June 25, 2011

Can Davis keep his job at UNC?

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for their opinion about a topic in the sport. There are two questions this week, one today and one Sunday.

TODAY'S QUESTION: North Carolina received a "notice of allegations" from the NCAA earlier this week. Do you think Butch Davis will be coaching the Tar Heels in 2012?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
North Carolina has had three consecutive eight-win seasons under Davis. Before his arrival, the Tar Heels had managed as many as eight wins just once in nine seasons. So, if there is any way UNC can save face and keep Davis, I think he will return. Most of the NCAA problems have been blamed on former assistant John Blake. I'm thinking Davis keeps his job, but the leash from here on out will be short.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
I don't think so. Like it or not, coaches are responsible for every aspect of their program. And the Tar Heels have been plagued by issues with players and former assistant John Blake, which is why the NCAA is sniffing around Chapel Hill. In the end, I believe Davis will end up paying with his job. Even if Davis pleads "ignorance" to the conduct of those he's responsible for supervising, he shouldn't be absolved of wrongdoing. In fact, pleading ignorance is as bad as knowing about wrongdoing and doing nothing about it.

David Fox's answer:
Shouldn't we question whether Davis will coach in 2011? Academic fraud, improper benefits, interaction with agents - this is a cornucopia of NCAA infractions. Although the NCAA never implicated Davis and elected to tab this a "failure to monitor" rather than a "lack of institutional control," I don't believe any coach can survive this. The most serious allegation - that then-assistant John Blake was a runner for an NFL agent - is the core here. Blake was Davis' first hire on defense, his associate head coach (if that title means anything). This is someone Davis has known for decades. I suppose you can argue Blake betrayed Davis by breaking one of the NCAA's cardinal rules, then lying about it. It's plausible Davis knew nothing of what was going on, but ignorance sometimes isn't a great defense.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
While the NCAA's letter doesn't personally cite Davis, he was in charge at a program that looks as if it was wildly out of control. Academic issues, illegal benefits, an assistant acting as an agent's runner - that's not a good trio. I think one thing that has saved Davis is that he coaches football at North Carolina; if this had happened in the basketball program, the big-money boosters would have had apoplexy and demanded that heads roll. But because he has had a modicum of success in a lesser program, Davis has skated thus far. I don't think he'll still be skating after the season, though; I think he'll be looking for a new job.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I think quite a bit depends on the severity of the sanctions and UNC's record this fall. Davis benefits in that he wasn't cited personally in the notice of allegations, even though the program he oversees was accused of enough misdeeds to make the situations at Ohio State and USC seem relatively minor in comparison. And it seems as though North Carolina's fan base remains supportive of Davis, though I'm not sure why. Davis certainly has recruited well, but at what cost? At least USC and Ohio State won BCS games when they were breaking the rules. North Carolina hasn't captured an ACC Coastal Division title and has won only one minor bowl game - the Music City - in Davis' tenure. And he still hasn't beaten in-state rival North Carolina State. If North Carolina escapes major sanctions and the Tar Heels win at least eight games and finally beat North Carolina State this season, I imagine Davis is back on the sidelines in 2012. But if North Carolina gets bad news from the NCAA and has a mediocre season, I don't know how Davis sticks around. We saw how trouble with the NCAA forced out Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel and Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl. Davis hasn't enjoyed nearly as much success at North Carolina as Tressel or Pearl had at their former schools.

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