Florida International U

Butch Davis hired as FIU’s football coach

Former UM and North Carolina coach returns to coaching, agrees to five-year contract with Panthers.
Former UM and North Carolina coach returns to coaching, agrees to five-year contract with Panthers. 2010 News & Observer file photo

Butch Davis is FIU’s new football coach, Panthers athletic director Pete Garcia said Monday.

FIU signed Davis, 64, to a five-year contract. Salary details were not released, but a Tuesday news conference has been called to introduce the Panthers’ new coach.

“To say we are excited to have Butch Davis as our head coach at FIU is an understatement,” Garcia said. “There is no doubt that he will take FIU football to new heights.”

Davis, who hasn’t been a full-time coach since he was fired by the University of North Carolina in July of 2011, is currently working as a college football analyst for ESPN2.

But the allure of coaching was obviously still present in his mind, and he wanted to get back in the game.

Davis had reportedly tried to get back into coaching previously, but his age and past allegations at North Carolina apparently dissuaded other athletic directors from hiring him.

Garcia, though, has a relationship with Davis dating back to their days at the University of Miami.

The FIU job, currently held on an interim basis by Ron Cooper, had been considered open since Ron Turner was fired after an 0-4 start.

Cooper, who was Turner’s defensive coordinator and has extensive experience as a head coach, could have been a fall-back option.

FIU also could have considered former UM coach Randy Shannon, now the Florida Gators associate head coach; UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz; and Gators defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

Garcia, though, preferred Davis, who inherited a Canes program in 1995 that was on probation with severe scholarship limitations.

Even so, Davis went a remarkable 51-20 in six years, including 11-1 in his final season, just missing out playing for a national title.

Davis recruited or coached numerous stars at Miami, including Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Jeremy Shockey, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis.

The coach left Miami in such good shape that the Canes’ 2001 team won the national title under coach Larry Coker, who used mostly players recruited by Davis.

Davis left Miami for the Cleveland Browns, where his 2002 team went 9-7. The 2002 team was also the last Browns team to reach the playoffs.

In four years at North Carolina, Davis turned things around from 4-8 his first season to 8-5 in his final three campaigns. The previous coach, John Bunting, had just one winning season in six years at UNC.

But while Davis was successful on the field, he was fired after UNC drew the ire of the NCAA in a “improper benefits” and “inappropriate academic assistance” scandal.

Davis was not mentioned in the NCAA inquiry, but the damage was done. Davis was fired and all of the Tar Heels’ 2008 and 2009 wins were vacated.

Former wide receiver Tony Gaiter III, who played for Davis at UM, said last week that he believes his old coach will do a great job at FIU.

“I would love [to bring Davis here],” said Gaiter, who son, Gaiter IV, is an FIU freshman wide receiver.

“Give Butch some time, and he will turn things around.”