Your eyes are not deceiving you. This article is about why UNC should make the Michael Jordan that you see to your left our new head football coach. You might believe (along with everyone else) that there are far superior and far more likely candidates, and I will discuss those coaches in detail. However, Jordan is the best choice for 2007 because of the crucial point where the UNC program is right now.
(Photo: is MJ our man? You bet! Thank you for putting up with the worst pun ever.)
Given the circumstances of the UNC Football program (talented players, talented young staff, a top recruiting class, and a great football facility), the future is bright. however, I doubt that someone will move from a powerful football program to coach here. It’s more likely that the next UNC coach will either be a coach at a school in a less powerful, mid major conference looking to make a name for himself at a post in a more powerful BCS conference, a coordinator or assistant coach at a major program (for the same reason), or a coach recently fired from a more prominent job looking for success elsewhere. Previous success helps, but what the Tar Heels need is an Alpha, a leader who will take the team in the right direction. With that in mind, here is a short list of candidates for the job:
HE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE WORSE
- Source: Charlotte Observer.
- Why it’s a good idea: He has head coaching experience both at a mid major school and at a BCS school. (Keep in mind that John Bunting and Carl Torbush had no prior head coaching experience.) Vanderbilt seems to have made great strides last year with their QB and now-Denver Bronco, Jay Cutler.
- Why it’s a bad idea: Johnson is 14-39 at Vanderbilt, the Duke of the SEC. Even with a 1st-round talent at QB, Vandy still finished 5-6 in 2005.
- Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? If UNC gets desperate, then maybe. There are too many good names being thrown around for him to be a candidate at this point.
- Source: My hunch that Coker will be available after this season-the ‘Canes are in an off year, to put it mildly.
- Why it’s a good idea: He has coaching experience at one of the nation’s most storied programs, Miami, where he led the Hurricanes to the 2001 National Championship and almost won it in 2002. Between 2001 and 2005, no coach in Division 1A had a better winning percentage than Coker.
- Why it’s a bad idea: There’s a reason Miami fans are calling for his head. Miami has struggled since joining the ACC, and Coker has been unable to recruit the talent his predecessor, Butch Davis, managed to recruit (and let’s face facts, the 2001 Championship team was assembled by Davis; Coker simply finished the job). Recent developments, including players breaking the law and the brawl against Florida International, cast the belief that Coker isn’t in control of his players. And to boot, he’s like, 127 years old.
- Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007?: God, I hope not.
- Source: Dick Baddour (in the press conference, he did not mention him specifically but hinted that he was open to a hiring from within the UNC organization).
- Why it’s a good idea: He was the offensive coordinator of Fresno State for four years, where the offense averaged more nearly 53 points a game in a six game stretch in 2004 and had a winning record each of his four years. The Bulldogs are 1-6 since he left. Being part of the current program, Cignetti would allow for a fairly smooth transition. His youth would allow for him to build the program for years to come if he is successful.
- Why it’s a bad idea: Like Bunting and Torbush, Cignetti has no previous head coaching experience, at least not at the college level. Since coming to Chapel Hill, the offense has struggled mightily, scoring no more than 20 points against any Division 1A opponent and averaging 11 points per game excluding 1-AA Furman…not good.
- Will He Be in Chapel Hill in 2007? Maybe in his current job, maybe as a Head Coach. There are a lot of question marks and it probably won’t happen, but he seems to be the best candidate I’ve listed so far.
- Source: There are quite a few reports list Kragthorpe as a candidate, including ESPN and the Winston-Salem Journal.
- Why it’s a good idea: Kragthorpe has turned Tulsa from a perpetual doormat into a contender, leading them to a Conference USA championship in 2005, and his Golden Hurricane are poised to repeat in 2006. At 41 he could be able to build long-term success at Carolina. Several analysts consider him to be one of college football’s best young minds and near the top of Carolina’s wish list, although UNC has not officially named anyone they’re seeking.
- Why it’s a bad idea: He is still somewhat of an unproven talent. He has no familiarity with the UNC program, although considering our recent history that might be a good thing.
- Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? He is considered to be the frontrunner for the job, but he has refused to discuss the matter to the press. He would be a good fit here, but I have issues with his name. Kragthorpe? Yech.
- UPDATE (11/4/06): Kragthorpe has said he is not interested in the UNC job and that he wants to stay at Tulsa.
- Source: See above.
- Why it’s a good idea: If Tulsa is a good turnaround story, Navy is an even better one. Once a proud football school, Navy found themselves one of the doormats of Division 1A. Paul Johnson managed to turn them completely around. The midshipmen have had three straight winning seasons, and are 6-3 so far this year. Their 10-2 record in 2004 was their first 10 win season in forty years.
- Why it’s a bad idea: Navy consistently has one of the easiest schedules in college football; as independents they are free to schedule anyone they please. Johnson might not adjust well to conference play. Navy also runs an option-style offense, which officially went extinct in major college football when Nebraska hired Bill Callahan in 2003.
- Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? With a great recruiting class and the chance to coach in a major conference, an offer from UNC might be too good to pass up.
- Why it’s a good idea: Larry Coker may have won them the title, but Davis is the man responsible for the recent resurgence of the Miami Hurricanes. After the football program was left for dead after severe NCAA penalties in the mid 1990s, Davis rebuilt the program into a power, bringing in players like Edgerrin James, Ken Dorsey, Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, Bryant McKinnie, Vince Wilfork, Jerome Douglas, Johnathan Vilma, D.J. Willams, Ed Reed, and Sean Taylor, all of whom are successful NFL players. Through it all his team stayed out of trouble with the NCAA.
- Why it’s a bad idea: He proved to be a very unsuccessful coach at the professional level; but so was USC coach Pete Carroll. At 54 Davis is unlikely to be a long term solution (unless he stays until he’s as old as JoePa). Miami has its own problems at head coach, so they will likely become the premier suitor.
- Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? According to the Charlotte Observer, Davis has expressed interest in the job, so maybe he’s not such a longshot after all. My advice is that if he’s available, grab him.
- UPDATE (11/4/06): According to ESPN, Davis is now the frontrunner for the job.
- Why it’s a good idea: Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator at UT when they won the title in 1999, and is responsible for their offensive resurgence in 2006. He also has head coaching experience at Ole Miss from 2000 to 2004. He has coached both Peyton and Eli Manning, as well as running backs Jamal Lewis and Deuce McAllister.
- Why it’s a bad idea: Cutcliffe was fired from Ole Miss for what appeared to be underachieving; despite the weapons at his disposal, he failed to win even an SEC West division championship. He isn’t exactly a spring chicken, either.
- Will he be in Chapel Hill in 2007? There are several candidate whom are better fits, but UNC could do a lot worse than this guy.
MY MOM’S CHOICE
Steve Marriuci: Head Coach, 49ers and Lions (NFL).
Never underestimate a mother’s wisdom.
NO CHANCE IN HELL
- Source: Winston-Salem Journal, ESPN, InsideCarolina.
- Why it’s a good idea: Rodriguez has some familiarity with the ACC, spending two years as a offense coordinator for Tommy Bowden’s Clemson team. He’s led a resurgence for West Virginia football, lifting them among the nation’s elite. At age 43, Rodriguez will be a successful college coach for years to come.
- Why it won’t happen: Just try and convince him that it’s a good idea to leave the great program he has now. Go ahead, just try. He is the toast of an entire state now, but in Chapel Hill no matter how successful he is he would still be second fiddle to Roy and friends. My suggestion is if he does express interest in the job, kidnap him and hide him in a cardboard box before he changes his mind.
MY PERSONAL CHOICE
Michael Jordan, Greatest UNC Athlete of All Time. He doesn’t even need a link.
- Source: My Brain. You got a problem with that?
- Why it’s a good idea: Jordan is the ultimate Alpha; it was apparent in the way he led the Bulls to six championships. It’s obvious he’s the biggest name for this job; recruits would beat a path to our door just to meet coach Jordan. He has already tried his hand in baseball, so being a football coach is the next step as far as his hubris is concerned. I’d pay 40 bucks just to see him on the sidelines every Saturday. Honestly, who wouldn’t?
- Why it’s a bad idea: I can’t think of anything wrong. Critics might say “he doesn’t know any football”, but he was on his high school football team in Wilmington, NC. Besides, football knowledge is what the coordinators are for! Head coaches need to be good leaders above all else, and Jordan is precisely that.
- Will he be In Chapel Hill in 2007? I will lead the search to find a suitable MTV Cribs style house for His Airness. I will give him my bedroom and sleep on the living room couch if it means he coaches the football team. If UNC were smart, they would sign him up, make Rich Rodriguez our offensive coordinator and Butch Davis our defensive coordinator. It would certainly be expensive, but UNC’s $1.49 billion endowment(PDF) has to go somewhere.
If you’ve made it this far through the article, congratulations. That was a lot of information to digest. There are a lot of good coaching candidates for UNC to consider. If UNC chooses a good coach like Butch Davis, Steve Kragthorpe, or Rich Rodriguez, the Tar Heels will become a contender in the ACC for years to come. But if they want to reach the promised land (a championship), they must select MJ, a man who knows how to get to the promised land.
A man who has been to the promised land seven times before.
Next Week: Blogging the football game against Wake was so much fun, I’m going to do it again! Tune in November 4 against Notre Dame as I will almost certainly say something that will get me expelled.