Larry Fedora and the Hot Seat


Larry Fedora is entering his fourth year as UNC’s head coach. He has notched a 21-17 record thus far, although his win total has decreased steadily each year. But like Al Golden of Miami, football has never been Fedora’s sole focus. The NCAA’s investigation into improper benefits led to a reduction of 15 scholarships and a 2012 postseason ban. And even more recently, Fedora has had to deal with the voluminous Wainstein Report and the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations. Many have questioned whether  Fedora is on the dreaded “hot seat”. There are arguments for both sides.

Reasons for the “Hot Seat”

The most significant reason why people may want Larry Fedora gone is simple — defensive miscues. Although Fedora is more of an offensive strategist, head coaches will always be blamed for the performance of their team on both sides of the ball, and Fedora is no different. Last season, UNC gave up 496 yard per game and allowed 467 points, both of which ranked 118th in the nation.  The statistics for special teams are even worse. The team’s longest made field goal last season was 30 yards long.  That length was 128th in the nation.

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The team only made six field goals total — that’s tied for 125th in the nation.  It all culminated in a 35-7 home loss against in-state rival NC State and a 41-20 loss to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl. At this point it may seem far-fetched, but there are whispers among fans that Gene Chizik may have been brought in not only to improve a woeful defense, but to also replace Fedora, if necessary. Chizik was a part of the 2005 Texas team that upset USC in the Rose Bowl and of course, he coached Cam Newton and Auburn to a national title in the 2010 season. He has pedigree, and UNC knows it.

Reasons For No “Hot Seat”

Before Larry Fedora became head coach, he knew that UNC would be hit with sanctions. He deserves credit for that. And even though the 2012 football team comprised Butch Davis’ leftovers, Fedora led the team to an 8-4 record in the wake of NCAA sanctions. If not for the mistakes of his predecessors, Fedora would have clinched an ACC Championship appearance in his first year. The team defeated Virginia Tech at home for the first time as an ACC opponent. More importantly, UNC defeated NC State for the first time in five seasons. Then in 2013, Fedora defeated NC State on the road. Butch Davis could never beat the Wolfpack, but Fedora is 2-1 against them.

He followed that up by winning the 2013 Belk Bowl vs. Cincinnati, in a 39-17 rout that was really never in question. Of course, 2014 was laden with expectations, and the team failed to live up to the lofty hype.  For the 2015 season, however, concerns are being addressed in every phase of the game. Chizik is implementing a simpler 4-3 defense and the players are already showing excitement….

On offense, the team returns receivers Ryan Switzer and Marquise Williams, both of whom earned All-ACC honors last season. As for special teams, UNC has redshirt freshmen Corbin Daly and Freeman Jones. 247Sports ranked Daly as the second-best punter in the 2014 recruiting class and Jones was ranked as the eighth-best place kicker.  Fedora has pieces in place to have a huge year.

If the team is still sub-par, it is still unlikely that UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham would fire Fedora. Remember, UNC and its athletic department will be discussing its infractions with the NCAA for most of the football season and that can be a long, bureaucratic process.  There would be little incentive to fire a head coach, which would just pile the media attention and scrutiny.

What do you think? Is Larry Fedora on the hot seat this season? Let us know in the comments section below.