Obviously throughout the course of the investigation, there's a certain amount of it – the administration has handled the entire lion's share of it. Obviously, the most important aspect of it from a coach's standpoint, from my standpoint, from a player's standpoint, is to be fully cooperative. And again, I've said this several times, I commend the administration for the way in which that they've handled this. They've been diligent and worked as hard as they can to be as cooperative and to try to help expedite, help the NCAA and to try and get to a resolution on this. We knew that at some point in time the allegations were going to be presented. You never really know exactly when you're going to receive them. When we got them – I don't know, there's parts of the allegations, certainly, that I was aware of – that you'd heard from the administration. I don't necessarily say that I was rocked by them.
One thing I will tell you - this is the most important issue that has faced the University of North Carolina probably in many, many, many years and maybe even many decades. It's been unbelievably important to be as cooperative and be as honest and work through this process, and try to come to a good resolution. I think the administration has done a great job, I know that we've all tried to cooperate as fully and as completely as possible.
How much concern do you have about what could come in October?
I think it's hard to assess that. I've asked the football team, last year and certainly again this year: work on the things that we can control. We can control how prepared we are, how hard we work, the type of practices, how we recruit. Those are things that are handled, certainly, by the administration. I have the utmost confidence that they'll handle it exactly the way that it needs to be handled.
How hard has it been to recruit through the process?
It's been a challenge. Just the uncertainty of it and the timeline - when is there going to be some kind of a resolution? We told recruits, going back to last year's signing class, was that there's a process. We're going to have to follow the process as the NCAA would require you to do. There would be the investigative part, the allegations part, the response part and then in October when we go. We just told everybody this is the process that's going to have to happen.
The thing that we've tried to focus on is talking about what's really good about Carolina. It is a great school and it's got a great academic reputation. It's going to be a life-changing decision for kids that come to Carolina – for the last hundreds of years and it will be in the future. It'll be the first step in adulthood, making a good decision. We think that we've got excellent coaches, we've got a great school and that's what we've tried to focus on and tried to present to recruits.
How much of a distraction is it to have to go to Indianapolis and do that on a Friday, the day before a game?
I've gone through that once before. In 1995, I had to fly to Kansas City with the allegations with the University of Miami. It was the Friday before we played Boston College, so we had to fly to Kansas City and then go from Kansas City to Boston. It'll put me in a situation – explain to the players exactly what's going on so they know – they've probably read about it already through the media that it is coming. Fortunately, Friday's not a major practice day. We'll go through the process and then we'll come home and get ready for the game that Saturday.
Your name was pretty much left out entirely from the NCAA Notice of Allegations. How much responsibility and accountability do you take for everything that's gone on?
Fully and completely. I'm the head football coach. Things that happen – anything that I can do to ensure that things don't occur again, whether it's from education for the players, whether it's rules and regulations and policies, anything that we can do to make sure that that doesn't happen again, that's part of my responsibility. I regret, greatly, that these things have transpired. I don't take them lightly, this is a very, very serious issue. It's called a tremendous amount of embarrassment and a tremendous amount of hard times for Carolina alums and fans and stuff. But we're going to get through this and because of it, we're going to come out of this and we're going to be better than we were before.
Your fans and your administration have done nothing but support you through all of this. At any point have you ever been concerned about your job security?
I truly have always felt like I've had the support of the administration. That's been reassuring, because those are the kinds of things that allow you to deal with a confidence of the decisions you make that are going to impact this program for the next 25 years. Whether it's fundraising for the facilities, for academic support and for the leadership academy and the new Charlie Loudermilk facility that's going into the end zone. From the type of kids you recruit to any policies and procedures that you would impact – you want to make sure its things that are going to have some validity in the future.
Even with their support did you ever think about walking away just because of the stress?
I did not.
Has your team developed some resiliency? This is the second year they've gone through this, with all of the suspensions they went through last year – it's kind of more of the same this year…
I think it's significantly different. Last year there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty. It was right in the formative stages a year ago at the ACC meetings when a lot of these things were starting to be talked about. No one could talk with any certainty about who was involved, what was going on. People have no idea how difficult and what a challenge that August and September was of last year just internally. Just to try to help the players manage the things that they could control. Could they go to class, be a good student, prepare to play the games; don't worry about things that you can't control. I think this year is dramatically different, simply from the standpoint that we're not going to go into the first game wondering are there 14 guys maybe going to play, not going to play are they ever going to play again? I think from that standpoint, the two years are dramatically different.
Can the positives for this particular team, through experience and facing things last year, help you on the field this year?
I think there are a couple of things that you talk to your football team about all the time. Adversity is something that happens to every football team. It comes in the face of injuries; it comes in the face of a variety of different things. You can only kind of control the things that you have some actual control over. That's your attitude, your preparation, your work ethic, how you view your responsibility to the football team. I think our players, if they didn't learn anything else; it's that everybody has to be ready to step up at a moment's notice. You never know.
In previous years, I've given speeches to the team and I've used Chase Rice as an example with Bruce Carter. Bruce Carter thought beyond a shadow of a doubt he was going to redshirt his freshman year. No chance he was going to play – he was a high school safety and a quarterback and he didn't know anything about linebacker. And like the third play of the game, Chase Rice breaks his ankle and Bruce Carter is now the starting SAM linebacker for Carolina. That's one example of being prepared.
Obviously last year was a totally different situation. You never know what's going to happen. The only thing you can do is just be prepared when your name and your number is called. We need you to come in and we need you to be prepared to play at the best level you can at that stage. You don't have to play as good as somebody or better than somebody, you just have to play the best you can play.
A lot's been made of your personal phone records. Has the NCAA seen those? And if what's in them will help clear your name, why not turn them over?
I am in the process and I want you to know, this is my decision to release these records. I think that you'll find out, this is a personal cell phone that I have had for 10 years. The lion's share of these calls are personal. Everything that has anything to do with UNC and business related, those are going to be fully released. This is something that I think's important. We want the truth out there. The NCAA, the University has looked at these records, completely un-redacted back during the fall. They did not find anything at that time that was inappropriate, that they felt uncomfortable about. Subsequently, we are here today and I fully intend to, as I have with absolutely everything in this investigation, and that's cooperate fully.
Have you talked to John Blake since he left and asked him why this happened?
I have not.
Have you tried to make an attempt?
I have not.
Check back tomorrow for Part II ...