UM taking fresh look at Butch Davis; Canes coach search notes; Pat Riley addresses trade, Green; Dolphin, Heat, Marlins chatter
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
A UM official who was close with former president Donna Shalala said it was obvious speaking to her that she felt strongly that Butch Davis should not be considered if the UM job opened. But with Shalala now working at the Clinton Foundation, UM has been taking a fresh look at Davis, examining the circumstances that led to his firing at North Carolina and evaluating his viability as a candidate, according to multiple sources.
“He hasn’t been written off; he’s among people given initial consideration,” one UM official said, noting Davis will be given more scrutiny.
Davis, who led UM to a 51-20 record from 1995 through 2000, badly wants the job and has strong support among fans and a few notable Board of Trustee members.
“There’s pressure being placed by the public and some of the Trustees to hire him,” one high-level Trustee said.
But another trustee who likes Davis said athletic director Blake James “isn’t going to be swayed by anyone from doing what he thinks is best. There are an awful lot of people who want this job.”
As one UM person said, James knows he has Davis available if other potentially more appealing options do not materialize or do not prove to be a good fit.
A Davis hire would surprise (but not shock) some at UM, but the Davis supporters can take comfort in knowing that UM is taking a hard look at him. So he's certainly a possibility, as are more than a dozen others. There's no favorite because it's still very early in the process.
Citing harm to its reputation, North Carolina fired Davis on July 27, 2011, following an academic fraud scandal that covered 18 years and multiple sports.
Davis was never implicated and has said he has a letter from the NCAA indicating that. The NCAA found UNC guilty of academic fraud and failure to monitor the football program and was docked with a 2012 postseason ban and 15 scholarship reductions.
In a statement on the day of Davis’ firing, UNC chancellor Holden Thorp said that while there had been no changes against Davis in the NCAA investigation, Thorp had "lost confidence in our ability to come through this without harming the way people think of this institution."
UM was expected to research that case, as well as the 2010 resignation of Davis’ defensive line coach and assistant head coach John Blake; the NCAA said Blake was paid by now-deceased agent Gary Wichard, to whom Blake referred players.
Davis, 63, wasn’t implicated in that scandal, either, but no school has hired Davis since he was fired in 2011.
UM is believed to have contacted the NCAA for more information on Davis.
Said one high-level trustee who supports Davis: “Besides being a great recruiter, Butch can bring people into the stadium and that has to be something we consider. And Butch was cleared at North Carolina. Why does this tarnish him?”
But UM will make its own conclusion after reviewing the case.
### Though public denials would be expected, UM people are under the impression that Texas’ Charlie Strong and Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville have interest in the UM job.
Strong is considered an appealing candidate if he and Texas part ways, but that likely wouldn’t happen until after the Longhorn’s regular-season finale Dec. 5.
### Footballscoop.com reported there have been conversations between reps for UM and Mario Cristobal, but that is not the case, according to a coaching friend of Cristobal.
Cristobal, Greg Schiano and Rob Chudzinski, among others, remain in the mix, however. A UM official said a bunch of additional candidates, including perhaps some surprises, are expected to surface because this will be a true national search with inquiries made to some perceived to be out of reach. But there is no front-runner at this point.
### Former Alabama coach Mike Shula, who had support among some UM trustees, has conveyed to friends that he wants to remain in the NFL (he’s the Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator) and won’t pursue the UM job, an associate said last week.
### During the last UM football coaching search, highly-respected Trustee Paul DiMare attended coaching interviews with then-athletic director Kirby Hocutt.
Beyond DiMare, Stuart Miller, chairman of the Board of Trustees and the mortgage giant Lennar Corp., is expected to be involved. The Miller family and his company have donated $271 million to UM over the years and he wields considerable influence.
### Please see the last post for a lot of on-field UM football news from today.
### Heat president Pat Riley addressed the Mario Chalmers trade moments ago: "We're going to miss Mario. We love the guy. This is not an easy day for me or the organization, but we decided to give these young guys some room to grow and gain confidence. They're not going to do it in the D-League. It has a lot to do with opportunity, where we see the team in the future, has a lot to do with economics of the game. Personnel flexibility is part of it. Cap flexibility is part of it. [My interjection: This trade has no impact on the summer of 2016 free agent.]
"Obviously, when we didn't make the playoffs last year, we were fortunate to get the 10th pick and we ended up with Justise Winslow," Riley said. "We really like Josh Richardson. We love what Tyler Johnson has done.... We have a very young player in Hassan Whiteside...
"There has to be a great balance between veteran players and having some young players not just sit there and perform. This is not a youth movement. You have to give [people] room to grow. It's injecting young talented players who are hungry and want to win and have proven to us they can compete at this level. Mixing those with the veterans we have is a good mix right now. I know coach likes it.
"When Gerald [Green] gets back and Beno [Udrih] and Jarnell [Stokes], you'll have even more depth. We like Beno. Jarnell is a beast, he's young, 22 years old."
Riley said contrary to a report, the Heat wasn't trying to trade Udrih and Stokes.
### On lowering the team's tax burden, Riley said: "Micky [Arison] has proven he wants to win. I don't think we would ever sacrifice a competitiveness by worrying about what financial obligations we might have, trading away players we felt could help us win a title and saving money. The economics of the game are part of the whole thing that moves the parts. You have to consider that obviously. But that wasn't the No. 1 reason why we did it. We aren't looking actively to do that in the future."
### Riley declined to discussed the specifics of Green's incident that led to a six-game absence, which will end after Thursday's game against Utah.
"It's a personal matter," Riley said. "It doesn't need to be discussed."
Riley said he believes "we can" count of Green. "I've been around this game for 48 years. He's a great kid, great athlete, can really shoot the ball, is explosive. We're going to need him."
### An Eastern Conference scout, on the two players the Heat acquired Tuesday (point guard Beno Udrih, forward Jarnell Stokes): “Udrich can score, get offense for himself, but he’s not a great playmaker. Adequate defender at best. Tyler Johnson is the better athlete but Udrih is more of a natural point guard. Stokes is a borderline NBA player. He will have to distinguish himself as a rebounder because he has limited range. He overpowered people [for offense at Tennessee]. He needs a consistent 15-foot jumper.”
### One Heat motivation for dealing Chalmers (besides reducing its tax) is the belief Johnson warrants regular minutes. He’s shooting 59 percent and ranks fourth on the team in both plus minus (plus 30) and NBA efficiency rating (65th in the league) entering Tuesday… Sign of the times: James Ennis found out he was traded on Twitter.
### Good stuff from tonight's 101-88 win against the Lakers: Chris Bosh had 29 points and 11 rebounds, meaning he has double-doubles in four of the Heat's first eight games. He had just seven in 44 games last season before his illness. "I really want to do well this year," he said.
He's averaging 9.8 rebounds per game, highest since his Raptors days....
Hassan Whiteside --- who entered tied for fifth in the NBA in rebounding (10.9) and tied for first in blocks (4.0) --- had 19 points, 15 boards and three blocks tonight.
Goran Dragic, the NBA's only guard to shoot 50 percent each of the past two seasons, has fallen below 46 percent after tonight's 2-for-10 struggle.
### Who’s at fault for the Dolphins ranking an astounding 31st against the run?
According to Pro Football Focus, the blame rests primarily with four players:
1) Earl Mitchell (rated 187th among 187 qualifying interior defenders against the run; incidentally, backups Jordan Phillips and CJ Mosley are 172nd and 173rd);
2) now injured Cam Wake (rated 128th against the run among edge defenders);
3) Olivier Vernon (107th); and
4) Kelvin Sheppard, rated 142nd of 162 linebackers against the run.
PFF doesn’t blame these four who all rank in the top 40 at their positions against the run: Suh (37), Derrick Shelby (40), Koa Misi and to a lesser extent, Jelani Jenkins (fifth and 40th).
### Wake smartly had surgery for a torn Achilles the day after the injury and he’s already ahead of schedule and expected back well before the start of next season, a close associate said. He hopes to begin running in four months and have some involvement in May/June practices.
According to a Dolphins source, the team hasn’t conveyed its intentions with Wake, including a possible restructuring of a contract that carries a $9.8 million cap hit, likely too high for Miami’s liking.
### Though nothing is imminent, Colby Lewis, Tim Lincecum and Scott Kazmir are among several free agent pitchers that intrigue the Marlins as they search for one or two starters to join Jose Fernandez, Jarred Cosart and Tom Koehler.
As ESPN's Jason Stark noted, the Marlins are seeking a No. 2 starting pitcher for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. They could keep him if they don't get that.
### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz