AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- No, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora was not wearing his Coastal Division championship ring during the ACC spring meetings.
Yes, he did expect the backlash that followed after it was revealed his players got those rings despite being ineligible for the postseason.
"I knew there would be but that’s not why it was done," Fedora said. "I didn’t do it for the backlash. It was done for those seniors and those kids that accomplished everything they could accomplish. They had nothing to do with what happened so they were paying the price. I felt like they deserved it."
North Carolina would have played for an ACC title last year had it not been serving a postseason ban for NCAA violations committed well before Fedora and his players arrived on campus. The way Fedora explains it, he was looking for any source of motivation to give his players, who had no championship or bowl game to play for last season.
"I was searching for any reward that I could give them because I was proud of what they did," he said.
When it was revealed a few weeks ago that the players received rings, a firestorm erupted, and a great debate ensued. Was it right to hand out rings proclaiming yourselves champions when Georgia Tech ended up representing the Coastal Division in the ACC title game against Florida State?
None of that much mattered to Fedora, who was only looking out for his players. Fedora actually was not in town when the rings were handed out shortly before players finished up the semester. He does have his ring, but as is his custom, Fedora never wears any of the championship rings he has won.
And for the record, the ACC does not officially recognize North Carolina as Coastal Division champions.