News Articles

Texas coach finds balance between football & faith

AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–When Greg Davis stands in the Cotton Bowl Jan. 1 at the 2003 Cotton Bowl Classic, calling plays for the Texas Longhorns against the LSU Tigers, the longtime college coach now in his fifth year as offensive coordinator knows he’s already called his most important play of all.

“My life will not be defined by football. It’s what I do, not who I am,” he said during an interview with BPSports.

Davis has traveled a long and twisting road from the Texas Golden Triangle to the heights of college football power. He has served as a Major college head coach and been fired as a head coach, seen his players win every award imaginable and tasted the heady air of college football glory.

But through it all, the longtime follower of Jesus Christ and active member of Anderson Road Baptist Church in Austin said he is determined to do the right thing on and off the field.

“I was talking with (head coach) R.C. Slocum not long after he was dismissed at Texas A&M and we both discussed how we are all in God’s hands and the outside influences are not going to ultimately decide our lives.

“Your faith definitely gives you a balance in the high pressured world we live in,” Davis said.

High pressure and the University of Texas seem to go hand and hand as the Longhorns seek to recapture the glory years under former head coach Darrell Royal more than 30 years ago.

This season, like 2001, Texas was supposed to have everything it needed to reach the top of the college football world. The Longhorns were ranked number one in the nation in some pre-season polls.

Both years, they suffered a defeat to their bitter rivals at the University of Oklahoma and this year added another loss to in-state foe Texas Tech. Davis absorbed much of the unjust criticism, even having a fans website devoted to supposed shortcomings.

But despite his good and bad times, Davis said his faith remains unshaken.

“You need your faith most, not after a big win, but after a big loss. I believe I was called to coach, just like people are called into the ministry. This is what God wants me to do.

“I’ve been fired before as a head coach (at Tulane) and there was a real sense of calm. You realize there is a plan for everyone’s life. I knew I was done there (New Orleans) and I was ready to move on to my next stop.”

His next two stops with UT head coach Mack Brown have been wildly successful in almost every way the college football world measures success. He helped lead North Carolina to back-to-back 10-win seasons with new offensive marks set and then accepted the challenge of joining Brown at Texas in 1998 as offensive coordinator.

Since then, he’s seen running back Ricky Williams win the Heisman trophy working out of the Davis offense and quarterback Major Applewhite win Big 12 offensive player of the year honors.

But despite the awards the world likes to give, Davis said it’s most important for his players to see his spiritual perspective on football matters.

“I think all coaches and players are role models to somebody. We’re all put in that responsibility, but not all role models are good ones. I can think of (Major) Applewhite who shared his faith in churches and banquets all over the country as a great role model.”

Davis said another responsibility major college coaches have today comes from the changing families from which they recruit.

“We’re seen as surrogate parents to a lot of these kids because a lot has changed over the last 30 years to the foundation of the family structure. I don’t think there is any question about that.”

The lifeblood of any major college program is recruiting, an often murky or value-free world, but Davis said it’s another area in which he has been challenged to live out his faith on the job.

“I think there are some parents, some but not all, who want their sons to play for a person of integrity and see that as a positive. Not all homes we go into are Christian ones, so you can’t hit people in the face with Christianity, but just have it there for people to see.”

Davis certainly had the advantage of a Christian environment growing up in the small Southeast Texas town of Port Neches.

“I played RA basketball when I was growing up and was involved in a lot of Christian activities at church. It was very natural to grow up in a Christian home and learn the value of scriptures and church at an early age.”

While playing high school football for the Port Neches Groves Warriors, he grew to respect and look up to his high school coaches and decided that was what he wanted to do with his life.

After attending McNeese State in Lake Charles, Louisiana, he just completed his third decade of high school and major college coaching, helping lead the Longhorns to their fifth consecutive bowl game.

“Coaches get too much credit when we win and probably take too much blame when we lose,” Davis said.

“I try to keep a balance in whatever I do and know the Lord is in control of it all.”

Sounds like a good play to call in any situation.

    About the Author

  • Art Stricklin