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Butch Davis wants to come back to Miami, but USC shows the hazards of living in the past

One of the best coaches in school history is still on the market.

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Miami Hurricanes have fired Al Golden, former players and celebrity fans — even the person who rents the airplane banners — have endorsed the idea of bringing former head coach Butch Davis back to The U. Davis is all-in, too:

The Ticket co-host Brett Romberg, a former UM center who played for Davis, asked him if he had a staff of assistant coaches in mind. "Sure, absolutely," he said, adding that since he left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Greg Schiano, he has been interested in getting back into coaching. Davis has spent this season as an ESPN college football analyst.

Davis coached the Hurricanes during their run of success in the late 1990s. He brought the likes of Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Jeremy Shockey before leaving to coach the Cleveland Browns. He's the most popular Miami coach since Jimmy Johnson, and he was the architect of the early-2000s Miami teams that were among the best in history.

With the program underachieving, it makes sense that Miami fans want to relive their most recent glory. But the Hurricanes should learn a thing or two from their main competition for a top coaching candidate: USC.

The Trojans are now looking for their fourth coach in seven years due in part to attempting to recreate the Pete Carroll years. USC hired Lane Kiffin in 2010 partly because he as an offensive coordinator under Carroll. Kiffin underachieved with top talent, and USC could have seen that coming, as he was nothing special with Tennessee or the Oakland Raiders.

When USC needed a new head coach again, it decided to pick ... another former Carroll OC, Steve Sarkisian. He had stagnated with the Washington Huskies, gaining the nickname "Seven-Win Sark," and he underachieved with USC until being fired this season.

Miami should even know this first-hand. Twice since Davis left, it has brought in coaches who were previously on the staff. Former offensive coordinator Larry Coker fell from a 12-0 debut to a 7-6 2006, and defensive coordinator Randy Shannon only won more than seven games once.

Who says the 63-year-old could replicate his Big East success in the ACC, after his proteges couldn't? After leaving The U, Davis never put together a season with the Cleveland Browns or North Carolina Tar Heels that could be described as better than above average, topping out UNC at 8-5 despite a loaded roster.

And like Kiffin and Sarkisian, he comes from a rocky situation. Kiffin and Sarkisian were both on staff with Carroll, whose program was penalized by the NCAA for Reggie Bush receiving extra benefits, while Davis was fired amid academic misconduct at UNC, even though there's scarce evidence it was his fault.

Given Miami's recent issues with the NCAA, the school is trying to do its best to distance itself from those times, allegedly even shutting out famous alumni and boosters.

USC has showed that "he was here 15 years ago" is not a good justification to hire a coach. Miami needs someone who can take advantage of the school's location and history without living in it. One option would be a coach who happens to have ties to the program, but who's proved himself elsewhere:

My list for The U basically comes down to Alabama assistant and former Cane Mario Cristobal, not so much because of his pure coaching acumen, but his unique knowledge of the politics. He knows how to handle the Miami high schools and youth leagues. He knows how to manage university officials concerned about the ghosts of the 1980s. And he has head coaching experience, albeit truncated after he got a raw deal at FIU.


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