Florida International U

FIU’s Davis eternally grateful for opportunity given to him by Broyles

Special to the Miami Herald

New FIU Panther head coach Butch Davis walks the field during his first fall football practice on Sat., July 20, 2017 at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami.
New FIU Panther head coach Butch Davis walks the field during his first fall football practice on Sat., July 20, 2017 at Riccardo Silva Stadium in Miami. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

FIU’s Butch Davis may never have been a football coach if had it not been for Frank Broyles, who passed away on Monday at age 92 from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

Even though he was born in Oklahoma, Davis grew up rooting for the Arkansas Razorbacks teams coached by Broyles, a College Football Hall of Famer.

Davis was 13 when Broyles led the 1964 Razorbacks to a national title, the last Arkansas team to finish with a perfect record.

Given that he was a fan of the Hogs, it’s no surprise that Davis, who was an all-state defensive end and fullback, signed with Broyles and Arkansas.

“I had enormous respect for Coach Broyles,” Davis told The Herald this week. “He was a charismatic recruiter and one of those Southern gentlemen.”

After a strong freshman year, Davis’ playing career was derailed by a knee injury the following spring. He tried to rush back for the season opener against Stanford and its superstar senior quarterback, Jim Plunkett. But one week before that game, Davis reinjured his knee, this time rupturing his ACL.

What happened next surprised an eternally grateful Davis.

“He could have run me off,” Davis said of Broyles. “He could’ve taken away my scholarship.”

Instead, Broyles convinced Davis, the son of a high school coach, to help out the team as a volunteer assistant.

Davis, a business major at the time, found his calling.

He began working with a staff that included Joe Gibbs, who later went on to win three Super Bowls as coach of the Washington Redskins, and Raymond Berry, who had recently completed a playing career as a six-time Pro Bowl receiver.

Davis never forgot Broyles, and the reverse was also true.

After Davis was hired to coach the Miami Hurricanes in 1995, Broyles invited him to play the Masters golf course at Augusta, Georgia. But the trip was about much more than golf.

“I tried to ask him every question about coaching I could think of,” Davis said. “We would stay up talking past 1 a.m.”

It’s impossible to say how different Davis’ life would’ve been had it not been for Broyles. But what we do know is that the Davis family now boasts a third-generation coach, Butch’s son Drew, who is a volunteer assistant at FIU.

Drew, who helps out with the wide receivers, recently graduated from the University of Mississippi, where he also served as a backup quarterback.

“Ever since I was younger, I had formulated the idea that this was path that I would choose — not only because I was around it every day, but it was something my heart was set on,” Drew Davis said.

“I was in love with the game. And I knew when it was time to hit the real world that there was no other calling than to be able to help kids and be around football every day.”

THIS AND THAT

▪ FIU senior quarterback and fourth-year starter Alex McGough has had a strong camp and is improvising at times with sidearm throws when he needs to get rid of the ball quickly.

“If I feel I need to change my arm slot, I will do that,” McGough said. “I’m pretty athletic. I feel like, in any situation, I can get the ball out and spin it.”

▪ Sophomore Maurice Alexander has a strong grip on the backup QB job, beating out two touted players: true freshman Kaylan Wiggins and sophomore Christian Alexander (no relation).

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