Don’t be surprised if UNC-Fedora marriage lasts a few more years


North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora endured a frustrating month of November as his Tar Heels suffered upset losses to Duke and NC State.

It was a head-scratcher of a season for UNC. The Tar Heels claimed road victories against Florida State and Miami yet suffered inexplicable setbacks to the Blue Devils and Wolfpack, who went a combined 2-12 in league play this fall against foes not named UNC. It marked just the second time since 1989 that the Tar Heels lost in football to Duke and NCSU in the same season.

As recently as a decade ago, UNC fans would have been thrilled with 19 wins over two consecutive seasons. But it’s impossible to say the Tar Heels progressed in 2016 over 2015, given the way the regular season ended.

Prior to UNC’s late-season collapse, Fedora’s name was being thrown around as a candidate for a variety of high-profile coaching jobs, including LSU and Texas.

Fast forward to the end of November, however, and the Tigers and Longhorns have filled their respective positions. And while 247Sports reported this week that Fedora could be a candidate for the Baylor job, insiders close to the UNC head coach insist that he’s not considering leaving Chapel Hill for Waco, even for more money.

The 2017 season will be a challenging one for the Heels. They’ll lose several key components in the offseason, including Ryan Switzer, T.J. Logan, Bug Howard, Mack Hollins, Lucas Crowley and Jon Heck. That’s just on the offense alone. Then there are the NFL Draft decisions of rising seniors Nazair Jones, Mitch Trubisky and Elijah Hood.

UNC will be hard-pressed to compete for an ACC title next fall. With Notre Dame and Louisville both returning to North Carolina’s schedule, even going 8-4 again will be a chore.

Fedora is poised to return to UNC for a sixth season. But given the projected makeup of the 2017 Tar Heel roster, he will have to do a truly remarkable coaching job to be given as much attention as a hot up-and-comer in the national coaching ranks.