Butch in 1999: “I want to win, but not at all costs”

Here’s a quote about embattled Univ. of North Carolina football coach Butch Davis from one of his coaching colleagues:

John Blake and Butch Davis

“That program is direly in need of discipline. But that’s not Butch’s forte. Butch is so strong in so many areas, but that’s not his strength. He’s going to need help there. He’s never had to discipline.”

Former Dallas Cowboys assistant Joe Brodsky said that to the Miami Herald - in 1995.

Days earlier Davis had been hired by then-Univ. of Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee to clean up the Hurricanes football program after it’d been struck with NCAA sanctions following years of flouting NCAA rules. (Dee most recently headed the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and oversaw the dismantling of the USC football program.)

While coach of the Hurricanes, Davis said in 1999 of his program, “I want to win, but not at all costs. I want to win with class and integrity.

Then there’s this ironic quip from Davis in 2000 as he discussed to the NEW YORK TIMES how he hired his own agent:

“I wanted someone whose integrity and honesty were above reproach. I wanted to make sure that we talked about facilities, that we talked about the assistant coaches’ salaries, that we talked about our academic support system.”

Less than a decade after resurrecting college football’s most notorious program, Davis is currently overseeing a team that may have committed the most egregious NCAA violations since SMU was given the death penalty in 1987.

Those violations, involving now-departed UNC assistant coach John Blake, were recently and meticulously detailed by Yahoo reporter Charles Robinson. The same Robinson who, along with reporter Jason Cole, broke the news of Reggie Bush’s astonishingly brazen impropriety while a football player at USC. Robinson’s reporting proved accurate and extensive enough for the NCAA to drop the hammer of the Trojan football program.

Now UNC’s Davis is staring down Robinson’s barrel, and from his comments in response to this week’s Yahoo revelations, he isn’t handling it well. Or worse.

When first confronted of Yahoo’s report that former Tarheels assistant coach Blake received numerous cash payments, a personal loan of $45,000 and a credit card from NFL agent Gary Wichard, Davis said:

“My first observation is, that, you know, in reference to some of the points in the article, is that people have private lives. No one knows what credit cards that anybody — I don’t know what credit cards you carry, you don’t know what credit cards that I carry — I mean people have private lives. That was a total, absolutely revelation to me. I had no idea, and don’t even know that that’s actually true.”

Davis might want to read Robinson’s maddeningly detailed and documented report, which includes plenty of smoking gun evidence implicating Blake’s NCAA-violating activities.

Robinson’s Yahoo report also similarly documented current UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin receiving five trips to California and Miami financially facilitated by Wichard’s agency:

“A lot of people have asked that question: How could a coach not know about a player? But there’s 27,000 students at the University of North Carolina. Clearly, obviously I’m not responsible for all of those students.”

Priceless. Certifiably Nixonian.

Davis then volunteered this comment about the state of NCAA oversight on college football:

Some of the things that are out there about agents and extra benefits, and runners and the people, it’s pretty clear that that’s an issue throughout college football. It has been for many years.

Whether agents are a problem at other schools is irrelevant. Nor is it relevant if Davis actually knew what was going on. If he didn’t, he should’ve. Besides throwing games, I’m not too sure if it’s possible to find an NCAA violation worse than what Blake did.

Brodsky was right about Davis. 15 years later.