<
>

Tar Heels keeping Larry Fedora in the fold

Ahead of North Carolina's appearance in the ACC championship game and final effort to earn a College Football Playoff berth, the Tar Heels also were planning for their future with coach Larry Fedora.

Fedora and North Carolina have agreed in principle to a new seven-year contract that runs through 2022, athletic director Bubba Cunningham announced Saturday.

"I think the key to long-term success is consistency in the coaching staff," Cunningham said. "And he has done an excellent job building the program and attracting students that are very successful athletically and academically."

Cunningham said financial terms will be released once the school's trustees grant final approval.

The 53-year-old coach is 32-18 in four seasons at UNC.

Fedora said earlier this week that the No. 10 Tar Heels would deserve a CFP bid if they knock off No. 1 Clemson, saying there was "no doubt in my mind" they should be in the playoff with a win.

"If we beat the No. 1 team in the country -- and Clemson is the No. 1 team in the country and a consensus No. 1, and they've stayed No. 1 for a long time -- if that happens, then I believe our team is deserving," Fedora said.

The Tar Heels fell 45-37 to the Tigers in Saturday night's ACC title game, dashing their faint hopes of a CFP bid.

Before this season, UNC hadn't won more than eight games nor had it been ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll since 1997, Mack Brown's final season before leaving to take over at Texas.

Fedora had three years left on his original seven-year contract after arriving in North Carolina from Southern Miss in December 2011.

He was asked Monday about what made the North Carolina job the right fit for him four years ago.

"It's the same things that attract me to it right now," he said. "[It's] that we have all the pieces of the puzzle to do what we're doing right now. ... We've got great support. We can attract great players that want to be successful on the field and off the field. And so everything's here, everything that we need."

Fedora has guided the Tar Heels during a bumpy few years due to a long run of NCAA turmoil. UNC originally offered him a longer deal because it had put itself on two years of probation and was in the middle of an infractions case tied to improper benefits and academic misconduct within the program, which launched in summer 2010.

He ultimately inherited sanctions that included scholarship reductions and a one-year postseason ban, which sidelined the Tar Heels from playing in the ACC title game in his first season.

The Tar Heels are still playing amid an NCAA investigation into an academic fraud scandal, an offshoot of the original case that has led to five more largely broad-based charges against the school. It's been a constant obstacle in recruiting, and UNC only recently emerged from scholarship reductions.

"Now we're extending because we're pleased with the work he has done," Cunningham said in comparing the two seven-year deals. "And that consistency is what we're looking for."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Jared Shanker was used in this report.