Ruston sportswriter and editor chronicles region’s stars, schools
Though O.K. “Buddy” Davis never scored a touchdown, made a tackle, swung a bat or pulled down a rebound, his prominent place in the history of north Louisiana sports is secure. As the executive sports editor of the Ruston Daily Leader, Davis has worked tirelessly to bring national attention to athletes competing at high schools and universities in the piney hills of Lincoln Parish. More than 50 years into an award-winning career, Davis continues to earn praise from athletes, coaches and administrators for his dedication to the region’s teams.
“Buddy Davis is a walking, talking, breathing history of the past five decades of athletics in north Louisiana,” said Louisiana Tech University Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Malcolm Butler. “His name is synonymous with the Bulldogs and the Lady Techsters, and we can never put a price tag on what he has meant to our athletics department.”
A nationally recognized writer, Davis could have departed for a major market years ago—yet the Ruston High and Louisiana Tech graduate remained in his hometown, where he forged enduring relationships at Louisiana Tech and Grambling State.
“I raised this man, this is my son,” legendary Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson told Sports Illustrated in 1996.
“It’s really kind of hard to explain what Buddy means to Grambling,” said Doug Williams, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback who starred with the Tigers in the 1970s and later served two stints as Grambling’s head coach. As a player and as a coach, I know that if anyone in Grambling athletics ever needed some positive words, you could count on Buddy. There are so many Grambling athletes who rose to great heights, largely because of the words Buddy wrote about them.
“Both Tech and Grambling owe him tremendously.”
Since joining the Leader as a high school student, Davis has covered two major league All-Star games; an NBA All-Star game; an NCAA men’s Final Four; a BCS national title game; 12 Super Bowls; three NCAA outdoor track championships and two Pro Football Hall of Fame; the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich and the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. He serves as a member of the Heisman Trophy selection committee, Wooden Award committee, Football Writers Association of America All-American committee and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame selection committee. His coverage of the Lady Techsters’ basketball program includes all four of the team’s national championships since 1974. In 2009 the Louisiana Sports Writers Hall of Fame honored him with a Distinguished Service Award.
Among the highlights of his career, Davis recalled the remarkable performances of north Louisiana legends from Terry Bradshaw to Karl Malone to Teresa Weatherspoon.
“The most exciting moment I remember was the Bradshaw to (Ken) Liberto pass in 1968,” Davis said. “That’s without a doubt the most exciting moment involving Tech I’ve seen. But then you’ve got the back-to-back NCAA women’s titles in the early ’80s for the Lady Techsters when they were dominating—that was huge. And in the Grantland Rice Bowl when Terry was a senior, he solidified his No. 1 draft status as he made an incredible play where he escaped from five or six attempted tacklers and made a touchdown throw. That really wowed the scouts. It was on an icy, cold day in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, when he did that. That was one of those huge, all-time plays.”
Davis’ impact extends beyond athletics. Following the death of his friend and former Leader co-worker Mary Margaret Storey, Davis joined with Louisiana Tech Journalism Department Chair Reginald Owens to establish a lecture series in Storey’s name that brings national, regional and local experts to speak to journalism students at Louisiana Tech.
“Buddy came up with the idea of honoring her, and he was the primary force in raising funds to be able to make it happen,” Owens said. “He was determined to do something for his old friend to help remember her.”
In 2013 Davis was named the 2013 Louisiana Tech College of Liberal Arts Alumnus of the Year, and inducted to the Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.
“Buddy’s coverage of Louisiana Tech athletics and his detailed perspectives of our teams and student-athletes over the years has been nothing short of exceptional,” said current Tech president Les Guice. “He is a very special part of our community and does an outstanding job of telling the Louisiana Tech story.”
Despite a stroke in 2013, he still writes a weekly column and blog for the Ruston Daily Leader as well as occasionally contributing other stories.
“I’ve been able to make a career out of something I love doing,” Davis said. “Not everyone can say that. I’ve been fortunate enough to make so many wonderful friends over the years. I can’t imagine having done it anywhere else. Lincoln Parish is where I grew up and has such an incredibly rich tradition of excellence in sports. This is where I was meant to be and what I was meant to do.”
—T. Scott Boatright