Davis Has Few Regrets Over Miami

Wednesday, February 7th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Butch Davis, who might have trouble getting anyone in South Florida to believe him these days, has given Cleveland Browns fans his word.

``We'll be in the Super Bowl,'' he said.

Just one week into his new job after leaving Miami, Davis is convinced he can rebuild a Browns, who finished 3-13 last year, just as he did with the Hurricanes.

``The greatest challenge is going to be how to instill a vision to where we want this program to go and get the players to buy into it,'' Davis said Tuesday. ``The things we're going to ask them to do, the sacrifices they're going to have to make and get them to understand how important they're going to be in the long term.

``The blueprint that I'm going to sell them on is all of the steps. There are no shortcuts. There is no quick fix.''

Davis would like to fix some things that happened in the past few weeks — but it's too late.

``The worst mistake I ever made was that I never should have said, 'Never,''' Davis said.

Davis has been branded a liar in Miami since he decided last week to leave the university and take his first NFL head coaching job in Cleveland. He now concedes he could have handled it better.

``I didn't take the (Miami) job in 1995 envisioning that someday I'd be the head coach of the Cleveland Browns,'' Davis said. ``I thought at that time it might be the last job that I'd ever have.''

Davis signed a five-year, $16 million contract last week to accept the task of turning around the Browns, who have won just five games in two seasons.

He added four more assistant coaches Tuesday and said he hopes to have his entire staff in place by the end of the week.

Todd Bowles, who coached the New York Jets last season, was named a defensive assistant with the Browns. Ray Hamilton, also with the Jets last year, will coach the defensive line, and Keith Butler will be retained as the linebackers coach.

Todd McNair, who played eight years in the league, will coach the Browns running backs. Davis has already hired both coordinators and only needs to bring in someone to coach his offensive line, quarterbacks, special teams and tight ends.

When Davis announced he was leaving Miami — just a week before national signing day for recruits — south Florida went into shock. Then, into rage.

A bedsheet saying: ``Butch Davis is a liar,'' was hung outside one of the school's athletic buildings, and Davis was roasted in the media for abandoning a program he rebuilt in six years.

Davis said he wished things had gone differently in the weeks leading up to his resignation.

``You get put in some very difficult situations in the middle of recruiting,'' he said. ``It's a fine line to walk when someone puts a microphone in your face and says, 'Are you going to take that job?' You're dealing with recruits, you've got players on your team. It makes it very difficult.

``Of all the regrets, that's the one thing I never should have said, that I would never leave.''

Davis said some of the criticism bothered him, but that ultimately his legacy at Miami will be in straightening out a program that went from national prominence to national disgrace.

``Six years later, it's got huge integrity back,'' he said. ``There's a lot of character. Kids have graduated. We restored the talent level on that team. I feel very good about having left a program in good shape.''


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