THE DOGWOODS are blooming; the sweet smell of pine pollen is in the air. That can only mean one thing: it's time for spring football -- and for the fans to start coaching the coach.
Please know we already love you, Coach Davis. Signing Day made sure of that. Anybody who can snatch an Everybody's All-American from the grubby hands of Notre Dame should be on the fast track to sainthood (not that you'll get any help from Pope Benedict on that.)
Still, my question to you is this: Do you really want to be a head football coach? If the answer is yes, I would like for you to know that new medications are coming out every day that may treat this syndrome. But if you can't be dissuaded, here are a few tips to make your stay happier, healthier, longer and less perplexing.
Since your introductory press conference, I am sure you've been told that North Carolina is the state; Carolina is the school. We don't "recruit Carolina." Don't get mixed up by James Taylor singing, "In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina." After you get an overpass over a minor creek named after you, you can call this state anything you want too -- until then stick to standard usage.
But on second thought, given how well you "recruited Carolina," we could care less what you call this place.
Don't let delusional people in the state of South Carolina who think that some university down there is "Carolina" get you befuddled either. Simply note that they still fly a Confederate flag on their state capitol grounds, so it is to be expected that their knowledge of historical geography is a bit muddled.
Yes, as you noted in a newspaper Q&A about the N.C. State rivalry, UNC is the chief rival of most of its ACC opponents. Yes -- but that doesn't make them ours! Our beloved alma mater does not say "Go to Hell, BC, Clemson, Tech, Miami or Wake!" During football season, it says quite clearly and distinctly, "Go to Hell, State!" (Not that I share such a crass sentiment, but that's what it says.) Don't get me wrong, we like beating those other schools -- but the one we hate is NC State!
Our football team has lost a bazillion games in row in Scott Stadium in Charlottesville; nobody cares. If you add a few more to the string, nobody will care. Lose three straight to N.C. State and you will care that your lawyer put a fat buyout clause in your contract. (Don't believe me? Ask Chuck Amato.)
Since you may lose a few games before you start winning them all, please note that we like good winners, but even more than that we dislike bad losers.
Exemplars of how to conduct yourself before the press include Dean Smith, Anson Dorrance, Sylvia Hatchell, Roy Williams, but I personally would recommend John Bunting. This university, maybe no university, has ever had a coach who conducted himself with more class and dignity in victory and in defeat. Like John Bunting, when you win, don't take credit, pass it on. When you lose, don't make excuses, take the blame -- and don't pass it on.
Also, you'll win lots of friends if you'll do like Coach Bunting and stay to the last note of the alma mater with your hat over your heart. (Concerning substitution patterns for running backs, however, maybe you should look for another role model.)
And we don't like coaches running up the score -- unless it’s when we play Steve Superior’s South Carolina Gamecocks next season. And we don’t like gloating -- unless it’s after whuppin' up on Steve Superior’s South Carolina Gamecocks next season.
And while we are happy to read about recruits committing to us in February, we don't like to read about crimes they are committing on others in November. And we will be especially happy to read about games they win early in January.
Finally, Carolina is a basketball school. Win five national championships before the basketball team wins another and perhaps that will change. In the meantime, we are glad that you understand that until our basketball players start sacking our quarterback, basketball success doesn't hurt football; it helps.
Other coaches may not have understood this. I earnestly think the beginning of the end for Mack Brown at UNC was the day in 1997 he held his regularly scheduled weekly press conference, when his team was on its way to finishing the season ranked fourth in the nation -- and no one showed up. No one. Reports were it really bothered him. This will happen in Chapel Hill whenever Dean Smith holds his retirement press conference.
Gary D. Gaddy, according to his brother-in-law who really wouldn't know, stays in the stadium until after the coach has gone home, win, lose or draw.
A version of this article appeared in the April 12, 2007 Chapel Hill Herald. Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy