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Assessing Greg Davis

When Belmont officially announced the resignation of Greg Davis, I expected full blown celebration with people singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.  After all, the guy has been hated on for about 12 years now and some of the most cynical Texas fans believed that Mack would never let him go (I'll raise my hand).  However, the reaction of most Texas fans seemed pretty subdued; it was more relief than anything, at least around here.  I experienced a similar reaction; I was happy because I knew it was the right decision for the program, but I felt no ill will towards Greg Davis and even felt a bit sorry for him.  For all of his flaws, he contributed to the Texas program for 12 years, and for that we should grateful.

Obviously, the guy got paid extremely well at Texas so it's not like I feel for him the same way as a guy who got laid off and is struggling to provide for his family.  Davis could retire now and eat $50 steaks everyday without a problem, at least not to his bank account.  This isn't a call to sympathize for some poor victim.  Still, he always handled himself with class and dignity, even in the face of the most heated, and sometimes irrational, criticisms directed against him, and by all accounts he's a genuinely nice guy with a keen football mind.  He did many things to frustrate me, but his Texas Longhorn teams broke many Longhorn offensive records during his tenure and we won a national title with him.  His critics will say that he merely rode the coattails of excellent recruits, but as this year showed, having a wealth of talent does not guarantee winning seasons when the coaching isn't there.  Greg Davis was doing something in the past.

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.

Was Greg Davis the best OC money could buy at Texas?  I don't think so, and there have been enough episodes where something he did made me want to ram my head against a wall such that I don't regard him THAT highly.  However, I refuse to look back at his 12 years and call it a complete failure or that he was simply a lucky bystander that benefited from and even impeded the talent of great recruits.  Could we have won more games and more titles with a better offensive coordinator?  Perhaps.  Personally, I think we could have at least a couple more Big 12 titles (2001 and 2006 come to mind).  That said, those Texas fans pretending we'd have a 4 national titles and 12 Big 12 titles with another coordinator are fooling themselves.  Greg Davis wasn't quite that bad, and there is no guarantee another OC would have been demonstrably better during those years.

Again, this was the right move; sorry, but you can't go 5-7 at a resource-rich school like Texas and field an offense like that garbage we saw all year and keep your job.  As we have talked about numerous times this year, this year's Longhorn offense is easily the worst in Mack's era and was most likely the poorest utilization of talent in the entire country.  If Akina can get demoted and MacDuff be let go after a crappy defense in 2007, there HAD to be changes to the offensive side of the ball because this year's offense was so horrific that I'm willing to bet money that the 2007 defense could have shut them out for three quarters too.  Still, while it was the right thing to do, that doesn't mean I'm going to dance on Greg Davis' misfortune.  He wasn't the only one making mistakes this year; most of the offensive staff turned in poor jobs and Mack himself turned in a poor job.  Davis deserved to be let go, but he also does not deserve us denigrating his past achievements.

I wish Greg Davis the best of luck in his future endeavors, but I also look with excited anticipation for our next OC hire.  We all have a right to be excited we're getting new blood, because going 5-7, well, stinks.  This year was an unmitigated disaster on so many different levels, but with the departure of several coaches there is a chance that we can bring in a guy that will whip us back in to shape.  We might take a season or two to get running under a new OC, but I'm optimistic that we can get back to the elite of college football before Mack calls it quits.