The John Bunting Saga

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It hasn’t been a good week (or year for that matter!) to be a Tar Heel Football fan. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Heels played their worst game of the year last Thursday night, and were absolutely embarrassed by the woeful Wahoos of UVa up in Charlottesville.

After that dreadful result, I was more sure than ever that John Bunting would be relieved of his duties as UNC’s head coach. Surely they’d let him finish out the year, I thought. Well, it turns out they will – only as a lame duck coach, leading a simply lame program.

I hate to sound so cynical, and until the past few weeks I’ve been one of Bunting’s few remaining supporters. Yet, this season has been absolutely wretched. The days of consistent bowls and top 25 rankings are a mere memory. This weekend I was wishfully wondering what it would be like to win just 7 games in a season.

Is 7 games too much to ask? Of course it isn’t. Not when you’re at a school with the right facilities, great academics, and one of the most recognizable brands in college athletics. UNC has even managed to put solid players into the NFL, with one study showing that the Heels put more quality players into the League than such powers as Notre Dame, USC, and Texas.

Sadly, the results on Saturdays have been far less encouraging, and the decision was one that had to be made. While I have my doubts about the timing and method that was chosen, if it helps UNC to get a jump start on making a big hire, then the ends will surely justify the means.

My only remaining hope for fellow Tar Heels is that we don’t forget what a stand-up guy Bunting was. Desperate to pin the blame on someone or something, many Tar Heel supporters will allow Coach Bunting to become the program’s convenient whipping boy. While the results never lived up to expectations, no one could ever question Coach Bunting’s love for UNC, or his dedication to running the program with dignity and honor.

Thanks in large part to the influence of a legend named Dean, many of us who prefer light blue agree that there is a certain code of conduct that can only be called The Carolina Way. As we usher in a new era of Carolina football, it is only fitting that we honor this commitment by embracing the need for excellence without defaming the man who’s spent 6 years trying to get us there.

As a fellow lover of Carolina, John Bunting deserves nothing less.

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