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Tar Heels Step Into Tar Hell

After spending a year mired in scandals, and giving Coach Butch Davis several votes of confidence, the North Carolina Tar Heels, in an astonishing example of horrid timing, finally fired Davis.

The North Carolina football program has been a mess for almost a year, from various academic scandals to payoffs involving agents.

Former UNC tutor Jennifer Wiley -- at one time privately employed by Davis to tutor his son -- was linked to allegations of academic fraud.

John "Black Santa" Blake, a close friend of Davis and the UNC recruiting coordinator, reportedly had received more than $31,000 for steering players to the late Gary Wichard, an NFL agent.

Still Davis survived.

Butch Davis was at ACC Media Days earlier this week -- and out of a job less than 48 hours later.

The timing of the move could hardly be worse for the Tar Heel football program. With practice beginning in eight days, there seems to be no choice now but to hire an interim head coach for the entire season, and if it comes from the current staff there is no chance that it will be for more than the 2011 season. You have to assume that UNC will clean house.

For the second year in a row Tar Heel football players (many of whom were not involved in the allegations) must get ready for a season filled with uncertainty. By making the move so late in the summer, the UNC Administration gives the players precious little time to adjust to the new situation, and there will no doubt be players who deeply resent the firing of Davis, and the tenuous situation it creates.

As to why now, there are a couple of theories: Davis is set to release his personal cell phone records and there is speculation (denied by UNC sources) that they could connect him to some of the NCAA violations. Carolina March wonders if Michael McAdoo's plagiarism forced UNC to fire Butch Davis.

There is a new Chairman of the Board of Trustees at North Carolina and he may have put pressure on Chancellor Holden Thorp and Athletics Director Dick Baddour to start the clean up now.

Perhaps UNC looked at the NCAA suddenly becoming willing to go after high profile programs, and that Ohio State let Jim Tressel go out the door and Tennessee got rid of Bruce Pearl -- both after being called before the NCAA infractions committee -- and decided to make the same move.

In that case:

Oregon and Chip Kelly are now officially on the clock.