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Friday's Football News and Notes

Yes, there's plenty still happening in the world of college football.

** The UNC coaching search is in full swing. The list of reported serious candidates includes head coaches James Franklin of Vanderbilt, Kevin Sumlin of Houston, Larry Fedora of Southern Mississippi, Butch Jones of Cincinnati, and Skip Holtz of South Florida; Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has reportedly interviewed as well. Of course, new AD Bubba Cunningham's home run dream would appear to be Boise State's Chris Petersen, and the message boards have been hard at work parsing his non-denial of interest in UNC when Petersen has publicly refuted interest in other jobs, like Arizona. With the official end of the regular season this weekend, expect the coaching carousel to really get cranked up.

** Speaking of coaching openings, earlier this week ESPN's Brock Huard ranked the available coaching openings and has UNC as the most desirable opening out there as of now. Huard sought the input of "a handful of current and former collegiate coaches and ESPN analysts to get their opinions, accounting for eight factors: facilities, tradition, committed administration and boosters, coaching staff budget, captive local population, livability, centralized recruiting base and current talent level." You may remember Huard's brother Luke played QB for the Tar Heels in the late 90s and early 2000s.

** Speaking of former UNC quarterbacks, history will be made Sunday as T.J. Yates will start at QB for the Houston Texans against the Atlanta Falcons. No former Carolina player has ever started a game at quarterback in the NFL, but Yates has been pressed into service after season-ending injuries to starter Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart. Yates came on in relief last week and led the Texans to a victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

** The UNC football team was recognized for the 7th time in the last 8 years by the American Football Coaches Association for having an NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of over 75%. UNC was one of 46 schools nationwide, and one of six in the ACC, to receive the honor. Other ACC schools recognized were Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Miami, and Wake Forest.

** This weekend's games may bring the postseason bowl picture into clearer focus. The ACC produced eight bowl-eligible teams (actually nine, but Miami decided not to go bowling in light of impending NCAA sanctions), but only UNC has a sub-.500 record in the league. ACC rules prohibit bowls from selecting schools with more than one fewer win than any available school, which means that a bowl could not pick UNC at 3-5 in the league over, say, Wake Forest who was 5-3.

What all this means is that, with the worst ACC record of any of the bowl-eligible teams, Carolina is really only in line for either the Independence Bowl in Shreveport or the Military Bowl in Washington, DC. One intriguing storyline is if the Heels end up in Washington, they could be matched up with Air Force, whose coach Troy Calhoun has been mentioned as a candidate for the UNC job.

Bowl selections will be made official on Sunday.