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Was this the right time for North Carolina to fire Butch Davis?

July 28, 2011 | 10:42 am


Writers from around the Tribune Co. discuss North Carolina's firing of Butch Davis as football coach nine days before the start of preseason practice. Feel free to weigh in with a comment of your own.

Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun

The timing of Butch Davis’ firing couldn’t be worse for the North Carolina football team. This could have been done months ago, yet the administration let Davis attend ACC Media Day this week, take questions from reporters about the upcoming season and let it appear that he would be coaching.

It’s a crucial time to prepare for this season and for the future, with some recruits looking to make decisions before the start of the season. The interim or new coach will have to find a way to salvage this season while trying to keep commitments solid for the future.

With allegations coming out more than a year ago, there was ample time for the administration to do something soon after the season. By letting it fester through spring practice and the summer, the administration really dropped the ball. It could take years for the athletic department to recover.

Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

On Monday, Butch Davis sat in front of the media at the ACC’s football media days and talked about how lucky he was to have the "overwhelming" support of the North Carolina fans and administration during the past season.

Davis’ luck ran out Wednesday when the school fired him.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said the move was made to "restore confidence" in the school and the football program. Too bad that decision came about a month too late. The Tar Heels have been under investigation by the NCAA for a year now and could at any time have made a coaching move.

The school received its Notice of Allegations letter in late June and could have made the choice then as well. Unless new evidence was found linking Davis to any wrongdoing, why wait until Wednesday? The Tar Heels fumbled away his firing just like they fumbled away their season.

Steve Svekis, South Florida Sun Sentinel

The spring and summer of discontent continues for some of college coaching's bigger names. Ohio State football Coach Jim Tressel and Tennessee basketball Coach Bruce Pearl have already been overwhelmed by scandal. Now, Butch Davis is done at North Carolina.

The former Miami Hurricanes coach, who has built a reputation of piling up NFL-caliber talent but not the commensurate number of wins, oversaw a program now deeply embroiled in an NCAA investigation of academic misconduct and allegations that players received gifts from agents. When even the most decorated coaches are finding that they can't survive if their programs aren't on the up-and-up, the only question about Davis and his .500 program might be ... what took so long?

David Teel, Newport News Daily Press

The timing of Butch Davis’ termination is as baffling as Julia Roberts’ one-time marriage to Lyle Lovett. It’s been clear for months that Davis was unfit to lead a football program he mismanaged into a morass of academic fraud and improper benefits.

Were North Carolina an outlaw school protecting a championship-winning coach you could almost understand. But in Davis’ four years the Tar Heels never finished above .500 in the pedestrian ACC and never beat neighboring North Carolina State.

So why fire Davis on Wednesday, less than two weeks before training camp and two days after he appeared at the ACC’s media kickoff? Was Carolina covering its backside legally? Did someone suddenly sprout a conscience? Now that the athletic director has quit, is the chancellor soon to follow? Stay tuned.


Pac-12 Network is coming

USC's Lane Kiffin gets the talk started

Photo: North Carolina Coach Butch Davis speaks at the Atlantic Coast Conference's football media day Monday. Credit: Gerry Broome / Associated Press