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Matt Hayes (TSN)

 

He's a miracle worker, you know. Took a troubled program and righted all wrongs and set up the guy who followed him to win a national championship.

 Yep, a miracle worker. Did all that at a program that can't begin to dream of the advantages Butch Davis now has at North Carolina.

"There's a big difference, though," Davis says.

And here it is: players.

When Davis took over at Miami in the mid-1990s, the program had been rocked by Dennis Erickson's mismanagement and utter lack of discipline, and NCAA sanctions were on the way. It took a few years, but Davis' hard-line ways paid off with a team that should have played in the 2000 national title game, won the 2001 national title in Larry Coker's first season after Davis left for the NFL and was a play away from winning it all again in 2002.

That team had players from the get-go and was the Big East co-champion in Davis' first two seasons.

His inherited team at North Carolina has:

  • One scholarship tailback and all of seven carries -- six from a walk-on -- returning.

     

  • One quarterback returning. Last season, Cam Sexton completed 41.9 percent of his passes and threw four touchdown passes and eight interceptions.

     

  • One receiver with big-play potential and another who played quarterback at two schools in his previous three seasons.

     

  • Not a single defensive player who will scare anyone.

    And a whole lot of questions.

    "We're going to compete," says UNC quarterback-turned-wideout Joe Dailey. "But there is some reality involved."

    The reality is North Carolina's quarterback likely will be T.J. Yates, a redshirt freshman who missed two of his past three years of competition, or Mike Paulus, a freshman who will have all of one month to learn the offense.

    The reality is North Carolina is counting on two freshmen -- heralded tackle Marvin Austin and defensive back-turned-reality television star Greg Little (Summer House on ESPN) -- to give its defense some oomph.

    he reality is -- despite immaculate facilities, unwavering administrative support and renewed fan interest -- this team is far from what Davis inherited at Miami in 1995. The miracle worker has inherited a team that was a blocked extra-point attempt from losing to rival Duke -- one of two winless Division I teams in 2006.

    In other words, don't expect miracles. At least not yet.

    "If I know Butch, things will change quicker than you think," says new Miami coach Randy Shannon, who was Davis' linebackers coach for three seasons with the Hurricanes.

    The reality is things can't change quickly enough.

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