*** Scroll for updates***
I brought this up last week as something UNC fans should brace for over the next couple of months and according to posts on CBS Sportsline Dennis Dodd's blog, Davis will probably be target #1 if and when Arkansas drops Houston Nutt. Dodd initally raises the possibility based on the fact Davis is good friends with chicken empire CEO John Tyson who also happens to be on the Razorback's board of trustees. Dodd also erroneously reports that Davis has an out in his contract to leave for Arkansas. The ever vigilant folks at the N&O picked up the line from Dodd and posed the question to Davis who denied interest:
"The unfortunate thing is," he said of the report, "I did play there, my father lives there, and I've got a lot of friends there. ... But I am thrilled to be here, and I believe the program here, we've spent a great year, this first year, building stuff. And there's so many positive things going on with this program, I'm excited about the future of our program."
So would he leave for Arkansas?
"I just told you, I'm thrilled to be at North Carolina,'' he said.
ACC Now also confirmed that there is nothing in the contract that allows Davis out to pursue a job at Arkansas. I am a little curious as to why Dennis Dodd could not either (1) look at the contract which can easily be found by doing a simple Google search or (2) pick up the phone and ask UNC officials the question just in case there were non-publicized addendum. I guess CBS Sportsline guys do not get paid to do research as Gary Parrish has often demonstrated. Incidentally, if you read the contract, the buyout ranges from $2 million to $700,000 based on the length of time Davis has been at UNC which means if Davis bolts after one year the buyout will be the maximum.
As for the comments from Davis, you sort of have to take them with a grain of salt given how media savvy coaches answer such questions. Obviously there is nothing untrue in his statement but outside the assertion that he is excited about the future there is not a definitive, "No, I am not leaving for Arkansas." It is what it is and, as a fan, something you kind of have to deal with when the coaching carousel starts spinning.
I have posted the full text of the Dennis Dodd posts from CBS Sportsline after the jump. I would point out that Dodd talks like he has inside information on what Davis is thinking and goes as far as to say Davis is having "second thoughts" about going to Arkansas. I find it interesting Dodd could give us a glimpse into the mind of Butch Davis but not know what his contract says. Also, Dodd's retraction which came at around 6:30 PM this evening followed the ACC Now post on the subject by two hours. In the ACC Now post, Dodd is called out for being incorrect about the contract and his musings on Davis. Dodd does not do the courtesy of acknowledging the ACC Now post even though he cites the spokesman statement and the buyout amounts. Perhaps Dodd got the info on his own but if he relied on the ACC Now report and did not acknowledge them as the source then that is a little shady.
UPDATE: The Sporting News gets into the act as well basically repeating known information and saying UNC would pursue Paul Johnson of Navy if Davis leaves. Can I say this is simply a ridiculous level of speculation considering Houston Nutt is still the head coach at Arkansas.
Hat tip: IC Tar Pit
UPDATE #2: I knew I had seen the rumor concerning Davis' alleged opt out to take the Arkansas job somewhere before and as it turns out it was on an Arkansas message board three days prior to Dodd posting it. From the poster "Porknoxville" at The Hill message board on Arkansas Rivals site:
1. UNC Head Coach, Butch Davis($2.25plus mill(5% chance of getting) - yes I know he just became head coach at UNC but he is still the odds-on favorite. Davis would bring star power, name recognition, high recruiting ability, good coaching, and respect to the school. Davis is what you would look for if you want a " Take it to the next level" guy. PS: there's a rumor that he has a clause in his contract that states that if Arkansas comes calling, then he can opt out at UNC."
Posted on 10/15 1:16 PM | IP: Logged
Now look at the first of the Dodd posts below which is dated three days later. It indicates Davis has the loophole for Arkansas but he does not give a source. It could be Dodd got the information off a reliable source(well not reliable now I guess) or maybe he has been sitting around reading message boards and decided to run with despite the fact it appeared on a message board. Only Dodd knows for sure but it sure looks bad on the surface.
Dodd Posts from CBS Sportsline
Updated: Oct/18/2007 03:55 PM
Is Davis in Razorbacks' future?
Sit down for this one. North Carolina's Butch Davis apparently has a clause in his contract that allows him to leave for Arkansas without a penalty. It's no secret that Davis is tight with Arkansas board of trustees member John Tyson (CEO of the chicken empire).
Paul Hilton "Butch" Davis played briefly for Arkansas and still has a lot of ties within the state. He wouldn't leave North Carolina after one season, would he?
Before you answer, consider that things are going very, very badly for Houston Nutt right now. The Razorbacks are 3-3 (0-3 in the SEC) heading to Ole Miss.
Updated: Oct/19/2007 11:45 PM
Arkansas may not be tempting enough for Butch
Butch Davis is having second thoughts about the Arkansas job. He's trying to decide if it's worth it to leave North Carolina after a year to take over Arkansas.
There is a larger issue here. Arkansas is stuck in the middle of the pack in the SEC because it left the Southwest Conference 15 years ago. It didn't have any choice back then as the SWC was breaking up. But it is suffering the consequences now.
No matter whom the AD is, Arkansas is stuck in the middle of a powerful conference. It's not quite good enough to win it and not quite bad enough to tank it.
Whoever the new coach is, he will have to deal with the fact that the SEC West is a mother. In any given year, the Hogs are going to have to beat out LSU and Auburn to get to the SEC title game.
Updated: Oct/23/2007 06:24 PM
Not so Hog-wild after all
Apparently there is no clause in Butch Davis' contract allowing him to leave for Arkansas as I wrote last week. At least for public consumption. As a couple of people have pointed out, that means there could be an addendum somewhere below the surface. According to a spokesman, Davis and the school deny there is any other agreement mentioned Arkansas as an out.
There is language about a $2 million buyout if he leaves for the NFL or another I-A school before certain dates.
The center of the report is still intact. Tyson CEO John Tyson still would like to woo Davis to Arkansas.
Tom Dinehart of The Sporting News
The talk of Butch Davis leaving North Carolina after one year for Arkansas remains active. Davis doesn't have an out regarding any team, but there is a buyout clause of $2 million.
If Davis bolts -- again, likely a long shot -- look for North Carolina to make a run at Navy's Paul Johnson, a Tar Heel State native who was considered for the N.C. State job last year. He led Georgia Southern to consecutive I-AA titles before taking the Navy job prior to the 2002 season. Navy was 1-20 the two years before Johnson arrived. He entered 2007 with a 37-25 mark