Commentary

DeCock: UNC’s Fedora at rest, briefly

ldecock@newsobserver.comMay 9, 2012 

— Tuesday he was greeting fans in both Greenvilles — N.C. and S.C. — and on Thursday he’ll head back out of town, but on Wednesday, Larry Fedora was in his Kenan Stadium office.

A Fedora in motion tends to stay in motion. Wednesday, Fedora was at rest. Briefly.

The stereotype of the coach as a hyper, fast-talking Tasmanian devil fueled by gallons Red Bull, one that developed beginning the moment he arrived as Carolina’s new football coach in December at a press conference that quickly ditched the usual staid formalities and morphed into a quasi-motivational seminar, isn’t far from the truth.

“I don’t see myself as being hyper,” Fedora said, “but I’m full of energy. I’m passionate about what I do.”

After five months on the job, his first spring practice may be over, but the pace hasn’t really slowed down much.

He’s had sit-downs, some brief and some over breakfast, with everyone from deans and tenured professors to the maintenance and housekeeping staffs in the football complex. He’s met with fraternities and fans alike, as always trying to accelerate the process as much as possible.

His offense has different tempos, designed to keep a defense off guard within a game or even a drive. Fedora never lets his personal pace slow by much.

“I’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Fedora said. “They don’t know me. I don’t want it to be, they don’t get to know me for five years. I want them to have a relationship with me now.”

Prominently displayed on the coffee table in his office are Carlo D’Este’s biography of George Patton, the controversial World War II general, and Sun Tzu’s “Art of War.” Fedora’s main takeaway from the Patton bio?

“His philosophy of moving fast,” Fedora said. “When I started this offense back in 1999, a lot of it came from that philosophy: Moving fast, attack the enemy, constantly be attacking, don’t wait for something to happen, put them on the defensive.”

That also applies to his practices, the pace of which his players are only beginning to comprehend after weeks of spring drills. They never got close to moving as quickly as Fedora wanted them to move. The fact that he anticipated it would take some time to adjust, based on going through the same process when he arrived at Southern Mississippi four years ago, made it no less frustrating.

Meanwhile, the one thing Fedora would really like to move along as quickly as possible, the fallout from the NCAA investigation of the football program under his predecessor, Butch Davis, continues to linger. Just this week, the university released the results of its examination into academic fraud in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies.

All of his players were given a clean slate when he arrived, and with the NCAA sanctions handed down, Fedora would just as soon get the program to that point as well.

“I haven’t looked back since,” Fedora said. “I have a lot of people trying to drag me back there, but I haven’t looked back. And don’t intend to, because what good is it?”

There’s really only one campus contingent he hasn’t spent much time with yet: his fellow coaches. Many of them have similarly busy schedules — and, he can’t help but notice, considerable records of conference and national success.

“Let’s get football to that level,” Fedora said. “You’d have utopia, basically.”

For Fedora, utopia can’t come quickly enough.

DeCock: luke.decock@newsobserver.com, (919) 829-8947, Twitter: @LukeDeCock

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