Inside Carolina's Greg Barnes was afforded the opportunity to ask UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp a variety of questions ranging from his commitment to UNC football to what he thinks of the backlash which accompanied the decision to fire Butch Davis. I joked on Twitter that I probably should skip reading the interview and go straight to the message boards since that would likely be more interesting by default. As expected Thorp didn't say anything new or really interesting. He affirmed a commitment to football, to being a great university, etc, etc, etc. When asked about what was needed to restore fan confidence Thorp laid out three items.
Students, alumni and donors represent a significant portion of the football fan base. How do you plan to go about restoring their confidence in the direction of the football program?
"Three things will restore confidence. The first thing we’re already doing – getting back to playing football. The second thing is finding the best AD we can to replace Dick Baddour. We’re attracting the very best candidates. And the third thing is filling the head coach’s job permanently. All those things, plus my commitment and the University’s commitment to success in football, will go a long way toward restoring confidence and excitement in the program."
First of all, if you read anything into this, Everett Withers is a dead man walking. He talks about filling the head coaching position as though it stands empty right now which probably means Withers fate is somewhat decided. The new AD will get the final call but if I were Withers, I wouldn't be bringing too many personal effects into the head football coaches' office.
Secondly, Thorp's basic premise here is correct. There are some steps that have to be taken before others. Until UNC hires a new AD and that individual addresses the head football coaching position, there really isn't much more we, as fans, can do other than focus on the 2011 team. The 2011 team having a good/great season will salve some of the fresh wounds, at least temporarily. Most of the fans will blow off most of what Thorp says here about commitment because they have determined(with good reason) that the chancellor is a liar. Fine, but in terms of restoring fan/alumni confidence, the first moves in that battle are filling the positions which will ultimately govern the development of UNC football going forward. That is why we, here at THF, have been more of the mind to wait and see how this all turns out. If UNC nails the AD hire and the subsequent hiring of a permanent football coach, then it really doesn't matter what Thorp says, the program will be fine.
In fact, I think Thorp probably wants a good AD and football coach more than anyone else, not because he is committed to football but because he wants to spend his time being committed to the areas of his job that are his strength. I am pretty certain when Thorp took his current job he was thinking his only contact with football would be attending games. He didn't ask for this kind involvement and the sooner he can find someone to manage it in such a way as to keep it off his plate, the better he will feel. In the end, what Thorp says or doesn't say it inconsequential. The new AD and his/her vision will be of greater consequence.