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What Butch Davis Really Said

The News and Observer had a Q&A with Tom O'Brien and Butch Davis. Here is THF's rough translation of what Davis really said in answering the N&O's questions.


Q. What about the rivalry with N.C. State?

A. "Best I can tell, we're everybody's biggest rival, I think. ... It's unique, where there are four other universities in the same state. I don't know that that exists anywhere else except in Texas. I know it doesn't in very many places."

Translation: You think you can pigeon-hole me into talking about one school or one game even before I have played a game? I am here to win 9 or more games a season not just beat NC State.

Q. There are still assistants from the previous staff that remain here. Do you plan to keep them?

A. "I don't want a rush to judgment on anything. Give them an opportunity to work with people, watch them work, get to know them. Putting a staff together, it is so important that the chemistry is right. You look for the dynamics -- what can everybody bring to a staff? What are their credentials? What is their background, their expertise, their knowledge?

"What are they as a recruiter? How do they interact with the players? How important is it to them that kids get a college education? And how diligent are they in following through? That's why it may take three more weeks, four more weeks, whatever -- I'm not really in a rush. I just want to make sure when we do finalize it, we get it right."

Translation: You honestly think I would fire anyone this close to Christmas? What kind of cold hearted person do you think I am? Also I am waiting for the NFL season to end to I can talk to some coaches who are otherwise occupied at the moment.

Q. Are there any positions you need to recruit for right away?

A. "The analogy I would use is, in the NFL, you don't draft for need, because you end up taking players that can't play. I think you draft the best available, and I think you recruit the best available players. Even if you're a little bit short at some particular positions, you're not going to turn down the opportunity to get an impact, difference-maker player if you have to take two of them, or three of them, or whatever. And I would like this first incoming class to be a little bit balanced; I don't foresee any position that we won't take some players at."

Translation: I will recruit the best players available and since it just happens we need someone at almost every position that makes it easier.

Q. If you had not gotten into the coaching profession, what would you be doing?

A. "I don't know. ... I tried to do well in business school, and after about three semesters, ... I ended up making a segue. I ended up getting into teaching, biology, anatomy, and probably I would always have done something with athletics, sports. I don't know what it would have been."

Translation: I know what I wouldn't have done and that is get into journalism and go around asking wildly successful football coaches some Oprahized pyscho-mumbo-jumbo question like "If you were a tree what kind of tree would you be?"

Q. Are you a fan of other teams?

A."I'm more of a fan of people on certain teams. ... I'm a good friend of Alex Rodriguez, so I've been a Mariner, a Ranger, a Yankee, a whatever fan because of our relationship. He's a really unique, special guy.

"Guys I coached at Miami, I'm a fan of theirs, so it's hard to pull for an NFL team because you've got too many mixed emotions with those guys."

Translation: Let me answer that by saying that I pull for people over teams that way no one gets upset that I said I was a fan of some team they do not like or pull for themselves. And by no means should anyone be disturbed that my fickled nature in this regard might give me a bad case of wanderlust in about four years.

Q. Did you ever meet with former UNC coach John Bunting?

A. "[We had] an hour-and-30-minute lunch, and we just sat and visited a little bit and got to know each other. I know it is a tender time for him, but the one message I wanted him to feel comfortable [with] was, he is a Tar Heel and he will always be welcome here. ...

"John is a part of the history and tradition of the school, and just because he isn't the head coach doesn't mean that he's not going to be welcomed here. And when that day comes -- it may not be in the very foreseeable future -- but whenever he feels comfortable, he's absolutely going to be welcomed here."

Translation: There is no way I am making the same mistake Matt Doherty made by coming in and throwing out or trouncing upon everyone the players were comfortable with. I told John he could come dress up as Rameses or lead the singing of the school song as long as the players know I did him right. Also, he got a nice buyout so I was also hoping he might chip in a little for the new seats we are putting in.

Q. How do you plan to balance teaching during the spring [practices] and getting acquainted with the personnel you have?

A. "You start at ground zero. We'll make some evaluations of some kids prior to spring practice, just by the nature of watching them in the offseason conditioning program -- quickness, change of direction, speed. We'll have some athletic evaluations done before we ever get there. ...

"And there may be as many as a half a dozen guys who are potential candidates for position switches. But nothing will be etched in stone."

Translation: UNC was 3-9 last season so you can rest assured I will be changing everything. And no more of this square peg in the round hole business either.

Q. What do you do away from football?

A. "I love every moment I get to spend with my wife and son. ...

"I enjoy reading. I read a great deal. I have about six or seven different disciplines; I try not to stay in one all the time. Periodically, I read biographies. I love history. I read a lot about political leaders. I like to read about business leaders, corporate executives, people in leadership. I read a lot of spiritual books. I like motivation."

Translation: I am probably way smarter than you.

Q. When will the spring game be held?

A. "Originally, the spring game was scheduled to be on the weekend of the Final Four, but I didn't think with Carolina [basketball], that was a real great idea. The next weekend is Easter, ... so it's the Saturday after, April 14."

Translation: Well for some reason which passes all semblance of understanding someone decided it would be a great idea to have the spring game on Final Four weekend when UNC has the #2 team in the nation preseason. And since I know which side the bread is buttered on and I also happen to like Easter I moved it to April 14th.

All in good fun. Welcome to Chapel Hill, Coach Davis.