Now that a new season has begun many would say it's too late, but with an abysmal 4 and 1 record and one preseason poll picking them to finish 6th in the nation, it is clear something must be done about North Carolina women's soccer program. No excuses about losing five starters to graduation, or having three more off playing on national teams, or having to start five freshmen, or a "narrow loss on the road to very good team and in double overtime" will really compensate for this pathetic start to the season.
The dust has settled on last year's disgraceful conclusion. After making a dispassionate evaluation of the past season, of the coach and of the overall direction of the UNC women's soccer program, the conclusion is simple: enough is enough. When your team had won 95% of all of its games in its history; had been in every Final Four and all but one championship game for 19 consecutive years, and had won 16 of the first 19 NCAA championships held, you have a right to expect more than a record of 23-1-1. The question before us is straight-forward, the one every real fan regularly asks of his team and his coach: What have you done for me lately? Without a Final Four appearance, 23-1-1 just doesn't cut it.
Look at the cold, hard facts. UNC now has 17 NCAA Division I championships versus 7 for the rest of the universities in the U.S. This is simply not acceptable. If things keep going like they have for the past five years (and I certainly hope they won't!), all the other colleges combined will have more championships than UNC in 2021. How would that feel, Tar Heel fans?
Who is to blame? I can point a finger at only one person -- Anson Dorrance. If he hadn't produced so many great players who contributed to the increased profile of women's soccer through their success in the Olympics and the World Championships, there wouldn't be so many great young female players now that they couldn't all play for UNC. He should of thought about that before he coached the U.S. National team to the first ever Women's World Championship in 1991. Did he honestly think all of those young fans could play at Carolina? Where did he think they would go?
Let's face it, the 21st century has not been good to Coach Dorrance. UNC has won one out of five championships held since the year 2000. Clearly the 602 career wins have taken their toll on Dorrance. Perhaps it was the jumping up and down, or maybe the Gatorade baths, celebrating championships. With only three appearances in the Final Four in last five years, he should have had time to begin to recover by now. Sure Carolina went 27-0-0 in 2003, outscoring its opponents 132-11 on the season, including 32 goals to none in six NCAA Tournament matches -- but that was three years ago, for God's sake!
A career record of 602-27-18 may sound good on the surface, but not when five of those losses and seven of those ties are in the last five years -- that's one loss and almost one and half ties a year! Can it get any worse? Let's hope not!
Still, I'm all about grace, mercy and forgiveness, so I say give him a game-to-game contract. If the team turns it around, goes undefeated and untied, he can finish out the season. An undefeated, untied and unscored-upon national championship season next year and we can talk about a new one-year contract for Dorrance. Otherwise it's time to find out if John Wooden is still alive and if he knows anything about soccer.
To help me in my quest to see Tar Heel women's soccer return to the place that it rightfully ours, go to FireAnsonDorrance.com, and join with me in starting the process of throwing the bum out. Without your support, I may have to move on to my next project: RoyHasToGo.com. In either case, enjoy your season, fans.
Gary D. Gaddy, a recovering professor of journalism and statistical consultant, is a writer and fan of Jonathan Swift. Gaddy would have played soccer in his youth in the 1960s -- if there had been a single team (varsity, JV, club, rec league or pickup) on which to play in his hometown of Danville, Virginia.
A version of this column was published in the Chapel Hill Herald, September 5, 2006. Copyright 2006 Gary D. Gaddy