Butch Davis adds experience to Bucs staff

The way Butch Davis sees it, his new role as special assistant to Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano is about filling in the gaps with his years of football knowledge and experience at every level in the game.

He will be everything from trusted sounding board to quality control specialist to talent evaluator to mentor.

You won’t see Davis on the field come kickoff. Most likely, he’ll be an observer from the press box on game day, sharing his thoughts with Schiano at halftime. But his insights and expertise from four decades as a head coach in high school, college and the NFL will be an integral part of the staff on a day-to-day basis.

Davis was introduced to the media Thursday afternoon at One Buc Place and fielded an array of questions about how the reunion with his friend and former defensive coordinator at the University of Miami came to be – and what specific ways he will contribute to the rebuilding process of the 4-12 Bucs.

Among the highlights:

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EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">• Davis said the Bucs will indeed be hiring a defensive coordinator, even though Schiano is a defensive-minded coach and Davis himself served as defensive coordinator for Jimmy Johnson’s Dallas Cowboys, earning a pair of Super Bowl Rings in 1993 and 1994.

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EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">• The University of North Carolina has given its blessing to Davis’ role with the Bucs. He’s still collecting on a $2.7 million buyout package through 2015 after being fired by the Tar Heels this past summer amid an ongoing NCAA probe into rules violations, though Davis himself was not implicated in the investigation.

“I’ve discussed with Carolina’s administration this particular role and they are very comfortable with the arrangement and the roles I’m going to play within this organization,” he said.

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EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">• He has no timetable for how long he’ll be in his new job.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, and I’m committed to helping this team win a Super Bowl as quick and fast as possible,” he said. “I’m not putting any pressure on Greg or any of that kind of stuff. Every job is a process, and there are certain things you’ve got to accomplish as you build your team. As we’ve talked about it, you never know – this could be 10 years.”

Davis rebuilt Miami into a powerhouse, going 51-20 from 1995-2000, including a No. 2 national ranking his final season. He parlayed that into a job as head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 2001-04, being fired after a 24-34 mark. Then came his tenure as head coach of at UNC, amassing a record of 28-23.

Now comes his new challenge away from the field, uninvolved with Xs and Os.

On the overall opportunity to join the Bucs

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano. … My relationship with Greg goes back to our days at the University of Miami. A lot of people said, ‘Why would you want to come do something like this with Greg?’ And the thing I’ve continually said is that Greg is one of the best football coaches and the best men that I’ve ever had the chance to work with. He’s smart, he’s a very, very good football coach, but he’s also a better person. And our years together at Miami, sometimes when you coach with people you just hit it off naturally – the relationship builds, the trust. And I’ve had a great deal of admiration for what Greg was able to at Rutgers. He’s done one of the finest jobs of building a football program of any coach I’ve seen over a long period of time.

“So, when Greg called and asked me would I have some interest in coming with him to Tampa Bay – that he was going to take the job the next day – we talked about how could I help. And I was honored and felt very privileged that Greg would consider me as somebody he thinks could come here and help him a great football team – and help Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl. We started talking about it that night, about the kind of things I could do. I’ve coached for 37 years … and Greg felt like, and I felt like, there were a lot of things I could help him with in the organization in a vast array of different ways: from personnel to combines to the draft. There are so many hats that Greg’s going to have to wear – and responsibilities – that anything he feels like he’d like me to help him do, that’s kind of the role I’m going to have.”

On how hard it will be not having a role with the players for a change

“I’ve been a head coach in high school, college and the National Football League, and there are a lot of ways you can help an organization win. From motivational things to ideas from the sounding board for Greg and the assistant coaches and the personnel departments. I’ve been a recruiting coordinator, so I spent a lot of time as a college coach evaluating talent and trying to find out who are the missing pieces and what players really, truly can make a difference in an organization. Hopefully those are a lot of the things I can bring.”

On whether this could become a transition to an executive level role

“I don’t know about the executive level, but I’ve had opportunities to work for the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive coordinator and position coach and then I went to the Cleveland Browns. I’ve got 10 years of experience in the NFL, and there are so many things within an organization that need attention to detail. And one person can’t do it all. This organization is blessed because they’ve got a good scouting staff and there’s a lot of pieces clearly in place. But any way I can help both Greg or Mark, that’s kind of what I want to try to do.”

On ways he can help Schiano with the transition from college to the pros

“The small pieces of advice that I’ve shared with Greg already is just be yourself. He’s already a terrific guy and a great football coach, so don’t go thinking you have to be somebody different than who you are. All the things that Greg believes in – trust and loyalty and surrounding yourself with good people – you can’t have enough good people in any organization. The better coaching staff you have, the better people you have around you, the better chance you’ve got for success. And clearly define exactly what’s going to be the culture of the environment. What’s going to be the vision of the team? What do you want this organization to look like two, three, four years down the line? And he’ll do that. He’s got an 11-year track record of affecting a program that I guarantee there weren’t five people in the world who said he should take the job – much less go there and do what he did.”

On whether he can offer advice to players and what he’s not allowed to do

“Obviously, I can’t go on the field. I’m not going to be in the meetings and actually teaching and coaching and hands on. I hope players in this organization come and maybe there’s things I can tell them about being a professional, watching film, having a great attitude, listen to your coaches – just being a mentor and a sounding board for those guys. But as far as actually going on the grass, that’s not my role.”

On whether there will be a defensive coordinator

“Absolutely. No question about it. Greg has great convictions about the things he’s learned, going back to his days at Penn State and the Chicago Bears, hopefully some of the things he’s learned at Miami, and in the last 11 years (at Rutgers). He’s got an idea of what he wants this defense to look like. And he’ll have five or six coaches who’ll help him implement it from a mentality standout and an identity standpoint, and it’ll have Greg Schiano’s thumbprint throughout. But a defensive coordinator is going to come and will help put the game plans together, and he’s going to be the guy who’s going to call it.”

On how he can help Schiano based on Davis’ experience with the Browns

“Going to Cleveland, it was two years removed from being an expansion franchise. And one of the things I’ve already shared with Greg is make sure you understand who you have on your football team before you start adding all the pieces. Sometimes you get the sense you’re like a kid in the candy store like I was in Cleveland – like, gosh, you need these guys from free agency. And sometimes you overvalue people. … Just have a devised plan that I’m sure Greg and Mark have talked long about, as far as ‘This is the way we want to build this team.'”

On how much of a role he’ll play in evaluating the roster and then in free agency and the draft

“I’m certain there’s going to be a lot of it. That’s something I look forward to – taking a look at the team, taking a look at the growth. I know it’s a very young football team. There’s an awful lot of very young, some very talented, players. So, I’m anxious to take a look at them and see where they are as far as physical abilities and what their potential upside might be.”