Listen to Audio Part I (15:24)
Listen to Audio Part II (15:14)
Opening remarks -
Baddour: John Bunting is a first-class man. I have great respect and admiration for him and his wife, Dawn. We’ve often used the word ‘passion’ to describe John, and that is so true – passion for his family, passion for the University of North Carolina – I mean, he really loves the University of North Carolina, passion for football, passion for his team and, I would add, passion for his teammates. Every decision John Bunting has made or that he and I have made together, has been in the best interest for the University of North Carolina. He has never put Carolina football over the best interest of the University of North Carolina. He has worked hard to change the culture of Carolina football, and in so many ways, he has been successful at that. He has focused on academics, discipline and has operated from a strong sense of principles. We all need to recognize the community holds this man in the highest regard.
“It is clear to me that we needed to go in another direction, but absolutely allow John Bunting to finish what he started this year. To me there was no other option than for him to be able to do that. He is the best person to keep this program together right now, to keep this team together right not, his coaching staff, and for us to have a chance to keep the recruits together. John’s focus will be on the next five games. Our focus will be to support that as much as possible, and to turn our attention to hiring a new coach.”
Bunting: First off, I want to thank Dickie for giving me the opportunity to come home. I tried very hard to get this program to where it needs to be and where it should be. I want to think all the friends and supporters that have been in my corner through some tough times, some good times. I see many of them here today. Last night going home and having a couple of friends sitting right there at my house at 10 o’clock, when I rolled in. A half an hour later, it’s Roy Williams at the door at 10:30 at night. Those are special things.
“Walking in here this morning, I ran into Trimane Goddard coming out of the elevator. He tells me he loves me, and I told him I loved him. All these other folks – my staff standing out there still in support of me and what we represent. We worked so hard – tirelessly – to do the right things to get this program… And there are so many great things going on with this program right now.
“Of course, I disagree with the decision, but we’re going on. My wife, as you know, is also has made an absolute commitment these last six years with me to get this thing rolling, and we’ve got things rolling. Unfortunately, the wins and losses don’t justify what we’ve done.
“I joked with Dickie when I walked up here, and he said, ‘You forgot your tie.’ I said,
‘I only wear ties to funerals,’ and this is certainly not a funeral. I’ve got a great staff that will be very successful either here or some place else. I will work until the cows come home to help them, because I appreciate everything they’ve done here. I will do everything I can to help them in the future, and they deserve every bit of it.
“I’ll finish by saying by returning back to Chapel Hill, I was able to reacquaint myself with lost of old teammates and lots of old friends. I was able to make a whole bunch of new friends that we’ll have for the rest of our lives. I look forward to that. We will go on. I’m not sure how much football I’ll coach from here on out, if any, but this is the place I wanted to be, and we were that close – that close.”
“I’ll end by saying thank you for the supportive people that are in this room. We just had some players walk in. I’m going to finish with them. We’re going to finish as hard as we possibly can. That’s what I’m about. That’s the way I was raised. That’s what Carolina taught me. That’s what 35 years of playing and coaching since I left Carolina. I’ll continue to demonstrate both my loyalty and dedication to both this football program, our players and our coaches these next five weeks.”
On accumulating so many losses -
Bunting: About half those losses are in ’02 and ’03. I’m in charge of the program at that point, but I can tell you I not entirely responsible for that. We didn’t have many players to play with. Since the ’04 and ’05 season, we’ve been extremely competitive until this season, and this season has been a struggle.”
Bunting when asked why he disagreed with the decision -
Bunting: “We’re redshirting an entire class right now, and we have an unbelievable recruiting class that we’re on top of.”
Baddour when asked why he said recently he would never let Bunting go during the season -
Baddour: “When I was asked that question, I understood that question to be would there be a circumstance under which Coach Bunting would not be allowed to finish coaching this season. So my answer had to do with him finishing ocaching the season. In fact, we would be here today if we had a different answer to that. It’s extremely important to me – imperative – that he be allowed to finish the season. That was my answer to that.”
Why make the decision now as opposed to the end of the year?
Baddour: “That is certainly a fair question, and one that we talked about. When it became apparent to me that we were going to have to make a change, we could have been in a position where we started to talk about and evaluate the program in some serious way, and I felt like we were already being bombarded with those questions that it could only create a more severe difficult situation for the players and the staff to operate in. I felt like that was unfair to the football program, especially if we knew the direction where we were going, and we should do that now, if John was willing to finish coaching this year.”
On how the hire will be handled -
Baddour: John is with me here today, so I think the focus should be about that. Certainly we will have a plan. We have a plan together, and we will start focusing on the future. We will use the efforts of Chuck Neinas, and we will seek advisors from other avenues. We’ll leave it at that at this point. It’s certainly something we can talk about in the future.
“What I don’t want to do is turn this into some public evaluation of the program. It’s obvious that I thought the program needed to go in a new direction, and that’s the reason I made the decision. I just can’t tell you how much I admire this man and respect what he has done for Carolina football, and what he has fought through to make this program successful. I know he may think that we don’t understand that, but I’ve had the privilege to work side by side with him, and I value that a great deal.”
On his future -
Bunting: “My focus right now is on the next five games, working with these fine coaches of ours and the players, to support them, to do the best we can out there on that field - starting this week with Wake Forest. Beyond that, I don't have any idea what my wife and I will choose to do.”
On what it was like informing the team -
Bunting: “No. 1, I talked with the staff last evening at seven. Dickie was there with me. That was most difficult. People that are not inside this building never can appreciate how hard they work and how bright they are and how dedicated and committed they’ve been to making this program better. The recruiting has been unbelievable the last two years. They’re in large part responsible for selling this great university, selling the University of North Carolina, selling our staff. That was very difficult. Meeting with the players was also difficult. To the assistants’ credit, after I addressed the team, and, once again, reminded them of five games remaining on the schedule, the accountability that will still be demanded of them when it comes to doing all the right things and busting hump to try to win a football game this week. Our assistant coaches then met with them, and I know from talking with them that it was very emotional for the players.”
On what has changed since his endorsement following the Clemson loss -
Baddour: “Well, I sincerely meant [that I thought things would get turned around]. I hoped that that would happen. I appreciate the question, and what I don’t want to do is to turn this into some public evaluation of the program. It’s obvious that I thought the program needed to go in new direction, and that’s the reason I made the decision. I just can’t tell you how much I admire this man and respect what he has done for Carolina football and what he has fought through to make this program successful. I know he may think at times that we all don’t understand that, but I’ve had the privilege to work side-by-side with him, and I value that a great deal.”
On what role Bunting may have in the future with the University -
Baddour: “I think John has given the right answer, and he and I can talk about those things in the future. I think John would speak to this, the relationship that he and I have is strong. We've talked about where we might be together in the future and what we may be talking about. John and I can talk about a lot of things.”