Butch Davis laying foundation at FIU for yet another rebuilding project

Florida Intl Football 2017 Match Preview Prediction and Players: butch Davis thought the desire was gone. When he landed a gig as an ESPN college football analyst in 2014, he figured he had moved on from the coaching ranks. Work days were less stressful and allowed him to remain around the sport. Then a funny thing happened. His new job made him miss the old one even more. After a six-year break, Davis is back in the game as he prepares for his first season as head coach at Florida International.

“[Working at ESPN] gave me the opportunity to visit a lot of schools,” said Davis, 65. “Sometimes that was a little bit painful, to go out and watch Alabama and Auburn and Florida State practice or go spend time with Mike Riley at Nebraska and do all those kinds of things. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, God, I wish I could be out there. Give me a whistle because I want to go back to practice.’” Davis is also back in familiar surroundings. Twenty-two years ago, he was hired by the Miami Hurricanes to resurrect a program decimated by NCAA sanctions. Davis responded by returning UM to national prominence and building one of the greatest college football teams in history.

Florida Intl Football 2017 Match Preview and Players

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Now, he views FIU as a similar project. The Panthers are 16-42 in the past five seasons. A turnaround won’t come easily, with the program fighting with Miami, Florida, Florida State, South Florida, Florida Atlantic and Central Florida for recruits. Butch Davis reflects on how he built back Miami Hurricanes after sanctions
Davis wouldn’t have it any other way; he’s used to the circumstances. He was 1-15 his first season as Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator in 1989 before winning a pair of Super Bowls. After rebuilding the Hurricanes, he turned the three-win Cleveland Browns into a playoff team in two seasons. It is their only postseason appearance in 23 years. He annually attracted NFL talent during his four years at North Carolina, known mostly as a basketball school.

In short, Davis knows all about building from the ground up. “Going to the Cowboys, going 1-15 that first season and they end up winning three Super Bowls,” Davis said. “Six of the seven previous seasons, the Cleveland Browns hadn’t been to playoffs. “You kind of get a blueprint of what’s it like to start where you are and how do you build it up. We’re trying to replicate that fast as we can here.” FIU assistant strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey has already the noticed the difference. He was on Davis’ staff when the rebuilding began at UM. It has taken just a few months for Swasey to have flashbacks.

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“I’ve seen it before,” Swasey said. “Just seeing him build at Miami and now I’m excited about being on the front end part of it again. It’s definitely deja vu.” Davis, who was fired by UNC before the 2011 season while the school dealt with allegations of academic misconduct, had other coaching opportunities the past six years. It took a certain one to get him back on the sideline. A strong friendship with FIU athletic director Pete Garcia made it an easy decision. The two worked together at UM and in Cleveland. The courting began with Garcia asking if Davis was interested in coaching again. A few days later, Garcia was preparing a presentation and introducing Davis to the school president and board of directors.

Florida Intl Football 2017, Heading into his first season as FIU’s football coach at age 65, Butch Davis says he doesn’t put any time limit on his tenure. “He’s like a brother to me,” Garcia said. “That’s on the personal side. On the professional side, obviously we think a lot alike when it comes to recruiting and building the program. We’ve been together for so long in different places that we know what each other are thinking.” Davis has wasted little time putting his stamp on the program. The school already received a record $3.76 million donation from Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva for stadium renovations. Davis’ name alone has played a role in raising nearly $11 million for facility upgrades. They include a new Jumbotron, pair of practice fields (turf and grass), dining facility, players’ lounge and adding a nutrition bar to the strength and conditioning room.

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