North Carolina coach Butch Davis lashed out at former associate head coach John Blake today saying he was sorry that he trusted Blake and that he would have fired him if he had known about Blake's financial ties to NFL agent Gary Wichard.
Attorneys for Blake told The News & Observer and Charlotte Observer last week that he accepted payments from Wichard before working at UNC. Blake resigned on Sept. 5 after three seasons and one game as the Tar Heels' top assistant and recruiting coordinator.
On Sunday, Yahoo! Sports and ESPN reported that Blake contacted Alabama's Marcell Dareus and South Carolina's Weslye Saunders in an attempt to get them to sign with Wichard. Thirteen players with a connection to Blake have signed with Wichard, including former UNC defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer.
Davis who has not spoken extensively about Blake since the agent-related NCAA investigation began in mid-July, apologized for Blake's role in the on-going turmoil at UNC.
"Let me tell you, here's how I feel: I am very sorry that all of this stuff has tainted the football program," Davis said. "And as the head football coach, I take a tremendous amount of responsibility for all of the football-related issues. I'm the head guy.
"I'm sorry that it has affected the football program. But I'm going to tell you what I'm more sorry about, I'm sorry that I trusted John Blake."
The relationship between Davis and Blake goes back more than 30 years. Davis taught Blake in high school in Oklahoma in the late 1970s. The two then worked together on the same coaching staff with the Dallas Cowboys in the mid-1990s.
One of the first hires Davis made when he took over for John Bunting in Nov. 2006 was Blake, then an assistant at Nebraska.
Blake worked on staffs at Oklahoma and Mississippi State that committed major NCAA violations but has not been personally tied to those transgressions.
Davis has recently said there were no "red flags" when Blake was hired from the NCAA or by anyone at UNC who vetted Blake before he was hired in Jan. 2007.
Davis said he did not know which allegations against Blake were true and said he did not know of Blake's private dealings while he was an assistant at UNC.
"I can promise you and tell you, that if we would've ever known that if any of these allegations were absolutely true, coach Blake would have been dismissed," Davis said. "I would have fired him."