Bunting, Thigpen Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- John Bunting and new linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen spoke with the media via teleconference on Tuesday ...


"We're real excited to announce the addition of two very fine football coaches to our staff. It took an awful lot of time to interview eight offensive guys and five defensive guys. It's an addition of a couple of coaches that will help us because of their strengths and we'll try to play to their strengths. Overall, this staff will be the best I've had here, from both a mechanics/techniques standpoint as well as from a recruiting standpoint with the overall experience they've had running things.

"I'm really excited about Dave Brock, a guy that has been extremely successful as a wide receivers coach, a quarterbacks coach an offensive coordinator most recently. I think it's remarkable that he put together that offense up there [at Temple] for the last couple of years. I got tremendous recommendations from a number of people I have a great deal of respect for. I've been around him during the interview process and I've seen how he treats people in different environments. I've seen the knowledge that he has working and talking with Coach [Gary] Tranquill. I think he's going to be a great addition to our staff.

"Tommy Thigpen…a lot of people here at Carolina are happy to have him back. I met him on the recruiting trail four years ago when he was coaching for Bowling Green, and that was the first time I had the chance to meet him. I found him to be very personable, very articulate, and a very serious guy when it came to his profession and his family. I was recruiting Mahlon Carey down in Georgia. I told him I hoped that he could be a Tar Heel one day. He said to me at that time nothing would make him happier. Well that time has come. We're real excited about him being back here. He's got a great track record. He's coached backs – corners and safeties. He's coached special teams. He's coaching the linebackers now. He's been recruiting in the Atlanta area for the past five years. That's an area I was concerned about. So we're going to get a great recruiter down there. And we get a linebacker coach with a lot of fire both playing and coaching that position.

"We look forward to the movement we've made with the other staff. Marvin Sanders is the defensive coordinator. I feel good about the things he did for us last year. I feel he's a good fit with Thigpen and Brad Lawing, especially now with Kenny Browning moving back to defense. That's something we're very excited about and I know the Carolina fans are excited about, because he's had such a good track record coaching the defensive tackles. With moving him over to defense. I made a decision that was very, very important to me by replacing James Webster and all of the things he did for me both administratively, and all the other duties associated with being an assistant head coach. I've got a guy, John Gutekunst, who is second to none and will work with me in an advisory role and all the things that are important to this program. He's a great mind. He has tremendous experience and he is someone I can rely on to give me help in every aspect of this football program."

On Brock's ability to take over at offensive coordinator one day:
"Coach Brock has experience coaching quarterbacks and the entire offense. We had been trying to fill our opening at wide receiver with someone that could coach both positions. But, I've only been thinking about this year in terms of offensive coordinator and someone who could coach quarterbacks down the road. In January, I asked [Temple coach] Bobby Wallace if I could talk with him and he was nice enough to allow us to."

What do you think is the biggest strength of this staff?
"We are going to have terrific chemistry. We have two solid citizens and two great recruiters, but most importantly we have teachers."

On the two new coaches having come from struggling programs:
"It's hard to make progress without struggle. To do what Dave Brock has done at Temple is incredible. The Illinois staff kept one coach when Ron Zook took over and that was Tommy Thigpen. That shows what people at Illinois thought of him."

When will they start?
"We went to work this morning. We are rolling up our sleeves and going forward."


"I am thrilled to be here. Coach Bunting got me back on staff and I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be a Tar Heel today."

On the incentive of a two-year contract:
"I was in a fortunate situation at Illinois. When Coach [Ron] Zook got there, the AD had set it up so I could stay there, and actually they had put the same deal on the table for me at Illinois. It was a good situation. But when I talked to Coach [Bunting], he made it so I could come back home."

How much was the coaching change at Illinois a factor in your decision?
"To be honest with you, the only job I would have taken was this one. I would always talk to kids the same way, ‘I will be here with you until you graduate, unless…and always unless my home school calls me back.' Then I would go back to UNC. Ron Zook and I were pretty good friends after I left. They hired a dynamic staff while I was there, and I got along well with the guys on staff while I was there. I was almost to the point where I felt at home. When the situation came up here…it's the Tar Heels; it's North Carolina. Every guy has a dream of going back to their home school and giving back. I feel like this place is a special place and it always has been to myself."

What do you remember about your meeting with Bunting four years ago?
"I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the locker room at South Cobb High School. They were waiting to see Mahlon Carey, and I was at Bowling Green University at the time and didn't have a chance at him at all. He sat down and he said, ‘You know what Thig'?' One day I'm going to get you back to the University of North Carolina where you belong. That was four years ago, and I'll be danged if the man didn't keep his word."

What is your philosophy and style?
"My philosophy is we've got to stop the run. I think that has been the biggest experience I've had being in the Big Ten, just realizing how important it is to have 11 guys flying to the ball and to actually stopping people in the running game. Our philosophy was let them throw, but you've got to stop them from running the ball. My philosophy is to get 11 guys that are accountable to each other, that get along with each other and have the same purpose of trying to win a championship."

How often did you recruit Atlanta?
"With every school I've been to, they've given me out of state schools – and always Atlanta, Ga. It was the same philosophy of getting kids from the South to go to the Midwest, except when I was at Tennessee State."

On UNC's current linebackers - what do you hope to get them to do?
"This school has always been known traditionally for having a great linebacking corps. In just watching the kids today…I watched [film on] Tommy Richardson move around today, and he moved around like a typical Brian Simmons. The kid, No. 33, [Hilee] Taylor, he's a first year linebacker, but man, just watching him, he's exciting. And the kid I like is the [Doug] Justice kid. He's a old-school, Rick Steinbacher-type of guy that will just line you up and make football plays."

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