Larry Fedora: Grading the North Carolina Hire

Bryn Renner and Tar Heels fans have a new coach. Coaches By the Numbers grades the hire.


North Carolina has named Larry Fedora its next head football coach. In July of this year, we laid out our thoughts on the situation at UNC and named a few names for who we thought might be solid replacements for Butch Davis

Larry Fedora was not on our list.

Fedora will take over a UNC program that we believe is a sleeping giant of a program. Since 2002, the Tar Heels have had an average recruiting ranking of 22.20 (only Miami and Florida State have had better talent since 2002 in the ACC) and certainly have the name recognition, local talent base, and resources to compete for ACC Championships.

However, when we refer to UNC being a sleeping giant, it's important to remember that someone has to wake them up from their sleeping state. Over the last eleven seasons, the Tar Heels have had five losing seasons, lost at least five games in each and every year, never won their side of the ACC or competed for a conference championship, and have not finished a single season ranked in the AP Top 25. Don't forget that UNC was doing (or not doing) all of this with top 25 talent. So, is Larry Fedora the right man to wake UNC from its slumber? Below is our analysis of the hire:

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Larry Fedora - Hiring Summary

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  • Fedora is no stranger to putting up impressive offensive numbers. From 2001-Present as both an offensive coordinator and head coach, Larry Fedora's teams have finished the season in the top 25 in scoring offense in seven of his eleven years on the sidline. In his four years at the helm of Southern Miss, Fedora's teams have scored 30 or more points 63.46% of the time. Among active head coaches with three years minimum experience, only eight head coaches have scored 30 or more points a higher percentage of the time.
  • As a head coach or coordinator since 2001, Fedora has only been involved in one losing season. Over the last two years, Fedora has won 73.08% of his overall games, 70.59% of his conference games, and a Conference USA Championship.
  • Fedora has coached at major programs such as Florida and Oklahoma State and is certainly familiar with what it takes to coach at the highest levels of college football.
  • He wears a visor with more style than Chip Kelly.
  • Although Fedora has only been involved with one losing season since 2001, he has also only been involved with two teams that didn't lose at least five games.
  • In the five years prior to taking over the Southern Miss program, the Golden Eagles won nine games twice and 60.94% of their overall games. Even including Fedora's 11-2 2011 season, he has only won 63.46% of his games at Southern Miss. Prior to the 2011 season, most folks would have been closer to putting Larry Fedora on a hot seat than on a pedestal.
  • As a head coach, Larry Fedora has been involved in 23 games decided by seven points or less. Coach Fedora has won 39.13% (9) of these games.
  • At Southern Miss, Fedora has played 30 of his 49 games with superior talent. Of these 30 games played with superior talent, Fedora has a winning percentage of just 63.33% (19-11). For comparison, from 2004-2007, former Golden Eagles head coach Jeff Bower won 78.57% (11-3) of the games he coached with superior talent. One of the biggest issues UNC has had over the years is not winning enough of the games that they should have won. It appears they may have hired someone with this same problem.
  • Coach Fedora has a losing record (6-8) against teams finishing the season over .500.
  • Larry Fedoora lost three straight years to a UAB program that has won just 30% of its games over the last five years. In fact, 25% of UAB's win over the last three years have come against Larry Fedora.
  • The last time we checked, the Ron Zook coaching tree was shaking off many fruitful branches as far as head coaches go.
  • What will Larry Fedora's staff look like at UNC. In Fedora's first two years at Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles went 14-12 and averaged 31.77 points per game. In the last two years with Blake Anderson taking over as the offensive coordinator and assuming a lot of the play calling duties, the Golden Eagles went 19-7 and averaged 37.35 points per game. If we were UNC fans, we would be hoping Coach Anderson is also looking for a house in Chapel Hill.
CBTN Conclusion

WYSIATI is an acronym used sometimes by psychologist to refer to an error the human brain makes when making certain decisions. The acronym stands for What You See Is All There Is. The idea behind WYSIATI is simple and is very much in line with what radio host Colin Cowherd refers to as the "Prisoners of the Moment."

Far too often, we simply see what is in front of our face and conclude "that is all there is." For example, Larry Fedora's team went 11-2 this year and won their conference championship. WYSIATI and Larry Fedora should be a candidate for every major head coaching job in college football, right?

Wrong. At least for now.

As we have pointed out in this analysis, sometimes you have to look beyond what is in front of your face to see the bigger picture. Was Larry Fedora's name being thrown around last year for major (or even minor) coaching vacancies? If not, you may want to ask why? We like Larry Fedora and applaud his 2011 season. He might be the next great head coach in college football. However, it is our belief that we should let him have back-to-back good seasons before offering him jobs like North Carolina.

If you are going to talk about Fedora's great 2011 season, you also have to talk about the three years prior to 2011 when Fedora underachieved as a head coach or his losing record against over .500 teams or his 1-3 record against UAB or his underwhelming winning percentage with superior talent.

Some folks may be asking how we could not think Larry Fedora should get the head coaching at a school like UNC but that an unproven offensive coordinator like Gus Malzahn should? Our answer is simple: we like the unproven head coaching upside of Gus Malzahn better than the proven reality of Larry Fedora's head coaching career.

From our standpoint, Larry Fedora has shown that he can score points. However, he has also shown an ability to underachieve as both a coordinator and head coach and lose far too many games he has no business losing. New UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cummingham is taking the risk that what he saw in Fedora in 2011 is all there is. In the end, he may be rewarded for taking this risk. For us, the numbers simply weren't there when we looked at the bigger picture to warrant Larry Fedora landing one of the better jobs in the ACC.

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