Entering his second season at North Carolina's head coach, Butch Davis has brought energy and excitement back to the Tar Heel football program with his ability to motivate, teach and recruit at the highest level. A man with a proven record of success and an unyielding commitment to excellence, Davis has a clear vision for building a championship program in Chapel Hill based on integrity, character and honor.
The former head coach at the University of Miami and the NFL's Cleveland Browns, Davis is Carolina's 33rd head coach and the ninth since the ACC was formed in 1953.
Davis was introduced as North Carolina's head coach on November 13, 2006, and in just one year he has rejuvenated the fan base and brought excitement to every Saturday at Kenan Stadium. Beginning with his first recruiting class in 2007, which many analysts ranked among the top ten in the country, Davis has connected with student-athletes and fans alike with his brand of football.
Last season, Carolina sold out five of its six home games, averaged 57,417 fans - the most in more than a decade - and played with a renewed sense of confidence and enthusiasm. Average attendance was up nearly 18 percent from the previous season and season ticket sales have surged to more than 35,000 in anticipation of the 2008 campaign.
"Building a championship program is a process that takes time," says Davis. "We had a taste of success last year and grew together through the ups and downs. One of most important parts of developing this program is getting players to take ownership of the program, and we are starting to see evidence of that."
Davis's first season in Chapel Hill was highlighted by an impressive 33-27 win over Miami, in which he earned his first ACC victory against his former school. Carolina also secured wins over James Madison, Maryland and Duke, but saw several narrow victories slip from its grasp, dropping six games by a combined total of just 24 points. Statistically, Carolina finished 35th in the country in total defense, improving nearly 60 positions from the previous year. Offensively, quarterback T.J. Yates and Hakeem Nicks set school records for passing yards and receptions, respectively. On special teams, senior place-kicker Connor Barth was among the best in the country and finished his career as Carolina's all-time leader in field goals.
Several individuals benefitted from Davis's return to the college game, none more than defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer, who rose from part-time starter to an NFL first-round draft choice. Balmer had career highs in tackles and sacks, earned all-conference honors for the first time and became the 29th first-round draft choice Davis has produced as a college coach. Balmer's experience is yet another example that Davis and his staff prepare players for professional football better than any group in the country.
"Coach Davis taught me how to be a professional player," says Balmer, who was taken with the 29th overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers. "I know I still have a lot to learn, but I think I understand more of what it takes to be an NFL player now than I did before. I wouldn't be a first-round draft pick without his help and guidance."
Defensive end Hilee Taylor, linebacker Durell Mapp and Barth all had their best seasons in 2007 and each earned the opportunity to join the NFL ranks in 2008. Taylor was drafted by the Carolina Panthers and Barth (Kansas City) and Mapp (Green Bay) signed free agent NFL contracts.
But statistics and draft choices don't reveal the full story. Davis has hired an outstanding staff of assistant coaches, brought in back-to-back recruiting classes stocked with some of the nation's top high school players, and produced an entertaining product on the field. In addition, the University is in the early stages of a major renovation of Kenan Stadium that will include a new academic support center for all of Carolina's student-athletes, a fifth floor to the Kenan Football Center for additional football operations, a new press box and new suites and club seating options. With Davis at the helm, the football future is bright in Chapel Hill.
No stranger to success, Davis has coached in 11 postseason bowl games as an assistant or head coach, including two apiece in the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar Bowls, and he either recruited or coached nearly all the players from Miami's 2001 national championship team. He also won two Super Bowls as an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys. An excellent motivator and technician, Davis recruited or coached a number of players at Miami who were selected in the NFL Draft, including an amazing 28 first-round picks.
Prior to his arrival in Chapel Hill, Davis served as an analyst on the NFL Network for two seasons. There he was able to watch and study the latest college football offensive and defensive schemes. Yearning to return to the college coaching ranks, Davis surveyed the college football landscape, and when the Carolina job came open, he was immediately interested.
"When I looked at everything North Carolina had to offer in terms of a great campus setting, access to players and the proper balance between athletics and cademics, I knew this would be a good fit for me and my family," said Davis.
"When I looked at everything North Carolina had to offer in terms of a great campus setting, access to players and the proper balance between athletics and academics, I knew this would be a good fit for me and my family," said Davis.
Davis was head coach for six seasons at the University of Miami (1995-2000) and led the Hurricanes to a 51-20 record, three Big East Conference championships and four postseason bowl wins in as many appearances. He took over a Miami program faced with NCAA sanctions that restricted the number of scholarships in his first three seasons. However, his Hurricane teams finished ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 on four occasions, including No. 2 in the nation in 2000 when the Canes went 11-1 and beat Florida, 37-20, in the Sugar Bowl.
In his first year in Coral Gables, Davis helped the Canes earn a share of the Big East Conference Championship by winning seven straight games to close the `95 season. The team would have received an invitation to a BCS bowl game, however, Miami declined the invitation due to NCAA sanctions previously approved by university officials for violations prior to Davis's arrival.
Davis again led Miami to a share of the Big East title in 1996 and catapulted the Hurricanes to a top 20 ranking and their first bowl victory in five years with a 31-21 win over Virginia in the Carquest Bowl. The following season he led Miami to a 46-23 win over North Carolina State in the 1998 Micron PC Bowl.
Davis's 1999 squad began the year with a 23-12 victory over Ohio State in the Kickoff Classic and capped the season with a 28- 13 victory over Georgia Tech in the Toyota Gator Bowl, the Hurricanes' first New Year's Day bowl game under Davis. In his final year at Miami (2000), the Hurricanes posted an 11-1 mark, including a 37-20 victory over Florida in the Nokia Sugar Bowl. That team was second in the nation in scoring, fifth in total offense, fifth in scoring defense and eighth in pass defense.
Davis also emphasizes the importance of academics and his Hurricanes earned recognition from the American Football Coaches Association for outstanding graduation rates in each of his six seasons.
Davis left Coral Gables following the 2000 season to join the Cleveland Browns. In his first season in Cleveland in 2001, Davis led his young team to an impressive 7-9 record, exceeding by two the expansion club's combined victories from 1999 and 2000 (5-27). Cleveland led the NFL in takeaways with 42, including a league-high and team-record 33 interceptions. The Browns defense also scored 32 points (four interception returns, one fumble return, one safety). His second season as head coach resulted in the Browns earning their first playoff appearance and best regular season mark since 1994, despite 34 of the 53 players on the team's final active roster having four years of NFL experience or less. Cleveland finished the season with a 7-3 mark over its final 10 games, including victories in four of its final six outings, the best record over the final six games of the season for the franchise since 1988.
Cleveland was Davis' second stint in the NFL. He was a defensive assistant with the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-94 and was defensive coordinator in 1993 and 1994. The Cowboys won consecutive Super Bowls in 1992 and 1993 and played in one other NFC championship game. Davis helped Dallas post one of the most spectacular turnarounds in sports history as the Cowboys went from a lowly 1-15 squad in 1989 to one of the most dominant NFL programs in the 1990s. He was the defensive line coach in the Cowboys' 52-17 win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII and served as defensive coordinator in the Cowboys' 30-13 win over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII. As defensive line coach in 1992, Davis helped the Cowboys lead the NFL in rushing defense. As coordinator a year later, the Cowboys set a team record by allowing just 21 touchdowns in 16 regular-season games and allowed one offensive touchdown or less in 12 of 16 games.
Davis was also defensive coordinator during Barry Switzer's first season as head coach in 1994 and helped Dallas reach the NFC Championship Game, where eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco denied its bid for a three-peat. Davis's defense was No. 1 in the league in total defense (269.6 yards per game) and pass defense (172.0 yards per game), and third in scoring defense (15.5 points per game). He coached three Pro Bowl starters - end Charles Haley, tackle Leon Lett and safety Darren Woodson. The three defensive starters were the most for the Cowboys since 1983.
Davis was defensive line coach at Miami from 1984-88 under head coach Jimmy Johnson, whom he also coached under for five years in Dallas and five years at Oklahoma State. The Hurricanes went 52-9 in those five years and won the national championship after beating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to cap a perfect 12-0 record in 1987. He coached 15 linemen who went on to play in the NFL, including All-Americas Bill Hawkins, Cortez Kennedy, Russell Maryland, Daniel Stubbs and the late Jerome Brown. Davis' line was a key part of the Miami defense that finished second in the nation in both scoring defense (9.7 points per game) and total defense (242.0 yards per game) in 1988. The 1986 Hurricanes set a school record with 49 sacks, broke the mark with 50 in 1988, and held opposing rushers to fewer than 2.3 yards per carry in 1987 and 1988.
Davis entered the collegiate coaching ranks on the offensive side of the ball as an assistant on Johnson's Oklahoma State University teams from 1979-83. At Oklahoma State, Davis coached receivers and tight ends while also serving as recruiting coordinator.
Davis played college football at the University of Arkansas for Coach Frank Broyles. A knee injury curtailed his college career, and he became a student assistant coach for the Razorbacks. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology and life science in 1974. His coaching career began as a volunteer assistant in 1973 at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas. He had stints in Oklahoma at Pawhuska High School (1974-75) and Sand Springs High School (1976-77) as an assistant coach and at Tulsa Rogers High School (1978) in his first head coaching assignment before joining Johnson's staff at Oklahoma State.
He and his wife, Tammy, have a teenage son, Drew. Paul Hilton (Butch) Davis is a native of Tahlequah, Okla.
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