Charlotte, NC – UNC head football coach Larry Fedora spoke to to the media during his breakout session on Wednesday afternoon at the 2018 ACC Football Kickoff.
We captured part of his conversation on video and provided a transcribe of the portions we managed to capture.
Reporter: What can you tell me about him? What kind of role will he have as a running back for you guys?
Larry Fedora: You know what? He’s a kid that’s come in and he’s been with us for about a month now this summer and has shown some good things. He’s got a lot to learn. Like gotta learn the offense, learn everything. Understand our culture, what it takes to be a Tarheel and all these things, but I’m looking forward to seeing what he does.
Reporter: Would you consider him a recruited walk-on type?
Larry Fedora: No.
Reporter: I mean when we gave him a scholarship?
Larry Fedora: Yeah.
Reporter: Okay. Coach coming off of last season, what were some of the conversations like for the coaching staff and these players [inaudible 00:00:44] the season? As far [inaudible 00:00:49].
Larry Fedora: Yeah well I think that probably most important thing we talked about is that we didn’t want to forget what happened. That I didn’t want to put it behind us. I wanted it to be something that was focused on. I wanted everybody to remember exactly what their stomach felt like each and every time things didn’t go the way we want them. Whatever the reasons were. And to make sure we learned form everything that happened. And of course we went back and broke everything down and analyzed everything. But the main thing is I wanted them to know what that felt like.
Reporter: Things were ugly after the Detroit Bowl game maybe for different reasons than last year. How do you liken that situation, how you were able to turn it around, to what you were actually able to do here.
Larry Fedora: Yeah, well last year wasn’t my first year as a football coach. And you deal with adversity every single year. Some more, some less. I mean but in every one of those scenarios you learning something, and you’re taking that, and you’re applying it to adversity in the future.
Larry Fedora: The things that happened in ’14 were a little bit different, but anytime you have adversity, you’re learning how to overcome it. And then in ’15 we had a really good year. So our guys learn from those experiences. I look for our guys to do the exact same thing. I look for them to have learned. I look for us each and every kid to be better than they were last year. I’ll be a better coach. I’ll be a better husband. A better father. Our assistant coaches will be better. Everybody will be better, because of what happened to us last year.
Reporter: The few of us that got a chance to speak with Bubba Cunningham last week and about the study that you guys did about the injuries last year. And among the many things that he said, is that there would be some changes in how fall camp goes this year. How you guys do some things. Can you share with us some of the changes that you’re gonna make as a result of that study?
Larry Fedora: Nope.
Larry Fedora: I’m not gonna tell you what I’m gonna do.
Reporter: Well no, some of the changes that might guard against injuries or [crosstalk 00:02:47] that you did last year.
Larry Fedora: Well, then it makes it sound like that we before that were doing things to incur injuries. And that’s the way that makes that sound.
Reporter: You make a good point.
Larry Fedora: So I’m not gonna sit … Well we were doing the same things last year that we were doing in ’15 and ’14 and ’13 and ’12 and ’11 and ’10 and ’09 and ’08 ever since I’ve been Head Coach. And we’ve never run across injuries like that. So I’m not gonna blame it on the way we trained, or the way we … now are we gonna tweak things to try to make things better? Yeah we’re gonna do that, but we do that every single year. And we analyze every part of our program and then we always tweak it. I don’t wanna make it sound like we’re making a bunch of changes just because we had some injuries last year. Because that’s not true.
Reporter 2: Well, let me ask this. In the study that you guys did, as extensive as it was, did you learn anything that maybe-
Larry Fedora: I’ve learned that it wasn’t one common denominator. It wasn’t from everything from, it was the field conditions, it wasn’t the actual training that we were doing. It was a variety of things, if you would say it that way. So yeah, we gonna tweak some things. And I can’t guaruntee that that’s gonna be the answer. But we’re gonna make the best educated decision that we can. And I’m gonna make that decision, and then I’m gonna live with it.
Reporter: With those tweaks is there more attention paid to stretching, or? Strength in addition to how these things go and rest and yoga, any of that kind of stuff?
Larry Fedora: Well we were doing all those things beforehand. So I think the biggest emphasis that we’re making with our players since that time, is how important the rest and recovery phase is. And making sure that when it’s time to sleep that you’re sleeping. That you’re body has the chance to recover. But again, I have never put last season all on injuries. And I’m not going to.
Reporter: You spoke so passionately Monday about how important the game of football is to you and and I think you even likened it to what makes America, America.
Larry Fedora: To all of us right, it is yeah.
Reporter: Does that then sharpen your focus on wanting to find ways to constantly be bettering your game or does it make it tougher for you to see realities too?
Larry Fedora: No, it is, I do believe, we’re involved in the greatest game there is on Earth. I really do. And I do believe it’s what makes our country so great. And I’m passionate about that. And the things that we change year in and year out and tweaking the game for player safety. All of those things, I think are good for the game. And I said it in there. I think the game is safer right now than it’s ever been in the history of the game. That doesn’t mean you’re gonna eliminate all the injuries. It’s just not possible. But the game is better than it’s ever been and I believe the game’s under attack right now. I really do. And if we’re not careful, we’re gonna lose what the game is all about.
Reporter: Who do you think is, to use your word, attacking the game?
Larry Fedora: Well.
Reporter: You blaming us?
Larry Fedora: No I’m not blaming you, I’m not blaming anybody. I blame a ground swell of data that is tweaked one way or the other because I can take the data and I can make it look one way, you can take the data and make it look another way. And whoever’s presenting it is the one that gets the say so and so. Are there some things that are negative about the game? Yeah, there’s no doubt about that, but again I think as you look over time, I can tell you just in my lifetime from when I played the game early on to where we are today. There’s a huge difference in the way the game is played. And the way athletes are taken care of.
Reporter: You said the game is under attack, is there anything you fear might happen?
Larry Fedora: Oh yes, I fear that the game will get pushed so far to one extreme that you won’t recognize the game ten years from now. That’s what I’m worried about and I do believe that if it gets to that point, that our country goes down too.
Reporter: What’s the one kind of, I guess primal, what’s the one thing that can not go away in your mind? Is it, you’re worried about losing contact as an element of the game?
Larry Fedora: Well, if we go to touch football, the game’s definitely changed and the game will not be as physical. The game will not be as tough as it is. A few years back I had an opportunity to ask a 3-Star General, I had a question for him. I said, “What is it that makes our country, our military superior to every other military in the world?” And he was like, “That’s easy, we’re the only football playing nation in the world.” And he said, “Most of all of our troops have grown up, have played the game at some point in their life, at some level. And the lessons that they learned from that game is what makes us who we are”.
Reporter: How is it different than rugby?
Larry Fedora: I don’t know rugby? So I couldn’t tell you that, I just know they don’t wear helmets, so. But I don’t.
Larry Fedora: I apologize, I just don’t know the game.
Reporter 2: So what are the biggest lessons your kids learn from you once they leave UNC?
Larry Fedora: Well one, I hope they learn how to be men. Great men, great fathers, great husbands. I think that’s part of what has me in this game. Is the influence that we have on young men. And how we can impact their lives. I mean, when we leave this Earth, they’re gonna say, yeah he won this many games or he lost this many games. And eventually that’s gonna be forgotten. But the lives that I’ve impacted is really the legacy that I leave. And the generations to come that are impacted that way. So just making them better men. Better fathers, better husbands. Better citizens. I think that’s really important to what we do as football coaches. It’s so much greater. And then the lessons they’re learning on the field, and the lessons they’re learning in the locker room or in training, and all those things. Those are the lessons that are gonna carry them through the rest of their life. They will be able to rely on those lessons every single day when they get out of bed. They’ll be able to draw on something that they’ve learned in the game of football. It will make their day better.
Reporter 2: What do you think of the landscape of the coastal division right now. Especially comparing it to the other side of the conference?
Larry Fedora: I think it’s every strong. And I think it’s probably as strong as it’s ever been. First of all, you’ve got great coaches in the Coastal Division. You look at it, it’s changed tremendously from when I first got in the league. And I think you’ve got a lot of great coaches who do a great job with their teams and it’s ultra competitive every single week.
Reporter 2: Anthony Ratliff Williams told me the angriest he’s ever seen you was maybe last year when you got so fed up that people weren’t taking practice seriously enough, and you said a lot of the young guys just didn’t know the depth of intensity that you want to see from them.
Larry Fedora: Yeah I think part of, there was a lot of things that caused my frustration last year. And maybe there were some times when that boiled over and maybe I didn’t handle it the way I should have. But I think it’s very important, and our older guys have learned this over time, that they’re responsible for teaching the culture to our youth. It’s not really me, it’s not our assistant coaches, it’s the older players are responsible for teaching the culture to the youth. And they have to understand that and they have to relish that responsibility and take care of it. And there were some situations where we didn’t have that, and I guess the biggest thing is when I preach, “Hey just because your young, doesn’t mean you’re gonna contribute to this team. Whether or not everybody took that to heart and believed that, and then they got stuck out there because of some guy that went down. And they weren’t necessary prepared, they weren’t the whole football team.
Larry Fedora: So.
Reporter: Sorry, if you [crosstalk].
Larry Fedora: No you didn’t.
Reporter: Just to follow up with something you said earlier, if football were to go to one super extreme, how would it change America, so how would that happen?
Larry Fedora: I don’t know the real answer to that, I just think we will lose a lot as a nation, I think we’ll lose a lot because what the game teaches. I think we’ll lose so much of that. I really do. And again, I think that’s one of the things that makes us such a great nation.
Reporter: Going back on what you were just saying to Mark, some of your older guys, that could have maybe helped through that process last year, went down. Do you have enough older guys that have been in the program long enough now that there that can kind of keep that message going?
Larry Fedora: Well, you never have enough. And I don’t wanna just say it’s the older guys. It’s guys that have been in the program, so just because you’re a sophomore doesn’t mean you can’t teach a younger guy how to be a Tarheel and how we do things and what’s expected of you. So you don’t have to wait until you’re a senior to do that. And so leading is influencing. There doesn’t have to just be one leader on your football team. There can be multiple leaders, but the key is making sure that we’re all good teammates. We can’t all be chiefs. There’s gotta be Indians, right? And you’ve gotta be good teammates, right? And so that means if one guy’s talking to the team, everybody’s gotta be listening. Everybody’s gotta be paying attention. Whether you really believe what he’s saying or not, doesn’t matter. If we decided as a team that’s the route we’re going, then everybody’s gotta pull in that direction.
Reporter 2: What are you guys excited about?
Speaker 1: One of the young guys that you have is Javonte Williams out of Wallace-Rose Hill.
Larry Fedora: You’ll have to start over, I’m sorry.
Speaker 1: Sorry. One of the young guys you have is Javonte Williams out of Wallace-Rose Hill. Four time state champion, just, you got to see him in the spring, what did you like and with this new role with being one of the red shirt guys, are you more willing to play him?
Larry Fedora: Yeah, I’m really excited about Javonte. I mean first of all he comes in, he graduates from high school early. And he’s there in the spring and he acts like he’s a junior or a senior. He’s very mature. He’s very mature in the way he handles himself. He’s very mature in the way he approaches every day. He was always badgering the coaches the day before something that was gonna be implemented, so he would know it before it was put in. So he’s very conscientious of being the best player that he can be, so. Yeah it will be interesting to see how we utilize the new red shirt rule with all of our guys, and he could be impacted by that as well.
Reporter: I’m pretty sure you’ll tell me-
Reporter 2: Coach [crosstalk 00:13:16] after?
Larry Fedora: So one, you’ve gotta be in great shape. You gotta take care of your body. So you gotta be healthy and you gotta be ready to go. That’s one thing I think that’s very important. You’ve gotta be in really good shape. And then you have to have a mindset. More than anything you gotta have a mindset about finishing someone. You put yourself in that position, you can’t just coast now. You got to step on a neck and you gotta finish them off.
Reporter 2: What’s construction guys, do super human effort, for the next couple of weeks.
Reporter: That’s a nice shirt.
Reporter 2: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
Reporter: That kind of shirt, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.
Reporter 2: I’m unique, what can I tell you.
Reporter: That’s nice.
Reporter 2: But unless something crazy [crosstalk]. And a margarita.
Reporter: You should see his [inaudible].
Speaker 2: He’s what makes America great.
Larry Fedora: No doubt.
Reporter: You guys are going to practicing at Keenan again this year, how big of a disadvantage is that? I mean, when you don’t have the full field, you’ve got guys working on one thing over here and over here …
Larry Fedora: Yeah, you know you’d like to have the space, but unfortunately right now until our practice facility is finished we won’t have that space and so we’ll do what we’ve been doing. We’ll use one field and the logistics of it won’t be as difficult because we’ve done it. We did it all spring ball and so our guys know what to do. It will not be near as disruptive as it’s been in the past for our guys.
Reporter: Is it a handicap?
Larry Fedora: Is it?
Reporter: Is it a handicap?
Larry Fedora: No, I don’t think so.
Reporter: Coach, do you expect to have Antonio Williams available this season?
Larry Fedora: That’s up to the NCAA. We filed a waiver with them and now we’re at the mercy of their decision and so we’ll wait and see whenever that comes back.
Reporter: And what are you most excited about on the defensive line? Obviously …
Larry Fedora: We’ve got a bunch of guys that have experience. We’ve got guys that’ve played the game from Jalen Dalton, to Aaron Crawford, to Malik Carney, to [Mon 00:15:05] Fox. We’ve got guys that have experience. And so I am excited about that experience. I’m coming over there.
Reporter: [inaudible] this morning, the Supreme Court’s decision that sports gambling [crosstalk] what’s your thought [crosstalk]?
Larry Fedora: Well, I don’t think the optics are very good. And whatever we choose to do as college football, I think it’s very important that we keep gambling out of college football and every aspect of it. I think there’s enough pressure on our players as it is right now that they don’t need any added pressure.
Reporter: Along those same lines, Larry, [inaudible] talked about possibly the need for a national injury policy to address potential concerns. [crosstalk]
Larry Fedora: You know, if they come up with a national policy, then I will adhere to that national policy. As of right now, we don’t have a policy in the ACC. We don’t have a gentleman’s agreement anymore, as of this spring, so I don’t anticipate there will be one until a national policy is put into effect.
Reporter: Are you disappointed that that gentleman’s agreement was done away with?
Larry Fedora: Was I disappointed? Oh no. I was an advocate to do away with.
Reporter: Tom Herman. Famous. I’m sure you’ll tell me you didn’t see him, but he was asked at the Big 12 meeting today how many kind of game-breaking players Texas had and he thought long and hard and then said, “Some.” Do you feel like you have enough guys on your team in this league as it currently made up to be a winning.
Larry Fedora: Oh yeah. We definitely have enough players on our team to win football games. I mean, we’ve got guys that can be explosive. We really do. Do you have enough? You always want more. You want one in every position. And some guys are more adept to making plays than others. You think about what Anthony Ratliff came in and did last year once he got the opportunity. He exploded. And so there’s a guy that’s taking advantage of the opportunities presented before him. And so that’s a great example as we talked to our team about being ready, and taking advantage of that opportunity when it comes, not sitting around going, “Man, I’m not getting my chance.” No, when you get your chance, you gotta make plays. And he did that. So, yeah, I think we got some other guys at the position, the receiver, that can make plays for us. I know we have some running backs that can make some plays for us. So, yeah, I think we’re okay. We’re where we need to be right now.
Larry Fedora: Blue shirt.
Reporter: Thank you sir. You’ve worked with …
Larry Fedora: You guys, I’ll get to every question. I promise.
Reporter: You’ve worked with Florida State offensive coordinator Walt Bell at a few different stops. Have you been surprised at how quickly he’s risen up the ranks and how well do you think he’ll do at Florida State?
Larry Fedora: No, I’m not surprised. I mean, I knew early on that Walt’s very talented. Walt is all ball. I mean, there’s no golf, there’s no hunting, there’s no fishing, there’s no hiking, there’s no … it’s just ball. That’s all he’s got. That’s it. That’s his life. And he is dedicated to it. He’s committed to it and I anticipate that he’ll do very well there.
Reporter: How did you come to know him? Was it the Middle Tennessee State ties?
Larry Fedora: Actually, the very first time I heard about Walt, I left Middle Tennessee, Walt wasn’t there yet.
Larry Fedora: About a couple of years afterwards, the quarterback coach that I had, his name was Alex Robins. Alex has stayed at Middle Tennessee State. He called me a couple years later and he said, “Hey, I got this receiver, he’s not much of a player, but I think he’s going to be a really good football coach.” He said, “Because that’s what he wants to do and he’s good with it.” And so that was my first introduction to him.
Reporter: With two quarterbacks that have got experience from last year, how do you manage that situation going in and are they going into the fall even or is there one that kind of is ahead of the other?
Larry Fedora: Well, there may be one that’s a little bit ahead of the other and I don’t … I mean, we haven’t come up with any measuring stick that says, “This guy’s an inch above the other.” Right now they’re still battling it out until somebody separates. I mean, until somebody separates, there’s two quarterbacks. Eventually, if someone separates than there’s one quarterback. So they get to determine that.
Reporter: Last year at this time you had four guys that were getting repped to try to do … is a little easier with two guys, especially if you know what they can do?
Larry Fedora: You’re going to split … they’re going to get 50 percent of the reps. Or probably 45 percent of the reps and the other two guys are going to get a fewer amount of reps. So, yeah, they’re going to get more reps. They’re going to get better. And they’ve gotten more reps through the off season. So, my deal, my challenge to them was, “Okay, when we start spring ball, I want you to be better than you were at the end of the season.” And both of them were that. And then at the end of spring ball, it was, “Okay, now you’re better than you were at the beginning of spring, so when we start camp, you better be better than you were at the end of spring ball. And if you are, then you’re going to get to compete for the job. If you’re not, you won’t get to compete for the job.”
Reporter: How much is the way you attack defenses change or not depending which guy you end up picking for the job?
Larry Fedora: Well, both of them are unique. Both of them are different. And so, that would determine how we attack a defense. Because the whole thing, the whole offense, is premised around taking advantage of the skill set that the kids have and hiding the weaknesses that they have. And so, each one of them is different. And each one of them we would do different things with. I would rather not put that out there as far as exactly what we’re going to do with each one. But, it would be different.
Reporter: How basically is Chazz and Elliott … what’s kind of the unique skill set of one verses the other though? You said they’re both unique.
Larry Fedora: I would say that Chazz is more explosive as a runner. Nathan throws probably a more catchable ball in certain situations. They both can make all the throws and so then it boils down to decision making. You’ve got to make good decisions. And they know the number one thing’s going to be who takes care of the football. If you don’t take care of the football, you’re not going to be the quarterback.
Reporter: Do you expect this team to score more than it did last year?
Larry Fedora: Yes.
Reporter: Aaron said the defensive interior up front, the fact that they’re as deep as [inaudible 00:21:28] times as he’s been here. Is his deep as maybe anytime since you’ve been here?
Larry Fedora: Oh yeah definitely. Yeah, with actual guys that have played and guys that would feel comfortable so the rotation will be very comfortable for us this season.
Reporter: You don’t use the comfort word very often, but you are fairly comfortable with that group?
Larry Fedora: I’m more comfortable with the depth that we have right there than probably any other position on the team.
Reporter: Do you expect that unit to lead the defense?
Larry Fedora: Yeah, I do. Actually, I would say, like right now Malik Carney is the guy that is become the leader on our football team. And right behind him is Aaron Crawford on the defense. So, there’s two guys that have played extensively, that everybody has respect for on both sides of the ball, and there’s a lot of times that a guy can’t transcend from one side to the other with leadership. But, Malik’s been able to do that.
Reporter: Any concerns about Keenan game-day atmosphere now that they’ll be sitting in the coachable chairs along the sideline?
Larry Fedora: No, I think it’s going to be great. I think it’s going to be greater for our fans. I think our whole game-day environment will be much better.
Reporter: Going from the west coast to the east, starting at Cal then going to ECU, you’ve some guys that haven’t done that before, so what do you-
Larry Fedora: I haven’t done that before.
Reporter: What do you do then to just, kind of, ease the process and make it not such a disadvantage?
Larry Fedora: Well, I’ve done a lot of research. I’ve talked to a lot of people – sleep specialists – on different ideas and different things, so we’ll implement some of those things. We’ll probably go out a day early when we go to Berkeley and then we will make sure that we get a good eight hour sleep on the way back. And that needs to be not interrupted sleep, so that’s important to us. We’ll use certain glasses that cut out the blue lights and all those things on the trip out there. So we’ve got all kinds of things that we plan on doing.
Reporter: [crosstalk 00:23:19] kicks and sky kicks and new kick off. Do you foresee a lot of creativity in protections moving forward?
Larry Fedora: I do. I think a lot of it’s the unknown right now. Where nobody really knows the effects of this rule on the game and how everybody’s going address it, but I do anticipate there being less kicks in the air. The way it was last year, if you had a kicker that put the ball on the goal line, there’s a good chance you’re going to pin that team inside the 25. And that was kind of the thing. Don’t kick it out of the end zone if you can; kick it to the goal line and get your team down there and pin them inside the 25. So not many kick off teams want to just give up the 25 yard line, so I think there will be a lot of discussion and a lot of guys working with kickers on different types of ball that they can kick.
Reporter: Off the wall one for you.
Larry Fedora: I like these.
Reporter: My wife’s 40th birthday is coming up. How do I not screw this up?
Larry Fedora: Well, that’s … let’s see. I’ve been married 30 years this summer now. So I’m probably pretty good at this. Not really. It’s hard for me to say because I don’t know your wife. My wife doesn’t have very high expectations from me.
Larry Fedora: Like I said, we’ve been married 30 years, so she’s used to … I’ve been disappointing the same woman for 30 years. So she just knows not to expect much.
Reporter: You mentioned Antonio Williams in there. Do you have to ask for a waiver-
Larry Fedora: We have. Yeah.
Reporter: Do you know when … have any idea-
Larry Fedora: No. They don’t give you a timeframe on that. They just get around to it when they feel comfortable.
Reporter: If he is eligible, what is he [inaudible]
Larry Fedora: He’s a guy that can go. And I’ll tell you the other thing he’s doing is he’s becoming a leader behind the scenes on our football team, which he’s kind of evolved into that this summer. Listening to our street coaches and they’re like, “Man, that guy’s got something to him. If he’s able to play this year, he’s going to bring a lot to the team.” So yeah, he can run, we all know that.
Reporter: He’s kind of from the Charlotte metro area here, not too far away, how important is this area [inaudible 00:25:33] in improving?
Larry Fedora: This area’s critical. There’s a lot of great football players in this area and we’ve got to always recruited hard and do well in the area. And there’s a lot of Tar Heels in the area, so that’s important to us.
Reporter: Coach, this is no secret that you have a clause in your contract that address the indoor [inaudible 00:25:50] facilities. So I just want to ask, were you pleased with the progress it’s made and what do you think it’ll bring having the [crosstalk 00:25:57]?
Larry Fedora: I’m pleased with the process of it. I mean, it’s never as fast as you want it to be, but I think anytime you do any construction, if you know anything about construction, you always get promised something and it never works out that way. I mean, there’s a lot of variables involved in that, but my main deal is when it’s done, it’s done right and it’s really good. Because we have something that’s very special that they’re building and so I just want to make sure, whatever that completion date is, that it’s done right. And that it would be something that … I think it’ll be the best in the league. I really do.
Reporter: A little bit earlier we were talking about explosive players and you mentioned Anthony. How does he compare to some of the guys, both in the receiving game and in the returning game, that you’ve had in the past like a Switzer?
Larry Fedora: Oh yeah, well, Ant led the nation in kick-off returns last year. And I will say, I think since I’ve been at Carolina, we’ve had 16 returned touchdowns which I think ties one other team in the country in the last seven years or six years. And so we’ve got pretty good experience back there with guys understanding what it takes to take balls back. But you compare him to Switzer; two different types of guys. Switzer wasn’t a kick-off return guy. Switzer was more of a “make you miss” guy. Ant’s more of a speed guy. One cut, hit at full speed, which you have to be to play that position. You can’t dance around on a kick-off return. And so he has the ability to take it anytime.
Reporter: Were you surprised at how quickly he was able to sort of break unto the scene and do that straight off the bat?
Larry Fedora: No. We had T.J. Logan right before that. He was pretty special doing it too. But Ant was always backing up T.J. and I could see it in practice. I could see it. It was coming. I thought, “When T.J. leaves, yeah we’re going to miss T.J., but Ant’s going to have his chance too.” And he’s going to do some special things and he is.
Reporter: Coach, your players talked about coming into this season with a chip on their shoulder.
Larry Fedora: I hope so.
Reporter: What type of pressure do you put on yourself heading into this season after last season?
Larry Fedora: The same pressure I put on myself every season that I’ve every coached the game of football.
Larry Fedora: …put on myself every season that I’ve ever coached the game of football. The pressure doesn’t ramp up for me one way or another. I can’t put more pressure on myself than I put on myself, alright? It’s just the way I’m built. That’s the way I am. I mean, I worry about everything all the time, and I want it to be perfect. When it’s not, I’m not happy. So, I’m not happy very often. In fact, I’m never happy, but that’s just the way I’m built. That’s the only way I Know. I don’t know any different. I’m glad that our guys have a chip on their shoulder. They’ve got to have a bad taste in their mouth, and they’ve got to want to get rid of that taste, and that’s just extra motivating factors for them.
Reporter: Another Charlotte guy, Dyami Brown, obviously a true freshman. You mentioned he may be a punt returner, and he’s obviously going to be in the rotation at wide receiver. What do you like about him so far? What has he shown so far?
Larry Fedora: Yeah, I’m going to tell you Dyami was another one that came in and probably exceeded my expectations for his first semester there. Again, he was another guy that came in that was mature. He learned the offense extremely quick and then went out and made plays, and it wasn’t one of those things where he was a flash here and there four days later he was a flash over here. No, it was consistent play making throughout spring, which made me go, “Okay, wow! This kid is going to help us.” So, we’ll see when we get through camp where he fits into everything, but I anticipate him helping us this year.
Reporter: To compare him to a receive you had in the past at UNC, in terms of his athleticism and what not?
Larry Fedora: He, out of all of the guys, he probably reminds a little bit more of Mack than all of them right now. [crosstalk 00:29:45]
Reporter: Coach, you mentioned with [inaudible 00:29:45] there was a certain coach that introduced him to you or told you about him.
Larry Fedora: Alex Robbins.
Reporter: Right. Who in your career gave you the best advice about navigating this coaching profession and becoming a head coach, and what did he say or she say?
[NOTE: We had a break in the recordings. Restarted camera and continued recording]
Reporter: It wasn’t necessarily the injuries, but the way that everyone reacted to the injuries last year that really kind of knocked everyone back
Larry Fedora: Right, that’s a good point.
Reporter: How do you learn to handle adversity better? How much did last year play into that?
Larry Fedora: I mean, everybody’s feeling really good right now, right? We’ve got a great summer going. You’re wearing avocados. I mean, we’re all having a great summer, right? Well, I promise you, in everybody’s life your fixing to face some adversity. It’s coming, man, ladies, it’s coming. I mean, it’s coming. When you walk out this door something may happen. It’s coming. When you start to really understand that and understand that you’re going to overcome whatever it is, then your attitude is different about it, and every time you’ve got a great attitude, you’ve got a chance to overcome anything.
Reporter: So how do you learn form what happened last year to make sure that [crosstalk 00:30:48]
Larry Fedora: You don’t forget it.
Larry Fedora: You don’t forget it, and you make sure when you’re in those situations that you’re learning from those situations. So, it wasn’t sit around and go, “woe is me all last season.” It was, “Okay, why? What happened? Why did it happen? Why did we not overcome it? How do we overcome it next time?” Don’t just because you feel bad, we put it to bed. No, we’re going to learn from it as much as possible then put it to bed and move on to the next game. Well, in the off-season you don’t have a … it’s bring it all up again and let’s go and let’s talk about it. Let’s figure out why and let’s make sure we don’t do the same thing like we did.
Larry Fedora: Go ahead.
Reporter: Take us through switching of the quarterback. You know, a lot of kids don’t want to give up that position.
Larry Fedora: From quarterback to receiver?
Reporter: Yeah, and what it means to his future.
Larry Fedora: So, Rat came in, very talented. We knew he can run. We knew he could really run, because that was obvious, because he ran the ball in high school as quarterback. So, at the time, we had Mitch there, and I was expecting Mitch to be there another year beyond that. So, we’re, yeah, make sure you turn your phones off … we put him over on the scout team one day and they didn’t need him at quarterback, so they stuck him out at receiver. He said, “yeah, I’ll run receiver,” and I’m watching him and he’s making some catches against our first-team DBs, and I’m thinking, “Dang.” So, I remember at dinner that night I said something to him. I said, “Man, you’ve got some skills, and you might have an opportunity to be a big-time receiver.” He was like, “Coach, whatever you need me to do.” So, we talked it over with the staff. We made the move, and he’s really taken it and run with it. I mean, he’s just getting better and better everyday.
Reporter: That return ability adds to his pro prospects.
Larry Fedora: Oh yeah, yeah. No doubt about that.
Reporter: Coach, you’ve been asked that the game of football is under attack. You said that earlier.
Larry Fedora: Well, because I think that all of the things that are either written or said out there are not all true, and I made this comment earlier. I think … you can take data and you turn it and twist it anyway you want to. You can leave out what you want, and put in what you want, and I’m not blaming anybody here. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just talking about overall is everybody talks about it, the people who are against the game of football and what it stands for. So, I think that right now, there are people that listen to those things and get turned off by the game, and some of the things that they’re getting turned off by have no truth to them at all.
Reporter: Is there certain data that you take issue with? Like, can you cite some that …
Larry Fedora: I don’t think that the game of football, or it’s been proven that the game of football causes CTE, but that’s been put out there. We don’t really know yet. Are the chances for concussions in the game of football? Yeah, we all have common sense, right? Yeah, there are. When you have two people running into each other or multiple people running into each other, there is a chance of a concussions. Again, I’m going to say the game is safer than it’s ever been in the history of the game.
Reporter: In terms of the education of players with the long=term risks of concussions, like how much responsibility do you feel like schools have, coaches? Where does that …
Larry Fedora: Oh, I think we all have that responsibility. When you’re talking about the health and safety of your players, I don’t think there’s a single coach in America that’s sitting around going, “Man, how can I get my guys hurt? How can I get them to get concussed?” Nobody’s doing that. Nobody wants their players to get hurt. Is it our responsibility to prepare them for the chances of it happening and what happens once you’ve had one. To the best of our knowledge to me, that’s what we do. Hey, there is a risk involved. I think everybody that plays the game in 2018 understands there is a risk involved in the game. I don’t think there’s a player, at least at the college level. I’m not going to speak younger levels. I think every kid that is playing the game at this level understands there’s risk. That kid, that person has to weigh whether the risk is worth the reward. He has to, and he’s the only person that can make that decision. If it comes to college on a college scholarship, he’s probably made that decision.
Reporter: Do you feel like there should be some sort of consent type thing where a kid really understands like the scientific data that is out there? If you have three concussions, you’re two and a half times more likely to suffer from depression at age 50, which is a study that’s been done by Guskiewicz.
Larry Fedora: Yeah.
Reporter: Like, should kids know that?
Larry Fedora: I think they should know any legitimate data that’s out there, yeah, I think we should always be educating them so that they can make a decision. This is my life. I’m passionate about the game of football and what you learn from it and what the rewards are, but I don’t ever think that we should stop educating our young people on the risks that are involved in it and what the long-term prognosis could be, all of those things.
Reporter: Have you seen changes in attitude with younger people? In high school that’s leading you to believe that the games under attack?
Larry Fedora: I think we’re I’ve seen it, is you listen to all of the leagues, youth leagues, that are around the country and they talk about the decline in participation. I don’t think that’s necessarily the kids. It’s not the kids, when they’re eight years old thinking I don’t want to go play football. It’s the moms or the dads or the grandparents who have listened to something, and they believe that it’s not good. I’m a firm believer. I think kids ought to be playing flag football all the way up until middle school where you have school coaches. You have coaches that are certified through the schools, and that’s when they start learning how to play the game of tackle football. It’s what my Dad did with me. I didn’t have a choice. I remember crying about it, because all my buddies were playing tackle football, and I was playing flag football, but now I understand why. I mean, there were a lot of things that I didn’t like that my Dad did to me, but I understand them now. I think the USA football is talking about different implementations of the way you play the game with starting with flag football, and I think that’s a great idea. I don’t think that a five year old ought to be playing tackle football. I don’t think there’s any reason to. It’s not going to make him a better NFL player. So, I don’t get it.
Reporter: You made a comment earlier about if football goes away or struggles that the [crosstalk] country …
Larry Fedora: Yeah, I think there will be a decline in our country. There’s no doubt. [crosstalk] yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind. I think, because of the lessons that you learn in the game of football relay to everything that’s going to happen in the rest of your life. If we stop learning those lessons, we’re going to struggle. I think in some ways we’re struggling more now than we ever have. Are we ever going to be a perfect country? No, not by any means, but I do think the game of football has a major impact on who we are as a country.
Reporter: Hey Coach, travel earlier heading out to a team you guys have not played in conference yet, Syracuse. What are the impressions you have of Syracuse? What have you learned about them so far? Also, whether you’ve had any interactions with Coach Dino Babers?
Larry Fedora: Yeah, first of all, I’ve got a lot of respect for Dino, where he comes from, and what he’s done and how he’s evolved as a coach and what he’s done with that program. I’ve talked to people that have had to go up to the Dome and have gotten my notes on the problems that you run into there and all of those things. So, we’ll try to be prepared for it, but I think Dino is doing a great job with the program.
Reporter: Coach you were asked by the last season and you were explaining some of the changes in the strength and conditioning program in the off season. How much of those were dictated by you and the people kind of above you and how much of that was self-reflection?
Larry Fedora: Yeah, everything we do is self-reflection, everything. I mean, everything is analyzing. It’s evaluating everything that you do in the program every year. So, you have a problem with injuries. So, you go back and look at everything you’re doing in your training staff. You’re looking at everything you’re doing with your strength staff. You’re look at everything we do conditioning wise. You’re looking at every aspect. So, you start making educated decisions based on those things, and you tweak things accordingly. So, yeah, in the off-season we tweaked some things. We tried to start trying to identify deficiencies in players, whether it be this guy is deficient in his left hamstring compared to his right. This guy’s shoulder rotation is less. This guy’s neck rotation … all of things. Then, it was okay, implement a plan for that individual that is for him. Okay, if my left hamstring is weak, then what we’re going to do is we’re going to strengthen your left hamstring.
Reporter: In regards to standard off-season changes, how much more dramatic was the number of changes that happened in the strength and conditioning this off season?
Larry Fedora: I don’t know that if it was as dramatic, but it was we wanted to make sure our guys knew we were aware of everything, and it was going to be a point of emphasis. That everything that we’re doing is about … when we schedule a practice and we say there’s 18 periods and we’re doing this, and this, and this. Guys, all of this, there’s a reason for it. We didn’t just roll the dice and just say, “hey, let’s do 18 today.” There is a reason behind everything that we do, and it’s all about making our team be the best that they can possibly be. So, if that’s in the weight room, that’s how are we making that individual player better? Are we doing things that are going to help prevent injuries in the future for North Carolina.