So now that the worst kept secret in the state of North Carolina has finally be dealt with officially, we can finally look at what having Butch Davis running the program means. This blogger was against the hiring Davis simply because I felt it was a short term fix. I was convinced then and still am that Davis is destined for no more than 2-3 years at the helm of the program before making a second run at the NFL. What other impetus could he have in taking this job and not waiting for one that would have been a final destination. However, he is the choice of the powers that be and it is impossible to argue with the excitement and anticipation such a hire brings. My take after the jump
It became obvious that those running this search whether that was Dick Baddour or numerous other individuals decided early on that what UNC football needed was an immediate shot of credibility. There is no question that Butch Davis is that shot. Davis is a proven winner on the college level and will be able to raise UNC to a level in recruiting it has not been at since Mack Brown was wearing powder blue. Davis is obviously a good coach and a very capable game manager or else he would not have been hired on the NFL level. He also has the reputation and connections to surround himself with very good assistants and according to David Glenn this afternoon he will be given the money to hire assistants and pay them well. In short Davis is a big gun and arguably the best coach available. Landing him is a major coup for UNC despite the reservations people like myself have about his potential tenure.
The interesting aspect of this is the kind of statement UNC was able to make concerning the direction of the football program. According to Glenn the salary is supposed to be in the $2 million range which turns on it's head the logic most people clung to that UNC would not pay a coach more than they paid Roy Williams. Fronting a $2 million salary shows the administration in Chapel Hill is dead serious about reviving the football program. The aforementioned budget for hiring assistants is a key ingredient. Having a stable and excellent staff can make a huge difference in recruiting and maintaining the same offensvie and defensive schemes. The ability to attract and keep good assistants is an obvious imperative for Davis and for UNC in building a winning team and has worked exceptionally well at Virginia Tech. There is also talk at this point of further improvements to Kenan Stadium which all plays into the idea that the Tar Heels are looking to be serious players on a regular basis in Top 25 college football.
Of course the issue of how long Davis might stay will be the perpetual concern moving forward. And as much as I wanted someone like Paul Johnson who I thought would be there for at least 10 years, maybe more, I have settled that if Davis is at UNC for five years that will be sufficient to establish a great working foundation and give UNC a handful of successful seasons. Anything less than that is problematic in my mind. In fact if he were to leave in the 2-3 year range, it would be extremely difficult because he would leave the next coach with a mix of Bunting and Davis recruits on the team. Granted most of the true Bunting recruits would be gone it still would be a mix of different types of players recruited for two different systems. I also think that 2-3 years is not sufficient time to get above what has been happening for the past nine years. in my opinion you need a buffer between the current state of the program in the range of four or five years. During that period, consistent success will illustrate UNC's viability as a perennial Top 25 team and get away from the notion that is simply a basketball school. So if Davis can stay five years and establish a very strong foundation and football "infrastructure" that will continue on as a part of the program even if he leaves, it will make it an attractive coaching stop and ease the transition of a new coach. Anything less than that means whatever success is happening it dependent wholly on the coach himself and much like it was when Mack Brown left, it will collapse under it's own weight like a house of cards.
As for how the search was conducted, it is difficult to heap praise on Dick Baddour because as of right now we are not sure how much Baddour actually was involved. We know Chuck Neinas was paid a nice sum to do what I am not sure since they centered in Davis almost from the start. It is apparent that the powers behind Baddour made sure he had everything he needed, economically speaking, to get Davis on board. Outside of that, who knows. As for the way it was announced, the fact Inside Carolina had the story on their front page last week and UNC chose to deny it in an effort to honor certain conditions set forth by John Bunting, is a little odd. The bottom line is there are either people who were too willing to talk or UNC needs to study this situation very closely to devise a system for maintaining confidential information in a coaching search and avoiding this strange and almost embarrassing episode we just witnessed.
So, Davis is the guy and my cynical side still cringes as the possibility of this being a short term deal. Maybe I will be wrong and gladly so if Davis decides to make this a legacy job for him to sail off into retirement with. I think that is a pipe dream but I also think that a five year tenure will do a great deal to set the tone and foundation in place. Granted it is not ideal but at least there is the inescapable feeling that football matters again in Chapel Hill. This has been the selling point for Chuck Amato at NC State that despite the record, Wolfpack football has meaning and excitement surrounding it.
That is the hope that rests with Davis now, no matter how long he stays, to make UNC a winner and make it matter.