Wednesday's decision by our chancellor and BOT to de-emphasize football gutted me as I'm sure it did you. Plain and simple. Many of you have asked for a response from me through various avenues including Inside Carolina, emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I hope that I'm not being vain in asking that IC post this (as I'm not a spokesman for the University) but I've had over 25 media requests and numerous other requests (from people who feel that football is important) to respond to our administration's decision to de-emphasize football. So I thought this would be the best way.
Let me start by being extremely clear on one thing: as long as I'm alive I will never, ever discontinue my pledge to the Rams Club. The donors to the Rams Club enabled my wife and me to go to the greatest university in the country. Susan was a great gymnast; I was fortunate enough to be a decent football player or we would've never had the chance to come to Carolina. The Rams Club is in a very unenviable position, no matter what they say, I don't believe any of them supported this firing.
My wife and I are forever indebted to the Rams Club, period. I will not punish my classmate/buddy Joe and the lacrosse team or Derrick and the gymnastics team or Karen and the field hockey team (by withholding donations) because the current administration has chosen to de-emphasize football. Susan and I will honor our pledges to the Rams Club as long as we are able. We also have a goal of endowing a scholarship for both football and gymnastics that has been put off for a while due to the economic environment.
With that being said, it saddens me greatly that the current administration has decided to de-emphasize football. After the firing of my good friend Butch Davis and the subsequent devaluing of our football program, I, like many of my football friends, have had a gamut of emotions to deal with. Among them are, should I honor my commitment to the Blue Zone?
How do I deal with this?
Last year, I told the Rams Club that I could not afford a suite, but I would do it and I would convince three of my best buddies to commit, under one condition -- that Butch was our head coach. So, you can imagine that since the day we decided to de-emphasize football just so happened to be the day that I received my bill for our suite, I was slightly angry. Consequently, I spouted off on Taylor's show (The Drive on WFNZ), saying that it was the first time I laughed since Bill Friday and Holden Thorp's decision to de-emphasize football and it was true. Imagine, getting a bill for a suite and hearing your buddy had been fired on the same day and that a total de-emphasis had been put on football. My emotions were all over the place.
I have agreed to wait a week or two and decide a number of things; do we take the suite?, do I do Tar Heel Sports radio?, do I do my weekly column for IC? All of these things are decisions that I will have to make and right now I'm not ready to make them, as my anger has not subsided.
One thing I will do is support Everett and this team. They don't deserve to suffer at the hands of Bill Friday, Holden Thorp, and our Board of Trustees (I hate to lump all of the BOT as complicit in this gutting, but I haven't heard any of them publicly disagree with this decision). The decisions that these people have made do not align with the majority of true Carolina people. The decisions were spineless and showed incredible weakness. The sighs of relief upon hearing of our coach's firing reverberated from Blacksburg to Coral Gables to Tallahassee, to Clemson. We are the laughing stock of universities across the nation right now due to the decisions that these leaders of our beloved institution exercised. It is unconscionable to me that our very own would conspire to gut Tar Heel football. We have to be the only university in the country with an anti-football faction, that in itself may well be the most saddening element of this entire debacle.
Where do we go from here? I implore everyone that reads this to support Everett and these players. Come to the games and cheer for them. Let our people in leadership positions (they aren't leaders but Bill Friday followers) know that it is very patronizing for them to say that they want to field a good football team after what they did last week. Ask them politely to refrain from such comments moving forward and not show up at the Old Well Walk or attend games. I can't stomach the fact that our chancellor may be attending games mere weeks after gutting us. Please implore him to "escape to N.Y." on home football weekends. Let people that pull for UNC football sit in the chancellor's box.
Keep your emails, calls, letters and every known way of correspondence with the Chancellor and BOT imploring them to step down and for God's sake have no hand in the hiring of the new AD. If Bill Friday and Holden Thorp hire our new AD then we might as well carpet bomb Kenan and hope insurance will pay. Let's keep the correspondence civil, succinct, and on point. Personal attacks will be dismissed as being part of the "lunatic fringe."
There is still time to reverse this de-emphasis on football. Our voices need to be heard until we have a change in leadership. If we don't have change and these people select our new AD, we'll be double-digit underdogs to Vandy/Duke in about three years.
Everett and our players deserve and need our support. Whether you agree or disagree with my thoughts please support this team. I told Everett this and I've told other coaches who have reached out to me about the Carolina job: if Bill Friday, Holden Thorp, and this current BOT select the new AD and are here at the end of this year, run away from Chapel Hill as fast as you can ... this job will be a career-ender. Those aren't emotions talking, those are the facts.
I hope to see everyone in Kenan Sept. 3rd. Everett, the assistants and our players need us there.
Class of 1991