Florida International U

Butch Davis wants old friend Jimmy Johnson to meet with his FIU football players

University of Miami Coach Butch Davis visits Dolphins camp and coach Jimmy Johnson during a practice in 1998.
University of Miami Coach Butch Davis visits Dolphins camp and coach Jimmy Johnson during a practice in 1998. Miami Herald File Photo

FIU football coach Butch Davis said he would love to have his good friend, former Hurricanes and Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson, meet with FIU’s players at some point this season.

“I had lunch with Jimmy a couple of months ago,” Davis said. “I know he will visit with our players if he can find the time — maybe one day on his way back from Los Angeles (where Johnson does TV work for Fox NFL Sunday).”

Johnson, 74, and Davis, 65, are both ex-University of Arkansas defensive linemen, although not teammates due to their age difference.

But Johnson gave Davis his first college coaching job, hiring him as a tight ends/wide receivers coach at Oklahoma State in 1979. After that, Johnson took Davis with him to the University of Miami, where they won a national title in 1987. Davis was Johnson’s defensive line coach at Miami.

Finally, Johnson gave Davis his first NFL job, taking him to the Dallas Cowboys, where they won two Super Bowls together. Davis was the defensive line coach for the first Super Bowl win and the defensive coordinator for the second.

Davis and Johnson met in 1979. Davis had just finished his first season as a head coach, at Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Johnson had just landed his first college head coaching job, at Oklahoma State.

Johnson sent Bob Leahy, his newly hired offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and a former backup quarterback to Terry Bradshaw and Terry Hanratty for two years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, to Oklahoma to visit with high school coaches to find out what he could about recruiting players in the state.

When Leahy visited with Davis, he was impressed. Davis, the son of a high school coach in Oklahoma, knew the state so thoroughly that Johnson called him two weeks later and hired him.

“I walked Bob through the whole state, where [the rival Oklahoma Sooners] had strong recruiting connections with certain coaches and where they were vulnerable,” Davis said. “I didn’t think anything of it, but when Jimmy called we found out that we had 25 or 30 friends in common.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

THIS AND THAT

▪  Davis said his starting offensive line will feature Kai Absheer and Daquane Wilkie at tackle, guards Dallas Connell and Jordan Budwig and center Neal Mars. James Crews is the swing tackle, Chris Miller backs up both guards and redshirt freshman Shane McGough is the No. 2 center. McGough is the younger brother of starting quarterback Alex McGough.

Budwig, a senior from Fort Lauderdale, missed the past two seasons due to injury. He started 12 games in each of his first two years at FIU.

▪  Two of FIU’s top defensive backs — starting safety Bryce Canady and nickel back Brad Muhammad — were walk-ons when Davis took over the team in the spring. But those two players kept making plays on video, and they have been rewarded with scholarships and playing time.

▪  Senior middle linebacker Anthony Wint ranks ninth in FIU history with 244 tackles. He had 108 tackles last season, ranking sixth in FIU single-season history. Senior Treyvon Williams led FIU with 109 tackles last season, fifth-best in FIU history.

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