Torbush Avoids Ax At UNC

North Carolina football coach Carl Torbush will keep his job, school officials said Monday, just days after sources said he would be fired.

Sources close to the program told The Associated Press last week that Torbush and school officials were negotiating a buyout of the final three years of his five-year contract. The Tar Heels' were in the midst of their season in a decade.

But Torbush finished a 3-8 season with wins over archrivals North Carolina State and Duke, prompting an outpouring of support from players and many fans, and an apparent change of heart from athletic director Dick Baddour.

"Everything went into this formula, but it was important for me to see the energy from the team the last two games," Baddour said Monday.

About a dozen UNC players in attendance clapped and cheered when Baddour announced that Torbush would stay.

"The last three or four days have been an emotional roller coaster for me, but I have been able to weather this storm," Torbush said.

When asked if he and Torbush had discussed a contract buyout, Baddour refused to answer the question.

But North Carolina's plunge from a top 10 football program to last place in the ACC over a two-year period fueled widespread reports that Torbush would lose his job.

Torbush, 48, is 2-0 in bowl games but 11-13 overall since replacing Mack Brown.

A top defensive assistant under Brown for a decade, Torbush was the school's second choice two years ago when Brown left for Texas. Georgia's Jim Donnan was offered the job, but turned it down to remain with the Bulldogs. Torbush was offered the position a day later.

Torbush fell out of favor with some major boosters and fans after North Carolina started 0-3 last season and finished 7-5. This year, the Tar Heels suffered through their worst season in a decade after being hit with numerous injuries at quarterback.

Before Saturday's 38-0 shutout of Duke after which Torbush was lifted on the shoulders of players the Tar Heels had scored only 35 points since starting quarterback Ronald Curry ruptured his Achilles' tendon in a 31-24 overtime loss at Georgia Tech.

After Curry's injury, backup quarterback Luke Huard, defensie back Antwon Black and running back Domonique Williams all took turns at quarterback.

Despite this past season's troubles, Torbush hasn't been without coaching success. He was the architect of one of the nation's top defenses when the Tar Heels were 21-3 in the 1996-97 seasons. He also coached the Tar Heels to a 42-3 victory over Virginia Tech in the 1998 Gator Bowl after Brown departed, and he won last year's Las Vegas Bowl over San Diego State.

However, Torbush was harshly criticized this season following a 20-12 home loss to Houston and a 45-7 loss at Maryland. A 28-3 defeat by Division I-AA Furman a week later was considered by many fans to be the last straw.

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