BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis resigned under pressure yesterday, leaving a last-place team with five games left in a sinking season filled with close losses and costly injuries.
The Browns dropped their fifth straight game Sunday, 58-48, at Cincinnati. The team went 24-36 and made the playoffs just once in Davis's four seasons as coach.
Davis left with three years remaining on a contract worth about $12 million. Browns president John Collins said the team worked out a financial buyout with Davis, but did not reveal details of the settlement.
Collins said he was surprised when Davis's agent, Marvin Demoff, informed the team Monday night of Davis's intention to resign.
"This was Butch's decision," said Collins. "I'm personally disappointed."
Collins said the Browns will immediately begin a search for a general manager before they hire a new coach.
Offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie will coach the Browns for the rest of the season. His first game won't be an easy one: The Browns host the Patriots Sunday.
"He picked a hell of a week to make this decision," joked Robiskie, who served as Washington's interim coach for three games in 2000 after the Redskins fired Norv Turner. "I'm not auditioning for the job. I just want to see the Cleveland Browns win."
Pressure had been mounting on Davis for weeks as the Browns' season crumbled with a score of injuries to key players and a handful of agonizing losses.
Things got so difficult for Davis and his family last week that he sent his wife and son to Florida to avoid all the attention.
The Browns, 3-8 this year and just 8-19 since the end of the 2002 season, have 13 players on injured reserve, including six starters. They continually came up short in tight games during Davis's tenure, and this season was no different as the team lost three games by a total of 13 points.
In a statement, Davis said "intense pressure and scrutiny" made the move necessary.
"I accept responsibility for the mistakes that we have made," Davis said, "but it was my and my staff's intention to do everything we could to lay the foundation and build a team that could win a Super Bowl. I hope that some of my decisions we have made will be a part of a brighter future for the Browns organization.
"My future is clear for the moment. I have no immediate plans to stay in coaching."
Amid speculation last week that Davis was about to be fired, Collins said the coach would remain in place for the rest of the season -- unless he resigned.
Davis, who helped restore the University of Miami's program before joining the Browns in 2001, could be a candidate for the coaching opening at Florida.
Davis fought back tears during a meeting as he told Cleveland's players he was leaving.
"I didn't expect him to be emotional like that," said fullback Terrelle Smith. "He opened up his heart to us. He told us the story about his family and that makes you feel bad. But life goes on. I hate to see him go."