CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Former NFL coach Butch Davis will return to the sidelines as coach at North Carolina, which is 1-9 and hasn't beaten a Division I-A team this season.
He will replace the fired John Bunting, the school said Monday. The hiring had been widely expected the past week after Davis' name rose to the top of the list of candidates.
Davis, who will turn 55 on Friday, brings a reputation for orchestrating turnarounds -- which is just what the struggling Tar Heels need. North Carolina ranks among the worst offenses and defenses in the country.
"Butch Davis became our first choice early in the process, although we did not know of his interest in us," athletic director Dick Baddour said. "We were excited to learn of his interest in Carolina and our football program and proceeded from that point. He's a first-class individual who is committed to preparing his student-athletes for success in all aspects of their lives."
Davis coached the Miami Hurricanes from 1995-2000, compiling a 51-20 record before leaving for the NFL's Cleveland Browns and leaving behind the players with whom Larry Coker won the national title in 2001. He went 24-35 with the Browns before resigning in 2004 and has worked the past two seasons in broadcasting.
School officials said Davis agreed in principle last week to take the job. Terms were unavailable and the contract will be released once the school's trustees approve it.
Baddour said none of the key figures involved in the hiring would be available for additional comment until Davis is formally introduced as coach on Nov. 27, two days after the Tar Heels play Duke in their season finale.
"The timing of my decision to consider coaching opportunities and the opening at UNC seemed to intersect perfectly," Davis said. "Dick Baddour made my introduction to Carolina happen in a well-planned, well-organized manner and did an outstanding job of presenting the virtues of UNC -- its people, its strong commitment to both academics and athletics as well as the exciting, active part it plays in the community. Obviously, he succeeded."
The announcement came 22 days after Bunting was fired following an embarrassing shutout loss at Virginia.
Almost immediately, speculation centered on Davis, and so did the school's search. Davis spoke of his desire to return to coaching but didn't specify which jobs interested him. Last week, media reports linked Davis to the North Carolina opening.
"I am very impressed with Butch Davis' record as both an outstanding coach and strong advocate of academic performance," university chancellor James Moeser said. "My own personal interaction with Butch, supported by all of my conversations with faculty and administrators who have known him over the years, confirmed the view that he has the values and commitments we care about most at Carolina."
Davis is the third football coach hired by Baddour in the past decade. Baddour promoted Carl Torbush when Mack Brown left for Texas in 1997 and then fired Torbush and hired Bunting in 2000.
Bunting is 25-45 in his sixth season as the coach at his alma mater and hasn't had a winning season since his first team went 8-5 in 2001 and beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Bunting is owed $286,200 a year through the 2009 season.