By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) - Just a few days ago, Butch Davis (pictured, right) sat down for one of his typical meetings with Dwight Clark to discuss what was next for the Cleveland Browns.
They talked about the upcoming season, the start of this week's quarterback school and the restructuring of the club's pro personnel and college scouting departments.
Following a successful college draft and recent mini-camp, the future looked bright for both them and the Browns.
Little did Davis know that Clark had no intention of being a part of it. Clark resigned Monday following 3½ years as the Browns director of football operations.
"It really came as a surprise to me that that's the way it ended up happening," Davis said Wednesday in his first public comments since Clark left.
Davis had been at the NFL owners meetings in Houston when Clark quit, saying he no longer felt needed because the Browns coach had brought in Pete Garcia, Davis' former assistant at Miami, to do Clark's job.
Davis said he had urged Clark to stay with the Browns, and that they had a good working relationship during the coach's 15 months in Cleveland.
"We enjoyed each other's company," Davis said. "We spent countless hours watching film over the last two years getting ready for two drafts.
"We always had good dialogue about the team, players, pro personnel and the direction and vision of the team. On Friday, I told Dwight, 'I hope you're going to be a part of the future of the Cleveland Browns.' But evidently that did not transpire."
On Tuesday, Clark fingered Garcia as the reason behind his resignation.
Clark didn't name Garcia, simply referring to him as "Butch's right-hand man," but he made it clear that his role with the Browns had been diminished and he didn't want to watch someone else do the job he was hired for.
Asked if there was room for Clark and Garcia to coexist in the Browns hierarchy, Davis said, "Absolutely."
Clark declined to stay although he had been offered a reduced role in the organization. Davis said he was unaware of what Clark had been asked to do, and that most of those conversations had been between Clark and team president Carmen Policy.
"I'm not sure that there would have been an enormous diminishing title or responsibilities than they had been the previous three years," Davis said.
Davis also addressed Clark's view that with Garcia around, he didn't need to be with the Browns.
Davis said he didn't intentionally slight Clark, but that it was a matter of being more comfortable with Garcia, who began working at Miami in 1990 under Dennis Erickson and came to Cleveland shortly after Davis was hired.
"I've got seven years of wars and battles of NCAA sanctions and probations and every imaginable fight with Pete," Davis said. "I value Pete's input and the things he says."
Davis went to great lengths to clarify his background with Garcia, who spent six seasons working for the coach at Miami. Davis also denied Internet reports that Garcia had executed a power play to stay with the Browns.
"That's not true," Davis said. "Pete would never leverage. But there will be times where we'll have to fight to keep him."
Davis said Garcia, 40, will have a more prominent role in the Browns' scouting department and that while most of the work Garcia did last season was internal, he would be more visible in the future.
"He's almost like smoke," Davis said of Garcia, whose title of assistant coach/football development won't change. "He's not in it for the ego. He wants this team to win in whatever role. He's not in it for the titles."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)