Six crazy years at Miami for Butch Davis, filled with dealing with NCAA punishment, but also filled with the turnaround of the University of Miami. After a successful 2000 season, in which Davis led the Canes to an 11-1 record and a victory in the Sugar Bowl.
The sky was the absolute limit following that season for Davis’ future at Miami, but after the 2000 campaign, Butch left to coach the Cleveland Browns.
Now, 17 years have passed since Davis left, and you’re to wonder some days, what if Butch never left Miami?
Granted, Larry Coker didn’t do too bad in his first season of being the head coach at Miami, leading the Canes to a National Championship in 2001, then an appearance in the title game the following season.
However, it was clear that Davis had much more of an affect on the program and the players. You hear all the time from former Canes who played during that time, that Davis had much more of a presence in and around the Miami program, while Coker felt like a substitute teacher.
One thing that Davis was incredible at, and something he probably had an edge over Coker was recruiting. Davis’ final recruiting class in 2000 featured some future stars, including D.J. Williams, Willis McGahee and Jonathan Vilma.
Davis learned how to be an expert at recruiting, because in fact he had to. During the mid to late 90’s, the Canes were under NCAA investigation and had sanctions against them that disrupted recruiting. Certain seasons, Miami would only have about 12 or 11 scholarships to give out.
Still, even with the setbacks, he still recruited players like Santana Moss, Damien Lewis and Ed Reed. Though Coker had impressive classes of his own, 2002 and 2003 he still had Davis’ recruits, and following those seasons the program started to fall off.
By the time 2000, Davis had the team so dialed in, that its still a shame that that particular team didn’t win a National Championship. Makes you wonder, if the Canes hadn’t of lost to Washington earlier in the 2000 season, gone on to win the National Championship, would Butch have left?
In my personal opinion, if Davis would’ve stayed at Miami, there’s a chance that he still would be there today. I think that post-2002 Miami Hurricanes would have more National Championships, instead of the program falling into mediocrity.
Also, say what you will, but you could make the argument that the Nevin Shapiro scandal could've been avoided. Davis knew what damage a scandal could bring to a university, because he lived through that when he first took over at Miami. Do you really think Davis would let Shapiro infiltrate the program like he eventually did?
Though, like previous coaches at Miami, Davis left right when things were getting good. Howard Schnellenberger left after a championship season in 1983, Jimmy Johnson left after the 1988 season, and Dennis Erickson left following 1994.
Multiple national championships, no scandal or Nevin Shapiro, and not having to pull ourselves back into the top tier of college football, thats possibly what we missed out on.