When UNC fired John Bunting after the Virginia game it was debated as to whether that was wise or not. There was some conjecture that it led to an embarassing period with a coaching search being conducted while the fired coach was still on the sideline. Then the search wrapped up within three weeks and UNC got their man in the form of Butch Davis which validated the decision. Even beyond that if you look at this list of BCS schools who have all fired coaches this season, most of them in the past few days, then decision to fire Bunting in October looks like sheer genius.
When you look at UNC on the same list with these other schools, you can easily see that UNC would have a great deal of trouble attracting a top name like Butch Davis with these other programs conducting searches at the same time. At present UNC would be, at best, third on this list behind Miami and Alabama which are considered to be "destination" jobs. If you also consider they would be competeting directly with NC State for candidates it would have undoubtedly been a huge mess before it was done. Since UNC went ahead a pulled the trigger early they were virtually alone looking for a coach which gave them a distinct advantage when it came to negotiating with anyone they wanted. And while Michigan State entered the fray a week later, they had a different track they were following with the search so it do not directly compete with UNC. Two ACC schools along with an SEC program would have been thorns in UNC's side as they moved forward with their search. As it turns out the early move by UNC left them free of any such hinderances in conducting their search.
So in the end, UNC comes out smelling like roses spending this first Monday after the regular season announcing a new coaching hire while many other schools are announcing dismissals.