CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- North Carolina coach John Bunting wrapped up the 2005 season with a media teleconference on Thursday ...
After 44 years in coaching, UNC offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill, 65, made it official he would indeed retire, despite John Bunting's final attempts this week to try and get him to stay.
"I met with him many times this week," Bunting said. "But he is officially retiring. I'm going to miss him a great deal. I didn't have to spend much time on that side of the ball – I didn't need to.
As for who will be Tranquill's replacement at offensive coordinator? Bunting acknowledged that members of his current staff are candidates for the position, but also referred to a "big list" of candidates, including those outside the program -- adding, "I'm going to try to get the best fit." The decision on the position, he said, is likely not going to be made this month.
Bunting said he is working on contract extensions and increased salary for his coaching staff.
"I'm very, very happy with this staff. I think it's the best I've ever had."
All-ACC senior guard Kyle Ralph will be a participant in this year's Hula Bowl. Bunting also said he will be working on getting some of the other graduating seniors placed in similar post-season bowls. Bunting and Co. are also trying to gain starting lineman Brian Chacos a sixth-year of eligibility.
Bunting said he had spoken with junior wide receiver Jesse Holley about the possibility of Holley's early entrance into the NFL, which the wide receiver mentioned following Saturday's emotional season-finale loss to the Hokies.
Bunting is of the opinion Holley may not quite be ready for the jump.
"He has a long, long way to go to be an NFL player," Bunting said.
Apparently, with Bunting's help and his NFL connections, senior quarterback Matt Baker is going to at least get a chance to display his wares to professional scouts this spring. Despite starting just one year while waiting his turn behind multi-record holder Darian Durant, Baker showed off a strong and accurate arm, although many of his balls were simply dropped by UNC receivers.
"Somebody is going to be really smart give him a opportunity in their camp," Bunting said. "He threw a ton of great passes this year. He could be great after a year or two in the World League."
Bunting said he has spent a great deal of the last few days reflecting on the season past as well as looking ahead. He stated he believed this year's team was good enough for a bowl invite, but noted key mistakes against Maryland especially, hamstrung its success.
"We didn't deserve to go to a bowl in '02 and '03; this year we did," Bunting said. "The conference is very good. Our program is headed in the right direction. We are so close to getting depth at every position."