Passan: Bye-Bye Butch

A veteran columnist has parting words for the Browns ex-head coach...

Butch Davis was a lot of things, but I never thought of him as a quitter.

Davis surprisingly quit Tuesday. It is being called a resignation. But the Browns' coach quit – on his team, his owner, the city of Cleveland and himself.

And he had no one to blame but himself. He came in here and completely revamped the organization. He was the one who came in and created this mess.

In his statement of resignation, he cited the "intense pressure and scrutiny" that caused "considerable turmoil and distraction within the team, coaching staff and organization that had an adverse effect on the team."

Hey, Butch, maybe it was your team's 3-8 record that caused the turmoil, intense pressure, scrutiny and distraction. Everything else kind of fell into place.

The media carping, the fans crying for your job. Comes with the territory when you hang up a 24-36 record.

But quitting? Cowardly.

Not even Bill Belichick quit when he was under much more intense scrutiny nine years ago. A ton more.

Belichick alienated most of the media and the fan base with his sour personality not long after his arrival in 1991. The media and fan base responded accordingly.

But the disliked Belichick hung in there even after owner Art Modell midway through the 1995 season publicly announced his intention of moving the Browns to Baltimore.

Eight games remained. The Browns, in the blink of an eye, became a lame-duck franchise. Attendance dwindled. Advertising signs at the old Stadium were blacked out. It was almost surreal.

But Belichick endured. He did not quit. He did not let his team quit.

The Browns won only one of those remaining eight games in 1995, but were competitive in a majority of them.

Davis owed it to his team to stay the course. Finish this season. If you're going to go, do so with your head held high. Instead, he slinks out of town.

In his statement, Davis says his "future is clear for the moment." He later went on to say he has "no immediate plans to stay in coaching."

If you believe all that, you'll believe anything.

Look for Davis to chase the head coaching job at the University of Florida. If he had finished the season here, his chances of landing that job would have been dramatically reduced.

No one knows exactly what snapped and pushed Davis to resign Monday night. Maybe the folks at Florida told Davis to make a decision now or forget it.

He held his normal Monday news conference and co-hosted his television show that night. No signs there. He had to know all along what was going to happen.

Davis became his own worst enemy here. Coaching the Cleveland Browns is a difficult job. He had to know that when he arrived here in early 2001. The Browns compounded the situation by eventually letting him run the whole show.

If you want a power base, you had better be good at it running it. Davis wasn't.

As a player personnel man, his decisions have been suspect at best. As a coach, his teams have been consistently inconsistent. Mistakes plagued their progress.

Davis, in his statement, said he accepted responsibility for the mistakes the club made.  Why did it take nearly four years to elicit such a confession?

Whoever gets the thankless interim job will be placed in a no-win situation. No matter what he does – even if he wins out – he will not be the Browns' next head coach..

The players know this. It wouldn't be surprising to see them quit. After all, their coach did.


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