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Bill Davis, former Adrian football coach, Michigan State assistant, dies at 81

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

William "Bill" C. Davis, who was head coach of Adrian College football for five seasons and later was an assistant coach at Michigan State, has died. He was 81.

Davis died at home in southwest Florida after battling Alzheimer's disease.

Davis played quarterback and defensive back at Mount Union in Ohio before he began his coaching career, first at a high school in Ohio, then at Westminster College in Pennsylvania.

Bill Davis coached Adrian football from 1968-72.

He arrived at Adrian College in 1968 — taking over for Charles Marvin, who stayed on as baseball coach — and coached through 1972, compiling a record of 20-24.

After leaving Adrian, Davis moved to Michigan State, where he coached offensive backs under head coach Denny Stolz for three seasons. His second season, the Spartans finished 7-3-1 and ranked 12th in the nation. Charlie Baggett was Michigan State's quarterback during Davis' three years in East Lansing.

A player-recruiting scandal landed MSU on probation and cost Stolz his job after three seasons, and with him went his staff, including Davis.

That's when Davis made the leap to the NFL, coaching linebackers, tight ends and special teams for the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons. Then Davis moved into a front-office career, first as director of pro personnel with the Miami Dolphins, then vice president of player personnel with the Cleveland Browns (they made three playoff appearances in his six years) and then the Eagles (three straight playoff appearances).

During his career, he had rosters that featured 30 Pro Bowl selections, four division titles and seven playoff appearances. In Cleveland, he drafted quarterback Bernie Kosar.

He retired following the 1990 season.

Davis' son, Billy, is a longtime NFL coach who currently is the linebackers coach with the Arizona Cardinals.

Davis also is survived by wife Joanne, another son, Bret, and a daughter, Diane.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984