He's starting over. At age 61.
But Greg Davis' motor is running as fast as it did when he first took an assistant coaching job at Barbe High School in Louisiana in 1973. He's still among the first to arrive at the office every morning after a quick, 14-mile drive from his new home. His voice rises when he discusses the potential of his fifth-year senior at quarterback, whom he regards as a "bigger Major Applewhite."
Actually he's starting up where he abruptly left off a year and a half ago, after 38 seasons of coaching.
Davis — who was a polarizing figure as Mack Brown's offensive coordinator for 13 years, through the 2010 season — has returned to college football, where he belongs, even though he has changed jobs, donated many of his burnt orange clothes to neighbors and moved to a place so cold that his school played its spring game a year ago on a field covered by snow.
Texas fans no longer have Greg Davis to kick around. The Iowa Hawkeyes can do that if they like when he starts calling plays in the Big Ten and lining up what has been perceived as a stodgy Iowa offense in an empty backfield and working his no-huddle magic.
Davis is back home in a football environment even though he's a thousand-plus miles from Austin. But he's content with his station in life, an invigorated, transplanted Texan who quickly shook off the disappointment of his firing after a highly successful run with the Longhorns punctuated by one really horrific season at the end.
For a year, he considered other offers, taught clinics for Auburn's Gene Chizik and Florida's Will Muschamp and talked with the Houston Texans' Gary Kubiak about a position but decided to spend most of his time with his wife, Patsy, and their three grandchildren in the Dallas area.
Finally, in February, he accepted a new job for the first time since he arrived in Austin with Brown from North Carolina in 1998. Iowa's Kirk Ferentz had listened to sales pitches on Davis' behalf from Ferentz's previous offensive coordinator, Ken O'Keefe, and the Miami Dolphins' new head coach, Joe Philbin, who was a graduate assistant under Davis at Tulane. Philbin also discussed hiring Davis before adding Mike Sherman and O'Keefe to his Dolphins staff.
But Davis is happy where he is. Life goes on.
Surely he was angry and bitter when he was forced out at Texas?
"No, I wasn't bitter," he said in an hourlong telephone interview this week. "I've been in the business forever, and I think age has a way of being a great life teacher. When you're at a place, a great place like Texas, and things go less than anticipated, it's a tough deal. But at 59, 60, you kind of understand things from a different perspective."
Davis understood the backlash from a 5-7 season. Records like that in Austin demand scapegoats, and Davis was handy.
He told Brown he would offer his letter of resignation if Brown felt that was best for the program, and just like that, an umbilical cord between two men who had worked together for almost two decades at Tulane, North Carolina and Texas was severed.
But there are no hard feelings, Davis adamantly insists. Brown even left a long phone message on Davis' behalf on Ferentz's machine and texted his congratulations to Davis.
Davis gets it.
"I was not shocked," he said. "You just know that when things don't go good, where the responsibility falls. When I got in this, I realized offensive coordinator was somewhat of a lightning rod position.
"When I put up the whistle forever, Texas will obviously be one of the highlights of my coaching career. To be able to be at the state school where you grew up, to become friends with Darrell Royal, whom you idolized as a young coach, and to be able to coach athletes that we had, it was an absolute ball. I woke up every morning excited."
He still does. He's energized by working on a new staff with an offense that prides itself on being physical. Ferentz knows Davis already has a good idea of how to beat Nebraska.
He's got more tight ends than he knows what to do with — including one who is 6 feet 7 inches and 270 pounds and reminds him of the Bo Scaife and David Thomas mold — and a "brilliant" 6-3, 215-pound quarterback, James Vandenberg, who isn't fast but can extend plays and "will have a chance in the NFL."
Even though many Longhorn fans regularly railed on Davis, it says here that he was hugely successful at Texas and smartly adjusted his offense to his ever-changing personnel.
He ran the two-back with Heisman tailback Ricky Williams. He let sharp quarterbacks such as Chris Simms and Applewhite call plays at the line of scrimmage. He incorporated the zone read when Vince Young matured, even though no one on Brown's staff had ever run that offense before. And he relied on the short passing game with the incredibly savvy and record-breakingly accurate Colt McCoy.
Yes, Davis was maligned — in this space and elsewhere — for being too predictable and conservative, especially against Oklahoma. But he said if he had it to do over again in 2010, he would have pulled back even more.
"I think with the talent we had at the time, we should have become even more conservative," Davis said.
That should send Longhorn fans howling. But Davis has been one of the most professional and hardworking coaches Texas has ever had. He never complained, and he'll recall his time at Texas this way: "It's not the flat tires you remember. It's the getting to the theme park and having fun."
His roller coaster ride now takes him to a state that has no major professional sports and worships its Hawkeyes. Ferentz wants Davis to spice up an Iowa offense that ranked 76th nationally last season but isn't as run-happy as most would assume, given Iowa's 53-47 run-pass play ratio.
Don't expect the Hawkeyes to stay in a five-wide lineup very often — in fact, speed at wide receiver might be their one glaring weakness — but they will operate out of the shotgun some and employ elements of the same no-huddle, up-tempo, two-minute offense that was wildly effective at Texas until it wasn't.
The situation couldn't be more promising for Davis. His contract calls for only one year, no different from when he was in Austin, although wife Patsy jokes that he'll coach "until he dies."
In the meantime, he revels in the fact that it was 88 degrees Wednesday and has snowed only 2 inches since he arrived in February. He's enjoying it all, even his new black-and-gold wardrobe.
"It's trimming," he said.