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Texas Fires Greg Davis; Begins Purge of UNC Influence

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As has been suspected for some time, Mack Brown satisfied unhappy Texas fans by showing offensive coordinator Greg Davis the door, along with fellow coaches Mac McWhorter and Mike Tolleson. Davis, of course, was the offensive coordinator under Brown at UNC for his last two seasons; the Tar Heels were 20-3, and averaged 28.8 points a game. Only three teams held Carolina below 20 points during his tenure – FSU and Georgia Tech did it twice, and Virginia managed it once in that particularly heart-wrenching game in Charlottesville.

Davis, of course, went on to have modest success at Texas, according to his bio:

Under his guidance, the Longhorns have has produced 10 of the top 11 passing seasons, 11 of the top 13 total yardage campaigns and the top nine scoring years in school history. Texas averaged 39.0 points per game in the last decade (2000-09), which ranked second nationally and first among BCS conference schools. The Horns averaged at least 35 ppg in nine of the 10 seasons, including three seasons of at least 40 ppg. In 2005, UT set a then-NCAA record with 652 total points and a school record by averaging 50.2 ppg.

Davis' UT offense has produced five Big 12 Offensive Players of the Year -- RB Ricky Williams, 1998; QB Major Applewhite, 1999; QB Vince Young, 2005; QB Colt McCoy, 2008, 09. As UT's quarterbacks coach, Davis has tutored two runners-up for the Heisman Trophy and another finalist, two winners each of the Walter Camp Football Foundation Players of the Year, Maxwell Award, Davey O'Brien Award, Manning Award and Archie Griffin Award, along with a winner of the Unitas Golden Arm Award, a Sporting News Player of the Year, Chevrolet Offensive Player of the Year, four QBs who were Big 12 Offensive Players of the Year and three who earned league Freshman of the Year honors.

Despite all that, he was never particularly popular in Austin, beginning apparently around the time Chris Simms was getting playing time ahead of Major Applewhite. Still, Texas was only four years removed from a national championship and one year from the national championship game. But this season, the Longhorns' first with a losing record since John Mackovic was the head coach, was disastrous enough to cause a panic among the faithful, and heads had to roll.

I mention this not because of Davis' time at UNC, but because of the obvious comparison to UNC basketball. Carolina followed an impressive year with a tailspin season of their own last year, and the similarities go deeper than that. Both Williams and Brown have been criticized for being better recruiters than coaches, and in defense of that criticism, both seemed flustered when their standard coaching methods inexplicably failed them.

Williams, of course, didn't send Jerod Haase or anyone else packing at the end of last year. Some of that is the difference between football and basketball coaching; roles aren't as easily delineated to the public. And some it is the smaller number of players in basketball, leading to one year of recruiting resulting in massive changes in the talent level. But part of me thinks that UNC is just handling their problems better than Texas is. 

Texas is going to have most of the same players next season; I doubt they saved the redshirt of any truly impact players. Their offense will most likely be coached by... Major Applewhite, who played under Davis before coaching stints at Syracuse, Rice, and Alabama. Applewhite boosters point to Rice's bowl appearance in his lone season there, while his detractors point to Nick Saban giving him the boot after one year at Alabama. Either way, as Carolina fans currently realize, a sudden bad season has a tendency to bleed over into the next. The bad habits have been internalized, and even if they team leaders have moved on, it's still a rough road to get back to where the team was.

This is going to be Brown's first real coaching test in quite awhile; possibly since his Carolina days, as even in his first season at Texas there was Ricky Williams to shoulder the load. His successor has already been named, although he's under contract until 2016. Continued failure falls on him, and although a smaller, weaker Big 12 awaits, the pressure will even be greater for Texas to dominate it. If I had to put money on which coach gets his team back to the top of his sport first though, Id go with Williams. He seems to have more pull with his players.