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I Think We All Should Step Back And Take A Deep Breath

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Because this is really getting messy.

The latest chapter in this whole sordid business of UNC firing the head coach right before the season starts comes in an open letter from former Tar Heel football player Deems May. Now, let's just say upfront May is a passionate guy. You will not find many Tar Heels who have the fire and love May has for UNC. At the same time, he has a tendency to be over the top in some of the things he says. Take for example this from two years ago. At any rate, because May is such an outspoken guy who undoubtedly would have some interesting things to say about this situation, he has received numerous media requests from comment. To accommodate those May has issued an open letter which has been posted by Inside Carolina.

You can read the letter for yourself to draw your own conclusions. My take is the letter is just barely above a post you can read at any point on a message board. It is full of hyperbole and outlandish statements such as saying that if Holden Thorp hires the new AD means you might as well "carpet-bomb Kenan." Oh and May believes this whole business is being orchestrated by the unseen hand of Bill Friday as he pulls the strings of Thorp and the BOT. You have the words "de-emphasize football" appear so many times I stopped counting. On the flip side from the rather..um...passionate points are a few salient ones such affording full support to Everett Withers and the Tar Heel football team week in and week out. Aside from that I am hard pressed to understand how this letter, especially given the tone and invective it employs does anyone any good. What ever decent points get made are lost amid all the angry yelling.

In fact I am not so much concerned with the points May makes here as much as I am the tone he and other Tar Heels are taking on this matter. While I know fans in general and especially those on message boards are prone to excess in rhetoric I think we maybe all should take a moment to see where things head before burning Holden Thorp's house down. There seems to be far too many people taking the firing of Butch Davis personally as though UNC let go a coach beloved by all with an impeccable record of success.

Let's not forget, Davis wasn't fired over trivial matters. While he was not named in the NCAA's notice of allegations, the football program is still Davis' responsibility. You can certainly disagree with the timing and execution(I do.) You can make a case that Davis should have been given every opportunity to guide UNC out of the mess which occurred on his watch. That's fine but this hellbent crusade against Thorp, the BOT and anyone else who agrees with the decision is insane. Maybe Thorp made a bad call, maybe he didn't. Time and history will bear that out but asking, right now for the chancellor to be fired accomplishes what exactly? The AD needs to be replaced and the head coach once the season is over. Dumping the chancellor overboard right now and throwing the leadership of the school into chaos because people are pissed at the untimely firing of a coach amid an NCAA scandal is beyond crazy in my opinion. Besides what guarantee does anyone have that the next chancellor will be any better? What assurances are there the powers that be will make the right moves even then?

My point is the chancellor is charged with running the entire school of which football and athletics is a part. For all the complaining about his involvement in this, the only reason he got involved is because of the NCAA scandal. No scandal and Thorp is this harmless egghead who shows up at games and spends most of his time promoting research grants and playing politics with the board members. Most of this is self inflicted by the football program. Thorp making decisions that impact athletics is because there was enough crap the stench rose to his level. If you don't want the chancellor meddling in the football program, then let's be sure all the coaches and players follow the rules next time.

I understand the frustrations that are in play here. I know the really passionate football fans among us feel like the Pythian prophecy from Battlestar Galactica is playing out, "All of this has happened before and will happen again." The chancellor firing the head football coach ithis way t is seen as totally hostile move against the program. It is perceived to be the first in a series of steps to take football down a notch. The fears that UNC will return to the days of Torbush and Bunting are rooted in experience. The timing was terrible and Thorp's performance in the press conference does little to inspire confidence. However, I think we ought to at least get a handle on the venom and rhetoric flowing out there right now.

It is perfectly fine to voice objection. There is nothing Americans love more than their right to have their collective voices heard in response to a perceived wrong. However, if you do it the wrong way with hyperbole, pitchforks and torches, no one is going to care if you are right because you will be dismissed as a bunch of nuts. Besides that, we ought to be better than this. We ought to also realize that Thorp and the others involved in this decision are (hopefully) not doing it out of spite or even as an attempt to de-emphasize anything. I imagine they want what everyone wants which is UNC to be successful in all its endeavors both academic and athletic with a good reputation. Are they capable of making mistakes? Sure. Big ones? Absolutely. They are also navigating uncharted waters for UNC and a host of pressure political, PR and otherwise. I imagine it is not an easy job and since I have not walked a mile in his shoes, I am going to withhold too much judgment until I get a better idea where this is going.

It all hurts like heck right now but there is something to be said that even in tough times we still behave with some freaking dignity, self respect and a measure of commons sense. Otherwise I just don't know what the point is anymore.