“That’s a cloud that everybody is using against us right now in recruiting. The sooner it gets here, the faster we’ll be able to move on.”
A constant cloud
Athletic director Bubba Cunningham, who replaced Baddour after his retirement, began his job Nov. 14. Less than a month later, Cunningham hired Fedora, who has since brought in an almost completely new staff.
But skeletons still remain. In its response to the NCAA’s notice of allegations sent in September, UNC highlighted a list of self-imposed sanctions which include scholarship reductions and fines.
The NCAA could still decide more punishments are in order. In past cases with other schools, the NCAA has handed down postseason bans and probation sentences, and further reduction of scholarships is a possibility. That could prove daunting to new recruits.
“Certainty would be better than uncertainty,” Cunningham said. “We feel very comfortable and confident in our self-imposed sanctions, but as prospective student athletes talk to other teams and other coaches, they’ll plant the seed of doubt that makes it a little more difficult for students to commit.”
According to the recruiting website Rivals.com, which ranks college prospects on a five-star system, UNC has verbal commitments from just two four-star recruits and no commitments from five-star athletes for the class of 2012.
That’s quite a difference from last year’s 24-man recruiting class, which, according to Rivals.com, included eight four-star recruits.
That might be expected of a program dealing with the transition to a new head football coach, but the lack of a clear destiny for the Tar Heels isn’t helping matters.
And when competing schools don’t have that same problem, it can be a hard sell for even the best recruiter to make.
“There’s other schools out there that are using that as the tool to create what-if scenarios … It’s hard for us to battle it because we don’t know exactly what we are battling,” offensive coordinator Blake Anderson said.
Fedora also brings with him the task of installing a much faster paced spread offense and incorporating a staff of faces the returning Tar Heels haven’t seen before. For a team that has seen three different head coaches in a seven-month span, transition could be tough.
“There’s been this cloud over them, this instability,” Fedora said. “That doesn’t mean they worked any less. They still worked hard to be the best they could be. And I’m glad to be able to bring some stability to them.”
Light at the end of the tunnel
Today, an announcement will likely be made informing UNC about the newest members of the North Carolina football team.
At the same time, Fedora and the rest of the football staff will wait on a decision that will further solidify the program’s future.
Once an NCAA investigation verdict is reached, the new coach hopes to start clean. Fedora and members of his staff met with the UNC football team Jan. 8, where he reminded his team of the opportunity to form new reputations.
“All I told them was to forget the past, because there’s nothing we can do about it,” Fedora said. “All we can do is move forward from this point.”
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