To be a fly or several flies on walls in Chapel Hill and Knoxville
Andrew Jones, formerly of the Wilmington Star and now at Buster Sports has some addition information on the UNC-Butch Davis-UT situation.
According to sources close to the UT football program, the North Carolina football coach's agent, Jimmy Sexton, was contacted this weekend by Tennessee representatives to discuss Davis as a possible replacement to Phillip Fulmer, who was fired last week after 17 years on the job.
Davis told the media last week that he wasn't interested in the job and that he plans on staying at UNC. But there are conditions that Carolina must meet to ensure Davis' tenure in Chapel Hill is a long one.
According to a source close to Davis and UNC, the coach wants a more lucrative contract and guaranteed dates for the starts and completions of each phase in Kenan Stadium's renovation.
The board of trustees last spring approved a lease for the first phase of the project, which will cost approximately $50 million. It calls for adding two floors to the Kenan Football Center, which currently sits in the enclosed end zone. One floor will comprise new office space while the top floor will house approximately 20 luxury suites.
That phase is scheduled to begin at the conclusion of this season with an expected completion prior to the start of next season.
A second phase includes bowling in the open end zone — which will add approximately 8,800 seats — and construction of an athletic education support center. That phase, however, has not been approved by the board. The final renovation phase includes a new press box and additional luxury suites.
Jones is well connected with UNC folks so this information is probably accurate. Based on this and Jones' response to a IC Premium reader, Davis wants to stay but if he stays there are obviously some things he wants. On one hand he will be asking for more money and as far as I am concerned that is perfectly fine. If the Heels get close to/make it to/win the ACC title game then that should mean a pay raise based on the varying degrees of success regardless of him being a candidate elsewhere. UNC is ranked in the top 20 and is being lined up for a New Year's Eve or New Year's Day bowl game even if they do not win the ACC. This is all in the 2nd season and after the Heels win over Georgia Tech, it is clear that Butch Davis can flat out coach. In my opinion that kind of performance merits a reward even if he stood under the Old Well and announced he was not going anywhere else.
The second part of what Davis is looking for is also a fairly reasonable point. Having been to Kenan recently I can attest to the fact that renovating the east end zone and building something akin to the Murphy Center at Carter Finley would be highly beneficial to the program. The question is whether the current economic client will preclude or delay certain phases of the renovation. Only the bean counters can answer that. In terms of Davis' status, I think the signs are there he wants to stay but at the same time he is using the situation as leverage to bring about necessary changes or motivate the BOT to move on the renovations. Some will see this as "just business" and others will say he should honor his contract and commit to UNC even if nothing else happens.
My take on this is the same as it was last season. Davis is just like any of us. If given the opportunity to improve our salary, position or even the place we work by using the hint of another job as leverage we would all do the same. Besides that, we all went into this deal with our eyes wide open as it pertains to Davis' mode of operation. The question is whether UNC can or will work out a deal that keeps Davis in Chapel Hill or decide to go in a different direction. Whatever the decision, I think if UNC steps up for a 2nd straight season to keep the coach happy and residing in Orange County, they should get something more than a simple statement of commitment the next time this business pops up.