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UAB Fires Coach Mike Davis

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Competitive sports are all about one thing, and one thing only: “What have you done for me lately?”  Otherwise, 2011’s Conference USA’s Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year, Mike Davis, would not be looking for a job.

The Associated Press (according to Yahoo Sports) is reporting that University of Alabama-Birmingham has fired their head coach — Mike Davis — despite UAB winning 20 games last season and going to the NCAA tournament for the first time in UAB’s history.  But here seems to be the reason why, according to AP sports writer John Zenor:

A heavily depleted UAB team fell to 15-16 last season and lost six of its first seven games. The Blazers posted the same record in Davis’s first season, but followed that up with 23 victories to start the program’s first four-year run of 20-win seasons.

Zenor goes on to say that UAB returned only two starters from its 2010-11 squad; no other returning player averaged more than 3.9 points per game.  This makes it sound as if Davis was in a no-win scenario; he had a predominantly young team with little experience, and he knew he’d have a down year.  That UAB went 15-16 — one game below .500 — is a credit to Davis under the circumstances.

But Davis’s firing is odd in another sense; it seems that Davis is very well-known in Alabama.  Also from Zenor’s article (referenced above):

Davis, a Fayette, Ala., native, was the state’s Mr. Basketball and then played for the University of Alabama, where he was known for his tough, scrappy defense.

And then, this is the second time Davis has been fired by a major university for what seems to be questionable reasons; he famously took over at Indiana University after Bobby Knight, and spent six years as IU’s head coach under incredibly trying circumstances.

Davis had one year remaining on his $625,000 a year contract; his record as UAB’s head coach stands at 122 wins and 73 losses, which shows that overall, he was an outstanding coach for UAB.

I am sure Davis will find another job, but I have to say that UAB’s decision here doesn’t make much sense.  I doubt anyone would’ve done any better than Davis did with the players he had, and most would’ve done a great deal worse.

With regards to UAB’s perplexing decision, the only thing that comes to mind is the truism that “coaches are hired, only to be fired.”  And considering all Davis did for UAB’s basketball program, that is just not right.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 16, 2012 at 4:41 pm