North Carolina's Butch Davis Has to Go -- And Now
Then, quickly and quietly, he should have caught the first flight back to Chapel Hill, packed his bags and faded into oblivion -- well, before his trip back to the pros.
Come to think of it, he can do the next-best thing.
He could quit.
He should quit.
But he won't. He'll survive by feeding off folks not realizing LSU is significantly flawed (translated: The Tigers' players and coaches aren't that good). Which was the primary reason North Carolina only lost 30-24 and had two shots at winning in the final seconds from the LSU six-yard line with two passes into the end zone.
Davis saw North Carolina's surge down the stretch differently, of course, saying, "I told the players in the locker room when the game was over with that I don't know if I've ever been prouder with a group of kids and the way that they fought to get themselves back in a ballgame. I told the kids that one of the things that defines you is your character, your guts, your ability to compete, to never surrender.
"We didn't play this for any moral victories. We came here to play this game to win the game."
Blah, blah, blah.
Given the drama surrounding North Carolina's series of football scandals, you can't take this guy seriously anymore as a college football coach, and I know what you're saying. Some of his peers and several of his predecessors were involved with legendary sleaze, ranging from Free Shoes University (FSU, as in Florida State) to Southern Methodist University's years of slush funds to earn the death penalty.
It's just that Davis' sleaze happened in a flash. One moment, there was that NCAA-related scandal for Davis' 18th-ranked Tar Heels, who once were loaded with more pro talent than anybody in the nation, and then came an academic scandal, which involved a counselor that Davis hired for his 16-year-old son (don't ask).
As a result, you had the unprecedented and the unseemly occurring for North Carolina: the dismantling of a championship-caliber team courtesy of a coach with blinders over his blinders. Six starters on defense and three more on offense were among 13 North Carolina players ruled ineligible before the start of this edition of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff.
I mean, 13.
Despite it all, Davis shrugged before an ESPN camera this week while saying he still was searching for "good student-athletes" who had "good character" and "good integrity."
Yeah, well. Let's just say "good riddance" to Davis from campuses forever, and it doesn't matter he kept the post-Jimmy Johnson Hurricanes vibrant with 51 victories during his 71 games at Miami after he inherited a scandal-ridden program from Dennis Erickson. Who cares Davis brought the Tar Heels out of mediocrity with two 8-5 finishes before this season after starting 4-8 at North Carolina?
Thirteen? Davis clearly hasn't what it takes to win games and mold young men at the same time.
Even so, with Davis also telling ESPN that "I believe in myself," he took the sidelines on Saturday night anyway. So the countdown began as to when a supposedly decent LSU team was going to smack all of the baby blue out of the uniforms of their opponents -- you know, with much help from their severely undermanned opponents.
Two plays into the game, North Carolina's Johnny White fumbled away the ball to LSU deep into his territory. And, yes, White was playing for one of his suspended teammates.
On North Carolina's next series, quarterback T.J. Yates fumbled the snap from center Jonathan Cooper. But, no, neither Yates nor Cooper was subbing for anybody. Not only did LSU recover the fumble, but the Tigers turned it into a touchdown drive.
Still, North Carolina flashed signs of turning this into one of those Lou Holtz things. Remember? Thirty-three seasons ago, the former Notre Dame coach who was with Arkansas back then, suspended his top two running backs before an Orange Bowl. That wasn't just any Orange Bowl. That was one that featured Barry Switzer's Oklahoma set to win its third national championship in four years, and that Orange Bowl featured a blowout victory -- for Arkansas.
So here was North Carolina, defying common sense, with a 10-7 lead midway through the second quarter. What pushed the Tar Heels toward a short field goal along the way to that lead was a 75-yard pass from Yates to Jheranie Boyd, and Boyd was another one of those playing for a suspended teammate.
Then the bad Tar Heels replaced the bad Tar Heels.
A dropped pass in the end zone.
Somebody fumbling the ball on a kickoff in the end zone before foolishly trying to run it out and getting smothered at his own four-yard line.
That center firing a snap over the head of the quarterback into the end zone for an LSU safety.
When that sequence ended, the Tar Heels trailed 30-10 at halftime, but the blowout never came. That's because LSU often was more ghastly than the Tar Heels -- penalties for roughing the kicker and the smacking of the quarterback out of bounds to extend a North Carolina scoring drive, botching a chip-shot field goal, having a touchdown called back for holding, failing to try to run out the clock inside the final minute along the way to losing a fumble in North Carolina territory.
Before long, Yates found Boyd with another long pass. This time, it was for a 97-yard touchdown. Then Yates threw to Erik Highsmith in the end zone to make things tighter. Then there was that silly fumble by LSU that North Carolina recovered to race to the LSU six before the Tar Heels just missed a game-winning touchdown pass in the end zone.
Then Davis was sounding like he actually helped the Tar Heels do something gallant. Instead, his negligence got them into this mess, and he should have been nowhere in sight.