Cleveland Browns Head Coach Butch Davis Resigns

Browns Head Coach Butch Davis Resigns (DMN – AP)

Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis resigned Tuesday, leaving a last-place team with five games left in a season filled with costly injuries. The Browns (3-8) lost their fifth straight game on Sunday, 58-48 at Cincinnati. The team went 24-36 and made the playoffs just once in Davis’ four seasons as head coach. Davis left with three years remaining on a contract worth about $12 million. It wasn’t immediately clear if he agreed to a buyout. Browns president John Collins was to speak about the move at an afternoon news conference, team spokeswoman Lisa Levine said.

Offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie or defensive coordinator Dave Campo is expected to take over as interim coach for the Browns, who host the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on Sunday.

Pressure had been mounting on Davis for weeks as the Browns’ season crumbled with a score of injuries to key players and a handful of close losses. The Browns have 13 players on injured reserve, including six starters. Amid speculation last week that Davis was about to be fired, Collins said the coach would remain in place for the rest of the season – unless he resigned.

Davis, who helped restore the University of Miami’s program before joining the Browns in 2001, could be a candidate for the job opening at Florida.

Interesting. This makes sense from Davis’ perspective, since he would almost certainly be fired at year’s end and he could miss out on the Florida opening if he waited until then. Robiskie and Campo were both incredibly unsuccessful head coaches at Washington and Dallas, respectively, so I can’t imagine either will get the job on a permanent basis.

Update (0940): ESPN’s Chris Mortenson tells a different story–an includes a rather odd twist:

Players to help pick interim coach (ESPN)

Butch Davis is out as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Browns president John Collins said Tuesday morning that Davis had resigned after a Monday night meeting with club officials. But a source close to Davis told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that Davis was fired.

There has been no decision on a replacement, but Mortensen is reporting that team owner Randy Lerner intends to meet with a group of Browns players to discuss who will be selected as the interim coach. Offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie and defensive coordinator Dave Campo are the leading candidates to take over as the interim coach for the rest of the season.

Having the players vote is just insane. Not only does it become a popularity contest but it undermines the coordinator that doesn’t get the job. Of course, it’s unlikely that either coordinator would continue on under the new head coach next year.

And what a bonus for Davis: He gets out early enough to compete for a prime college gig and also, by getting fired rather than quitting, gets paid for the rest of his contract with the Browns.

Update (0948): Or maybe not. SI’s Don Banks reports that there was a buy-out deal arranged.

After spending most of Monday negotiating the terms of his departure after nearly four seasons with the team, the Cleveland Browns and head coach Butch Davis will part ways on Tuesday, league sources told In an early Tuesday morning meeting with his coaching staff, Davis confirmed the news to his assistants, informing them he would no longer be the Browns head coach within hours.

It is not clear yet whether the Browns will term Davis’ departure as a resignation or a termination, but the two sides spent Monday negotiating a buyout of the final three years remaining on Davis’ contract. The Associated Press is reporting that the head coach resigned on Tuesday. Davis was owed between $11 million and $12 million on a deal that extends through the 2007 season, but the two sides reached a buyout agreement that would pay Davis less than that figure, in exchange for allowing him to walk away from the Browns with five games remaining this season.

Update (1628): ESPN’s Len Pascquerelli makes note of something that has occured to me as well.

In the Jimmy Johnson coaching “tree,” a term they like to use in the NFL to trace lineage, Butch Davis is now the latest limb to be lopped off. The staff that Johnson assembled during his tenure with the Cowboys certainly was an impressive one, a group that contributed mightily to Dallas claiming a pair of Super Bowl titles during his five seasons there. But his protégés have been unable, at least at the NFL level, to emulate Johnson’s success.

In fact, Davis is now the second former Johnson assistant to be fired this year, following Dave Wannstedt’s departure from the Miami Dolphins earlier this month. Davis enjoyed great success at the college level, of course, resurrecting a scandal-ridden program at the University of Miami, where he compiled a 51-20 record. But in his nearly four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, Davis was just 24-36, and led the franchise to only one playoff berth.

Such failure has become, somewhat inexplicably, commonplace for the assistants who served under Johnson in the NFL and then became head coaches themselves. The cumulative record for the four former Johnson assistants who became head coaches is just 177-226-1, a .439 winning percentage.

The breakdown: Wannstedt, 84-90 with the Chicago Bears (1993-98) and the Dolphins (2000-2004); Norv Turner, 54-67-1 with the Washington Redskins (1994-2000); Butch Davis, 24-36 with the Cleveland Browns (2001-2004); and Dave Campo, 15-33 with the Cowboys (2000-2002).


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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Robert Slatt says:

    Butch Davis’s resignation is a long time coming. Davis seemed to be what Cleveland needed to get back into the playoffs but all we got was a lot of positive talk with negative results.
    Davis had 4 years to fix the weakest part of the Browns and that was the offensive line. He drafted a Center(Jeff Faine)and continued to fill the line gaps with 6th and 7th rounders. His comments in interviews insulted his own players. For example WR Dennis Northcutt. When Dennis wanted his contract re-negotiated in the final year Davis said he wouldn’t shell out money for a Punt Returner even though Dennis had been the leading receiver for the Browns that year.
    Davis’s hunger for power was another flaw. He ran Dwight Clark out of Cleveland and Carmen Policy knows a sinking ship when he sees one. That’s why Policy left.
    As a football fan I wish Butch Davis the best of luck wherever he winds up. He’s a good coach. But as a Cleveland Browns fan I must say that Butch’s time was up and we have to move on.

    Bye the way. When were Robiske and Campo ever sucessful? Robiske was a horrible choice as Redskin replacement coach and there’s a reason Campo isn’t the head coach of Dallas.

  2. Mark says:

    It does not really matter who the interim coach is, but this Browns fan would prefer Campo over Robiske.