Butch Davis entered the ranks of college football royalty last January, when his University of Miami Hurricanes fell a hair short of claiming the title of the nation's best team. This year, he's back in the rookie ranks with his first head coaching job in the National Football League. Earlier this summer, we sat down with Davis to talk about Cleveland, his coaching style and what you can expect during the 2001 football season.
Coming to Cleveland
was the appeal of coming to Cleveland? Was it the fact that it was a new,
"It had something to do with it, but I would
say that was probably not even in the top five reasons for the decision
though. I looked at several things. One, as you look at any job, whether
its college or the NFL, the decision makers are the ones who have
got to be unbelievably committed to the success of the team.
"Look at [team owner] Mr. [Al] Lerner. He wanted to win. Resources
were not going to be a factor in whether we won or lost. Same thing with
[Cleveland Browns President and CEO] Carmen [Policy]. He has been around
so much success in San Francisco and knows what it takes to give you all
the resources needed to succeed."
would you describe your philosophy for dealing with players?
Ive always tried to teach and motivate and coach from a positive
standpoint. I try to find as many good things as a guy does and build
on all those others develop a relationship with the player to where
he doesnt feel threatened. You have to create an environment where
players are not afraid to fail. If they are afraid to fail in practice,
theyll never reach the heights of how good they can be. If every
time they go out there, they feel like some coach is going to jump down
their throat, theyre always going to stay in that comfort zone.
talked a lot about creating a more aggressive, meaner Browns team than
the one thats been on the field the past two years. From what youve
seen, does that style fit these players?
It will. Thats just the way Im wired. Players like playing
with a go-for-the-throat defensive mentality that youre putting
the pressure on and an offensive mentality that youre always trying
to make good plays. Youre never sitting back with the three yards
and a cloud of dust offense.
There will be an element of aggressiveness in everything we do.
The players like it and the fans. like it. Ultimately, were going
to do what it takes to win games with elements of that, but at some point
you still have to keep within reason and decide whats going to give
us the best chance to win this Sunday. If we have to sit on the ball and
play great defense, then thats what well do if that lets us
win. If we have to score a ton of points and play bend-but-dont
break defense, we may have to do that on some given Sundays.
"Eventually well get to the power to the level that we want.
Then, we can obviously play how we want to play all the time."
Learning From a Master
are the most important lessons you learned from Jimmy Johnson? (Davis
worked a total of 15 years with Johnson at Oklahoma State University,
the University of Miami and the Dallas Cowboys)
He made me develop the attitude and the idea that you need to really
keep your mind open and critically take a look at players and dont
stereotype them . . . Find and create roles and opportunities for guys
to contribute and help your football team become successful. Players appreciate
that. If they know they have a specific role that they have a chance
no mater how small the role or how big the role is, if their role is
vital and its important to the success of the team theyre
going to do it extremely well?