North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers has been hired as an assistant coach by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, according to ESPN's Joe Schad. For now, Withers still plans to coach the Tar Heels in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl. Withers did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone.
It's hard to tell how much of an impact this whole situation will have on the players as they prepare for their bowl game. It's not like they didn't know Withers had one foot out the door already, as the school had previously announced the hire of Larry Fedora. This is a great move for Withers and a well-deserved one. He was an excellent defensive coordinator for the Tar Heels, and did one of his best coaching jobs two years ago when the NCAA investigation began and half his defense was suspended for the season opener against LSU. Withers should have plenty of talent to work with at Ohio State and should be successful there, but can he win his final game as head coach at North Carolina?
We saw what happened to Miami last year when the Canes were in a similar situation. Randy Shannon had been fired, an interim coach took over for the bowl game, Al Golden watched from afar, and the Hurricanes collapsed against Notre Dame in a forgettable performance. Will the Tar Heels rally in their final game together under Withers? Will they care enough to show up and play? Or has everyone in Chapel Hill already turned their attention to life under Fedora in 2012? North Carolina's attitude and preparation for this game will be the most important intangible.