Okay, I know some folks are saying John Blake has been run over by the bus many times since the LSU game. However, this is the first time Butch Davis has done it outside of refusing to say Blake's name in an interview last week. What you have here is Davis publicly burning his former assistant coach with whom he has(had?) a longstanding friendship. You can listen to the full audio here. Skip ahead to the 16:50 mark to hear Davis talk about the whole agent/assistant coach issue including his rule about not recommending agents to players. Regarding Blake talking to Alabama's Marcell Dareus, Davis says he does not know why you would talk to a player from another school after the recruitment ended. Not sure if I would have mentioned that, champ. Anyway here is the...ur....money quote on Blake:
"Let me tell you, here's how I feel: I am very sorry that all of this stuff has tainted the football program," Davis said. "And as the head football coach, I take a tremendous amount of responsibility for all of the football-related issues. I'm the head guy. I'm sorry that it has affected the football program. But I'm going to tell you what I'm more sorry about, I'm sorry that I trusted John Blake."
Well took you long enough. Seriously, Doc and I are wondering why this didn't happen weeks ago. In fact Doc raised a good point as to why UNC did not put Butch Davis in front of a microphone with this thought fleshed out as much as possible as to dial the temperature down a bit. On one hand UNC tries stay ahead of the story by having Dick Baddour answer as many questions as possible. However they tend to leave Davis twisting in the wind during his own press conferences by not addressing those questions upfront or have him read a statement to cover as much material as possible. Regarding John Blake, Davis could have easily said what he said today and then some to remove the need for any reporters to probe further. The same was probably true about Chris Hawkins which may have averted the whole "Sam I Am" incident.
As for what Davis did say, it could impact several different areas. First is the very direct distancing of himself personally from John Blake. By letting Blake resign and paying him to go away, UNC effectively cut ties. Davis for his part has not really addressed Blake directly. Also understand Davis and Blake have a friendship that goes back decades. This was as much of a statement about the personal impact as it is about what is happening with the program. The second part of this is addressing how much the UNC program has been screwed over by a guy he thought was completely trustworthy.
As recently as last week, I made the point that the "I did not know" card was being played entirely too much. In fact the credibility of Davis saying "I did not know" had begun to wear thin. The problem was this situation created a conundrum. On one side you knew what happening and either ignored it or you are lying now. The other option is you were stupid, naive, incompetent, etc, etc. Davis is going for the "I trusted someone who I thought was a friend and he screwed me." But he does not leave it at that, he apologizes for the scandal, acknowledges it has tainted the program and make it clear he is the one ultimately responsible. So Davis takes responsibility and angles himself as someone done wrong by someone he trusted. One of the criticisms tossed at Davis over Blake is why the latter hired the former to begin with. The answer is friendship. Oh yeah and the NCAA, which is investigating all of this, said Blake checked out. Now friendship and the fact Blake simply has never been caught still should not excuse Davis doing his job and being aware of this particular coaches' reputation. The friendship angle does humanize it a little more. It is something people can relate to because it happens all the time. Heck, it happens to people married and living under the same roof.
Again, our position is let the chips fall where they may when it comes to violations and penalties. If violations happened then let the guilty pay. For Davis it could very well cost him his job at UNC. If it doesn't this is probably a step in the right direction in terms of mending fences. I just wish he had done it weeks ago.