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.

Danny Etling holds off true freshman, named LSU’s starting QB

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Myles Brennan is, more than likely, the future at the quarterback position for LSU.  In the here and now, however, the precocious true freshman will have to bide his time — at least for now.

After a significant, and maybe unexpected, push from the true freshman Brennan, Danny Etling Tuesday was officially named as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in a battle that Ed Orgeron described as “very close.”  Etling, a transfer from Purdue, came into the competition as the incumbent, starting the last 10 games of the 2016 season after taking over the job from Brandon Harris.

“We believe in Danny. We hope he has a great year,” the head coach said according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In his first season at LSU, Etling completed 160-of-269 passes (59.5%) for 2,123 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.  In his 10 starts, the Tigers went 7-3 in a season that saw them finish 8-4.

Brennan was a four-star 2017 signee, rated as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Etling’s first start in his second season with the team will come Sept. 2 against BYU in the neutral-site opener.

UTSA-Texas State series rebranded H-E-B I-35 Showdown

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For those not familiar with HEB Grocery Company, it’s a grocery giant founded in Kerrville, Texas, in 1905 by a man named Florence Butt. H-E-B now owns nearly 400 stores stretching across south and central Texas and central Mexico. H-E-B essentially owns the San Antonio area and leases back to its million-plus residents, so it makes sense that when UTSA and Texas State wanted to brand their rivalry, they turned to H-E-B.

Starting this season, the UTSA-Texas State series will now be known as the H-E-B I-35 Showdown

Cue the AD boilerplate!

“We’re thrilled that H-E-B has become the title sponsor for the I-35 rivalry football games between UTSA and Texas State,” UTSA Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Lynn Hickey said. “No matter the sport, both fan bases always show up in strong support when the Roadrunners and the Bobcats get together on the playing fields. This newly-branded name for the football games this season and next will only add to the rich history between the two schools.”
 
“It is great to have H-E-B supporting the I-35 football series between Texas State and UTSA,” Texas State Director of Athletics Larry Teis said. “H-E-B has a great relationship with the state of Texas and both universities. We have continued to play UTSA in other sports and the rivalry is strong for our student-athletes and fans.”

The two schools are natural gridiron rivals. They sit just 50 miles apart — connected by Interstate 35, of course — and compete for athletes and regular students alike. The Roadrunners and Bobcats have been Olympics sports rivals for years, primarily as members of the Southland Conference. Each football program is (obviously) in FBS now and have met only once, a 38-31 UTSA win in 2012, since the Roadrunners’ program launched in 2011.

The series will resume Sept. 23 in San Marcos, with Texas State making a return visit to San Antonio on Sept. 22, 2018.

Hugh Freeze reportedly made at least a dozen calls to escort services as Ole Miss coach

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Former Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze dialed “at least 12” numbers associated with escort services through online advertisements, according to a review of open records obtained by ESPN.com. The calls took place over a 33-month period, stretching from April 2014 through January 2017, and typically lasted two minutes or less.

Those calls appear to be what Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter referenced as “a pattern of personal misconduct” on the night he resigned. The calls are the second phone related-issue connected to Freeze’s dismissal. He also made at least 200 calls to a booster that is under NCAA investigation.

There are two puzzling aspects to Freeze’s calls to escort services: A) that he made the calls on a university-owned cell phone in the first place, and B) that Freeze did not redact the calls from the records request, since other private calls were removed from the public review of his 39,000 calls as the Rebels’ head coach.

“Any personal calls having no relation to UM business are not public records,” Ole Miss attorney Robert T. Jolly wrote in an email to ESPN. “Personal calls will be clearly marked and redacted from the documents released.”

Freeze went 39-25 in five seasons as the Ole Miss head coach, peaking with back-to-back wins over Alabama and a long-awaited Sugar Bowl victory to close the 2015 season but ending with a 5-7 mark and a self-imposed bowl ban for the 2017 season, which will be coached by interim Matt Luke. Ole Miss will sit before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on Sept. 11, with Freeze’s character and strict adherence to NCAA recruiting rules a cornerstone of the school’s defense.

Reports: Oklahoma State RB Jeff Carr to transfer

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Jeff Carr is planning to transfer from Oklahoma State, according to a report from Pokes sidelines reporter Robert Allen. That report has since been confirmed by the Tulsa World and The Oklahoman. Carr has since been removed from Oklahoma State’s online roster.

A junior, Carr was Oklahoma State’s most experienced running back but was passed on the depth chart by sophomore Justice Hill. Hill ran the ball 206 times for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns a year ago, while Carr rushed 12 times for 83 yards and one score. His 6.92 yards per carry average led the team. Carr rushed 36 times for 142 yards and one score as a freshman in 2015. Carr also saw his touches as a kickoff returner (29 returns to three) and a receiver (11 catches to one) fall from 2015 to ’16.

After losing the Temple, Texas, native, Oklahoma State will have five running backs on scholarship — four freshmen and one sophomore, Hill.

Multiple outlets have reported Carr is headed to Texas A&M-Kingsville, a Division II school that will permit Carr to play immediately.