Owner discussed firing this week

Butch Davis is on the verge of being fired as coach of the Cleveland Browns, league and team sources said Monday. Davis' job status was the subject of discussion Sunday night by Browns owner Randy Lerner after the team lost 10-7 to the New York Jets earlier in the day, the sources said. It was the fourth straight defeat for Cleveland (3-7).

Lerner contemplated dismissing Davis on Monday but decided to give the Browns another week to show signs of life. The Browns play the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday, and the sources agreed that a defeat likely would result in the coach's dismissal. It is believed Browns defensive coordinator Dave Campo would be the interim coach, although offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie has served previously as an interim head coach with the Washington Redskins.

Neither Lerner or Davis was available for comment Monday night.

Lerner has been committed to restructuring the football operations of the organization, which would include the hiring of a general manager. Davis currently has the authority for all football decisions.

Davis, 52, is in his fourth season as the Browns coach. He inherited an expansion team that was 5-27 under its first coach, Chris Palmer. Davis' career record is 23-35, including a playoff season in 2002. However, the Browns have been a franchise marked by numerous injuries to players, poor drafts and player development, significant turnover in the front office and the death of owner Al Lerner.

Lerner's son, Randy, actually signed Davis to a two-year contract extension before the 2004 season got underway, through the 2007 season.

"Randy Lerner is pretty determined to start over and get this thing fixed," a league source said.

If Davis is fired soon, it wouldn't surprise some of his friends if he pursued the vacant University of Florida job. Davis restored the University of Miami program to national prominence after being named the Hurricane coach in 1995.