Butch Davis

Thorp: Davis’ firing results from a ‘cumulative effect’; AD Baddour to step down

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One day after firing North Carolina head coach Butch Davis, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp and Athletic Director Dick Baddour held a nearly 30-minute press conference on the decision, as well as the future of the program, both immediate and long-term.

And while it’s crystal clear that it’s Davis who should be the one apologizing for allowing his own program to run unattended like a problem child , it was Thorp who began the press conference with his own apology.

Okay, it was more empathy than apology, but the point was taken.

“To our student-athletes, you have already been through a lot this past year, and I know this is adding to that. I want you to know the university is behind you,” Thorp said. “I know the timing is terrible.”

Indeed it was. North Carolina is on the verge of starting up fall camp, and a program that lost so much talent from last year now has to trudge through what looked to be a rebuilding year with this punch to the gut.

Some media have already prophesied 2011 as a lost season for the Tar Heels. Perhaps it will be, but it’s obvious that Thorp is looking toward greener — or, bluer — pastures. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have pulled the trigger on Davis when he did.

Carolina is transitioning. The NCAA’s investigation and allegations were going to end in Davis’ dismissal; any other outcome would have resulted in rioting on Franklin Street. The school just swore in a new Board of Trustees, and today, Baddour announced his resignation as athletic director. Baddour’s contract ends next summer, but the 45-year AD asked Thorp to begin a new search for an athletic director who will, in turn, hire a new football coach.

Whether Baddour asked to step down (like he claimed), to which Thorp “reluctantly” agreed, or the other way around, it matters not. UNC is starting new again.

And the first step is finding an interim coach. Baddour said he’s already interviewed candidates and a decision should be coming within the next day or so.

The program also still needs to buyout Davis’ contract, which will be very close to $2.7 million. Thorp said the athletic department — not university subsidies — would pay whatever amount necessary to separate themselves from Davis.

The four-year head coach at Chapel Hill will not be fired with cause. Amazing, considering clauses in Davis’ contract stipulate that he could be fired with cause despite not being targeted in the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations.

“There was no evidence that coach Davis was involved in the allegations,” Thorp said. “This is about a cumulative effect on the university.”

Firing with cause could have could result in a lawsuit from Davis, and at this point, Thorp appears ready to cut his losses and move on.

“This was an athletic issue that began to chip away at our university… there was no one incident that led to the decision,” Thorp explained. “But the reputation of this university has a value beyond any dollar figure.”

Or, apparently, beyond any concept of timing.

UPDATED 2:03 p.m. ET:WRAL Sports has laid out the specifics of UNC’s buyout of Butch Davis. Below is an explanation of that buyout that actually states Davis may not get all $2.7 million:

Coach Davis’ Employment Agreement calls for the University to immediately pay him $270,417. Before the end of the calendar year 2011, the University will pay Coach Davis (a) an additional $13,083, which is the pro rata share of his retention bonus, plus (b) an additional $650,000 in supplemental compensation payments. That’s a total 2011 payment of $933,500.

The University will owe Coach Davis an additional $590,000 each January 15, starting in 2013 and concluding in 2015.

These amounts would be reduced by any compensation that Coach Davis might earn for coaching in a college or professional program.

The maximum total that Coach Davis could receive is $2,703,500.

All payments to Coach Davis will be made by the Department of Athletics. No state funds will be involved.

Two Power Five teams among handful of FBS schools to express interest in ex-Gator Treon Harris

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 14:  Treon Harris #3 of the Florida Gators drops back to pass against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 14, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Less than a week after he left his first college football home, teams are lining up to inquire about being Treon Harris‘ second.  Reportedly.

According to 247Sports.com, at least nine FBS programs have either spoken to Harris’ family or “have interest and have requested Harris’ release so they have the option to make contact.”  Two included in the latter group are Power Five teams — Kansas and Minnesota.

Other FBS teams in that second group also include Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, Eastern Michigan and SMU.  Georgia State, Southern Miss and Texas State have all reportedly made contact with Harris and his family.

Additionally, a handful of FCS programs have been in contact.

Should Harris move on to another FBS program, he would be forced to sit out the 2016 season, but would then have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017.  A move to the FCS would give him immediate eligibility in 2o16.

Monday, Florida confirmed that Harris had decided to transfer out of the Gators football program.  There was no specific reason given for the departure, although the announcement came less than a week after Jim McElwain confirmed that Harris would be moved from quarterback to wide receiver.

At his press conference prior to the start of spring practice, McElwain acknowledged that a pair of his players, Harris and wide receiver Antonio Callaway, haven’t been a part of the Florida football team since January.

And that’s without even mentioning Harris’ in-season issue in 2014 that was ultimately resolved a week later.

Harris started the 2015 season opener, but gave way to Will Grier — with a suspension thrown in for good measure — until Grier was himself suspended in October for the remainder of the season.  The true sophomore then started the last eight games of the year, with the Gators going 4-4 in that span.  Included in that stretch were three losses to close out the year by an average of nearly 25 points per game, with Harris completing under 44 percent of his passes (36-83) and directing the offense to a combined 24 points.

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, Harris was rated as the No. 18 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 123 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.

FSU, WVU closing in on agreement to open 2020 season in Atlanta

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Bobby Bowden of the Florida State Seminoles is greeted by the Governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin III, before taking on the West Virginia Mountaineers during the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl on January 1, 2010 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida State defeated West Virginia 33-21 in Bobby Bowden's last game as a head coach for the Seminoles.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Jimbo Fisher‘s native and adopted states could soon be crossing paths on the gridiron, this time in the regular season.

Mike Casazza of the Charleston Gazette-Mail was the first to report that West Virginia and Florida State are in talks for a game that would open the 2020 season, and that the two sides were close to finishing the deal.  ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy subsequently confirmed that report.

The game, which would be the latest iteration in the long-running Chick-fil-A Kickoff series, would be played Sept. 5 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

The football programs have met three times previously, with all three coming in the Gator Bowl.   As WVU was in the process of moving from the Big East to the Big 12 in February of 2012, it cancelled a 2012-13 home-and-home series with the Seminoles.

The final of what was a trio of FSU wins over WVU came in the last game for Bobby Bowden, the legendary head coach of the Seminoles who coached the Mountaineers for six seasons before leaving for Tallahassee.

Bowden’s successor at FSU, Fisher, is a native of Clarksburg, WV.

Justin Timberlake, Larry the Cable Guy stump for Big 12 candidacies of Memphis, UCF

SAN ANTONIO - APRIL 07:  Actor/singer Justin Timberlake watches the game between the Memphis Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2008 NCAA Men's National Championship game at the Alamodome on April 7, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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As you no doubt know by now, the Big 12 announced earlier this month that the conference will expand.  Wednesday night, a pair of entertainment heavyweights threw their celebrity behind two of the potential candidates.

A handful of teams have been mentioned as possibilities, from Houston to UConn to USF to BYU to Tulane to East Carolina to Cincinnati to Colorado State to Boise State.  Additionally, Memphis and UCF have been heavily speculated on for months, and they’re the two programs that have seen Memphis native Justin Timberlake and Nebraska fan Larry the Cable Guy, respectively, stumping for them within a couple of hours of each other.

It’s highly, highly doubtful that the celebrities throwing their support behind their favorites will have any impact whatsoever on the process or the Big 12’s ultimate decision. Still, it certainly can’t hurt in the court of public opinion.

Video purports to show part of brawl involving Wazzu football players

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 13:  A Washington State Cougars helmet showing the initials of Pat Tillman next to the American flag during the Arizona State Sun Devils against Washington State Cougars Pac-10 game at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field on November 13, 2004 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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A situation that began to grow legs earlier this week now has some video evidence to prop it up.  Purportedly.

Monday, reports surfaced that a group of Washington State football players triggered a brawl at a backyard party in Pullman early Saturday morning.  The players allegedly threw fireworks at attendees, which twice led to a request by the house’s residents to leave.  A third request saw the verbal engagement escalate into a physical confrontation on the part of the players, with one of the residents being knocked unconscious for 10 minutes and another sustaining a broken jaw that’s going to require reconstructive surgery.

The names of the Cougars reportedly involved have not been divulged.

A police investigation into the situation is ongoing, and felony charges against those involved are possible.  One snippet that will be of interest to those investigating the brawl was obtained and posted by Spokane Spokesman-Review.

Head coach Mike Leach has yet to comment publicly on the incident, although athletic director Bill Moos released the following statement:

In regards to the events that took place over the past weekend, the university was made aware of the situation shortly after the incident occurred. It is our understanding there is a thorough investigation underway by local law enforcement and we will cooperate fully as we take these matters seriously. In addition, facts are being gathered within the athletic department in order to provide assistance. We have high expectations for the conduct of WSU student-athletes, and treat any alleged allegations with the utmost transparency. The WSU athletic staff is in constant communication with the Office of the President and the Office of Student Life to ensure that university leadership is aware of the continuing investigation by local law enforcement. We will refrain from further comment until the findings of the investigation are complete.