In terms of wins and losses, the impact felt from North Carolina’s abrupt firing of Coach Butch Davis on Wednesday will be minimal from Virginia Tech’s perspective. For all the bluster surrounding Davis’s hiring back in 2007, he won just one of his four games against the Hokies and never did capture an ACC Coastal Division crown.
The real ramifications, though, will come on the recruiting trail, where Davis proved during his four years on the job that he was more than capable of beating out Virginia Tech for top recruits despite his less-than-stellar record against the Hokies on the field.
For many Virginia Tech fans, that fact reached a fever pitch this past year when North Carolina grabbed two heralded recruits from the state of Virginia (four-star linebacker Travis Hughes and four star offensive lineman Landon Turner), an offensive lineman from a traditional Virginia Tech stronghold (four-star Kiaro Holts from Darren Evans’s high school alma mater in Indianapolis) and a top quarterback from the Charlotte area (four-star recruit Marquise Williams) – all of whom were also strongly considering Virginia Tech at the time.
According to Rivals.com, during Davis’s five recruiting cycles at North Carolina, he snagged 20 recruits that also held Virginia Tech offers. That includes two five-star recruits, 10 four-star recruits and five prospects from Virginia. In three of those five years, Rivals.com ranked the Tar Heels’ recruiting class ahead of Virginia Tech’s haul of recruits.
“It’s a tough profession,” Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer told Richmond’s WRN L radio when asked about Davis’s dismissal Wednesday. “I do know this — everybody wants a level playing field.”
While Beamer never publicly critiqued Davis during the year-long investigation into the North Carolina football program, he never did mention Davis by name leading up to the Hokies’ 26-10 win over the Tar Heels last November. Beamer, like most coaches, usually goes out of his way to praise an opposing coaching staff before Virginia Tech faces them.
But that’s not to say Virginia Tech wasn’t able to hold its own against the Tar Heels. In fact, considering it has become increasingly clear Davis’s staff was running roughshod over the NCAA rulebook, Beamer and company actually did quite well when dealing with North Carolina on the recruiting trail.
According to Rivals.com, the Hokies signed 18 recruits that also held an offer from the Tar Heels, including eight four-star recruits and three from North Carolina, during the Davis era in Chapel Hill.
Notable Virginia Tech signees that held North Carolina offers include linebacker Bruce Taylor, safety Eddie Whitley and wide receiver Dyrell Roberts (2008) as well as quarterback Logan Thomas and running back David Wilson (2009). The Tar Heels, meanwhile, got future contributors like wide receiver Dwight Jones and defensive tackle Tydreke Powell (2007), defensive end Robert Quinn (2008) and quarterback Bryn Renner (2009) over the Hokies.
So how does this affect the Hokies going forward? Well, it starts with the 2012 recruiting class. According to Rivals, one North Carolina oral commit – tight end Justin Meredith out of South Carolina – was also offered by Virginia Tech.
More importantly, though, several of Virginia Tech’s top remaining targets for 2012 were also strongly considering North Carolina before Davis’s dismissal. They include Washington area running back Wes Brown (Good Counsel) and defensive lineman Ken Ekanem (Centreville). Two other top in-state recruits – wide receiver Joel Caleb from the Richmond area and linebacker Trey Edmunds from Danville – were also considering both Virginia Tech and North Carolina, among other schools.
Perhaps the biggest ramifications could come when North Carolina hires a permanent replacement for Davis. Several outlets have suggested Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster could be a prime candidate for the job.
If that were to happen, though, it likely wouldn’t come until the 2011 college football season is over. During the news conference on Thursday to announce Davis’s firing, UNC Athletic Director Dick Baddour resigned and said the next Tar Heels head coach won’t be hired until a new athletic director is found. In addition, North Carolina chancellor Holden Thorp said an interim coach would be hired this week from within the Tar Heels current staff.
For Hokies supporters, though, the removal of Davis simply means a significant thorn has been removed from Virginia Tech’s collective side.
Below, you’ll find a complete list of all the players Virginia Tech and North Carolina battled over during the four years Davis was on the job.
UNC signees that held VT offers (Note: all star ratings are according to Rivals.com):
OT Kiaro Holts (IN) 4 star
OL Landon Turner (VA) 4 star
QB Marquise Williams (NC) 4 star
LB Travis Hughes (VA) 4 star
OL Russell Bodine (VA) 3 star
TE Ethan Farmer (NC) 3 star
DE Kareem Martin (NC) 3 star
OL Travis Bond (NC) 3 star
DB Josh Hunter (NC) 4 star
DE Donte Moss (NC) 5 star
LB Kevin Reddick (NC) 4 star
QB Bryn Renner (VA) 4 star
WR Todd Harrelson (VA 757) 3 star
LB Ebele Okakpu (GA) 3 star
DE Robert Quinn (SC) 4 star
ATH Christian Wilson (PA) 4 star
LB Albert Craddock (NC) 3 star
WR Dwight Jones (NC) 5 star
DL Tydreke Powell (NC) 4 star
RB Da-Norris Searcy (GA) 2 star
VT signees that held UNC offers:
DB Adeboye Aromire (DC) 3 stars
DL Kris Harley (IN) 4 star
TE Darius Redman (DC) 2 stars
DL Zack McCray (VA) 4 stars
OL Mark Shuman (VA) 4 stars
LB Telvion Clark (NC) 3 stars
DL J.R. Collins (VA) 3 stars
LB Tariq Edwards (SC) 3 stars
QB Logan Thomas (VA) 4 stars
DB Jerrodd Williams (SC) 4 stars
RB David Wilson (VA) 4 stars
WR Ben Barber (VA) 3 star
WR Marcus Davis (VA) 3 star
TE Randall Dunn (VA) 3 star
DE Leon Mackey (NC) 3 star
WR Dyrell Roberts (VA) 4 star
LB Bruce Taylor (SC) 4 star
DB Eddie Whitley (NC) 3 stars