forcefully said he would not be fired.
Why make the decision now as opposed to the end of the year?
Baddour: "That is certainly a fair question, and one that we talked about. When it became apparent to me that we were going to have to make a change, we could have been in a position where we started to talk about and evaluate the program in some serious way, and I felt like we were already being bombarded with those questions that it could only create a more severe difficult situation for the players and the staff to operate in. I felt like that was unfair to the football program, especially if we knew the direction where we were going, and we should do that now, if John was willing to finish coaching this year."
Yes, and the rumor on Friday may have forced your hand but we may never know if that was the case. I think it is a better situation in terms of starting the coaching search now. If I am not mistaken this is the first firing of the college football season so it should be somewhat beneficial to be the first BCS level job out there for the purposes of contacting candidates, even through liasions, early on here. It also removes the distractions and no one has to answer the same questions over and over for the next five games.
So I think that is all we can say about this. If I come across any other tidbits of interest I might post them otherwise all eyes shift towards finding a new coach and finding some sembalance of dignity during the remainder of the season.