The ACC Kickoff continues in Charlotte on Friday but the North Carolina part of it is over. Indeed, the Tar Heels came … they spoke … they left. And not without a bit of controversy, either. (We’ll get to that.)
UNC coach Larry Fedora – along with seniors Des Lawrence and Ryan Switzer – met with the scribes for a little more than an hour on Thursday. Among the themes: Building off of last season’s success. And Fedora believes the Tar Heels aren’t far away.
Fedora said many, many other things on Thursday, too. Here are some of the most memorable quotes:
“Somebody would have to show me some real data for me to change my mind that it was that dangerous and that we need to take that way play out of the game.”
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-on the thought that kickoffs might be eliminated from college football
“Not to say that we won’t take a tackle and move a tackle in there. We’re going to put our best five in there. Even if the guy is long and tall, we may still put him in there inside if he’s one of our best players.”
-on filling John Ferranto’s spot at right guard. Ferranto is out for the year with an injury
“It makes you feel better that the things you’re doing right, you’re making progress. As you mention yourself over the time, you’re four years into it, you’ve won 11 games – you hope, in your fifth year, that you’re going to win more than that.”
-on success and building off of it
“I’m going to say that gap is closing. I mean, Clemson was the No. 1 team in the country last year and was as good as it gets, OK? Other than an onside kick and a kickoff return, right? And I wasn’t referring to our onside kick, I was referring to the national championship game. But we were an onside kick of playing toe to toe with them. So we’re not that far away, all right? And our kids know that.”
-on the gap between UNC and Clemson and Florida State at the top of the ACC
“I believe we have the talent to be better than our numbers said we were last year. Now whether or not we do that, I don’t know.”
-on being better on offense after a record-setting season last year
“I look at it as you’ve got three guys with tremendous pedigrees, every single one of them, who they have just strengthened the Coastal Division. They’ve made the Coastal Division tougher than it was before.”
-on the new head coaching hires in the Coastal Division at Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech
“There are way too many camps in my opinion, all over this country. The way we have satellite camps right now, it’s kind of like a little bit the wild, wild west. I mean, there’s all kinds of things going on. I’m not saying anybody’s doing anything. I’m just telling you there’s things going on there. I’m against it, but I’m also blessed to be in an area where kids come to our campus. And so we don’t feel like we have to go somewhere else to be able to do that.”
-on satellite camps
“We don’t have to defend what was going on at the University of North Carolina now. We’re selling all the time. Instead of, if I’m going to be in that home for an hour with that kid and his family – for 45 minutes I’m defending myself. I am answering the questions that other people have put in their minds about the University of North Carolina. And for 15 minutes, I get to sell. Now it’s the full hour of selling what we have to offer at The University of North Carolina.”
-on how recruiting has become easier
“It’s easier for us to recruit in the state of North Carolina now. You guys made it very, very difficult for us to recruit in the state of North Carolina. But it’s much easier now because they’re not reading negative things about our university on a daily basis. I’m not blaming any of you guys. Don’t get me – that’s not what I’m saying. But all the negativity that was here when I got here was all those kids saw.
-on how recruiting has become easier (again)
“We wanted to stay as basic as possible for our players. And it helped us be successful last year. No doubt about it. Now, Gene (Chizik) and the defensive know, we’ve got to expand our package. And we will. And we have. And so you’ll see some different things defensively from us.”
-on increasing the complexity of the defensive scheme
“That was a very well-thought out thing. If I did this, everybody would talk about my beard, they wouldn’t talk about football.”
“You know, I don’t know. I’d have to have a closed door meeting with Paul Ryan and then discuss that.”
-on Ryan’s assertion that UNC, N.C. State fans would cheer for the opposing team in a championship game
“I mean, for a woman, you don’t realize it, but there’s a huge growing process for a young man, from 17, to 21-, 22-years-old. I mean, it really is.”
-to a female reporter, in response to a question about Des Lawrence’s maturity
Brooke Pryor, who asked Fedora the question, transcribed the answer and shared it on Twitter not long after. Deadspin picked it up. It became a story, much to Pryor’s dismay (reporters – many of us, at least – have little desire to become the news instead of reporting the news).
It was a foot-in-mouth moment for Fedora. He later apologized to Pryor, in person and individually. Is it a huge, big-deal-moment of a story? Perhaps not. Nonetheless, men – male coaches, male writers, male fans – aren’t in the best position to judge what is or isn’t offensive to a woman.
And the reality is that in the male-dominated world of major college sports – and male pro sports leagues, for that matter – the women who cover them probably put up with more than any of us who aren’t in their shoes will ever understand. This was one example of that.