We have not weighed in much on the coaching search so far. Some have suggested we are waiting to see which way ‘the wind is blowing’ before we jump in. I can tell you that is not the case.
What I can tell you is that we have come to abhor the ‘candidate of the week’ mentality employed by many media members (the radio talking heads mostly). We know…we know…whatever drives the ratings – that’s what they are after.
But after listening to weeks and weeks of speculation, it occurred to me that we may be missing the forest for the trees. Have we been outthinking the room on this whole deal?
Early on, Butch Davis’ name surfaced. Most Arkansans are familiar with Butch and his career, and his name has routinely come up in years past when the Razorbacks head coaching job has been vacant.
A few weeks ago, Jeff Long made the statement in a statewide Radio interview that the new coach would be someone that is currently employed, either in college or the NFL. When that was said, focus quickly shifted away from Davis, who has been out of coaching since North Carolina fired him in July, 2011.
Davis is currently employed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a special consultant to new coach Greg Schiano. Schiano was on Davis’ staff in Miami.
Could Long’s comment, while factually correct, have ‘thrown the dogs off the scent’? Davis is employed. Davis is working in the NFL, just not as a coach. Are we that easily distracted?
There is no question that Butch’s resume dwarfs anyone else being currently mentioned for this job. His work with Jimmy Johnson at Oklahoma State, Miami and Dallas; the two Super Bowl rings; the turnaround at Miami; the NFL experience as a head coach in Cleveland; the defensive minded approach. It’s all there.
North Carolina was set to be the last job for Davis and his wife Tammy. They heavily invested in the community there in Chapel Hill, and were content. The problem: Butch had recruited so well that he couldn’t keep the agents away from the NFL prospects he had gathered up.
That and the academic fraud that was uncovered in the tutoring department foiled his chances to stay there. He has been cleared of any wrongdoing by a recently released NCAA report.
Some will say that Davis has had his chance before and did not take the Arkansas job. We don’t know that he was ever offered it. Thinking that UNC was his last stop, and not wanting to bail on them after one season in 2007 when the Arkansas job was open is understandable.
Others will say that he’s too old – currently 60, and will be 61 later this week. To that we say Nick Saban is 61, Les Miles is 59, Steve Spurrier is 67, Bill Snyder is 73. And it’s clear to us after listening to last month’s interview with WRAL-TV sports director Jeff Gravley that Davis still has the fire, and feels like he has some unfinished business after what happened at UNC.
If Butch is ‘the one’ (The Matrix reference for all you Neo fans out there…), it is likely that he could bring one of his former assistants at Miami, Randy Shannon with him as defensive coordinator. Shannon, who was head coach at Miami from 2007-2010, is currently the linebackers coach at TCU.
That my friends could be a formidable team if the plan is to shift our focus to building a defense that can compete and win in the SEC West.
Now this is not an editorial page endorsement of one of the candidates, although we like Davis a lot. We just get the feeling that we might have been given ‘a head fake’ by our athletic director, and we need to be careful we don’t lose sight of someone so obvious who might be right in front of our face.