Just when you think its a slow day in Cleveland sports, a not so fond blast from the past resurfaces that makes you laugh and aggravates you all at once.
During a media session in Dallas yesterday, Pittsburgh Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians let loose with some built up anger and unleashed it on his former boss, Butch Davis. Arians was the Offensive Coordinator for the Browns under Davis during the infamous January 2003 playoff loss to Pittsburgh. Not that I need to remind any of you, but the Browns blew leads of 24-7 in the third and 33-21 with just over 10 minutes left that culminated in a 36-33 loss to the hated rival Steelers.
“Our head coach lost the game,” Arians said. “He called off the dogs on defense. You just don’t let Tommy Maddox sit there and go against a prevent defense. He basically fired [defensive coordinator] Foge Fazio at halftime. Foge was blitzing. We had them beat. They knew we had them beat.”
Arians says Davis took over the playcalling at halftime and insisted the team play his prevent defense.
“I don’t care what anyone says. I was on that sideline,” Arians said.
At first blush, I say to myself how great is that? Arians completely buried Butch. We all know the real Butch Davis now – a complete and utter ego-maniac who when the going got tough, quit on his team and left town. He always belonged in college, which is where he is now at North Carolina, and even there Butch has his issues. This past season, his team had been mired in an academic cheating scandal, as well as being the target of an NCAA investigation of improper benefits from agents and alumni.
Now we are eight years removed from the epic Tommy Maddox/Kelly Holcomb QB battle (I know, crazy, isnt it?) and the stench of the Butch Davis reign lingers once again.
After initially laughing at Arians commentary on his old boss, i moved back to anger over the fact that Butch’s ego was so large that he changed the defensive gameplan on his own, essentially costing the Browns a playoff win. They haven’t been back to the playoffs since.
For those who remember the game, the reality is that none of this would be a story today if Dennis Northcutt would have caught the infamous third down pass from Holcomb that would have allowed the Browns to run the clock out. That drop changed the fortunes of so many people.
“Hines [Ward] brings it up all the time. ‘If [Dennis] Northcutt catches that ball, you might be a head coach right now.’” Arians said. “But I wouldn’t have all these Super Bowl rings.”