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Browns Hire Davis After About-Face

From Associated Press

Butch Davis rebuilt a once-proud football program 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 the Browns’ coach.

Davis will be introduced today at the club’s suburban training facility, President Carmen Policy said.

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

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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,” he said.

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

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

For weeks, Davis denied he would leave Miami, where he had been working on a contract extension with the university. The Browns also denied having 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.

Davis told the Hurricanes’ players of his decision Monday morning. His departure comes with only one week remaining before the end of the college signing period.

“I’m disappointed,” Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee said. “I think Coach Davis had a lot to give UM and I’m pleased at the success we had.”

Dee chose offensive coordinator Larry Coker as interim head coach.

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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.

Owner Al Lerner even shot down reports Davis was coming to Cleveland, saying, “There is no Butch Davis.”

Davis, 49, reportedly had 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 front-office reshuffling.

“He’s a solid coach and a great pick,” Cleveland guard Jim Pyne said. “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.”

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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.


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