The absolute easiest way to defuse any coaching rumors concerning your head football coach is to negotiate a new contract. This apparently what UNC has going on, not because of any confirmation but because no one is willing to comment on it.
From ACC Now:
"I think Dick [Baddour] summed it up to answer that question best yesterday: Any time the University's got anything going on, it's just pretty much the University's policy to not talk about it,'' Davis said. "And now all I'm focused on is trying to get this football team to bounce back emotionally and get ready to play as well as we can against Duke."
Davis signed a seven year contract, worth about $1.86 million annually, last November, and he would be forced to pay $2 million if he left after this season to coach at another school after one season. Still, his name has been linked to Arkansas, his alma mater; Davis has said he plans to be at UNC next season.
Baddour, UNC's athletics director, said Saturday it is institutional policy not to comment on contracts, except for what is in the current one.
Based on how this has worked in the past a refusal to comment about something that may or may not be happening usually means that something is probably happening. And these guys know that otherwise they would simply deny the report and move on. The smart PR move is to make sure people know a contract renegotiation is happening without actually saying it as a sort of preemptive strike against any suitors who may come calling. It also makes perfect sense they would be delving into this now and it would not surprise me in the least if they announced something early next week following the Duke game.
Let me also address what any contract extension/renegotiation actually means. It does not mean Davis is being rewarded for a 3-4 win season or for any improvement in the team. This is a factor in the process, but the main impetus behind a potential new contract is to account for an obvious change in the market value of your coach due in part to external pressures created by increased demand for his services. In other words when Davis was hired, UNC was the only team on the radar and given the demand for Davis was low they paid him commiserate to reality of the market at that time. A year later the market reality has changed and Davis is being linked all over the place to go to more traditional football programs which means his market value has substantially changed. The choice UNC has is they can either attempt to address this change and pony up the dough or they can ignore it and watch Davis walk. I agree with 850's Adam Gold in his saying coaches do not like to look bad(thus Davis not wanting to leave after one year) but I think even above that they do not like to be disrespected. If UNC fails to acknowledge the change in Davis' value and meet it then they basically hand Davis an out to leave after one year. And in terms of the bigger picture it not only "immunizes" Davis from coaching rumors in this present year but I think such an extension would be good for at least three years.
At any rate I think something is afoot and if they do get something hammered out I think they will make it public after the Duke game and effectively end any pursuit of Davis by other schools.