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The Daily Tar Heel

Torbush Ready to Move On

Carl Torbush never abandoned his fighter's mentality.

Torbush thought North Carolina's

52-7 lead at halftime of the season finale against Duke might be enough to save his job as UNC's head football coach. After all, he came back for another season after the Tar Heels started 1-8 in 1999.

Even though Torbush was fired two days after the win at Duke, he still found something to fight for. If UNC went to a bowl, he could coach one last game.

A bowl berth wasn't in the cards. But Torbush's office on the fourth floor of the Kenan Football Center didn't indicate that.

"I only started cleaning that office out (Monday) because there was a glimmer of hope in my mind that we were going to a bowl game," Torbush said. "I am now trying to do in one or two days what I should have been doing for a week."

Torbush sat down and spoke about his dismissal Tuesday with 10 reporters in UNC's recruiting room on the fourth floor of the football center.

Torbush has spent a lot of time on that floor in the last few days. With the help of his wife, Janet, Torbush is finally working on emptying his old office before UNC's next coach arrives.

"I'm a pack rat, so everything that's been stored for 13 years is still there," Torbush said.

Torbush's 13 years at UNC ended despite the fact he had two winning seasons in three years as the Tar Heels' head coach. Even a three-game winning streak at the end of 2000 couldn't save his job - his future was already in doubt before that run hit full force.

Torbush said Director of Athletics Dick Baddour approached him after the Tar Heels' victory at Pittsburgh and said he needed to start evaluating the direction of the program.

"I knew at that time we were in a tremendous danger zone, and the only one that knew we were in that danger zone was me," Torbush said.

Torbush didn't let his assistant coaches or players know the discussions had taken place. He wanted to make sure his future didn't become a distraction.

It became one once the players learned of Torbush's fate hours before he was officially fired on Nov. 20. Some players missed class two days later, but even though Torbush was no longer their coach, he wouldn't put up with it. Those same players were forced to run at 6 a.m. the next day.

"I told them I was fired, but I wasn't dead," Torbush said.

Neither is his coaching future. Torbush said he turned down another school's offer to become an assistant coach three days ago. He also has been contacted by several other schools.

Torbush said he would have no problem accepting a job as a defensive coordinator or linebackers coach. He filled both roles during his first 10 seasons at UNC.

"If you ask me what I enjoy more than anything else in life, that would be the thing that I would say," Torbush said.

Torbush doesn't think a head coaching job is an immediate option because he was recently fired. He wouldn't take just any job, anyway.

Torbush doesn't want to get into another situation where a coach is given just a couple of years to make his impact felt, which is a scenario that has become common recently.

Torbush has learned from his ordeal what kind of effect money has on collegiate athletics. Tough decisions are made quickly and decisively.

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Torbush doesn't harbor much bitterness, though. He wishes he knew who left a message on his office phone praising Baddour's decision to fire him, but that's about the extent of it. Torbush maintained that he has a "solid" relationship with Baddour.

"You try to separate the professional part from the friend part," Torbush said.

Torbush knows hirings and firings are part of the business. He relies on his faith as reassurance that he can move forward in his career.

"There's a plan out there, and it's already been laid," he said. "I'm excited to see where that plan will go. I do think there's a great future out there for Carl Torbush."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.