48,000 Reasons Davis Makes Sense

CLEMSON - Butch Davis to Tigertown? Without even flinching it's pretty easy to come up with 48,000 reasons why Clemson would be a better fit for him than his current employer.

Don't get me wrong, I like the University of North Carolina. I've always been fond of Chapel Hill, not to mention Franklin street - especially "Top of the Hill" and many of the other local establishments that are unique to the area.

Indeed, it is a great setting for all fans that bleed Tar Heel blue.

The problem is there just aren't enough of those fans to get people truly excited about college football.

For all that UNC head coach Butch Davis has done in his 18 months on the job, including leading his team to a 6-2 mark this year after the Heels won just five games against FCS opponents in the previous two seasons combined (and two of those were against Duke), the fans just don't seem to care that much.

Case in point: Saturday's game against nationally-ranked Boston College. Did you happen to catch the broadcast of that game and notice all of the empty seats?

For all the improvement Davis has made in such a short period of time, a mere 48,000 fans turned out to see the Heels beat the No. 23 Eagles at Kenan Stadium.

Simply put, when it comes to big time college football, North Carolina leaves a good bit to be desired.

Oh sure, Kenan Stadium only seats 60,000 fans, and with 48,000 in attendance the stadium was 80 percent full, but still, you get the picture. With the Tar Heels in the midst of competing for a Coastal Division championship you'd expect a little more support from the fans, even if they are more concerned about the kind of toothpaste All-American forward Tyler Hansbrough prefers.

The problem here is North Carolina has been, and always will be a basketball school, and nobody short of the Dean Smith of college football coaches will ever be able to change that.

Not even Butch Davis.

And the curious aspect to all of this is whether or not he's figured that out yet.

Has he realized he is not big man on campus nor is Hakeem Nicks or Cam Sexton or anybody else on the football team?

Has he realized he'll always play second-fiddle to head basketball coach Roy Williams?

When your own program has been nationally ranked, you're in the thick of the conference race hosting another program that is currently nationally ranked, you would expect more than 48,000 fans to show up to support the team.

Butch, if you are looking for big-time college football, or shall we say, the potential for big-time given Clemson's performance on the field this year, look down I-85 towards the upstate of South Carolina. There is a fan-base down here that would love to show you how passionate it is when it comes to this game.

After all, Clemson hosted nationally-ranked Boston College last year, with the Atlantic Division Championship on the line and 81,500 showed up to see what would happen - and 20,000 more would have been there had the fire marshal allowed it.

If you came to Clemson, you'd have a good bit of talent to work with right off the bat, not to mention outstanding facilities which makes recruiting easier and a fan base that is starving for a championship of any kind.

It's not like it's a true rebuilding project and oh by the way, there's likely a pay-raise headed your way from that $2.1 million you are making right now.

Keep in mind we aren't suggesting Clemson is the king of the world when it comes to college football, but compared to North Carolina ... unfortunately for Tar Heel fans, well that's exactly what it is.

On the hardwood, where North Carolina fans really care, it's a completely different story.

Head coach Roy Williams, future lottery picks Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson and even the dancing Danny Green and all of the McDonald's All-American team managers will challenge for a National Championship this year.

That's great. But on the gridiron, where 81,000+ orange-clad fans gather every fall Saturday to root on their favorite team, it's not even close.

And there are many different ways that statement could be backed up, including writing that Clemson has 12,000 more season-ticket holders this year than the 48,000 fans that were in attendance for last weekend's Boston College-UNC matchup in Chapel Hill.

But the proof is in the programs. One program cares about college football while the other uses it to merely pass time until the lights go on in the Dean Dome.

Sure, Butch Davis will do what is right for Butch Davis. And if North Carolina is the best fit for him and he's happy with what he feels like he'll be able to accomplish there long-term, so be it.

Perhaps playing second-fiddle to Roy Williams may not be the ego-shrinking, pride-swallowing deal many make it out to be.

But if he is serious about college football and serious about having a fan base that rivals any anything he's seen this side of the Cleveland Browns, as opposed to one that is dare we say, Wake Forest-esque, then stay tuned because there may be more to this story.

Not that the 48,000 fans in attendance at Kenan Stadium last weekend truly care, mind you.

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