| 11 months ago||
UM taking fresh look at Butch Davis; Canes coach search notes; Pat Riley addresses trade, Green; Dolphin, Heat, Marlins chatter
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
A UM official who was close with former president Donna Shalala said it was obvious speaking to her that she felt strongly that Butch Davis should not be considered if the UM job opened. But with Shalala now working at the Clinton Foundation, UM has been taking a fresh look at Davis, examining the circumstances that led to his firing at North Carolina and evaluating his viability as a candidate, according to multiple sources.
“He hasn’t been written off; he’s among people given initial consideration,” one UM official said, noting Davis will be given more scrutiny.
Davis, who led UM to a 51-20 record from 1995 through 2000, badly wants the job and has strong support among fans and a few notable Board of Trustee members.
“There’s pressure being placed by the public and some of the Trustees to hire him,” one high-level Trustee said.
But another trustee who likes Davis said athletic director Blake James “isn’t going to be swayed by anyone from doing what he thinks is best. There are an awful lot of people who want this job.”
As one UM person said, James knows he has Davis available if other potentially more appealing options do not materialize or do not prove to be a good fit.
A Davis hire would surprise (but not shock) some at UM, but the Davis supporters can take comfort in knowing that UM is taking a hard look at him. So he's certainly a possibility, as are more than a dozen others. There's no favorite because it's still very early in the process.
Citing harm to its reputation, North Carolina fired Davis on July 27, 2011, following an academic fraud scandal that covered 18 years and multiple sports.
Davis was never implicated and has said he has a letter from the NCAA indicating that. The NCAA found UNC guilty of academic fraud and failure to monitor the football program and was docked with a 2012 postseason ban and 15 scholarship reductions.
In a statement on the day of Davis’ firing, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp said that while there had been no changes against Davis in the NCAA investigation, Thorp had "lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution."
UM was expected to research that case, as well as the 2010 resignation of Davis’ defensive line coach and a.ssistant head coach John Blake; the NCAA said Blake was paid by now-deceased agent Gary Wichard, to whom Blake referred players.
Davis, 63, wasn’t implicated in that scandal, either, but no school has hired Davis since he was fired in 2011.
UM is believed to have contacted the NCAA for more information on Davis.
Said one high-level trustee who supports Davis: “Besides being a great recruiter, Butch can bring people into the stadium and that has to be something we consider. And Butch was cleared at North Carolina. Why does this tarnish him?”
But UM will make its own conclusion after reviewing the case.
### Though public denials would be expected, UM people are under the impression that Texas’ Charlie Strong and Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville have interest in the UM job.
Strong is considered an appealing candidate if he and Texas part ways, but that likely wouldn’t happen until after the Longhorn’s regular-season finale Dec. 5.
### Footballscoop.com reported there have been conversations between reps for UM and Mario Cristobal, but that is not the case, according to a coaching friend of Cristobal.
Cristobal, Greg Schiano and Rob Chudzinski, among others, remain in the mix, however. A UM official said a bunch of additional candidates, including perhaps some surprises, are expected to surface because this will be a true national search with inquiries made to some perceived to be out of reach. But there is no front-runner at this point.
### Former Alabama coach Mike Shula, who had support among some UM trustees, has conveyed to friends that he wants to remain in the NFL (he’s the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator) and won’t pursue the UM job, an a.ssociate said last week.
### During the last UM football coaching search, highly-respected Trustee Paul DiMare attended coaching interviews with then-athletic director Kirby Hocutt.
Beyond DiMare, Stuart Miller, chairman of the Board of Trustees and the mortgage giant Lennar Corp., is expected to be involved. The Miller family and his company have donated $271 million to UM over the years and he wields considerable influence.
### Please see the last post for a lot of on-field UM football news from today.
finally some news