Coker: A Breath Of Fresh Air

If he hasn't done so already University of Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee should thank the heavens and count his blessings for making one simple promotion within the Hurricanes' football team two years ago. A lot of bigger names (re: Dave Wannstedt) and bigger frames (re: Barry Alvarez) were bantered about back in January of 2001 when Butch Davis decided he had done enough baby-sitting and headed for the BANKS of Cleveland, Ohio.

Dee did his research and studied all the possibilities of a new head coach before making his own decision.

Dee went down the hall and plucked a little-known assistant named Larry Coker who had long before dedicated his life to the game of football but had always fiddled away from the spotlight until then. But as the Hurricanes get ready to open fall camp, next Monday, in preparation for the upcoming season, its obviously clear with the passing of each day that Dee made the right choice.

All the naysayers and Anti-University of Miami Fan Club might jump up and bark ‘Well that's easy to say after 24 wins in 25 games and a national championship to boot.' But Coker's accomplishments – in his short but running tenure at UM – should be measured beyond any number of victories or national championship rings that the Hurricanes have earned on the field under his supervision.

Although it might be difficult for all Hurricanes' football fans – or nearly impossible because if Charles Manson could run a 4.3 40 they'd want him lining up at flanker- to put aside that win-at-all-cost mentality for even a second they should sit back and reflect on what Coker really means to the program during these turbulent times in all of college athletics.

Anybody flip around on the tube lately. My understanding has always been that all college coaches – no matter the sport- are hired in part to serve as sitters and monitor the off the field activities of their players. Not the other way around.

Can't imagine that Dee would have liked to be the AD at Washington where now-former football coach Rick Neuheisel figured a multimillion-dollar contact to coach the Huskies wasn't enough dough so he decided to throw his name (and wallet) into a NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament pool. Way to go Rick. Now that you have some spare time on your hands give Charlie Hustle a call, he's sitting right by the phone.

More?

Don't think Dee wanted any part of the mess in Alabama where ol' kinky Mike Price through it would be a great idea to go spend a few dollars at a local strip club in Tallahassee and invite a stripper (or two) back to his room while in town for a charity golf tournament- not long after being hired as the Tide's football coach, mind you. That's the way to score, Mike. Only hopefully next time Mr. Price will be a better judge of talent.

Anybody remember the way Iowa football coach Kirk Ferenz prostituted himself for any available openings practically after just coming off the field after getting pasted by Southern Cal. in the FedEx Orange Bowl here last January. Great way to show loyalty to a program and players that had finished perhaps the greatest season in history. Some other guys like Dennis Erickson (remember him) and Guy Morriss turned their respective backs on Oregon State and Kentucky for green pastures with the San Francisco 49ers and Baylor.

And will ever forget the exploits of Larry Eustachy. The former men's basketball coach at Iowa State through that dropping down a few brews with some hot co-eds was the way to go after a tough defeat. Just think what he would have done if the Cyclones had won the game.

All that's the coaches we know about. The common theme in all this is that those coaches brought personal embarrassment upon themselves and must have forgot they were representing institutions of higher learning. And one more thing: they apparently failed to realize they were supposed to serve as leaders for young men, not as poor examples.

Sure, the ability to continue to attract the fastest, biggest and strongest players over the last 20 years has without question helped the Hurricanes reign above all in college football But Larry Coker has proven that he handle the duties on the sidelines and survived in the same on-the-edge town that wanted him out not too long ago (remember the offensive coordinator that UM diehards wanted fired three seasons ago), the man is a calming influence in a these stormy times in college athletics. Coker is a blessing on and off the field of play.

And the Hurricanes are lucky to have him.

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