Turning Point For Davie Was A&M Loss

The turning point in Bob Davie's future as head coach with Notre Dame came after only the third game of this season. That's when Kevin White met with Davie and told him his job was in jeopardy. Davie apparently told no one. From White's point of view, it had become a question of "credibility." Is Davie bitter? Read a report from his farewell news conference here as part of IrishEyes'continuing coverage of ND's search for a successor.

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December 2, 2001

 Turning Point For Davie's Future Was A&M Loss

 By The IrishEyes.Com NewsService

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (IE) – The turning point for Bob Davie and his football coaching future at Notre Dame occurred with this season's Texas A&M game.

Kevin White, who fired Davie after the first year of a new five-year contract given almost exactly one year ago, may have notified the Rev. Monk Malloy of his recommendation only on Sunday morning at 8 a.m.; but Davie was on record that the five-year pact didn't mean five years of security when White visited him the day after the 24-3 loss at College Station, Tex., on Sept. 29.

 The Irish offense looked pitiable that day. Only 70 yards rushing, three interceptions and a loss that marked the first time in its history that Notre Dame opened a season 0-3. Nevertheless, it was a startling revelation when Davie said Sunday that White had visited him and told him his job was in jeopardy only three games into this season.

It was a secret that Davie apparently kept to himself all year.

It was not uncommon for White and Davie to meet regularly. During the season, White always attended Davie's Sunday 1 p.m. news conference. And usually after that, the two would sit down and talk about the previous week, including Saturday's game. On Monday morning, the two would meet again and talk about the current week's preparations, according to both White and Davie.

 The meeting between White and Davie on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 30 was particularly ominous from Davie's point of view.

 "After the Texas A&M game on Sunday, we had struggled badly," recalled Davie. "Everyone saw that. Kevin and I met and Kevin said that we would stay the course until the open date. At that time, he would make a decision on whether we would continue or whether we would sever our relationship.

"Obviously, I was displeased with that.

"The next day, on Monday, Kevin changed and said, ‘We'll finish out the season and you'll be evaluated at the end of the season.

"So from the Texas A&M game on, obviously I knew what the hurdle would be for this football team and its coaching staff."

It was a hurdle that Davie couldn't climb. His team came back and won three straight against teams with losing records, but then lost to Boston College, Tennessee and Stanford—all three games the Irish could have won.

At his news conference Sunday following White's, Davie said he wasn't bitter over the turn of events, but he did make clear he had a difference of opinion over the reason offered by White for his dismissal and said he was leaving "with my head held high.".

"This morning when Kevin White fired me," Davie said, "I asked him why and he said we lost credibility. Certainly, that's his prerogative. I guess everybody has their own definition of credibility."

Davie's definition of credibility is the commitment he said he gave last December in signing the five-year pact and doing things "completely the way I was asked to do it.

"I am in no way bitter," Davie said. "No way will I have a chip on my shoulder as I leave Notre Dame. I am not the least bit embarrassed.

"In fact, I'll walk out of here with my head held high and am really proud of what we have done."

He may say he is not bitter; but the separation is clearly complete. Alan Tieuli, managing editor of IrishEyes, remarked that Sunday's news conference at which Davie appeared wearing a black sweater and casual street clothes was the first time Davie was seen on campus not wearing a coat and tie or clothing with the ND monogram.

Also, what was to be the 82nd Annual Football Banquet, scheduled for Friday, has been cancelled, IrishEyes has learned.  There may be an internal event with Davie, his assistants and the team; but it won't be public. Recruits who had planned on taking their official recruiting visit this weekend will be dissuaded from doing so and asked to reschedule for a weekend in January. 

MVPs and other awards will still be announced.

Davie opened his news conference explicity thanking Mike Wadsworth and the Rev. William Beauchamp, the now-deposed, former heads of the athletic department who hired him. Noticeably lacking was any appreciation expressed to Malloy or White.

Davie says he won't only walk away with his head held high; but he will walk away with a buyout. Details are not available but White said unequivocally that the university will "uphold the financial commitment of the contract. That's the university's responsibility and they will meet that responsibility."

Davie talked with confidence when he met the assembled media for the last time at Notre Dame. He said he believed his greatest achievement as coach was the "no-quit" in his teams, which he said was exemplified by the win Saturday over Purdue.

"A football team takes on your personality and if you look at our football team, it's a football team that never, ever, ever gave up," Davie said. He said when he spoke to his players Sunday, he again apologized to them.

"To be quite honest, after the Texas A&M game, it really has been a feeding frenzy," Davie said. "I felt they deserved better."

 Davie said he will support his successor "100 percent." He said when he met with his players Sunday after being fired by White, he told them to do their best and go out and win: to begin work immediately in the weight room; work on academics in advance of exams and not think about transferring.

"I don't want one player leaving this program, period," Davie said, "because a part of me and a part of this staff will always be on that field with these guys. And they can do me one final favor and that's go out next year and have one heck of a year.

"So, I'm going to totally support whoever comes in here because I have a lot invested in this football team."

Davie said he didn't know what his plans are right now, but "Let's face it, I'm a football coach. I'd go coach the nose guards at Slippery Rock and be happy. I think I've got a lot of juice left."

He said if he were to do anything differently, he would listen to the advise Ara Parseghian gave him when he first took the head coaching job five years ago.

"There are a lot of things to worry about," Davie quoted Parseghian as saying, "but only worry about one thing, and that's winning."

Davie knew that coming in, but didn't learn the depth of it until going out.

During his five years, his team was ranked  for only four weeks in the Top 10. His record against Top 10 teams was 1-7; against Top 20 teams, it was 3-15.

Davie was a true friend to IrishEyes in its early days, and he always treated IrishEyes fairly; and as we observed it, he treated the whole media fairly.

 We wish him and his family the absolute best.

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