A couple of UNC-related coaching rumors were floating around this morning, before the bizarre resignation in Pittsburgh sucked up all of the media oxygen. First, ESPN reported that Everett Withers had been hired at Ohio State, echoing rumors that have been floating around all week. Of course, Urban Meyer and OSU already have a defensive coordinator in Luke Fickell, the former co-coordinator under Jim Tressel and interim head coach through the bowl game; Meyer has announced that he will remain and call the defense. Withers is being considered for a co-coordinator role, which just sounds incredibly awkward, having two recent interim head coaches with overlapping responsibilities. I'm not sure I see the upside for Withers, who said today that nothing is official and that it's "working that way."
Then there's UNC's own vacant defensive coordinator spot, for which there have been rumors all week of going to Vic Koenning. Those rumors were amped up a bit by Koenning's announcement this morning that he will not stay at Illinois, where he was the defensive coordinator the past two seasons.
Carolina fans may be familiar with Koenning from his tenure as Clemson's DC from 2005 to 2008. His defenses were typically strong and his first three finished in the top 25 in scoring, rushing, total, and pass efficiency defense each season. After leaving when
Terry Tommy Bowden was fired, he spent one year at his alma mater Kansas State before moving to Champaign. His Illini defense was ranked seventh overall and fourth against the pass., this year, although those numbers may be inflated by a tragic offense often not leaving them in the best of field position.
While "insiders" and "sources" have popped up saying it's a done deal, remember that a lot more people think they're in the inner circle of college athletic hires than actually are, and there's still a lot of good defensive coordinator jobs open – the biggest being Auburn. But Koenning would appear to be a good hire for UNC. Now we just wait to see if it actually happens.