North Carolina's Football Program: Setback Or Breakthrough Season?

Gary SuggContributor IINovember 11, 2010

CHAPEL HILL - OCTOBER 25: Head coach Butch Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts on the field during the game against the Boston College Eagles at Kenan Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The North Carolina Tarheels entered the 2010 football season with hopes of having a turn-around season.

It was all there: A defense filled with NFL prospects and a fourth-year quarterback leading an offense with great chemistry. Could this be the beginning to the Butch Davis dynasty in Chapel Hill?

The hype was massive, with preseason rankings in the Top 25; it was looking to be the most promising season for the Tarheels since their Peach Bowl appearance in 2001.

Today, North Carolina is left to ask, "What if?" after 13 player suspensions.

Other questions linger as well: Will Butch Davis be terminated, is the program’s reputation tarnished beyond repair?

This media stir evokes the real question, “What is the future of Tarheel football?”

Some would be quick to say that North Carolina football will never be respected again, but we have to remind ourselves that we are talking about North Carolina football. This is a collegiate program that has never been in a continuous thought with the likes of National powerhouses and has not been to a BCS bowl in school history. 

Take a moment and look past the NCAA violations and suspensions of this season. Are the expectations for this club rising?

The only thing that North Carolina can do with this season’s events is to begin to establish the “new” Carolina. The “new” Carolina will be one of high expectations, drawing from both inside the program as well as from the college football nation.

As for Davis? The University shows no signs of letting him even glance away from his head coaching position. “I Support Butch” t-shirts have been in print to help show the true appreciation and respect he has from the Tarheel faithful, and he is regarded with no hostility.                       

So, has this season been a disappointment for the North Carolina nation? Seeing as they are now bowl eligible after Saturday’s upset against Florida State, don’t be so quick to criticize.  They surely could have marched straight to a top ten ranking after the beat and battered lineup had a decent go at LSU (Currently BCS # 5) in the season opener.

National Championship? Who knows, but those are only questions. The time has come for the ‘Heels to look forward and make statements.