UPDATE: Inside Carolina has confirmed the contract is done, Larry Fedora is UNC's new head coach.
The search for a new football coach at UNC is apparently at an end with the Tar Heels finalizing a deal to bring in Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora to lead the Tar Heel program.
Inside Carolina is reporting a deal is being finalized with Fedora followed by an introductory press conference scheduled for Thursday in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina is set to announce Southern Miss's Larry Fedora as its new head football coach after contract details are finalized on Wednesday, according to sources familiar with the search process.
InsideCarolina.com first reported that Fedora had agreed to become UNC's coach on Tuesday afternoon.
Fedora interviewed with UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham on Monday in New York City. Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Cincinnati's Butch Jones were also scheduled to interview with UNC in New York, where athletic directors and coaches from across the country converged for the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner held at the Waldorf Astoria on Tuesday evening.
One source told Inside Carolina that Fedora "hit a home run" and outdistanced himself from the other potential candidates with a strong interview. He stressed the importance of the faculty and football program walking in step with one another, as well as the need for discipline on and off the field.
Fedora was expected to tell his team at Southern Miss the news by Wednesday morning. Contract details are expected to be finalized on Wednesday, with a press conference in Chapel Hill expected on Thursday.
According to published reports, Fedora also interviewed with Texas A&M on Monday.
Fedora reportedly turned down the Ole Miss and Kansas jobs, but continued to have his name linked to the Arizona State and Texas A&M openings through the weekend.
You can read Fedora's full bio on the Southern Miss website. He has been head coach in Hattiesburg for the past four years going 7-6, 7-6, 8-5 and 11-2. The Golden Easgles defeated Houston over the weekend to win the Conference USA championship. Prior to Southern Miss, Fedora was an assistant coach at Florida from 2002-2004 serving as offensive coordinator there during his final season in Gainesville before moving to the same position at Oklahoma St from 2005-2007.
Fedora is known primarily for powerful offenses. In 2007, the season before Fedora came to USM, the Golden Eagles were 63rd in FBS in total offense. Since Fedora arrived they have been ranked 20th, 31st, 18th and 13th. Fedora does use a spread offense and likes to put the ball in the air. However it is not an "all-in" deal. This past season USM got 56% of its yards in the air and the rest on the ground. I also don't think Fedora will be rigid with his offensive scheme and will adjust to the personnel. At any rate, it sounds like Fedora has real coaching chops which will be a nice change from the previous regime.
On the defensive side of the ball, the picture is average with the Golden Eagles being ranked 64th and 81st during Fedora's first two season but improving 47th and 31st in 2010 and 2011. Since Fedora's focus is on the offense it will underscore the need to hire a solid group of assistant coaches to address the defensive unit and also help with recruiting. Speaking of recruiting, that is difficult to get a bead on. At Southern Miss, Fedora's classes have been ranked 70th on average but he is also recruiting to a mid-major school in Mississippi. In that area it will be interesting to see who Fedora opts to retain from the current UNC staff. Ken Browning has been there since Mack Brown and has extensive in-state contacts for recruiting. Allen Mogridge was just named recruiting coordinator this season. Fedora could opt to keep these two in an effort to maintain continuity while bringing in his own staff for most of the coordinator and position coaches.
In the interest of full disclosure(because unlike some blogs we actually discuss NCAA issues that affect our school), Fedora has had a previous run-in with the NCAA in the form of multiple secondary violations. This article covers the 21 secondary violations USM reported in 2011 which some of them committed by either Fedora, members of his staff or players. It should be noted that they are all pretty stupid such as Fedora granting a radio interview at his son's high school football game or a brochure for the USM football camp being three inches too wide. Basically these are nothing to be concerned with and probably less likely to happen at UNC where compliance will be amped up to even higher levels than before.
Looking at this hire right now I would rate it a very good choice. It is not a home run, that would have been landing Boise State's Chris Petersen but as someone noted on Twitter it looks like a stand-up triple. UNC AD Bubba Cunningham went into the search with a criteria that included finding a coach who was offensive minded, had FBS head coaching experience and coordinator experience on the BCS level. Fedora fit the bill. Bubba targeted Petersen first and had discussions with him on the job. When it became clear Petersen was not going to take the job, Bubba quickly moved to his second tier of candidates which included Fedora, Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Cincinnati's Butch Jones. All three were granted interviews with Fedora emerging as the lead candidate and it was not even close. Bubba was then able to close the deal with an offer and some anxiety over whether Texas A&M would get involved. At the end of the day, we only had one flurry of "this coach is taking the job" rumors and that was for the guy who accepted it. There was no public rejections, even from Petersen. Overall it was a well executed search that was handled under the radar that secured a coach most will see as a solid hire. In that respect, Bubba lived up to his reputation as a person who can run a coaching search in a competent manner.