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The Best Case for the Innocence of Butch Davis Is How Quickly Everything Went to Pot

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The world of sports journalism had no shortage of recrimination for Butch Davis yesterday, after Thursday's press conference announcing academic misconduct. Phrases like "tarnished legacy" and "lack of institutional control" were being thrown around, and until the full investigation is concluded, there's going to be a lot of that, and deservedly so. (There's also going to be a fair amount of hackwork, like this Dennis Dodd column, which ignored the actual facts of the case to make Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee jokes, which I'm sure were right in the wheelhouse for a bunch of college football fans.) I don't know what's exactly going on inside the program, and there could be large-scale malfeasance with regard to academic integrity, or it could be one idiot tutor that doesn't understand plagiarism.

The criticism I don't understand, but is popping up on a lot of message boards, is "This is how Davis was able to bring such a good defense to Chapel Hill." Don't forget, this was his first recruiting class. You really can't go into a job, set up ways to cheat, and then entice players to come there based on said cheating, all before ever taking the field. I'd be more suspicious if Davis had struggled for a few years and then started pulling in high-profile recruits. Generally folks don't start looking for ways around the rules until they've failed to succeed within them. That things have so quickly gone south may actually be one of the better arguments that's there's no institutional-wide problems.

Of course, if you'd prefer to just keep casting aspersions, here are a couple of articles on Austin's signing with UNC back in 2007. Given extensive credit is, of course, John Blake. To wit:

"He quoted Bible verses, spoke about how to invest money and knew I'd learn a lot about life and football. We have a father-son relationship," Austin said.