In case you missed it there was some big news out of Chapel Hill yesterday as UNC (which can be seen as "UCLA/Michigan of the East") fired Butch Davis yesterday. From our friends at Carolina March:
Eight days before preseason training cam begins, UNC has dismissed head coach Butch Davis, ending his four-year tenure at Carolina. To say this is sudden is an extreme understatement; as of the ACC Media day on Monday Davis was discussing the full support of the administration he felt he had. So what changed?
The Board of Trustees, for one thing. There was a change in leadership, with Wade Hargrove taking over as chairman and a number of new members joining the board. This was the first meeting of the trustees since late March, and it appears either the support changed with new members or the full notice of allegations was enough to sway the opinions of key people. There were rumors Davis was fired in advance of the board meeting, but I at least am unsure of the timeline. Chancellor Thorp is quoted in the press release as saying this is not the result of any change in the NCAA investigation, though, and the only recent events have been Davis's promise to release his full phone records and the NCAA announcements involving Georgia Tech, LSU, and Ohio State.
That last bit, involving the Buckeyes, may have played a role, especially in changing the minds of various trustees. OSU's (relatively) quick firing of Jim Tressel seems to have placated an NCAA investigation. Of course, UNC did the same with rapid suspensions and the quid firing of John Blake. This latest move, if anything, undermines the Tar Heels' case that Blake was a rogue coach, by stating that Davis was also to blame, even if only in a managerial capacity.
Davis firing has some UCLA related implications. Let me list them after the jump.
The firing - especially the timing of it - is very much like the firing of former UCLA basketball coach Jim Harrick (in Harrick's case it was even crazier, given he was only one year removed from winning UCLA's eleventh national championship). Let's hope that UNC has better luck with its "interim coach" than UCLA did in Westwood.
As T.H. noted at Carolina March, the firing of Jim Tressell at Ohio State may have influenced UNC's decision to cut Butch Davis loose. It is yet another example of how respectable NCAA institutions with academic integrity and respect for rules and regulations handle themselves when serious transgressions are discovered within their athletic department.
Davis firing is also interesting because of the saga of Brandon Willis, who transferred to UCLA from UNC (when stories of UNC transgressions were leaking out), and then transferred back to UNC.
Butch Davis also was on the opposing sideline in perhaps the most brutal moment of UCLA football in last 20+ years - that would be December 5, 1998. If you are a UCLA football diehard, I don't need to go beyond listing that date. If you are not getting it, look through the archives because I am not going to rehash it (okay Melsby was f**king down).
I will end with this note. Towards the later years of Karl Dorrell many Bruin alums and fans had Butch Davis on their wish list. Over here on BN, many of us thought that Davis would have been a dynamite hire in Westwood. It makes me think of a really interesting post Paul Wadlington recently wrote at SBNation.com entitled "the Great Man Theory" of coaching. Now looking back at it, it appears UCLA may have dodged a bullet by not hiring Davis. It should make us think when we are discussing big picture in both short and distant future wrt our programs.