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Heels impressed with new coach

By Bret Strelow

Salisbury Post

CHAPEL HILL — John Bunting coached North Carolina for seven seasons and had the most success in his first, when the Tar Heels beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

New coach Butch Davis plans to win immediately and with more regularity.

“The first thing he said was, ‘If they expect me to come in here and win the Peach Bowl, they’ve got the wrong person. I want to come here and get in a BCS game,’ ” linebacker Chase Rice said. “It’s inspiring to come in and know he’s someone who really wants to come out and make a big difference to the program.”

Chancellor James Moeser and athletics director Dick Baddour introduced Davis as the school’s 33rd football coach Monday afternoon.

Baddour announced his intention to hire Davis two weeks ago, and the Tar Heels won their final two games with Bunting in charge.

Davis led Miami to three Big East championships in six seasons and went to the NFL after the Hurricanes beat Florida in the 2001 Sugar Bowl. He left his job as head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2004 and had been working as an analyst for the NFL Network.

Davis met with UNC’s returning players about an hour before the start of his press conference at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center.

“Everybody was in the meeting at least 10 minutes before the meeting started,” junior safety Trimane Goddard said.

The reaction afterward was just as telling.

“It was funny,” junior center Scott Lenahan said. “After he left the room, everybody was hoping the season started a month later.”

Davis discussed his plans for the program and instructed players to arrive at next week’s meeting with their own list of goals.

Mack Brown’s final UNC team went 11-1 in 1997, and Carl Torbush lasted three years.

Bunting led the Tar Heels to one winning season and two bowl games. His 27-45 record included back-to-back victories against rivals N.C. State and Duke to conclude the 2006 campaign.

“(Davis) didn’t think we were a 3-9 team,” Goddard said. “A 3-9 team could have easily given up. The Duke game, a lot of things went on where we could have given up, but we kept fighting. Right now we’re on a two-game winning streak, and he said, ‘Let’s make it 14.’ ”

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Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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