Southeast Texans go Outback: Iowa’s Davis familiar with Florida’s Barbay
Published 11:36 pm Saturday, December 17, 2016
There is a good reason why football fans in Southeast Texas should pay attention to the Outback Bowl on Jan. 2.
The No. 17 Florida Gators take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay. It pits two guys with Southeast Texas ties in Florida assistant director of player personnel Kevin Barbay and Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis.
Barbay is a former Nederland quarterback and Lamar wide receivers coach. Davis is a 1969 graduate of Port Neches-Groves, where he was a two-year starting quarterback.
“I have known the Barbay family for many years dating back to Curtis, who was head coach over at Newton,” Davis said. “I have visited with Kevin and we have shared thoughts. It’s nice to have someone you can relate to in the coaching ranks. Any time you can have a guy from your neck of the woods, it is only natural to keep up with them. You know their history and their background.”
Barbay was unavailable for comment due to Florida rules preventing staffers other than coach Jim McElwain to speak with members of the press.
Davis’ history continues to grow at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 8-4 this season and finished second in the Big Ten West division. This comes after a 12-0 regular season last year that earned the Hawkeyes a trip to the Rose Bowl. Michigan State defeated Iowa in the last seconds of the Big Ten championship.
Iowa’s offense averaged 30.9 points and 386.1 yards per game in 2015.
“Iowa has been an awesome experience for me,” Davis said. “Before this job, all my coaching had been in the South.”
Davis’ career spans over 40 years with stops at Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Arkansas, Tulane, Texas A&M, PNG and Barbe High School in Lake Charles.
There has been one big change Davis had to get used to, working outside the South, and it has nothing to do with football.
“You find out real quick you need a bigger coat,” Davis said with a laugh. “The biggest adjustment is the weather.”
Davis said the weather in Iowa has changed the way he calls some games. There have been games when he has called plays in temperatures in the teens with wind gusts near 40 miles an hour.
He has also had the chance now to work with some of the biggest names in college football history.
Mack Brown was head coach at Texas when Davis was offensive coordinator. The two played for two national championships and won it all in 2005 with Vince Young at quarterback.
The Texas offense had a record-breaking season in 2005 and Davis recognized for his efforts with the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach.
Texas’ 652 points were the most scored in NCAA history and it also set a school record with 6,657 yards.
Davis now works under Kirk Ferentz who has been the head coach at Iowa since 1999.
There are, of course, different styles going from Texas to Iowa and from Big 12 to the Big Ten. Davis knew better than to try and stay the same from one place to the other.
“Coaching is not going in and saying: ‘This is my scheme and we are going to do it this way,’” Davis said. “Here at Iowa, we have tight ends and linemen galore. We don’t have those explosive players at every position like you have when at Texas. There is a transition.”
Davis told the stories of when he was recruiting Young and then a couple of years later sitting in the home of Colt McCoy.
“Vince’s mother said I was known for being a drop-back quarterback guy and Vince needed to use his legs to make plays,” Davis said. “I told her there had to be a trust that we will do things to give us the best chance to win. Of course, that meant using Vince’s running abilities. A few years later I was sitting in Colt’s living room with his mother and she said I was known for being a zone-read guy and that Colt was better at throwing the ball. So in a matter of a few years the perception of what we did at Texas had changed.”
What has not changed is Davis’ love for his alma mater, PNG. He visits with Indians’ coach Brandon Faircloth when he is in town and enjoys keeping up with the PNG seasons.
“We hold Coach Davis in the highest regard,” Faircloth said. “He is not only an amazing coach but a great alumni. He has met multiple times with our coaches and he has an open-door policy wherever he goes. We are big Iowa Hawkeye fans here at PNG.”
Davis said he does not have to wait long after Indians’ games to find out results. He knew about PNG’s win over Nederland this year and congratulated the entire school for the team’s success this season.
“My mother always texts me the results of PNG games,” Davis said. “I have a great love for that area. Those high schools are always at the top of athletics in the state of Texas. Coach Faircloth is a guy I know and I have great respect for him. I always try to stop and have a cup of coffee with him when I am in town. The relationship is both ways because he sent me a text this year after our win against Michigan.”
Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe