More than a year ago at his introductory press conference, Larry Fedora stood in front of a packed room at UNC’s Loudermilk Center and promised to provide an entertaining product. At one point he even told the gathering that you if you leave your seat to go to the concession stand, you’re probably going to miss a touchdown. He did not disappoint. In his first year in Chapel Hill, Fedora’s Tar Heels posted more than 35 school offensive records, won eight games and tied for first in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Led by a group of resilient seniors, Fedora led a focused team that lived by his mantra of playing “smart, fast and physical.” He hopes to build off that momentum as he enters his second season as UNC’s head coach. He is the 35th head coach in Carolina history and the 11th since the ACC was formed in 1953.
Fedora’s first season in Chapel Hill was highlighted by a 6-1 mark at home, including a thrilling 43-35 victory over NC State and a 48-34 win against Virginia Tech. Giovani Bernard’s 74-yard punt return in the final seconds of the NC State game ended Carolina’s five-game losing skid to its nearby rival and set off a wild celebration on the UNC sidelines. The Virginia Tech game saw Carolina rush for 339 yards, the most since 2004, as the Tar Heels posted 533 total yards of offense. It was also the most points the Hokies had allowed in a game since joining the ACC. Carolina also posted home victories over Elon, East Carolina, Idaho and Maryland, and picked up road wins at Miami and Virginia. It marked the first time a UNC coach had won at Virginia in his first attempt since Dick Crum in 1979.
Carolina’s players benefitted from Fedora’s up-tempo style of play. Offensive guard Jonathan Cooper and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams were selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by Arizona (No. 7) and Denver (No. 28), respectively. It was just the second time Carolina had produced multiple first-round picks in the same season. Cooper was a consensus first-team All-America and became the first Outland Trophy finalist in UNC history. Williams, who prior to coming to UNC had worked in a factory making truck parts, was a stout run-stopper who earned first-team All-ACC honors.
Bernard, the fleet-footed runner from Ft. Lauderdale, led the league in rushing, earned first-team All-ACC honors at both running back and specialist and was the first tailback selected in the NFL Draft when Cincinnati picked him in the second round. Nine Tar Heels from the 2012 squad signed professional contracts, including five draft picks and four free agent signings. All three senior offensive linemen were drafted, including Cooper in the first round, Brennan Williams in the third and Travis Bond in the seventh.
Statistically, Carolina finished eighth in the country in scoring, averaging a school-record 40.6 points per game. The Tar Heels scored 30 or more points in nine of 12 games, and twice posted more than 60 points, including a school-record 66 against Idaho. Carolina was 14th in the nation in total offense, averaging a school-record 485.6 yards per game. It marked the fifth consecutive year as a head coach that Fedora’s offense has gained more than 5,000 total yards.
The Tar Heels also excelled on special teams, finishing 10th in net punting and 10th in punt return average. Bernard was second nationally in punt returns and fourth as an all-purpose runner.
Fedora came to Carolina after four seasons as head coach at Southern Miss where he compiled a 34-19 overall record, including a 12-2 mark in 2012, and advanced to four consecutive bowl games. USM knocked off previously unbeaten and then-No. 6 ranked Houston, 49-28, in the CUSA title game and then won its school-record 12th game of the year over Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl. The Golden Eagles reached double digits in wins for just the third time in school history and the first time since 1952. USM finished the season ranked No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches Top 25 poll, No. 20 in the Associated Press poll and No. 21 in the BCS standings.
Fedora’s 2011 team was among the best in the country on both sides of the ball. Southern Miss was 17th in the nation in total offense, averaging 461.4 yards per game, and 14th in scoring offense with 36.9 points per contest. On defense, the Golden Eagles were seventh in pass efficiency defense, 26th in scoring defense and 29th in total defense.
Southern Miss developed into an explosive offensive program during Fedora’s tenure, gaining more than 5,000 total yards of offense in each of his four seasons, including a school-record 6,459 yards in 2011. In three of his four years in Hattiesburg, the Golden Eagles established a school record for total offense. In addition, USM was one of only five schools to run more than 1,000 plays in 2010-11.
En route to an 8-win season in 2010, Southern Miss established 35 school records and finished 18th in the country in total offense – the highest finish for the Golden Eagles since becoming a member of the FBS. Fedora’s Southern Miss offenses were 31st in the nation in 2009 and 20th in 2008.
While admired for his offensive style, Fedora also brings an attacking defensive philosophy to UNC. The Golden Eagles forced turnovers in 46 games during the Fedora era and two or more in 36 contests. That turnover margin helped the Golden Eagles rank 10th in turnover margin nationally for the second consecutive year in 2009 and 20th in 2010. In 2011, Fedora’s defense set an FBS record with eight interceptions returned for touchdown.
Off the field, Fedora’s teams have succeeded in the classroom. Southern Miss’s graduation success rate (GSR) ranked second in CUSA in the 2009-10 academic year and third during the 2010-11 academic year. In 2009, USM was recognized by the AFCA for its graduation success rate.
The Southern Miss job was Fedora’s first head coaching assignment after excelling in the collegiate ranks as an assistant. He spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2005-07 where the Cowboys raised their rushing, passing and total offensive yards each year with Fedora at the helm. In 2006, the Cowboys were one of just two teams - the other being Boise State - to average over 200 yards both rushing and passing.
The OSU offense averaged over 30 points per contest over his final two seasons as well. The Cowboys made the biggest improvement in the country in scoring following his second season of running the offense, jumping from 96th nationally in 2005 to seventh in 2006.
Prior to his stint at Oklahoma State, Fedora spent three seasons at Florida as run game coordinator (2002), perimeter game coordinator (2003) and offensive coordinator (2004). He also coached the running backs and receivers all three seasons.
In 2004, Fedora’s Gators ranked first in the SEC in six different categories including passing offense (271.1), total offense (426.9), third down conversion percentage (47.8), touchdown passes (29), pass attempts (407) and pass completions (243).
Before going to Florida, Fedora was the offensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee from 1999-2001. In three seasons at MTSU, Fedora’s offense averaged 424 yards of total offense, 181 rushing yards and 31 points per game. With Fedora as their offensive coordinator, the Blue Raiders set 43 school records over three seasons.
Fedora began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Austin College in 1986. He then served as an assistant coach at Garland (Texas) High School from 1987-90. Fedora returned to the collegiate ranks in 1991, serving as the tight ends, wide receivers and running backs coach at Baylor, where he stayed until 1996. He then spent two seasons (1997-98) at Air Force coaching the passing game and wide receivers.
As a player, Fedora was a wide receiver at Austin College from 1981-84. He helped lead the Kangaroos to the NAIA championship in 1981. He earned academic All-American honors in 1983, and honorable mention All-American in both 1983 and 1984.
Born Sept. 10, 1962, in College Station, Texas, Fedora is a 1985 graduate of Austin College in Sherman, Texas, where he also received his master’s degree in 1986. He is married to the former Christi Wood, and the couple has one son, Dillon, and three daughters, Sydney, Peyton and Hallie.
|1986||Austin College||Grad. Asst.||---|
|1987||Garland (Texas) HS||Assistant||---|
|1988||Garland (Texas) HS||Assistant||---|
|1989||Garland (Texas) HS||Assistant||---|
|1991||Baylor||Assistant||8-4||Copper Bowl (L, 24-0 vs. Indiana)|
|1992||Baylor||Assistant||7-5||Sun Bowl (W, 20-15 vs. Arizona)|
|1994||Baylor||Assistant||7-5||Alamo Bowl (L, 10-3 vs. Washington)|
|1997||Air Force||Assistant||10-3||Las Vegas Bowl (L, 41-31 vs. Oregon)|
|1998||Air Force||Assistant||12-1||Oahu Bowl (W, 45-25 vs. Washington)|
|2002||Florida||Assistant||8-5||Outback Bowl (L, 38-30 vs. Michigan)|
|2003||Florida||Assistant||8-5||Outback Bowl (L, 37-17 vs. Iowa)|
|2004||Florida||Assistant||7-5||Peach Bowl (L, 27-10 vs. Miami)|
|2006||Oklahoma State||Assistant||7-6||Independence Bowl (W, 34-31 vs. Alabama)|
|2007||Oklahoma State||Assistant||7-6||Insight Bowl (W, 49-33 vs. Indiana)*|
|2008||Southern Mississippi||Head Coach||7-6||New Orleans Bowl (W, 30-27 OT vs. Troy)|
|2009||Southern Mississippi||Head Coach||7-6||New Orleans Bowl (L, 42-32 vs. Middle Tennessee)|
|2010||Southern Mississippi||Head Coach||8-5||Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl (L, 31-28 vs. Louisville)|
|2011||Southern Mississippi||Head Coach||12-2||Hawaii Bowl (W, 24-17 vs. Nevada)|
|CUSA Championship Game (W, 49-28 vs. Houston)|
|2012||North Carolina||Head Coach||8-4||Tied for first in ACC Coastal Division|
|Career HC Record:||42-23|
|(Five Seasons)||*Did not coach bowl game|