After Saturday's nail-biting finish, I was ready for a relaxing week away from any big football excitement. That lasted all of half a day, before the news came across my Twitter feed that John Blake had resigned, effective immediately. His explanation?
"While I have enjoyed my tenure at the University of North Carolina, it has become apparent to me over the course of the past few weeks that my presence has become a distraction to my family and to this great University, too. Consequently, I have determined that it is in the best interests of my family, the University community at large, and the Football Program for me to step down from my position as associate head football coach effective today, September 5, 2010."
Dick Baddour echoes the distraction reasoning, saying:
"Coach Blake had indicated to me in previous conversations that he would step down if he felt his presence with the football program would become a distraction. I appreciate and respect his decision to do what is best for the University and our football program. I know the young men he coached are tremendously disappointed, but Coach Davis and his staff will help and support them as the season moves forward."
Having grown hardened and cynical during my years in D.C., I naturally translate the distraction explanation to mean, "No one's proven I've done anything wrong, and I'm leaving before they inevitably do." It doesn't help that, at least to world at large, Blake hasn't been a distraction the past couple of weeks. He was a distraction early on, when the NCAA first started investigating Marvin Austin, for his ties to agent Gary Wichard. Since the general focus shifted to the academic improprieties, more blame has been tossed to Butch Davis, despite the suspensions coming down defense-heavy. I don't know what changed since the LSU game ended, but the reasonable conclusion is that either the university or the NCAA has decided that Blake is a little too involved with the skirting of the rules going on. I'm hoping this means that at least one if not both of the investigations is concluded and news will come out soon, but it's not a lock. It could be that Elaine Marshall's investigation – she just subpoenaed Marvin Austin after all – is a major driver behind this move, as well.
Blake, of course, was a huge part of UNC's successful recruiting over the past four seasons; Marvin Austin in particular named him as the reason he's attending UNC. The Heels will have an extensive history, both recent and under Mack Brown, of getting defenders to the NFL to fall back on, but it would be silly not to expect a dropoff in talent on the defensive side. It's necessary in order to restore the program to the level of cleanliness we demand, but it's still going to burn. The good news is that Dick Baddour is now saying that he doesn't expect any other coaching resignations, nor that any players would be kicked off the team.
One final thought. There's been a fair amount of criticism towards the suspended players who attended the Chick-fil-A game on their own travel dime. If Blake suggested, signed off on, or otherwise condoned that move without Davis' knowledge, that could also have been a factor in pushing him out the door. That's pretty base speculation on my part though.