Warriors Don’t Need Blindfolds

January17/ 2000

A coward dies many deaths … the Valiant taste of death but once!” I am now on record predicting a coaching change at UNC within the next 60 days. I want to quickly distance myself from the hyenas, vultures, and assorted carrion-eaters who have and will be joining me in this prediction. John Bunting is my friend … but I have an obligation to give you readers straight talk as I see it.  My prediction will not “doom” John.  Too many Ls for UNC compared to too many Ws for our “comparables” have done that.  But John Bunting will “decline the blindfold”.

   There is a great scene in “The Vikings” (Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, etc) in which Ernest Borgnine, one of Ragnar’s (Kirk’s) lieutenants, is facing execution by the Saxons or some such enemy army.  He will be executed by being thrown into a pit of ravenous wolves.  Ernie beats the executioner by grabbing a guard’s sword and jumping into the wolf pit on his own … “to a warrior’s death”.  John Bunting is a warrior.  He has not been a successful Div 1-A Head Football Coach but he is “a warrior”.

   The “blindfold” refers to the practice of letting a firing squad “subject” chose to be blindfolded or not.  John Bunting will decline the blindfold.  He will accept his fate with his head up and looking his executioners in the eye. By looking straight ahead he will also avoid the bottomfeeding human cockroaches gloating at his demise.

   I am not implying that John is being unfairly deposed.  He simply has not been successful enough within an allowable time frame.  The “just needs more time” argument does not fly.  Al Groh, Chuck Amato, Ralph Friedgen and Jim Grobe determined the allowable time more so than did Baddour and Moeser.  

   I have read all the convoluted data about “who inherited what talent” among these other coaches.  Figures don’t lie, Liars can figure; but Coaches better win.  For the several narrow losses to ASU and “Cuse … there have been narrow wins over ECU in 2001 and a 6” squeaker over Duke in 2002.  All the “what ifs” even out.  Football ain’t horseshoes or hand grenade throwing.  “Close” rents you time … “Wins” get you a contract extension.

   John’s most loyal friends will steadfastly defend him and somehow blame Dickie.  Carolina is not a “Football School” or a “Basketball School” or a “Women’s Soccer School” … Carolina has become a “Blame Dickie School”.  In truth, John was given the resources and facilities and as much time as the widening gap behind the “comparables” would permit.

   My friend John Bunting was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be Head Football Coach at UNC.  His resume had several obvious deficiencies that most Head Coach hirers would have keyed on.  Dickie chose to weigh “bleeds blue” and “really wants to” above “Big Time college coaching experience” … “familiarity with modern recruiting” … “peer management experience” … and “media savvy”.  Scattered among all those liabilities were simply too many land mines to navigate.

   Who among all of us, given the opportunity, would have said “Thank you for the offer Dickie but I do not feel I am qualified for this dream job?”  Cast no stones. 

   The N&O ran a dramatic and sad picture of John standing alone at attention, cap over heart, singing Hark The Sound after the Louisville rout.  I sure do wish they had not used that picture.  It did John no good nor the University.  I guess we’re “lucky” that the damn N&O is so pro-UNC … huh! 

   There are no “win 4 or 5 for The Gipper” speeches but maybe, just maybe, a miracle in Kenan on October 9?  That would be a nice fairy tale ending to a lingering nightmare. 

   Most of the past four years has been a pretty rocky road … the next 60 days promises more “character building” opportunities for coaches, players, and Tar Heel fans. If John’s head coaching dream must die over the next 8 weeks … let it be “a warrior’s death”.  John Bunting IS, and always will be, ONE OF US.


     Swagger’s Stumper

Who were The Ricardos landlords?


   General McAuliffe said “Nuts” to the German surrender suggestion.  Oh, of course, WE WON THE FREAKIN’ WAR!

   The weekend column, to no surprise, set a new SwaggerSays record for views in the first 24 hours.  Sumbitch musta traveled around the world twice.  I kinda feel like the guy with the chain saw franchise in South Florida … profiting off of the misfortunes of others.  Hey, you either hear it from me or someone you can’t trust.

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