NCF Nation: Butch Davis

North Carolina backup quarterback Drew Davis, the son of former head coach Butch Davis, has decided to transfer to Coffeyville Community College where he will begin practice this fall, the school announced on Wednesday. Davis joined the Tar Heels prior to the start of the 2012 season and redshirted.

“I appreciate the opportunity Coach [Larry] Fedora gave me to be a member of the team,” Davis said in a prepared statement. “I’ve met so many great people during my time in Chapel Hill and I will miss seeing them on a daily basis. I’m looking forward to joining the team in Coffeyville and competing for the quarterback position. Coffeyville has a great track record of taking incoming transfers and preparing them for their next opportunity. I’m looking forward to continuing my growth as a quarterback.”

Davis was a starter for three seasons at East Chapel Hill High School where he threw for more than 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior in 2011.

“We wish Drew nothing but the best of luck as he continues his career at Coffeyville,” Fedora said in a statement. “He is a great kid, a great teammate and we enjoyed having him in our program.”

Want a head coach? Look to Miami

January, 14, 2013
The Miami football teams of the early 2000s churned out NFL prospects left and right, producing 20 first-round picks between 2001-04.

Do you know what else Miami produced in the early part of that decade? Head coaches. The Miami coaching staffs of 2000 and 2001 -- staffs that had a huge role in the recruitment and development of those pro prospects -- have produced both NFL and college head coaches.

Not just one or two, either.

With the Cleveland Browns' recent hire of Rob Chudzinski, the 1999-2000 staff under Butch Davis produced six head coaches -- three of them now in the NFL.
  • Rob Chudzinski, tight ends coach. Interestingly enough, his former boss (Davis) left Miami after the 2000 season to coach Cleveland.
  • Greg Schiano, defensive coordinator. Left for Rutgers after 2000 season and now Tampa Bay Bucs head coach.
  • Larry Coker, offensive coordinator. Succeeded Davis after the 2000 season, now head coach at UT-San Antonio.
  • Chuck Pagano, defensive backs. Now coaching Indianapolis Colts, and became an inspiration for his battle with leukemia.
  • Curtis Johnson, receivers coach. Entering his second year as Tulane head coach.
  • Mario Cristobal, graduate assistant. Spent six years as FIU head coach before rejoining Miami staff last week.

As for the 2001 staff, which helped Miami win the national championship and produced arguably the greatest team in college football history:
  • Mark Stoops, defensive backs. Replaced Pagano and is now head coach at Kentucky.
  • Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator. Succeeded Coker and served as Miami coach from 2007-10.
  • Chudzinski and Johnson. Both remained on staff.

Lots of folks mention the Nick Saban coaching tree, but when you look at the staff Davis assembled, the group he had around him in the late 1990s and 2000 is pretty impressive.

We can sit here and debate Davis and his abilities as a head coach, and go back and forth on his role in what went down at North Carolina. But it's hard to ignore the fact he has a pretty good eye for talent -- both among players and coaches.

Familiar names popping up in SEC searches

December, 4, 2012
As one athletic director noted weeks ago, the three SEC schools still in the market for a head coach are swimming in a lot of the same waters as they try to put a wrap on their searches.

Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee could all have their new head coaches named by the end of this week. Already, Kentucky has named former Florida defensive coordinator Mark Stoops to replace Joker Phillips.

It should get interesting over the next few days because guys like Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy and Louisville's Charlie Strong are prime targets at a couple of different schools.

At Tennessee, it appears that Gundy and Strong are at the top of the list, as Jimbo Fisher has decided to stay put at Florida State. Tennessee officials are also expected to talk with North Carolina's Larry Fedora on Tuesday in New York.

At Auburn, the name that's created the biggest buzz in that state is Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who according to, interviewed with the Tigers on Monday. The other names prominent in that search are Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn and Strong. Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn for three years before taking the Arkansas State head job this season.

With Alabama heading to play in the Discover BCS National Championship Game in January, the timing would be anything but ideal for the Crimson Tide if Smart gets the job, especially if he hires away some of the Alabama assistants to go with him. Either way, Smart is easily the hottest commodity out there among assistant coaches in college football and has been selective the past few years. The Auburn gig may be too attractive to turn down if he gets an offer.

There have been reports that former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino is on Auburn's list, but multiple sources have told that Petrino is not a serious candidate. Auburn's president, Jay Gogue, simply isn't going to sign off on Petrino, and at this point, Petrino is going to have a hard time breaking back into the SEC.

At Arkansas, two of the top targets are former North Carolina coach Butch Davis and Gundy. Davis, an Arkansas alumnus, has a lot of support among several in the Hog Nation. He was fired at North Carolina following an NCAA investigation of the program that landed the Tar Heels on probation, although he was not mentioned in the 111-page report by the NCAA.
Everett GolsonMatt Cashore/US PresswireSophomore Everett Golson beat out Andrew Hendrix and Gunner Kiel to be the Week 1 starter.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Two months removed from the breakout spring game, which was the first tangible evidence that Everett Golson was ready to leap from scout-team superstar to Notre Dame starting quarterback within a year, a deal was brokered between mentor and student on the links of Dillon, S.C., some 90 minutes north of the school and town that has begun to trade in local allegiances for the blue and gold of arguably the country's most popular football program.

"Are you going to start?" Hugh T. Wallace asked on the early June day.

The question was no different than the ones Golson had been hearing for the better part of two years, ever since he took his 151 touchdown throws -- the sixth-most in national high school history -- and de-committed from his childhood sanctuary on Tobacco Road and moved some 700 miles away, to a place his parents have been to only twice.

"Yeah," Golson replied after another drive he'd pushed to the right. "I'm going to start."

"Well, if you start, I'll go to Dublin and see the game," the retired Myrtle Beach assistant principal said matter-of-factly.

Wallace had been there for all of Golson's starts in high school, first noticing the eighth-grade phenom at the middle school across the street before standing on the sideline for the 44 prep wins and five losses Golson was responsible for as the four-year starter.

"I was just kind of like that old granddaddy guy that's always around when you need something," Wallace cracked, adding: "I let him know that I was there. That he was going to do what he was supposed to do. He was going to be on time. And when he needed something, that I would be there for him."

Hired as Myrtle Beach's junior varsity football and varsity basketball coach before the 2007 season, DeAndre Scott remembered varsity football coach Scott Earley taking him to the school's weight room to meet the newcomer with the braided hair who would take the school to great heights.

"I can still remember him as a little scrawny kid with those braids and I was underwhelmed, just from the eyeball stance," Scott recalled. "But once I saw him sling that football a little bit, and he got in the gym and played a couple pickup games, I was like, 'Oh, OK,' maybe he is going to be pretty good."

The cornrows soon were replaced with a buzz cut, the lean frame filled out some, and Golson was off and running, winning a pair of state titles for Earley and successor Mickey Wilson, and one for Scott on the hardwood, the playing surface where Golson felt most at home.

All this time, the shadow of Chapel Hill loomed.

Longtime North Carolina fan Lynn Auman, who taught orchestra to Everett and older brother Edwin for more than a combined 10 years, dangled weekend trips to Tar Heels football and basketball games as a carrot to Everett, whose teenage star power sometimes isolated him from his peers and would be the source of an academic drop-off before entering high school.

"When Everett was in middle school, I thought he would never make it to high school," his mother, Cynthia, said with a laugh.

Golson pledged to Butch Davis and UNC after his junior season, and the legendary Roy Williams welcomed the future football recruit to try out for the basketball team.

But expected NCAA sanctions stemming from impermissible benefits and ineligible players proved too much of a bear. Golson decommited from UNC for Notre Dame after much lunch-break soul-searching in front of the school piano. Auman stopped by every now and then to check on the student she'd known since he was in the sixth grade.

"He said, 'I'm going to wait two and a half more weeks, til Dec. 1, and if I still feel as excited as I am right now and I still think it's the right thing to do, then I'm probably going to go,'" Auman recalled Golson saying of his mid-November visit to South Bend.

"I said, 'Well, I think that's a good thing. Give it some time, let the dust settle, think about it.' And he said, 'Yeah, I'm going to be thinking and praying, and I know I'll figure out what I'm supposed to do.' I said, 'Yeah, you will.'"

A little more than a month later, Golson decided to turn his 18th birthday into a going-away party, welcoming family, friends and teachers to Mount Olive AME Church for a night of singing and storytelling, with Everett putting on a rare public display of his vocal chords with Edwin, who records gospel albums.

After Sunday school teacher Mary Pryor told stories to the gathering of all the times Everett made it to her class after a big weekend game, Auman pulled the guest of honor aside, two weeks shy of his college move.

[+] EnlargeEverett Golson
Matt Cashore/US PresswireEverett Golson threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns in Notre Dame's spring game.
"You know Everett, I think God likes football," she recalled telling him. "I think he really likes it when you're playing, so you go on up there to Notre Dame and forget about North Carolina, and make God smile a whole bunch."

It was hardly that simple at first. Golson called Auman from campus to complain about the cold Midwest weather and lack of a nearby Golden Corral, their favorite dining stop on those high school trips to UNC.

Then, of course, there were the immediate academic concerns -- struggles the soft-spoken Golson did not shy away from when speaking to reporters. The lack of attention to detail bled into the football building, where Golson eventually lost the battle for change-of-pace quarterback to Andrew Hendrix and ended up redshirting.

Scout team player of the year was hardly the kind of hardware he envisioned taking home when arriving on campus, but he can see now the growth it afforded him.

"It was very difficult," Golson said. "Obviously coming in I thought I was ready to compete for the starting spot, but going through fall camp I kind of saw my reps go down a little bit. I was a little discouraged at first but it kind of humbled me. And now that I look back on it, I'm glad I went down to the scout team because it really humbled me and made me realize I have to start at ground zero and work my way back up."

Extended film study, a more vocal command and the occasional stress relief from playing the piano before practice put Golson in position to ascend the Irish's depth chart this offseason. With his strong spring game, and then the arrest and one-game suspension of incumbent Tommy Rees, Golson was front and center when camp opened earlier this month.

Golson stuck with the first team through much of the preseason, fending off Hendrix and newcomer Gunner Kiel before coach Brian Kelly officially announced Thursday evening that he was Notre Dame's starter.

"It was tough. It was a tough decision," Kelly said at the announcement, "but Everett clearly won the starting job and he'll get to start against Navy."

Five days earlier, while returning from a day on his boat, Wallace, the former assistant principal, received a text message from Golson that simply read: "Mr. Wallace: Ireland." When Wallace asked if that meant he'd be starting, Golson said yes. That text led to a phone call, which led to Golson putting Wallace's name down for a ticket to Aviva Stadium, which led to the retired teacher plopping down in front of a computer to find airfare and hotel accommodations for the impending intercontinental trip.

Three flights spanning 10 total hours will place Wallace in Dublin, where Golson is now assured that his first college start will have at least one familiar face among the crowd of 30,000 traveling Americans.

Back where it all started, a town of roughly that size will be watching.

"Everybody at Myrtle Beach is calling into work that day -- nobody's going to work that Saturday," Everett's father, Wayne, said through a chuckle. "We've got a lot of people anticipating the season."

And the crown goes to ...

May, 25, 2012
Dear Tom O'Brien,

Run. Duck. Hide. Do whatever you have to do, but don't -- I repeat don't -- go to Chapel Hill alone.

You, TOB, have earned the crown of most hated coach in the ACC.

Poor fella.

Earlier this week, in keeping with's theme of "coaches we love to hate," I sought your opinion on who the most hated coach is in the ACC. North Carolina fans did not disappoint. O'Brien wasn't the only coach ACC fans are hatin' on these days, though. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson got a lot of votes, along with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, Maryland coach Randy Edsall and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer.


Which of these coaches do you hate the most?


Discuss (Total votes: 7,024)

Based on the mailbag responses, O'Brien wins, but let's put it to a vote for an official tally:

Tom O'Brien
Paul Johnson
Dabo Swinney
Randy Edsall
Frank Beamer

Here's a sampling of your hate mail. Thanks for playin':

John Witt in Richmond, VA writes: Most Hated Coach Butch Davis (even though he is gone). He was a lying, cheating, scumbag, snakeoil salesman. He recruited well because some could not see through the facade. They know now and some are stuck at UNC playing for nothing because of it.

stephanie in NC writes: Butch Davis - I'm a Tarheel grad and actually have pride in my university. That should say it all.

Russell in Asheville, NC writes: UNC fans hate Tom O'brien for owning them 5 years in a row.UNC fans hate Everette Withers for forever renaming their University "THE flagship".

Trenton Tovar in Nashville, TN writes: You'll probably get this one a lot. UNC fans hate Tom O'Brien. Pretty obvious why.

Matt Ethridge in Florence, SC writes: My most hated coach has to be Tom O'Brian at NC State. He continually recruits sub par athletes and has beaten my Tar Heels 5 times in a row. Hopefully Fedora will change this in a BIG way this year!

Zach in Arlington, VA writes: Poor old Tom O'Brien has to be one of the most hated on coaches in the ACC. He was key in BC's run towards excellence earlier in the decade and he's always making noise in November at NCSU, but year in year out everyone seems to question whether he's any good or not, or if he's on the hot seat. He's maybe a bit boring, but why does everyone keep talking smack about him, he's one of the better coaches in the ACC!

James in NY, NY writes: I hate Paul Johnson for bringing the triple option to GT and confounding Clemson's defense ever since...

Lamar G. in Athens, GA writes: Virginia Tech fans (and, for the record, Georgia fans) hate Paul Johnson. Why? We hate watching an offense that lends itself better to the black-and-white-TV era.

Jeff in California writes: Heather, Welcome Back! with regard to the most hated ACC Coach.This one is simple, Paul Johnson.Watching his offense slowly and methodically march up and down on your defense, especially late in a close game, is a nightmare and an anxiety ridden experience most fans in the ACC have experienced more than once.The guy is one of the best minds and the game, and is successful with an offense nobody thought, nor wanted to work at this level.During his short stint in the ACC, he has played spoiler enough times, to enough teams, to draw the sort of hatred that any successful coach will have to endure. Losing to Johnson is like watching a troupe of army ant march slowly march away with your picnic basket, and you are powerless to stop them.

Randy in State College, PA writes: All of them. The rationale being that none of them can consistently win out-of-conference, and thus they have all damaged the ACC brand. More specifically, I'll levy blame towards Frank Beamer for winning so many games in the ACC and losing so many big games OOC... -- A Tech Fan.

Walt in Columbia, MD writes: Edsal at Maryland should get some "thoughtful consideration" as the most hated coach in the ACC. How can you go 2-10 when Ralph Friedgen left a stable of studs who should have put in a 10-2 season? Instead, Edsal ran off some of the best players ever to play at Maryland, and then blamed the former coach, the current players, and the assistant coached (whom he selected) for all of his woes? He also blamed the fans for not showing up to watch his pathetic performance in coaching. He could easily go another 2-10 this year.

Mark in Gaithersburg, Maryland writes: As a Terp fan I used to hate Bobby Bowden and how FSU would always destroy us, but now as a Terp fan, I hate Randy Edsall, he's done more to hurt this team than any other coach in the ACC. We wouldn't have lost all 10 of those games last year if it wasn't for Edsall, he was our worst opponent.

The overriding feeling in the Ozarks was that this would be Bobby Petrino’s best football team at Arkansas.

But now that he’s not going to be around to coach that team, where do the Hogs go from here?

As we saw with both North Carolina and Ohio State a year ago, it’s never easy to navigate a season when your coach has been sent packing in the months leading up to that season.

Granted, Butch Davis was fired at North Carolina about a month before the 2011 season began, and Jim Tressel was forced out heading into June.

So Arkansas’ coaches and players at least have a little more time to process the situation, but this is the kind of thing that can fester for even the most resilient of football teams.

One day, Petrino is there, firmly in control and feverishly building on last season’s No. 5 finish in the polls.

And then one ill-fated motorcycle ride later, he’s gone.

There’s no way to prepare for such a sudden transition, no textbook, no therapist who can all of a sudden make everything right again.

Put yourself in the place of the Arkansas players.

[+] EnlargeBobby Petrino
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesArkansas faces an uncertain 2012 season without Bobby Petrino at the helm.
Petrino had guided them to this position, and together, they engineered the kind of success the Hogs haven’t had for 30 years. He talks about doing things the right way, being accountable to your teammates and never losing sight of the fact that you’re representing an entire university and an entire state when you put on that Arkansas uniform.

Those words ring hollow now, and the only thing more hollow is the feeling that everybody associated with the football program must be experiencing.

There are so many unanswered questions going forward.

Petrino had obviously done a masterful job in making the Hogs relevant again nationally, so losing his leadership is one thing.

But what about his offensive genius?

Few coaches in football have a better feel for the game when it comes to breaking down defenses and calling plays.

Petrino called all of the Hogs’ plays on offense, so losing that dynamic is a huge blow.

What this team has going for it is talent, not to mention experience in key spots.

Talent has a way of covering up even the nastiest of wounds.

Having one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC helps, too, and Tyler Wilson now has a full season as a starter under his belt.

Wilson’s leadership in 2012 will be crucial. The same goes for running back Knile Davis, who knows a little something about dealing with hardship.

Davis, who missed all of last season after injuring his ankle, was already an inspiration to his teammates with the way he has continued to fight back from injuries.

The Hogs are going to need him more than ever, both on and off the field, in 2012.

Petrino had overhauled his defensive staff in the offseason, and it just so happens that two of the guys he brought in -- defensive coordinator Paul Haynes and linebackers/interim head coach Taver Johnson -- were at Ohio State last season.

If anybody has a clue what Arkansas is about to face, it’s Haynes and Johnson. They lived it last season with the Buckeyes following Tressel’s ouster.

Ultimately, the coaches will only be able to do so much.

If the Hogs are going to keep 2012 from being a lost season and fulfill the promise everybody had for this team prior to Petrino’s dismissal, it’s going to be on the players.

They have the talent to weather the storm. We’ll find out in the fall if they have the fortitude.
The Butch Davis era began at North Carolina in November 2007 with high hopes. It ended Monday in the dreadful, funereal ritual of the release of a report of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Just coincidence, said committee chair Britton Banowsky, the Conference USA commissioner, that the report came out the day after North Carolina became a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament for a national-record 14th time. But the timing provided a reminder of what the university hired Davis to achieve and how spectacularly he failed to do so.

Over the course of the 1990s, Mack Brown had built the Tar Heels into a national power. He commandeered the resources to build one of the first Taj Mahals in the sport -- a $50 million palace of offices and facilities that announced to recruits and rivals that North Carolina took football seriously.

As much as Brown achieved, he couldn't lift the Tar Heels into the BCS hierarchy where the Florida States played. Though Brown left for Texas after the 1997 season, he had planted the seed. Nine years of mediocrity under Carl Torbush and John Bunting failed to dim the potential that Brown had kindled in the program.

Davis rebuilt a Miami team struck down by NCAA penalties and took them to the precipice of a national championship. When Davis left after the 2000 season for the Cleveland Browns, Larry Coker, his top assistant, took over and won the next 23 games. With the foundation assembled by Davis, Coker coached the Hurricanes within a double overtime of two consecutive crystal footballs.

That builder is who the Tar Heels assumed they hired. And Davis, a coaching lifer who traveled from Oklahoma high schools to the NFL, wanted to create a football empire on Tobacco Road.

For Ivan Maisel's full column, click here.

UNC leaders react to penalties

March, 12, 2012
There is still "The Carolina Way," former North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour insisted during a teleconference Monday, a message that was echoed by both chancellor Holden Thorp and current AD Bubba Cunningham.

"Obviously this has been a painful, difficult experience — we don't like to have this kind of attention brought to any part of the university, especially one as visible a part of the athletic program," Thorp said. "But again, I think the recovery plan that we have with the hirings we've made and the steps we've taken I think shows that we're serious and we understand the seriousness of the case, but we also understand the importance of Carolina football to the UNC family. And I feel like we've done a good job of balancing all of those things."

Holden said the school considered appealing the sanctions this morning but came to the conclusion that it would not make sense given how long it would take, along with previous schools' successes with such procedures. Ultimately, he said, the Tar Heels wanted to move forward.

Cunningham said the additional six scholarship losses — in addition to the self-imposed nine — is the harshest of the penalties. The school discussed a self-imposed bowl ban for several weeks but decided against it because the school cooperated directly with the NCAA throughout the process.

The school will still receive an equal share of bowl revenue from the ACC, despite its bowl ban for the 2012 season. Current seniors on the roster are eligible to transfer without penalty because of the bowl ban.

North Carolina officials also stressed that former head coach Butch Davis "absolutely" gave full cooperation throughout the investigation.
The NCAA will announce its Committee on Infractions report regarding North Carolina at 3 p.m. today.

North Carolina officials appeared before the committee in October regarding the violations, which included improper benefits and academic misconduct. The violations led to the firing of head coach Butch Davis and prompted the early exit of athletic director Dick Baddour.

The school announced in the fall it would vacate all 16 wins from 2008 and 2009, reduce nine scholarships over three years, put the football program on probation for two years and pay a $50,000 fine.

We'll have much more later today.
On Tuesday we looked at the 2011 report cards for the Atlantic Division. The Coastal Division is up next:


Overview: In the fourth season under coach David Cutcliffe, Duke fans should have expected more. A bowl game was a reasonable -- not to mention attainable -- goal, but the Blue Devils instead fell flat again and ended the season with seven straight losses. The season began on a sour note, as Duke lost to Richmond, 23-21, in the season opener. It was yet another embarrassing loss to an FCS program for the ACC, and a bad start for a program that needed to win every winnable game in order to reach the postseason. Duke reeled off three straight wins to start the season 3-2, but a struggling defense and an inability to win the turnover battle on a consistent basis kept the program from taking another step forward in 2011.

Grade: Can’t spell Duke without a D.


Overview: The Yellow Jackets were a pleasant surprise for the ACC in the first half of the season, as they started 6-0 and seemed destined for a matchup of two undefeated teams with Clemson on the schedule. Back-to-back road losses to Virginia and Miami not only ruined that plan, but also put Georgia Tech behind in the Coastal Division race. The Jackets lost four of their final six regular season games, including to rival Georgia, and ended the season with a seventh straight bowl loss, this time to Utah. Georgia Tech once again had one of the most productive rushing offenses in the country, but the defense didn’t make the leap of improvement many had expected in the second season under coordinator Al Groh.

Grade: C-


Overview: It was a nightmare of a first season for Al Golden, who was blindsided by an NCAA investigation and had to play the Labor Day season opener against Maryland without eight suspended players. The Canes never truly found an identity and lacked consistency, only putting together back-to-back wins once. Despite the obstacles, Miami scrapped together a six-win season to become bowl-eligible, only to have the administration inform Golden the program would self-impose a bowl ban as a preemptive strike against NCAA sanctions. It’s anyone’s guess as to how much that news affected the team in the season finale loss against Boston College, but the Canes’ 2011 season was sandwiched between bookends of disappointment.

Grade: D+


Overview: It could have been a lot worse, considering former coach Butch Davis was fired just days before summer camp began. Interim coach Everett Withers was tasked with keeping the team together, and he exceeded expectations in the first half of the season with a 5-1 start. Talk of Withers making his case to become the program’s next head coach grew louder, but the competition also got tougher. And UNC’s weaknesses were exposed. North Carolina lost four of its final six regular-season games, and Withers was replaced for 2012 and had one foot out the door to Ohio State before the season officially ended. The Tar Heels capped the season with an ugly loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl, and failed to match the eight-win benchmark set by Davis.

Grade: D


Overview: Not bad for a team picked by the media to finish fifth in the Coastal Division. Mike London and his Cavaliers exceeded expectations in his second season, not only by becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2007, but also by being a legitimate contender for the division title. Virginia played its way right into a showdown with rival Virginia Tech for a spot in the ACC title game. The Cavaliers had one of their worst games of the season when it mattered most, though, and lost 38-0 to the Hokies, proving the balance of power within the state still resides in Blacksburg, along with the Commonwealth Cup. The Hoos didn’t fare much better in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, as they lost 43-24 and were crippled by injuries to key defenders. Overall, though, this was a good season for London, and one his players should be able to build upon.

Grade: A-


Overview: The Hokies did it again. They upheld their reputation as the most consistent team in the ACC, and at the same time managed to disappoint their fans and the league at the BCS level. Virginia Tech won its fifth Coastal Division crown, and finished with 11 wins for just the sixth time in school history. Probably the most impressive accomplishment for Virginia Tech was its ability to put together one of the nation’s top defenses despite a plethora of injuries to key players, particularly up front. What the Hokies couldn’t do, though, was beat Clemson or Michigan. Virginia Tech lost to Clemson twice, including in the ACC title game, and came up short in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Michigan. The officiating will forever be questioned in that game, but the final verdict will show an otherwise impressive season ending with back-to-back losses.

Grade: A
It's been a revolving door on Tennessee's coaching staff ever since the season ended, and head coach Derek Dooley moved quickly to fill his latest opening.

The Vols announced on Thursday that Sam Pittman had been hired to coach the offensive line after Harry Hiestand bolted for the Notre Dame offensive line job.

Pittman was at North Carolina for the past five seasons and part of Butch Davis' original staff there in 2007. Just prior to the 2011 season, Pittman was promoted to associate head coach, replacing John Blake, who resigned one game into the 2010 season after being linked to NCAA allegations that triggered an investigation of the Tar Heels' football program. Pittman was named as one of the country's top 25 recruiters by in 2011. He was at Northern Illinois before joining Davis at North Carolina.

The Vols have seen five different assistant coaches to leave since the end of their 5-7 season. One of those, receivers coach Charlie Baggett, was not retained. Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon left for the same jobs at Washington, while special teams coordinator/tight ends coach Eric Russell left to join Mike Leach's staff at Washington State.

Dooley is targeting Alabama linebackers coach Sal Sunseri and Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green to replace Wilcox. Dooley has talked with both Sunseri and Green in the last two days. Dooley has offered the special teams coordinator's job, meanwhile, to San Diego Chargers assistant Rich Bisaccia, who just finished his first season as the Chargers' special teams coordinator. Bisaccia was previously the associate head coach and special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dooley had already hired Jay Graham to coach the Vols' running backs. Graham, a former star running back at Tennessee, had been at South Carolina the past three seasons.

Final 2011 ACC power rankings

January, 10, 2012
With every bowl game now over, the 2011 season is officially in the books. This is the final word on how the ACC stacked up before we move on to 2012. While the bowls played a slight role in figuring this out, it wasn’t the overwhelming part of the equation. (If that were the case, Clemson would be fighting the Terps for the last spot.) Instead, this list is based on the complete body of work for the season. Here’s your final power ranking for 2011:

1. Clemson (10-4, 6-2 ACC) – Clemson’s performance in the Discover Orange Bowl was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Literally, historically bad. But you can’t ignore the fact that the Tigers beat Virginia Tech twice and were the ACC champs. What they didn’t do in their loss to the Mountaineers doesn’t detract from their ACC title. It did, however, detract from the ACC.

2. Virginia Tech (11-3, 7-1) – The Hokies were unable to capitalize on the ACC’s first at-large BCS bowl bid and lost in overtime to Michigan in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, but an 11-win season was tops in the ACC. Virginia Tech lost to only two teams all year -- the ACC champs and the Sugar Bowl champs.

3. Florida State (9-4, 5-3) – The Seminoles won seven of their final eight games, including an 18-14 win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl. It was a strong finish, especially for the defense, which left no doubt it was one of the best in the country.

4. NC State (8-5, 4-4) – The Wolfpack represented the ACC well, beating Louisville 31-24 in the Belk Bowl. To finish with eight wins after starting out 2-3 spoke volumes about the determination of this team, and new stars emerged in quarterback Mike Glennon and cornerback David Amerson.

5. Virginia (8-5, 5-3) – The Cavaliers still exceeded expectations by contending for the Coastal Division and playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but they had no answer for Auburn, and finished the season with back-to-back convincing losses. There is still some work to do in Charlottesville.

6. Georgia Tech (8-5, 5-3) – The Yellow Jackets squandered a 14-point lead and lost to Utah in overtime in the Sun Bowl. It was the seventh straight postseason loss for the program, which also ended the regular season with a loss to rival Georgia. The Jackets lost five of their final seven games.

7. Wake Forest (6-7, 5-3) – The disappointment of the bowl loss to Mississippi State was enough to push coach Jim Grobe, deemed by some as loyal to a fault, to fire two of his assistants. The Deacs came within a field goal of winning the Atlantic Division this year, but crashed in the end and lost five of six games.

8. North Carolina (7-6, 3-5) – The Everett Withers era ended as abruptly as it began after an ugly 41-24 loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl. North Carolina was unable to reach the Butch Davis benchmark of eight wins and lost five of its final seven games. The Larry Fedora era has begun.

9. Miami (6-6, 3-5) – The Hurricanes lacked any consistency or identity in the first season under coach Al Golden, and the season ended with a double thud, thanks to a self-imposed bowl ban and a loss to Boston College. Between graduation and early departures for the NFL, there will be an overhaul of the roster this offseason.

10. Boston College (4-8, 3-5) – The Eagles regrouped at the end of the season and won three of their final five, despite an abysmal 2-7 start to the season. Coach Frank Spaziani was given another chance to turn things around, and a 24-17 win at Miami in the season finale was the first step.

11. Duke (3-9, 1-7) – This team didn’t look much different in the fourth season under coach David Cutcliffe, as the Blue Devils lost seven straight to end the season and any bowl hopes. The 23-21 loss to Richmond in the season opener set the tone for the whole season.

12. Maryland (2-10, 1-7) – The Terps solidified their spot at the bottom of the ACC long before the season ended, and it could be a while before they dig themselves out of it. The hire of Mike Locksley has already made an impact on recruiting, though, and there’s only one way to go at this point: up.

Instant analysis: Missouri 41, UNC 24

December, 26, 2011

A mid-level bowl game on a rainy day in a location few consider a vacation spot led to a small crowd. But Missouri looked like it wanted to be in Shreveport, La., on Monday afternoon, dominating this game, and earning a solid win in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl over North Carolina, 41-24.

How the game was won: Missouri was the aggressor from the start, pounding North Carolina with a relentless running game and hitting simple throws when necessary. The Tigers scored on all five of their first-half drives and raced to a 31-10 halftime lead. Missouri forced a pair of first-half turnovers after allowing a touchdown on the opening drive. The rout was on early.

Turning point: North Carolina turned the ball over on consecutive snaps and when it looked up, Missouri led, 31-7. Giovani Bernard fumbled near midfield and Missouri marched 40 yards for a touchdown. Bryn Renner threw a perfect pass to Dwight Jones, but a hit jostled loose the ball, which ended up rolling off Jones' back and into Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden's hands. Missouri used seven plays to go 59 yards for a score and a 31-7 lead.

Stat of the game: Missouri's running game really couldn't be stopped in the first half. The Tigers outrushed North Carolina, 192-13. Bernard, an All-ACC first-teamer, had just 12 yards on eight carries in the half. The Tigers finished with 337 rushing yards -- just the third time this season the Tigers topped 300 yards on the ground. They did it against UNC, who entered Monday's game with the nation's No. 14 rush defense, allowing just more than 106 yards rushing per game this season.

Player of the game: Franklin. Missouri's sophomore quarterback was at his best, utilizing his underrated arm and great legs, and helping the Tigers keep solid balance. He finished with 142 yards rushing and 132 yards passing, accounting for three touchdowns.

Worst omen: Truman the Tiger. Mizzou's mascot shattered the crystal Independence Bowl trophy just hours before the game, but bowl officials told media at the game they hustled to find a replacement trophy from a "local jeweler." Missouri isn't expected to be forced to foot the bill for the trophy, which cost a "couple thousand bucks, at least," but the omen didn't seem to bother the Tigers in the bowl win.

Stat of the game II: Truman the Tiger fumbles: 1. Missouri Tiger fumbles: 0.

Unsung hero of the game: Missouri's offensive line. North Carolina's defense is littered with NFL talent, highlighted by defensive end Quinton Coples. The Tigers O-line blew them off the ball from the start, clearing huge holes and giving Franklin tons of time to throw.

Best call: Missouri gave up a 22-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive, but came back with a trick play you know it was itching to unleash. Facing a second-and-4 on the UNC 40, Franklin flicked a pass to his right, back to former high school quarterback and the team's leading receiver, T.J. Moe. He flung it downfield to a wide-open Wes Kemp for a 40-yard, game-tying touchdown. The trickery worked to perfection, and the execution was perfect, too.

What it means: Missouri will head to the SEC with some good momentum off a pretty average season. The day in Shreveport finished with an S-E-C chant from the Tigers fans who made the trip. The Tigers will face a huge challenge in a new conference next year, while North Carolina begins a brand-new era in the ACC. Interim coach Everett Withers is headed to Ohio State as a co-defensive coordinator, and former Southern Miss coach (and Oklahoma State offensive coordinator) Larry Fedora will now take over in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels have constantly underachieved under Butch Davis with lots of NFL talent, and Fedora will try to change that.

Record performance: North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner broke Chris Keldorf's school record, set in 1996, for touchdown passes with his 24th of the season on the opening drive. That ball was caught by Dwight Jones, his 12th of the season, which tied Hakeem Nicks' school record set back in 2008.

Record performance II: Missouri's 31 first-half points were a Mizzou bowl record, and also an Independence Bowl record. The Tigers made it look easy.

Independence Bowl: UNC vs. Missouri

December, 26, 2011
North Carolina (7-5) will make its fourth straight bowl appearance and first in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl when it faces Missouri (7-5) in Shreveport, La. Here’s a quick preview of the game:

WHO TO WATCH: The 1,000-yard club. For the first time in school history, North Carolina has a 1,000-yard rusher (Giovani Bernard) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Dwight Jones) in the same season. UNC is also one of five FBS teams in the country with a rusher and receiver that have reached at least 1,100 yards. Missouri has played two of those five teams and lost to both Baylor and Oklahoma State. Bernard enters the game with 1,222 rushing yards and ranks first among all freshman runners in the country with 101.8 yards per game. He is the first 1,000- yard rusher at UNC since Jonathan Linton in 1997. Jones, only the second player in school history with 1,000 receiving yards, has 1,119 on a school-record 79 catches and 11 touchdowns, one shy of the single-season school record.

WHAT TO WATCH: UNC’s defense vs. dual-threat quarterback James Franklin. He is one of only three FBS players with 800 or more rushing yards and 2,000 or more passing yards in 2011. Missouri lost some of its offensive identity when running back Henry Josey suffered a serious knee injury. The Tigers go as Franklin goes, and UNC will have to contain him. Defensively, Carolina is 16th in the nation against the run and features a pair of first-team All-ACC selections in defensive end Quinton Coples and linebacker Zach Brown. Coples ranks fourth among active players with 24 career sacks. Brown led the Tar Heels with 91 tackles, including 11.5 for losses and 5.5 sacks. UNC’s passing defense, though, was statistically the worst in the ACC this season.

WHY TO WATCH: Farewell parties. This will be the final game for North Carolina interim coach Everett Withers, who took over after former coach Butch Davis was fired just days before summer camp began. It will also be the final game for Missouri in the Big 12 before the Tigers join the SEC.

PREDICTION: Missouri 31, North Carolina 28: The Tar Heels will get an inspired performance in Withers’ last game, but Missouri is a better team than its five losses indicate. North Carolina will make one or two costly turnovers, and the Tar Heels’ defense won’t be able to make enough stops in the red zone.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl

December, 4, 2011
Missouri Tigers (7-5) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (7-5)

Dec. 26, 5:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Missouri take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: Missouri is headed to the SEC next season, and went out quietly in Big 12 play. The Tigers roll with dual-threat quarterback James Franklin, but are still trying to find their offense after losing Henry Josey, the Big 12's leading rusher at the time, to a serious knee injury. He started the season No. 3 on the depth chart. It's been up to Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore to pick up the slack.

The Tigers' defense had high hopes coming into the season, and it's been good after some early-season struggles, but perhaps not as good as expected. The defensive line hasn't dominated as most expected, but the Tigers played well enough to win four of their final five games to rescue a rough start against a brutal schedule. Mizzou may have the best five losses of any team in the country: Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma and Arizona State. Not a bad one in the bunch, and all four but Oklahoma State came on the road. Mizzou is better than its record suggests, and will get a chance to prove it in the postseason.

North Carolina take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: The entire season could have unraveled for UNC, considering former coach Butch Davis was fired just days before summer practices began, but interim coach Everett Withers kept the program on track for its fourth straight bowl appearance.

North Carolina has faced Missouri twice, losing both times, but has not played the Tigers since 1976. North Carolina started the season 5-1, but fizzled down the stretch against better competition. The Tar Heels lost four of their past six games, including a fifth-straight loss to rival NC State. Individually, though, it has been an impressive season for a few Tar Heels. Tailback Giovani Bernard rushed for a UNC freshman record 1,222 yards and became the first Tar Heel since 1997 to run for more than 1,000 yards.

Receiver Dwight Jones set a school record with 79 receptions and has 11 touchdown catches, which is just one shy of the single-season record. And quarterback Bryn Renner enters the bowl game tied for the school record with 23 touchdown passes. Defensively, Carolina is led by defensive end Quinton Coples and linebacker Zach Brown. Coples ranks fourth among active college players with 24 career sacks. Brown led the Tar Heels with 91 tackles, including 11.5 for losses and 5.5 sacks.