The fine folks over at the ACC Sports Journal posted an AP story about former North Carolina head coach, Butch Davis, and his desire to get back into coaching. Butch Davis wants back into the game he loves and while he is serving a stint as a "special assistant" to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the man from Arkansas truly wants to get back into the game he loves.
We all know about the entire saga that took place at North Carolina. A few tweets gave way to an agent scandal that cost three players their eligibility outright. The investigation went on to uncover ties between UNC staff member John Blake and agent Gary Wichard and other North Carolina players guilty of accepting various degrees of extra benefits from former Tar Heels.
As the probe got deeper, North Carolina was also revealed to have serious academic issues surrounding a tutor and some African-American Studies classes. The tutor was also a personal tutor for Butch Davis' son, Drew, following her dismissal from North Carolina's athletic academic advisory department.
It all is an interesting saga, and as someone who has followed it quite closely from the onset, there are plenty of layers to the story and at a glance things look bad for Paul Hilton Davis. However, as the information was revealed and legitimate culpability comes into play Butch Davis was absolved of all wrong-doing, not just by the NCAA but also by the University of North Carolina, who they elected to pay Davis not to coach, as opposed to firing the man for cause and avoiding the multi-million dollar hook.
Most certainly Butch Davis' baggage is going to scare off some schools. The fact that he's a southern guy further limits where the head coach is willing to go as far as a geography is concerned. However, if you're a school looking to rebuild, Butch Davis should be on your short list. Obviously the likes of Kirby Smart, Manny Diaz and other hot commodities will fit the bill, but to not make a call to check on Butch Davis would be a mistake.
Davis' old athletic director feels the same way, as Dick Baddour is an advocate for the coach; making phone calls and offering himself as a reference:
“I hope Butch gets another chance,” Baddour said. “I believe he will get another chance. I think he deserves another opportunity at the collegiate level.”
Strong words from a man who was pushed into resignation by UNC amid the school's first major brush with the NCAA in several decades. Through it all Baddour remains a supporter of the head coach and that speaks to his belief in Davis' ability to get the job done.
Are schools wise to be wary of Butch Davis? Absolutely. The air of plausible deniability is one that most certainly scares folks away and makes it easy to dismiss Davis as a candidate because of what he could have, might have or should have known. If you don't like North Carolina or you don't like Butch Davis then that works for you.
However, if you're without an axe to grind and you have the desire to improve your recruiting, build a solid foundation and push for success, then a phone call to Davis is warranted. Let your athletic directors and compliance personnel ask the tough questions of Davis and see how he answers them. Compare the big man to the other candidates and give your school a chance to see where he ranks among them.
This is less about advocating for Butch Davis, the guy who oversaw my own school's run into probation and a bowl ban, and more about acknowledging that the man can get it done. If North Carolina's piss poor mismanagement of the NCAA investigation sinks Davis' career you can merely count that as another casualty of the school's ridiculous approach to the probe. Michael McAdoo, Devon Ramsay plus Kendric Burney, Da'Norris Searcy and others already fell prey to UNC's terrible strategy. Now, their coach is running that same risk.
Hopefully, someone gives the guy a phone call. He is a a heck of a ball coach, with an ability to pump talent into a program and push it towards success. We'll see if Davis is able to get an opportunity, given his total career track record and the lack of true culpability it will be interesting how long before the call to interview comes.