(H/T to THF for the title)
In anticipation of the wintry mix headed to the Triangle area on Thursday, the News and Observer's Luke DeCock does his part to keep everyone warm by keeping the fires burning on the UNC football investigation with this hit piece on Wednesday.
This bowl game is for Quinton Coples, who filled the void on the defensive line left by his wayward teammates and as much as anyone represents the good that came out of North Carolina's season.
This bowl game is for T.J. Yates, whose leadership helped the Tar Heels navigate a season full of self-inflicted distractions.
This bowl game is for Anthony Elzy and Ryan Taylor and Quan Sturdivant and all the other Tar Heels - including injured Bruce Carter and Alan Pelc - who wrote their own papers and managed to play within the rules.
They deserved something for their effort, and a trip to Nashville is as good as anything.
This bowl game is not for any of the 14 players who couldn't follow the simplest of NCAA, university and moral guidelines, crippling a potentially groundbreaking season before it ever got started. Some will play in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30, having served their punishment, but it's their fault North Carolina never got the chance to play for the ACC title that seemed so possible a year ago.
Yes it is true that 14 UNC football players have missed some or all of the season. But DeCock uses a broad brush to paint all 14 with the same stroke, taking the intellectually lazy route in the process. The most egregious violators have either been dismissed from the team, ruled ineligible by the NCAA, or suspended for the season.Clearly the bowl game is not for them because they couldn't participate anyway.
Can you tell us, Mr. DeCock, why Shaun Draughn and Da'Norris Searcy are not worthy of playing in the Music City Bowl? Both players missed time due to the investigation but were never publicly implicated in any wrongdoing. Draughn missed one game and Searcy three games while UNC sorted out the mess at the beginning of the season. There has never been any reason to believe Draughn and Searcy were involved in any impropriety and yet DeCock says the bowl game is not for them. Did DeCock forget that Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter - who he held up in the article as examples of those who did things right - were also initially implicated in the unpleasantness but were cleared before the LSU game? Tell us, Mr. DeCock, what is the difference between Sturdivant and Carter and Draughn and Searcy, other than when they were cleared?
And while we're at it, can you tell us, Mr. DeCock, why Ryan Houston and Linwan Euwell are not worthy of the bowl game? At the beginning of this unpleasantness, there was a cry for the football players involved to be treated like normal students. By all accounts, that's exactly what Houston and Euwell did. They appeared before the honor court and some verdict - either not guilty or guilty but with no restrictions - was pronounced. Why would they not deserve to play in the bowl?
As for Deunta Williams and Kendric Burney, the poster children for the NCAA's inconsistent and draconian enforcement, what have they done besides take responsibility for their actions, serve their harsh sentences, and have nothing but a kind word along the way? Williams, who was essentially prosecuted for paying his own way to California but not paying to stay at a former letterman's house, received the maximum recommended penalty from the NCAA. And Burney, who paid his own way for trips but received benefits from someone the NCAA didn't classify as an agent-like creature until after the benefits were received, was given a half-season penalty, which is beyond the NCAA's own guidelines for such offenses.
It sure seems that guys who either did nothing wrong at all, or guys who did the crime and did the time, are exactly who should be worthy of the bowl game. If DeCock wants to make the argument that the stupidity of Marvin Austin, Greg Little, and Robert Quinn cost the Heels a chance at a special season, then go right ahead, but it's a worn-out argument by this point. No, DeCock takes the lazy way out by lumping all 14 players together.
But DeCock is not done with blasting the players; he takes a swipe at Butch Davis as well:
And it is not for Butch Davis, who through deliberate action or inexcusable inaction allowed all of this to go on under his watch. That includes the relationship between now-suspended agent Gary Wichard and former assistant coach John Blake, Davis' old friend and new ex-employee, and the tutor at the center of the academic investigation, who continued to be employed in the Davis household even after the university cut her loose.
Well, it's nice to know DeCock has formed his opinion about the situation before all the facts have come to light. In addition, there has been a current among the ABC crowd to dismiss the achievements of this team and the coaching staff because the team's woes are self-inflicted, and this feeds right into that line of thinking. Regardless of how UNC arrived at this point, the fact remains that Davis and his staff did a superb job of keeping the season, and in fact the entire program, in the road. Now when the NCAA issues its final findings and rulings, whenever that may be, Davis will still ultimately be held accountable. But until that time comes, the rest of DeCock's piece comes off as classic media high horse sanctimony, not to mention being intellectually lazy. (H/T again to THF for the wordsmithing)