Bitter Towards Butch?

Butch DavisThe Butch Davis era was one that most Browns fans would love to forget.  Sure, he lead the team to a 7-9 record during his first year as the head coach, and then improved that to a 9-7 mark with a spot in the playoffs.  PLAYOFFS!?

We then had our first taste of a quarterback controversy with Timmy Tears and Kelly Holcomb; Holcomb ultimately won the starting gig.  In 2003, that 9-7 record turned into a 5-11 with trouble brewing.  The year 2004 rolled around and Davis signed the “savior” Jeff Garcia, cut our former first overall selection, and threw in the towel after a 3-8 start.  He wound up with a Cleveland career record of 24-35, and left Cleveland with some other formidable memories.

After taking some time off as an analyst for the NFL Network and sipping mai tai’s thanks to a multi-million dollar deal with Cleveland, Davis found a home back in the college circuit with the virtually unknown North Carolina Tar Heels.  Thick in the heart of basketball country, Davis took on a team that amassed one winning season in the six prior to his arrival. 

Rumors of Butch bailing on UNC a year later would only firm up his belief in a team that he took under his wing.  Agreeing to a contract extension (Butch seemed to have a knack for those), Davis entered 2008 with a Bowl game in his sites.  “Bowl game” is something that hasn’t exactly been synonymous with North Carolina Football since the turn of the century.  And as of right now, Davis is blowing these goals out of the water as he is not only set up for a bowl game.  His Tar Heel team is looking to actually win the ACC as they are fresh off of a huge win over Georgia Tech, and wrap up this year’s season against Maryland, N.C. State and Duke.

While the ACC isn’t exactly the football hotbed, there are other teams that pack a punch.  Clemson was forecasted to win the conference.  And we cannot count out Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest, Virgina Tech and the powerhouse formerly known as Miami – his old stomping grounds.

And sure, any of the three remaining opponents of the Heels could pull off an upset.  However, if they run the table – as they should – North Carolina would be set to play in an actual BCS Bowl (the Orange Bowl); something that even the biggest of Heel fans likely didn’t see coming. 

And of course, Davis is now rumored to be in the mix for jobs in Tennessee (which he has stated as having no interest). 

And with all of this said, it’s pretty obvious that Davis will not be returning to the NFL any time soon.  Like many coaches before him (in basketball as well), the NCAA and NFL rarely provide equal success.  But even given the feel-good story which I briefly laid before you, I struggle to root for Davis.  Do I want his team to do well?  Sure, it’s not their fault that their coach set my favorite NFL franchise back a few years thanks to terrible scouting/drafting (Gerard Warren, Quincy Morgan, James Jackson, William Green…)

But am I alone?  What are your sentiments when you see a Butch-led team climb the ranks the way that UNC has?  Am I out of line to still hold a small grudge against a guy who did ultimately land us Kellen Winslow? 

Take it from here.  When you’re flipping through the channels on a Saturday afternoon and see UNC on top of their opponent, do you grit your teeth or just continue flipping?

  • Josh

    Never made the connection actually. being a cleveland fan, I always root for the underdogs, and it is nice to see a school known for basketball like UNC crash the football party.

    HOWEVER….here’s a different angle. Could it be that Davis was just over his head in Cleveland? did he have a good read on things, just made a few bad decisions that we’ve had to live with? Too much power, too fast but ultimately a good football mind?

    Remember, we dismissed a certain head coach as an idiot who has gone on to win some super bowls and lead an almost undefeated team last year?

  • Scott

    “Could it be that Davis was just over his head in Cleveland?”

    Given that and your assessment of Mr. Belichick, could it be that this city just has expectations that are too high for anyone?

  • CJG

    I try to look at this the other way around. If a college team had a coach that did terribly, left the team and came to the Browns, and took the Browns to a Super Bowl win (oh hell, even a deep run into the playoffs), it would be nice if fans of the former college team would at least leave my team and blessed coach alone. Not saying Davis is blessed, but if Davis has finally found his niche in life, fantastic. Happy trails my friend and congratulations. Now about that coach of the Browns….

  • Scott P

    Maybe Butch is like Saban and just cant hack it in the pro’s.

    As for high expectations, I think that the lack of trophies that our favorite lake front city has to offer says it all right there (not to mention the name of the blog). Personally i think that its the fact that we have come within a game 7 or a “drive” or a shot over Craig Ehlo from getting the city of Cleveland a step closer to some bling.

    Is it high expectations or just jealousy?

  • david

    i hate him.

  • nobody

    Maybe if Butch didn’t have to play the role of GM and Coach, I believe he would’ve been a great coach for Cleveland.

  • DP

    I’m always left confounded by one thing with Butch (and by extension, Pete Garcia) during his Browns tenure:

    They left Miami just LOADED with NFL talent. Seriously, go back and look at the Ken Dorsey teams that Davis and Garcia built, and at all talent that came out of Miami in the years they were still recruiting (K2 counts, there, too). Here’s what I could never, ever figure out:

    How could those two be SO DARNED GOOD at scouting NFL talent out of high school, but SO DARNED BAD at scouting NFL talent out of college? Even when Davis and Garcia showed preference to people they themselves had recruited out of HS while at Miami (*cough* Warren over Seymour *cough*), they still struck out.

    That said, bile used to shoot up the back of my throat every time I heard a post-game with Casey Coleman after a 25-point loss that sounded like this: “Well, Casey, they spilled their guts out out there. You know, I’m just proud of the effort.”

    I’m not, Butch.

  • kiddicus maximus

    i can’t hold a grudge against Davis. its not like we gave him the 1993 Cowboys and he ruined the team through stupidity. he came into a broken system and gave us our only playoff berth since the reBrowns.

    i’m glad he’s gone, but i wish no ill will on him. Go Tar Heels!

  • P@

    Nice story Scott. I agree, it is looking like Butch Davis has a knack for the college game… which was certainly not true of the pros. You left out that UNC would have to not only beat NC State, Duke, and Maryland to get into the OB (I still love that sound clip), but they would have to beat whoever wins the Atlantic Division in the ACC Championship. I think that UNC can do that, but I don’t think they should be expected to win that game against FSU or whoever winds up winning that division. If Virginia Tech can manage to win out, they will hold the tie-breaker over UNC in the Coastal Division because they beat UNC in a head-to-head matchup (which was entirely because Orion Martin knocked UNC starting QB TJ Yates out of that game by landing on his ankle during a sack, but nevertheless the situation is what it is). VT has Miami, Duke, and UVA left on the schedule and has been running the ball more effectively recently.

    I am not going to bash Butch Davis in this post though… he seems to be a very good recruiter and an excellent coach in the college ranks. Let’s just hope he stays there because he has no business being an NFL coach.

  • Bobby O

    I loved Butch till the day he was fired (I know I’m in the minority here but hear me out.) Being now 17 Butch brought me my first great Browns memories. I was 8 when they came back and Butch fostered my love for them to what it is today. The only angle I didn’t like was the whole “Hire Pete Garcia ignore Ron Wolf” aspect in that he put his ego before almost everything. But in the end, I’m still a butch backer.

    /”Run William Run!”

  • The Bambino

    I’m kinda a results guy. Butch took us to the playoffs.
    I’m still waiting for anyone else to do that. Still…..waiting

  • Jeremy

    Strongly dislike him, hate is a strong word. He set up back horribly with those drafts picks, and if I remember correctly, even when he did get K2 he threw away other draft picks because he though someone else might take him so he traded up when no one really wanted him.

  • draftnik

    I liked him in Cleveland, and I like him now. The day we hired him was the greatest day in new Browns history. We instantly became a team where winners came. Didn’t quite turn out that way, but he did fall into the playoffs, so hard to fault him too much. One of the things I’ve noticed about college coaches is they try too hard to find the Next Big Thing No One But Me Knew About…the Ben Gays, the Andre Kings, the myriad other UM alumni. Saban did the same thing. Instead of trying to plug holes with longshots, they should be focused on coaching technique on the field, and leave the GM responsibilities to real talent evaluators like Savage. Yes, I’m a Savage guy.

  • S-Dub

    that 9-7 season should’ve been more like 10-6 or even 11-5 had a certain LB not tossed his helmet in celebration 50 YARDS AWAY FROM THE PLAY!!! (Terrible call by the way). But, from that butch still played prevent defense while up by 17, he still trusted Northcutt to catch the ball, He couldn’t get along with Clinton Portis so he drafted Green instead, and he still had Winslow in on an onside kick that led to his broken leg.

    He couldn’t draft well because if you weren’t from Florida Butch basically ignored you. That’s why Andra Davis is still our MLB (I love the guy but he just isn’t a good 3-4 MLB). Big Penny over the number of guys who were HOF’s and Pro Bowlers in that draft is amazing to me.

    Butch can’t hack it in the pro’s and most college coach’s, I correct myself and will go ahead and say ALL college coach’s (ya ya Jimmy Johnson I know) can’t hack it.

    When Romeo get’s fired this year I’ll be looking to see if the Browns hire a college guy b/c if they do…. I’ll be pissed!!!

  • JJ

    I too was young when Butch Davis was first hired as coach (early teen years), and personally i hated Butch Davis at Miami. I’ve always had ill feels toward the “u” (and this included our boy K2). I quickly forgave Butch when he led the Browns to the playoffs. It was the first pro team not named the Indians that made the postseason that i was a diehard fan of (at least where i was old enough to comprehend what was going on). And with that change of heart i now root for the tar heels in their quest for a BCS Bowl birth.

  • bridgecrosser

    If the future of tbe Browns exisitng lay in winning a game 7 days from today with the current roster, and you had to choose – have RAC or BUTCH coach the team from Monday-Sunday: – WHO WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

    I’d pick Davis.

  • Bobby

    Butch in a hearbeat…no question. His only problem was his talent evaluation and ego…both problems too big to overcome as an NFL head coach.