Alternate headline: Butch Davis Says Come And Get Me!
First up, Dick Baddour lays out what UNC knew.
"We became aware of some of the information through the NCAA investigation when John Blake was interviewed on Aug. 31. But financial transactions in and of themselves don't establish a violation, and at that time we did not have enough information to dismiss him with cause.
"Nevertheless, we weren't comfortable with what we learned. That, combined with the distraction that Coach Blake was becoming to the football program, led us to the conclusion that it was not in our best interest for him to continue to be part of our program. He offered to resign, and we agreed to terms on Sept. 5."
The question was raised as to how much of this UNC knew. Baddour's statements on Wednesday indicated the end was near which did not jive with the revelations found in the Yahoo report leading many to believe UNC was caught unaware...again. Baddour says they knew some of it, were made aware of the financial transactions on August 31st which made UNC officials uncomfortable but did not constitute violations. Six days later Blake resigns and UNC is more than happy to write him a check and watch him leave. One response to this report from some UNC fans is these issues were already known to UNC and the NCAA. I am not sure how that makes it better unless you want to argue the absence of action means they do not consider these payments an issue. Blake's lawyers are arguing these transactions were loans and even dispute they occurred while Blake was at UNC. It will be interesting how they reconcile that statement with Charles Robinson's assertion the loans/wire transfers occurred in the past three years with triple sourced documents to prove it.
The problem for UNC in all of this is not so much the transactions but what Blake may have done with that money once he received it. The danger here is whether or not Blake used the money to provide improper benefits to them. In other words, was Blake acting as a runner while an assistant coach at UNC? That requires evidence on the backside of the flow chart. The Yahoo article is pointing to money flowing to Blake but no evidence of where it went after that. Yes, it possible this was just "loans between friends." You could also take the general sloppiness of it all as a sign maybe it was not nefarious. However, this is not happening in a vacuum. When you add the two trips Marvin Austin took to California, the connection to Kentwan Balmer whose agent is Wichard and the fact all of these people seem to be intertwined, it creates too many coincidences. Also, I am not sure the NCAA is really going to care about why Wichard gave Blake money. They certainly did not give a rip about intent when it came to Deunta Williams and that did not involve an agent. Since the NCAA has gone Wyatt Earp on the Cowboy gang where agents are concerned, it is likely they are going to shoot first and not bother with the questions when it comes to Blake and UNC.
What does all of this mean for Butch Davis. Well, there was ample opportunity to ask Davis today since he did a radio interview and took questions from the media at UNC's practice. Probably the biggest takeaway is Davis' assertion that he will not resign. Davis also went to great lengths during both media appearances to establish what he reasonably should have known about Blake or Austin's trips or whatever else. Fellow UNC blogger Carolina March does a nice job breaking down what Davis should have known. One of the most used arguments in defending Davis and UNC throughout this ordeal has been the "we cannot expect these people to know everything." Here at THF we have used this because it is does have merit when you consider how the real world works. The busy flow of life often robs us of the opportunity to track this or investigate that. So when Davis says he could not have known, it is understandable.
However, there is a point you reach where the "I did not know" defense is trotted one too many times. I liken it to the way the RMS Titanic sunk. The Titanic was built with four water tight compartments in the front of the ship. As long as flooding was contained to those four compartments Titanic would stay afloat. When Titanic struck the iceberg it ripped gash in the hull that made it to the fifth compartment where the bulkheads did not extend to the top to create a water tight compartment. As a result the water overflowed the bulkheads in the fifth compartment, then the six and so on bringing the ship down into the ocean. The same is true here both in terms of Davis saying he did or could not have known but also with the number of issues UNC is facing. In my opinion we have reached a point in what Davis knew or rather did not know that water is flooding the fifth compartment. So far we have Davis not knowing what his players were doing. He had no idea what John Blake was up with Gary Wichard. He was not aware of Blake reputation prior to hiring him. There are questions as to what he knew about Chris Hawkins. Every time Davis says he did not know or could not have known it weakens the credibility of the argument. The more it is used the easier it is to think "well what does Davis know about what goes on in his program?" or at the very least it hints of a failure on his part to properly monitor his employees and players. It is a conundrum. Either you say you should have known which makes you guilty or say repeatedly you did not know which makes you look stupid or negligent.
The other problem for Davis, lies with the fact he did hire John Blake in the first place. Blake's reputation preceded him. Coaches all around college football knew about Blake and how he operated. Should Davis had been aware of this? I would think so which is why UNC and Davis both keep saying they vetted Blake with the NCAA and found no violations attached to him. UNC did their part in the area of official due diligence but failed to account for Blake's shady history. Moreover, we are taking about a "buck stops here" situation. What happens in the UNC football program is the responsibility of Butch Davis. If that program runs into serious NCAA issues, Davis will be called upon to pay the price for that whether he had direct involvement or not.
Davis' defiance and Baddour's support is not really surprising. While Caulton Tudor thinks Davis should resign now, reality is going to dictate otherwise. The fact of the matter is unless you have direct evidence Davis did something illicit, terminating him mid-season is simply not going to happen. Davis' contract is one reason, program stability is the other factor. Holding Davis responsible for NCAA violations on his watch is something that gets addressed during the off season or when the full report is known. Also, the present season still have value and some of the UNC players committed no wrongs deserve every chance to win. 99.9 The Fan's Adam Gold pointed out the right thing to do by them is allow the head coach to finish the season. I still do not think Davis will survive. Perception is reality and there are far too many issues here to think Davis will be able to retain his job once the season ends.
In other news, UNC says the NCAA is back on campus to get an overview of their academic support environment. The move was expected as the NCAA wants to ensure UNC handled the academic probe correctly and to get an idea if there are further issues. Still, having the NCAA around is like having a squirrel in your house. You never know what the darn thing is going to do or if it will ever leave.