Of University Of North Carolina head football coach Butch Davis (above, left) “accepting full responsibility” for his program’s laundry list of violations, The News & Observer’s Luke DeCock opined, “when an oil tanker runs aground, they don’t put the captain in charge of the cleanup.”  Yet that’s exactly what school President Holden Thorp did by allowing Davis to remain employed after a scandal-plagued 2010 campaign, with said tenure ending, curiously enough, earlier today.   And it’s the wait that has DeCock crowing, loudly.

Thorp and the trustees put the players on North Carolina’s football team who didn’t do a thing wrong — the vast majority of the players on this year’s roster — in an almost impossible position going forward. A coaching change a week before the start of training camp is about as big a negative as you can slap onto a team’s season. It’s an uphill climb for the Tar Heels now, a season in purgatory, and there are a lot of innocent players who already saw last season diminished by the misdeeds of their teammates.

Thorp has had ample reason to cut Davis loose for almost a year, ever since that awkward night he apologized to fans because the investigation had uncovered possible academic fraud and, oh by the way, the tutor we would soon know as the mysterious Jennifer Wiley just happened to have worked in the Davis household. Even the day last month when the NCAA finally got around to handing down its Notice of Allegations would have been a better day.

The timing of Davis’ firing is as baffling as the long delay in getting to this point in the first place.