North Carolina won the ACC Coastal Division this year, but it won’t ever be recognized by anyone other than the school.
The Tar Heels were under NCAA sanctions this season, which made them ineligible for any division or conference titles, or a bowl game. So, it didn’t matter that North Carolina went 5-3 in conference play and won its division thanks to a tiebreaker. Miami will be the Coastal Division winner of record in every record book that matters.
Still, that didn’t stop the university, at coach Larry Fedora’s behest, to give every member of the 2012 team a Coastal Division championship ring, which is drawing outrage from ACC fans, who are calling North Carolina all sorts of names, including arrogant.
But Brian Barbour from TarHeelBlog.com makes a good point — none of the players or coaches on the 2012 team were involved in the academic issues that led to the postseason ban. The NCAA had to punish the school for the academic misdeeds of past regimes, but that doesn’t mean the 2012 Tar Heels shouldn’t get to relish in their accomplishment.
Ohio State, which is under a similar cloud of NCAA sanctions, gave its players rings celebrating a 12-0 season even though it was not allowed to play in the Big Ten championship or participate in a bowl game. The university even framed a picture of the team and placed it along with some of the highest achieving teams in program history.
While the actions of both Ohio State and North Carolina might bring in a world of criticism, it’s also a way to acknowledge what the players did with no end game and the appreciation of their universities for continuing to play hard despite poor circumstances.
Miami and Wisconsin might have won the ACC Coastal Division and the Big Ten Leaders Division in the history books, but North Carolina and Ohio State want to make sure the efforts of their football players and coaches don’t go unnoticed.
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H/T @uncfootball for the photos