MIAMI — Butch Davis’ decision to return to coaching at FIU was a surprise. At one time, he was one of the biggest names in coaching. He was coach at the University of Miami, then with the Cleveland Browns. He won Super Bowl championships as an assistant with the Cowboys. He had a nice media job, working on TV and in radio.
FIU has fielded a football team for a mere 15 seasons. The C-USA program boasts 52 wins – all-time.
Why do this?
“I missed all the things – being in the locker room, going out on the practice field, talking with kids,” Davis said when I visited him on campus recently. “Why I coach is making a difference in kids’ lives.
“From the time I started as a high school coach until today, that’s been the biggest motivator, being able to take high school kids and see them go to college, take college kids — that would have never got a chance to go to college — see them graduate. Maybe they go to the NFL, maybe they don’t, but they become good fathers, they become good husbands, they become good guys and I love being a part of that. That’s the part I’ve missed the most.”
I don’t ever recall seeing a coach receive so much enjoyment from the act of coaching as I saw in Davis on my visit.
I met Davis while we were both working for SiriusXM College Sports Nation. He treated me as an equal, never dumbing down his analysis because I was a woman. I noticed this about him while I was fortunate enough to be his radio partner: Whatever life has presented to Butch Davis, he has turned it into joy.
‘Scared to death’
That hasn’t always been easy to do.
“When he was in his 80s, kids that he coached and taught in the 1950s (1960s and 1970s) they would drive a thousand miles to come and spend an hour with him in the afternoon and reminisce about him being their coach,” Davis told me.
Few saw the other side of him.
“He also was an alcoholic,” Davis said. “One of the things that I have always fought with and one of the things that I’ve told the team, I said, ‘I love consistency.’
“I grew up where you were never sure what dad was going to be like. Was he going to be happy, or was he maybe on a binge where he had maybe been drinking and you were scared to death that you were going to get yelled at? From 8, 9, 10 years old until I left to go to college (at Arkansas), there were great times, there were sliding times and there was low times.
“I hated that. I like to be the same person every day.”
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