After UNC's gutsy performance last night against LSU in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Associate Head Coach, Defensive Line Coordinator, and Recruiting Coordinator, John Blake has resigned effectively immediately.
Blake was on staff with Head Coach Butch Davis since Davis was hired before the 2007 season. He coached at all levels of competition from high school to the NFL's Dallas Cowboys where he coached with Butch Davis . Blake won two Super Bowls as the D-line Coordinator of the Cowboys. He also served as Head Coach of the Oklahoma Sooners for three years prior to the hiring of Coach Bob Stoops.
The resignation of Blake comes amid the lingering investigation into several UNC players' relationships with agents. Blake maintains a relationship with Gary Wichard, an NFL agent at the heart of the NCAA's investigation into improper benefits received by scholarship-athletes.
After coaching at Oklahoma, Blake worked with Wichard's Pro Tect Management Corporation as VP of Football Operations. His duties included working out players to prepare them for the NFL Draft as described by a brochure for prospective clients in the late '90s.
However, even as Blake returned to the coaching world, too many connections remained between he and Wichard, including current Seattle Seahawk DE Kentwan Balmer. Balmer played under Blake in his final season at UNC before being selected in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He was and is represented by Wichard.
Whether Blake steered Balmer and others to Wichard over the years is simply speculation, but too many coincidences have landed both Blake and Wichard in the midst of the NCAA investigation.
Regardless, without Blake on UNC's coaching staff, Butch Davis will either have to hire another coordinator or rearrange his assistants to compensate for the loss. But the effect on the D-line will be nothing compared to the effect on recruiting.
According to ESPN.com's recruiting class rankings, UNC has turned in three top 25 classes in the four years under Butch Davis, and the No. 11 class in 2007. In large part, John Blake's efforts garnered strong national attention on the recruiting trail.
So far for the 2011 class, UNC has 17 players verbally committed, 3 from the ESPNU 150, and is still in the hunt for several more. UNC may lose out on recruits who had developed a strong relationship with Blake including those who have verbally committed.
Verbal commits have the option to change universities before signing a letter of intent on or after National Signing Day - February 2, 2011.
Several players over the years have reported the likability of Blake and his convincing arguments. He obviously has a way with players as evidenced by his success as a recruiter and coordinator. Including Balmer, three defensive lineman from UNC have been selected in the NFL Draft in the last three years (EJ Wilson 4th round 2010, Cam Thomas 5th round 2010), with several more projected to be drafted high in 2011.
The fallout from UNC's tumultuous summer continues with Blake being simply the latest casualty as the future of the program has altered course.