Forum Spin Doctor
RALEIGH, N.C. - Butch Davis may be back in the college coaching business at North Carolina. The former Cleveland Browns and University of Miami coach has been prominently mentioned as a top candidate to replace John Bunting, who was fired last month but will finish out the season.
Davis was out as the Browns' coach after four seasons and has been out of coaching the past two years working as a broadcaster. He recently expressed a desire to return to the sideline without specifying which jobs interested him.
North Carolina has been abuzz with reports that Davis is the man the Tar Heels want, although school officials said Thursday there were no updates.
"No news today on the coaching search," school spokesman Steve Kirschner said.
However, Davis' agent Marvin Demoff told The Charlotte Observer that contract talks between North Carolina and Davis could pick up early next week. Demoff also refuted reports that Davis had negotiated a deal and had accepted the job.
Neither Davis nor North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour returned telephone messages left Thursday by The Associated Press. Demoff also did not return repeated phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
The Tar Heels haven't finished with a winning record since Bunting's first season in 2001, and are 1-8 this year - tied for last place with Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division.
Davis would seem to be a good fit - a big-name coach who already has turned one program around.
Davis, who turns 55 on Nov. 17, inherited a struggling Miami team in 1995 and rebuilt the Hurricanes into national title contenders.
He went 11-1 during his final season at Miami in 2000, and the 2001 team he built beat Nebraska in the Rose Bowl for the national championship.
By then, he was with the Browns. After four years, he resigned with a 24-35 record. His best Cleveland team probably was his second, which went 9-7 and reached the playoffs in 2002.
North Carolina is looking for a coach for the third time in a decade. Baddour promoted Carl Torbush when Mack Brown left for Texas in 1997, then fired Torbush in 2000 and hired Bunting, who is 25-44 in his sixth season with the Tar Heels. Nearly one-third of Bunting's losses were by 30 or more points.