North Carolina Football, What Could Have Been…
The North Carolina Tar Heels are not bowl eligible this season. This is just a side effect of a disappointing reign that has recently come to an end. Former Head Coach Butch Davis and the Carolina program were recently investigated by the NCAA and found to have committed some major violations. Numerous players were suspended numerous games in recent seasons, including three highly drafted players who were all suspended indefinitely while in school. All wins from the 2008 and 2009 seasons have been vacated, meaning the Tar Heels are officially winless for two consecutive seasons.
But this is not a story about fraud and impermissible benefits. This is about a missed opportunity, a failed attempt at glory: what could have been for this wondrous crop of Tar Heels had it all been above board.
Of course the obvious devil’s advocate is to say that North Carolina and Butch Davis would not have been able to recruit many of these players had something illegal not taken place. Be that as it may, for a brief moment in time, North Carolina had perhaps the most talented team in the Atlantic Coast Conference and arguably the most talented defensive unit in America. Twenty Carolina players were drafted into the NFL from 2008 through 2012. Eleven of them alone went in the two most recent drafts, with seven of those being on defense. And those seven had some cache to them: two late round picks, three 2nd round picks, the 16th overall selection in 2012 and the 14th overall selection in 2011. This all from a team that went a measly 15-11 over the past two seasons. Obviously, all the talent in the world is little help if the players are not allowed to play.
New Head Coach Larry Fedora will look to pick up the pieces and reestablish an occasionally proud and sometimes successful football institution. He won’t have any playoff success his first season thanks to ineligibility but perhaps he can begin to recruit players the right way instead of questionably nabbing top talent and imagining what could be.