After a year on the sidelines of college football after so many years calling plays from the press box for the Texas Longhorns, the much-reviled Greg Davis has found a new job -- as offensive coordinator of the Iowa Hawkeyes, announced officially by the university on Monday.
And for the first time in nearly two decades, Davis has a chance to disentangle his own legacy from that of his longtime friend and boss. The more sophisticated debate among the burnt orange faithful revolved around just where exactly stopped and Mack Brown started, wondering at times if Brown was meddling and causing more harm than good.
Over the last week since the news broke, there's been some time for those who followed Davis' career in Austin -- the majority of whom probably wanted his office vacated for most of the time -- to look back and once again re-assess the easily-parodied figured. Our own TheElusiveShadow took a well-reasoned stab at it in the wake of Davis' resignation:
Here is what I will thank Greg Davis for: Twelve years of general success. Building an offense around Vince Young and being humble enough to trust VY to lead us to win. Building an offense around Colt McCoy in 2008 that featured Cosby, Shipley, and for a short period of time, Blaine Irby, where Colt McCoy lit the college football world on fire and should have won the Heisman. That 2008 OU game, maybe Davis' best called game, where we pantsed the #1 ranked Sooners and went on a run that, while came up short, made that 2008 team a fan favorite. Also, as a quarterbacks coach, Davis helped in the development of VY, Colt, and Major (and yes, Chris Simms), and he deserves some credit for that.
There are, obviously, many things to criticize Greg Davis for. He had a maddening tendency to be too complicated when it was time to be simple and too simple when we needed some wrinkles. He failed to develop a consistent running scheme for the past several years and went away from the spread option attack of Vince Young that helped us win a national title. He often failed to attack opponents' weak points specifically, opting to believe (I presume, anyway) that simply executing the Texas offense in a general manner would work simply because We're Texas and they're not. And, most famously, his random screen calls left much to be desired. Nonetheless, he had his successes here, and no one can take that away from him.
The resume of success is a tremendously powerful weapon that the relatively rare breed of Davis apologists tend to wield about and for that success Davis certainly deserves at least some of the credit and perhaps even -- dare I say? -- some admiration from the Longhorn fanbase.
There's no question that Davis was extraordinarily lucky to have coached two transcendent stars in Vince Young and Colt McCoy, both of whom achieved a significant degree of their success using their supreme athletic gifts to make off-schedule plays and carry the team. Many believe that Colt and VY helped Texas win in spite of Davis.
Fundamentally, the question always returns to how much of of the offense bore the fingerprints of the notoriously conservative Mack Brown. Was Davis always wanting to trend towards the passing game, particularly the horizontal offense he at times preferred to a vertical attack, or he hamstrung at times by Brown wanting to be something that Davis himself didn't envision in the offense
With the advantage of another year of hindsight on the Davis regime and the cracks that 5-7 and all the efforts to rebuild the program essentially from the ground up (brick by brick alert!), there's some fresh perspective on where Davis left the program.
The lack of effort from Davis as offensive coordinator to ensure that his assistant coaches were working hard evaluating players and the complete lack of fresh ideas that he could bring together the table were a major part of the program's fall. Mack Brown certainly deserves a lot of the blame, as well, but Davis was diagnosed as part of the program and essentially removed (or resigned, whatever) as such, and for that the legacy of Davis is deservedly tarnished.
Davis was allowing poor evaluation and development along the offensive line and for Bobby Kennedy to do whatever the heck he was doing recruiting wide receivers who failed at an incredible rate. Takes like Mark Buchanan from Austin -- in the recruiting area that Davis covered -- were strong illustrations of what was wrong with the program.
Davis hasn't been held to task for those failings, particularly, with the criticism leveled in his direction more often revolving around the gameday decisions that he made.
It seems like a safe, uninspired hire for the Hawkeyes to replace a safe, uninspiring coach in the departed Ken O'Keefe -- this is clearly the type of B1G football that Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz prefers, an approach befitting the elements in which the Hawkeyes often have to compete late in conference season.
For that task, David should be ably uninspiring, with his typical naked attempts to get creative that only end up being obvious and wasted plays and his trademark work in the wide-receiver screen game to keep the offense consistently moving horizontally.
Really, as a coordinator, the biggest issue with Davis was that he often did a poor job of gameplanning for opponents in any systematic manner, or show much in the way of ability to adjust to what defenses were doing to him. At times, those complexities and under-pressure responses seemed to be completely lost on Davis.
He also may not work particularly hard on the recruiting trail, but he could have enough Texas connections to help the Hawkeyes break into the state a bit. And, in the end, who should be a solid quarterback coach capable of doing at least an adequate job of recognizing and developing talent there.
What will be particularly revealing during this stretch, the first that Davis has really had away from Mack Brown in closing in on 20 years, is how he adjusts to coaching the type of risk-averse offense that completely failed for him in 2010.
Again, there's a strain of thought about Davis that saw Brown restraining the pass-first tendencies of his longtime friend, who might be inclined to throw the ball on the every down otherwise.
On the balance, however, Davis seems like he will be more than willing to provide exactly what Iowa is looking for and the results should have a strong impact on his own legacy and, at the least, continue to complicate the complex feelings of emotions engendered by the successful but unpopular Davis at Texas.