North Carolina fires Larry Fedora after 2-9 season

Nick Bromberg
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora is now former UNC coach Larry Fedora. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
North Carolina coach Larry Fedora is now former UNC coach Larry Fedora. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

North Carolina is making a coaching change. The school said Sunday that Larry Fedora had been fired after a 2-9 season.

Fedora’s tenure at North Carolina began in 2012 and got progressively worse over the past three seasons. UNC peaked under his watch in 2015 when the Tar Heels went 11-3 and got as high as No. 8 in the AP poll.

UNC fell to 8-5 in 2016 and cratered in 2017 with a 3-9 record. Much of that struggle was attributed to injuries so the Tar Heels were a big bounceback candidate in 2018. That never happened.

Per the school, Fedora will receive his $12 million buyout spread out over four years.

“We appreciate all that Larry Fedora has done for us over the last seven years – coming to Carolina in the midst of an NCAA case and bringing stability to our football program when we most needed it,” athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement.

“Despite injuries, despite setbacks and hardships, Larry never made excuses. He focused his teams on overcoming adversity, and I deeply respect the way he persevered and led our program each day with integrity through some tough times. This was not an easy decision because of the deep affinity I have for Larry. It simply is time to take our football program in a new direction.”

[Pete Thamel: 10 candidates for the North Carolina coaching job]

UNC had a dreadful season

UNC only beat Pitt and Western Carolina in 2018. The Pitt win stands out as the Panthers bounced back to reach the ACC Championship Game. But it was preceded by losses to Cal and Eastern Carolina and then succeeded by six straight losses before UNC beat Western on Nov. 17.

“The last two seasons have been challenging and heartbreaking,” Fedora said in a statement. “The results are not what we wanted and it has been frustrating for everyone involved — coaches, athletes, fans and supporters alike. The results did not reflect the commitment and hard work put in by our players and staff. The players never quit — ever. That speaks to the character of this team and this great university.”

The Tar Heels lost to rival NC State 34-28 in overtime on Saturday, a game that ended with an end zone brawl. Couple that with Fedora’s preseason comments about how the decline of football would lead to the decline of America and you have a North Carolina football season that will be remembered most for two things that have nothing to do with the program’s success.

Part of the reason for North Carolina’s decline can be attributed to a lack of production at quarterback. Marquise Williams and Mitchell Trubisky played QB for North Carolina’s last two bowl teams. Brandon Harris as a graduate transfer didn’t work out for the 2017 team and Nathan Elliott averaged less than seven yards an attempt with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2018.

Fedora came to North Carolina after a successful tenure at Southern Miss. He was 34-19 in four seasons at the school and his final team at Southern Miss went 12-2.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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