And you thought we would get at least 48 hours to enjoy the pseudo-win from Saturday night. Not so fast my friend.
UNC defensive line coach John Blake, who has been connected to the NCAA investigation of agent contact with Tar Heel players, has resigned effective immediately. Blake cited the fact he had become a distraction as the primary reason for stepping away.
For the record, I always assumed this would happen after the season not right now. The fact it is happening now lends itself to a variety of interpretations. If you want to go straight for the Chicken Little reaction Blake jumping ship signals there may be violations with his name attached to it. If that is the case UNC could be treading into an area where the NCAA puts the football program in their sights instead of just a few players. The other possibility lies in something that came out last Friday when UNC announced which players were not making the trip to Atlanta(emphasis mine):
Declared ineligible, out for LSU:
Austin (who was suspended indefinitely on Wednesday for breaking team rules); Little; cornerbacks Charles Brown and Kendric Burney; defensive ends Michael McAdoo and Robert Quinn; and safety Deunta Williams. UNC is coming up with a proposed "remedy," or punishment, that the NCAA would accept to restore eligibility.
Is Blake's resignation part of that remedy? Perhaps Blake did not commit any violations but his continued presence(and agent ties) would be problematic in the eyes of the NCAA so UNC is offering him up as a sacrificial lamb of sorts. It also could be a case where UNC has decided to clean house. Blake's name ain't the best in college football from a reputation standpoint. Cutting ties with Blake shows UNC is willing to clean up their own house in response to the current scandal. And since you assume there must be some measure of discipline taken against the coaching staff, Blake was the most likely candidate. Blake's reputation and connections to agent Gary Wichard is one aspect of it. Another is the fact so many defensive linemen have been implicated in the NCAA probe which creates more questions for Blake. And since Butch Davis is walking around shoulder-to-shoulder with Holden Thorp you have to figure someone else was going to take one for the team.
[Doc: Before the Blake news broke, I had a piece in the pipeline about Chancellor Thorp's open support for Butch Davis and what might be gleaned from that. The short version is that either Thorp has supreme confidence in Davis and his role in this whole thing, or he is acting naively as a still wet-behind-the-ears new chancellor. Given that Davis was Blake's high school coach and has stuck with him through thick and thin, this is a significant development in that either UNC, or the NCAA, or both have decided Blake has to go. I would also note the difference in Baddour's tone in his public comments (i.e. cone of silence, as opposed to his openness about the academics issues) meaning this falls squarely in the NCAA's province. Carry on.]
I suppose they could be telling the truth here and Blake does feel he is a distraction. If you believe that you probably also believe Matt Doherty resigned of his on volition in 2003. UNC probably did not want to terminate Blake since (1) there may not have been cause and (2) this way Blakes gets a golden parachute. At any rate, the group of people hardest hit by this news outside of Blake's players are clearly NC State fans. Yes, really.