Coaching college football has to be one of the most difficult civilian jobs in terms of what you have to do to keep it and the material with which you're working. There are, and have been, a few men who have reached the pinnacle of success in the field, whose every decision has seemingly been "the right one". But the majority find every decision questioned. No matter the degree of success or failure, there's someone out there who a) thinks you're an incompetent boob, b) thinks the old alma mater screwed-up royally by hiring you, c) if you do have success you're incredibly "lucky", because of a and b, and d) swears he'll not send another dime to the school until you're gone. With supporters like that, who needs arch-rivals?
Last year until the last weekend in October, the word at UNC was John Bunting was going to be history by the end of the season.
Yeah, the word went, he's an old alum, he's a really great guy, but man we NEED a FOOTBALL COACH.
Rumor had it that some big wig alums were spotted on the golf course with "the Ol' Ball Coach" (Steve Spurrier) and "Visor Boy" was already checking out the available housing in Chapel Hill. That was the word until Bunting went and screwed that up by knocking-off #4 Miami 31-28 on Halloween weekend, turning around the season, saving his job, pointing the program "in the right direction" and bagging the schools BIGGEST WIN EVER. Not bad for someone "who's a nice guy, but can't coach".
Fast forward to this past weekend. Unlike last year, there's no real pressure on Bunting and the Heels as they travel to South Florida for the rematch with now #6 Miami. For the first half it's all UNC, as the D forces three interceptions and gets a safety when the ball is centered over the head of the Hurricane quarterback and gets out of the end zone. 16-7, Heels at the half. Could have been 23-7 if a wide open receiver catches a perfectly thrown pass. That last line has been a recurring theme this year. (That's one of the things that makes it a frustrating job. And remember, these are 18-22 year olds, not seasoned professionals!) Second half, different story. Miami's Larry Coker must have pulled out every stop in lighting a fire under the Canes, because the 2nd half was 27-0, Miami. Dreams of two in a row over Miami go up in flames. But then again, how many teams actually beat Miami in the Orange Bowl anyway? Precious few.
The cat calls on the message boards were getting crazy even during the game: Worst coach ever. What's wrong with the Heels? Can't they do anything right? And that was even in the first half! ENOUGH. 3-4 on the season with four games left is not the end of the road. Tough climb, yes. But not the end. After all, with the schedule UNC had this year, most EXPERTS said they'd be lucky to win 3 games. Already have that, could win as many as 7 if things fall into place down the stretch. Give the man a break. He DOES have the program moving in the right direction. Remember, even if he's 11-0 SOMEONE won't be happy with "the direction of the program". in the end, he'll do just fine.
As for "Visor Boy", what happened to him? Well you see, after UNC beat Miami last year, (so the story goes) Lou Holtz invited Spurrier for a round of golf at Augusta National. Told him he was going to retire at South Carolina at the end of the season. Supposedly said there was only one guy he'd want to see take his place. Deal made. So, you say, how's the "Ol' Ball Coach" doing these days? He's hasn't got the program where he wants it yet, but it's making progress. I can tell you our daughter is happy about it since he's coaching for her school. And she says she'll take 16-15 over Tennessee in Knoxville any day of the week. I think he'll be okay in his new job.