The 2015 season came to a close for the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida. The outcome of the game was not what they had hoped, but that didn’t erase the fact that this football season was a special one in Chapel Hill.
Head Coach Larry Fedora and his team head into the offseason with a lot to look back on and celebrate. The Tar Heels won the ACC Coastal Division after going undefeated in the conference and became only the 4th team in school history to win 11 games. They easily defeated in-state rivals, Duke and NC State; and came within a touchdown of taking the #1 team in the nation, Clemson, into overtime in the ACC Championship Game. There were memorable plays and memorable performances from multiple players on offense, defense, and in special teams.
Looking forward, UNC loses some key players, but they return the majority of their production on both sides of the ball and will be picked high in the preseason next year. The Tar Heels begin their offseason with a ton of momentum to build on and the future of Carolina Football is bright.
Sports-glutton is happy to bring you our final “Five with Fedora” of 2015 season as Coach Fedora recaps the bowl week, the season, and the holidays.
FIVE WITH FEDORA – FINAL 2015 SEGMENT
1) How was the bowl week experience for the players, staff, and their families down in Orlando? – “The experience for the players and our wives and families was phenomenal. Everybody had a great time with all of the activities they had planned for us and the weather was great. The first day we were there we headed over to Disney and I stuck around for about 3 hours, which was about all I could handle. I like amusement parks, but I do not like long lines. To stand in line for an hour for a 30-second ride just doesn’t fit my personality. My wife did get us some fast passes and we rode a few like Space Mountain. I enjoyed the ones we rode with the family and had fun just being there with them. I did like the fast passes, which shouldn’t be a surprise if you know how I like to operate. My favorite ride was actually the bus ride back to the hotel (laughing). I enjoyed the day we spent with the kids in that community at the Give Kids The World Village. I really think it’s important for our players to see the effect they can have on kids looking up to them. Overall, I think the bowl people did a fantastic job with us. As coaches, it’s hard to look back at it and be happy, because we lost. We didn’t get the result in the game that we wanted. I haven’t really ever enjoyed a bowl game that we didn’t win.”
2) What’s the locker room like for you after the last game of a season? – “It’s bittersweet. It’s the end of a great year with a history-making team that won 11 games. In a season like this one it’s tough because it’s been such a great ride with these guys and you don’t want that feeling to end. You know it’s over. Knowing that you’ll never coach that group of seniors again is always tough to swallow. You’re proud of what they’ve done and accomplished. You’re proud of what they’ve learned and how they’ve grown up. It’s really like your own kids when they’re ready to leave the nest and go out on their own. You hope that you’ve raised them right and that they’re prepared for everything that the world is going to throw at them. So it’s emotional and you say some goodbyes, but like your own kids, it’s never goodbye forever. We expect them to be around the program, be around our family and see them often in Chapel Hill. They will always be Tar Heels. It’s just the end of the journey this year.”
3) You are never one to stop and look at what has happened midseason, as you always kept your focus on the next game. Now that the season is over and you’ve had a few days to process it, what did this season mean to you personally? – “I took last year really hard personally. It’s the first losing record I’ve ever had as a head coach. The final record is my responsibility and I felt like I let a lot of people down. It was my fault and I took it hard. What this season feels like to me now is a reward for a lot of hard work by a lot of great people in this program. The dedication and commitment by the staff and the team is one that I won’t forget. For me, it tells me we’re on the right track. The program and our plan we set in place for it is where it needs to be. We’re doing things the right way and we’re recruiting a certain type of player and person to be in this program. We want players that will be successful in the classroom and on the field. That philosophy is paying off in our results this season and looking to the future. We coach these kids hard, but at the same time we love them and we want them to be successful off the field as well. I’m excited for an even better year in 2016.”
4) Speaking of recruiting, we’re heading into crunch time as schools look to finish strong into Signing Day a month from now. How do you feel about your current class and what the next few weeks will be like for you? – “I’m extremely excited about this year’s class. We’re almost done from a commitment standpoint, but we aren’t done bringing this thing home yet. The key is to keep those guys committed and bring those commitments into signing on signing day in February. So we have a lot of work left to do in that respect. Now we do have 8 guys enrolling in January that will be here for orientation on the 8th. We’re very excited to get them here this weekend and get things going with them. I think we’ve answered a lot of needs with the guys coming here in the class. We still would like to add a DB I think, but we’re happy with the mix of players and their positions and know they will help us. I’m just anxious to get to signing day, get them signed, and start getting them acclimated into the program.”
5) Now that the College Football Playoff is here to stay, when you look at the rest of the bowl games, what do you think should or shouldn’t be done with the bowl games and their conference tie-ins? – “I don’t know if anything will ever change there. Those tie-ins are done and have been long-standing agreements. The only thing that changes now is whether or not your conference’s top-tier bowl is in the playoff that year or not. That does affect your conference bowl selections as it did with the ACC this year. I can see where it would be nice to create different regional matchups than what the tie-ins stipulate in the different games but I honestly don’ think we will see that changed any time soon.”
BONUS: With the holidays in mind, do you remember a certain present one of your kids got one year that sent them over the moon? And also, what was your favorite present you ever received from your kids? – “Not so much a single present, because with our family the holidays are a little different because of the profession I’m in. For our family and our kids, the excitement has always been more around finding out where we’re going to be for Christmas. It’s always been fun for us to see what bowl game we’re headed to and know that we get to have a fun week together somewhere after a long and grueling season. And that’s different than what I grew up with. For me, I grew up going to my Grandmother’s house. Everybody went to my Grandmother’s house and that was a big deal. But for us, we get to go somewhere different every year whether it’s a different state or city. It’s the opposite of how I grew up, but I like seeing their excitement in finding out the destination. I know one thing; if we’re staying home, then we know it’s not good (laughing). And regarding my favorite gift, I’ll always remember something they had made for me when we were in Colorado Springs. My wife and children had a video made of them doing things like walking along the mountain side and just being outside together. It had music set to it and it has always been something special to me. I’m not really a guy that needs gifts, but something like that was really cool and meant a lot to me. It was definitely my favorite gift of all time because it was my family.”
Sports-glutton would like to thank Coach Larry Fedora for his time and for his part in bringing Five with Fedora to our readers every week. We look forward to 2016!
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