But refrains from ranking him or evaluating the toughness of Kenan Stadium based on his office.
Heather Dinich does get full credit for asking him why Minnesota sucked in every way possible on defense under his leadership last season, something we will undoubtedly be reminded about by our rivals if the defensive unit does not pan out this season:
"Don't take this the wrong way," I said, "but Minnesota's defense last year ..."
"Awful," he said, finishing my sentence.
Withers took some blame, saying he might have tried to compensate for a lack of talent with a complicated defense, but probably confused the players instead of helping them. He's not the first defensive coordinator tasked with trying to turn around Minnesota's defense, and the Texas secondary improved from 75th in the nation in pass defense in 1997 to first in 2000, so it's not like he hasn't had results before.
The bottom line is this: Withers thinks he has more talent to work with at UNC and is convinced it's enough for the Tar Heels to be a legitimate contender in the ACC.
"This place is on the right track," he said. "It's on the right track, getting the talent you need to compete and be a BCS team. This program is on that track."
I can accept the talent at Minnesota produced a horrible defense. At the same time I am more inclined to believe that the talent at Texas and the upgrade of that talent after 2-3 years of Mack Brown recruiting had a lot to do with the improvement of the defense. Putting it another way: Talent matters and if you are generally more talented than the other team, the coaching becomes less of an issue. If you are on the same level or less talented than your opponent then coaching factors in more. This is the point UNC is at with very good talent that is mostly on the same level as everyone on the schedule give or take. Since that is the case, coaching matters a great deal because the scheme you run needs to be able to maximize the talent you have and also compensate for certain plays the personnel is simply unable to make.
This is the question we need to answer about Withers and that is whether his abilities as a coach can squeeze every ounce of quality team defensive play out of this team. Dinich is ready to declare Withers to be "the right man" but it is way too early to know if that is the case. UNC fans endured six years of The Coach Who Shall Not Be Named persistently misusing the talent and failing to maximize the players he had either from scheming poorly or an inability to convey the concepts in a meaningful way. Withers has to prove that he can produce a quality defensive unit with the hand he is dealt and his ability to do that will determine whether he was a good hire, not answering a question about the Swiss cheese Minnesota defense with brutal honesty.