For a while now, Larry Fedora has started every North Carolina team meeting with the same saying, the same phrase to remind the Tar Heels of their goals. It goes like this:
“Coastal Division champs, state champs,” Fedora said Monday, repeating what he has said over and over again in front of his team. “I mean, that’s it. I don’t really get into it. I just tell them our goal every week.”
How long has Fedora been doing it this way – opening team meetings with the reminder that winning the Coastal and winning the mythical state championship are the Tar Heels’ two primary goals?
“Since spring ball,” middle linebacker Jeff Schoettmer said. “He just wants that ingrained in our heads and us to be constantly thinking about it. And I think that’s really helped us. Every day since spring ball, he comes in the team meeting, it’s ‘Coastal champs, state champs.’
“Guys are always thinking about it, and it’s really, really helped us.”
With one victory in its final two games – at Virginia Tech this weekend, at N.C. State the next – the Tar Heels would win the Coastal Division.
Every day since spring ball, he comes in the team meeting, it’s ‘Coastal champs, state champs.’
UNC’s Jeff Schoettmer on Larry Fedora
The only way UNC doesn’t win the Coastal is if it loses its final two games, and if Pittsburgh defeats both Louisville and Miami during the next two weekends. So the odds are in the Tar Heels’ favor. They’re in command of the Coastal and on the cusp of clinching.
Which begs the question: Is it time for UNC to adjust its goals? To think bigger?
Is it time for Fedora to add winning the ACC championship to the list of his team’s goals – to start opening meetings with something like, “ACC champs, Coastal Division champs, state champs?”
“Nope,” Fedora said, before going on with the same sentiment. “No. Nope. That’s not the goal.”
It would become the goal if UNC clinches the Coastal, presumably. But it isn’t now.
“I won’t change it, really,” Fedora said. “There’s no need to change. Why? Why would we change it? We’re like trained pigs. We’ve got something, we just keep doing it over and over and over.”
And so over and over and over, he has emphasized the same thing: winning the division. And winning the state championship, which UNC would do with a victory at N.C. State on the final weekend of the regular season. The Tar Heels already have defeated Wake Forest and Duke.
Keeping the goals the same is one way Fedora has maintained his team’s focus. The team’s goals haven’t changed. And neither has its approach and focus week to week.
Fedora said the Tar Heels come practice the same way every day. They end practice the same way. And they start meetings the same way, with Fedora saying, “Coastal Division champs, state champs.”
“It’s boring for you guys and monotonous, but for them, it’s routine and it’s comfort that they’re having success doing things a certain way,” Fedora said. “So there is no need to look anywhere else. It’s just, let’s keep doing it the way we’re doing it.”
It has been repetitive, but that is by design. Win on Saturday at Virginia Tech and opening up meetings with “Coastal Division champs” will also be unnecessary, too. Unless Fedora would want to remind his team of what it’s already become.