He’s a proven linebackers coach and has led elite defenses as a coordinator. He has been successful recruiting South Florida and has ties to other parts of the country that could help him get talent to Gainesville. But his head coaching experience can also be beneficial to the rest of the coaching staff.
Shannon knows what goes into the job as the head coach at a major university after four years leading the Miami program. They didn’t go as planned and he was fired, but he still knows what is expected to be a head coach at a major program.
Jim McElwain has three years of head coaching experience, but since they came at Colorado State, he might face somewhat of a transition to a major program like Florida. That’s where Shannon can come in.
“When you‘re a head coach sometimes you get so many other outside responsibilities besides football,” Shannon said. “The biggest thing you always have to do that I’ve learned, just looking at the whole situation from watching, talking and being with Jimmy (Johnson), Butch (Davis) and Dennis (Erickson) and everybody, it’s more of making sure your team and your players always are taken care of first. Nothing else matters besides the players on this team. The players on the team and the support staff are most important.”
That’s what Shannon learned during his four seasons at Miami. His players loved to play for him because they could tell that Shannon and the rest of the staff truly cared about them. Multiple members of the Florida coaching staff mentioned the importance of the players knowing they care about them, and it appears they’ve made that a priority in the early days that the staff has been together in Gainesville.
“When it’s time to go out and recruit, it’s time to go out and recruit. But as we’re on the road recruiting, we have to make sure we’re still keep in contact with the players on this team,” Shannon said. “If the players know that you love and care about them, no matter what happens they’ll do anything for you and they’ll be there for you. If you think it’s all about you as a coach, players sense that, and then it becomes a different animal.”
NUSSMEIER AND SKIPPER FAMILIAR: Florida running backs coach Tim Skipper was one of the most unfamiliar names on the coaching staff to most people, but offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier already knew about him. The two worked together during the 2008 season at Fresno State. Nussmeier was the team’s offensive coordinator, taking over the year after Jim McElwain departed for Alabama, and Skipper was the running backs coach for the Bulldogs.
That was also the last season Skipper coached running backs before taking the job at Florida. It might seem like a transition, but Nussmeier learned that season what a quality coach Skipper is and believes he’s a great fit for the job at Florida.
"He's outstanding,” Nussmeier said. “Playing for coach (Pat) Hill as a linebacker, (Skipper) came back as a running backs coach and really wanted to go back and coach defense. (I) begged him to stay on offense. You look at the production of the players he had at Fresno State, how he recruited to the position, what he did with those players -- the guy's a phenomenal football coach."
SHANNON ON THE SEC: After spending a majority of his coaching career at Miami, Shannon spent the previous two seasons working in the Southeastern Conference as the linebackers coach at Arkansas. He saw something different and understands the challenges that the league brings every week.
“I played a lot of SEC teams, they always were big and fast,” Shannon said. “You don’t have a day off. That’s one thing you don’t do, no matter who you’re playing on the east side or west side, you always have to show up and you always have to get your guys prepared to play.
“You have to have energy every week no matter what your record is, you better have energy as a coach and your players have a lot of energy playing the game. That’s the biggest thing I learned in this conference.”