Davis Quits Miami to Coach Browns

Butch Davis rebuilt a once-proud football program in shambles at the University of Miami. Now, he'll have a chance to do the same thing for the Cleveland Browns.

Davis, who in six years brought the Hurricanes back from ruin to national title contenders, resigned Monday to become head coach of the Browns.

Davis will be introduced today at the club's suburban training facility, Browns president Carmen Policy said.

Deal Could Be Worth $15 Million

The Browns have been looking for a coach since Jan. 11, when they fired Chris Palmer after a disturbing and injury-ravaged 3-13 season.

Davis' agent, Marvin Demoff, said after arriving in Cleveland that his client had not yet signed a contract with the Browns but the sides were "in serious discussions. It's pretty close."

An NFL source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Davis was seeking a five-year deal in the $13-15 million range.

Kansas City recently signed Dick Vermeil to a comparable three-year, $10 million contract.

"He's a solid coach and a great pick," said Browns guard Jim Pyne. "He's a high-energy guy who has a lot of enthusiasm and fire. He's a tough disciplinarian and that can only help a young team. I'm really happy he's coming."

Davis Turned Around Miami

The Browns had one of the league's youngest rosters last season, and Policy had hoped to hire a coach who could relate to young players. Davis was tough but popular with his teams at Miami.

For weeks, Davis denied he would leave Miami, where he inherited a program racked by scandal and under NCAA sanctions in 1995. He had been working on a contract extension with the university.

The Browns also denied having had a secret meeting with Davis in Florida.

But something made Davis change his mind about Cleveland, and money could be one of the biggest reasons.

Davis' contract with Miami paid him $900,000 annually and the school's new five-year offer was said to be worth about $1.3 million a year.

Palmer made about $1 million a year with Cleveland and, when he was dismissed, the team made it clear that billionaire owner Al Lerner wanted to pay him for the three remaining years on his contract and then some.

Davis told the Hurricanes' players of his decision Monday morning. His departure comes at a difficult time for the school with just one week left before the end of the college signing period.

"I'm disappointed," said Miami athletic director Paul Dee. "I think coach Davis had a lot to give UM and I'm pleased at the success we had."

Coker Replaces Davis in Miami

Dee chose offensive coordinator Larry Coker as interim head coach.

Just last week, the Browns said they were focusing their search on NFL assistants, all but ruling out the possibility of hiring Davis, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops or Washington coach Rick Neuheisel.

Lerner even shot down reports Davis was coming to Cleveland, saying, "There is no Butch Davis."

Well, he's now the Browns' 10th full-time coach in club history and second in three years.

The 49-year-old Davis, who interviewed for the expansion Houston Texans' head coaching job, had reportedly lost interest in pursuing a job with the Browns because he would not have full control of football operations in Cleveland.

Dwight Clark is in charge of personnel decisions with the Browns, but Davis' hiring could indicate a reshuffling in the team's front office.

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