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Tar Heel Fans Should Criticize Sanders, not Bunting

Sep 19, 2006 – 1:33 PM
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James Conklin

James Conklin %BloggerTitle%

How much can $18,750 per game improve a defense? Apparently not much.

North Carolina defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders makes $225,000 per year ($18,750 per game) and is apparently not the defensive savior many Tar Heel fans thought he would be.

Arriving at UNC with a big reputation and now an even bigger salary, Sanders' defense has shown little improvement over the last three years.

Fans calling for head coach John Bunting's job after an unimpressive 1-2 start should redirect some of that ill will towards the man in charge of the defensive side of the ball.

Granted, the UNC 'D' seemed to improve last year from their performance two years ago, but did they really?

From 2004 to 2005, the defense under Sanders went from 11th to 8th in ACC total defense, 10th to 8th in pass defense, 10th to 9th in rushing defense, and 11th to 10th in scoring defense.

Are these numbers an improvement? Sure, albeit minimal. Is this the type of improvement deserving of a fat raise and a contract extension like Sanders received? Doubtful.

Not only did the Heels show little improvement last year, this year's defense is currently ranked at or below 2004 levels in most statistical categories.

By contrast, first-year offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti has moved the Tar Heel offense from 10th in total offense last year to 3rd in the ACC after only three games this season.

Tar Heel fans clamoring for a coaching change are barking up the wrong tree. Defense (or lack thereof) is the number one reason the Tar Heels lost to Rutgers and barely held on against Furman. Marvin Sanders, not Bunting, is the culprit up to this point.

Just for the record, I'm not advocating any coaching change. Coaching decisions are best saved for after the season barring extreme circumstances. I just wanted to redirect some of the criticism, fair or unfair, to the more deserving party.

Hopefully Sanders can right the ship and get the defense back on track Saturday at Clemson. After all, $18,750 per game is an awfully steep price tag for a defense ranked next to last in the conference.
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