Coker Makes Coaching Changes

Head coach Larry Coker decided to make four coaching changes with the staff following back-to-back 9-3 seasons including a 40-3 loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl on Friday.

Larry Coker

Opening statement...

"Good morning. I appreciate you coming. I want to announce this morning I am making some changes in our coaching staff. Coach Vernon Hargreaves, our linebackers coach and then on offense, coach Art Kehoe, coach Don Soldinger, and coach Dan Werner."

"For me it was a very tough decision, personally and professionally. Again I think it was a decision that had to be made. I think our performance hasn't been up to our expectations at the University of Miami. Mainly my expectations. Certainly we could have done better. There are high standards here and high standards are set. We need to really work hard to live up to those standards. From my standpoint the last five years have been good, record-wise, statisically, all those type of things. My concern is the next five years and the direction we are going and making sure we are going in the right direction."

"Finally, the decision was mine and mine alone. I am the head football coach here and I take responsibility for the season and the decision we have made on our staff."

On the impact of the 40-3 Peach Bowl loss to LSU in the decision-making process...

"That is a good question because it wasn't a function of one game as it was a function of continuing evaluation. We evaluate contiually and it was not a function of the last game. Obviously it was very disappointing for all of us, but it was not a function of that one game."

On the explanation of firing Art Kehoe and Don Soldinger who have been fixures in the UM program...

"As I eluded to earlier, the decision was that much tougher because these are friends and good people. Again it was a very personal and professional tough decision."

On if changes would have been made if you won in the Peach Bowl..

"Well you are talking hypothetical, we didn't win the game and I think the game was an exclamation point of what I was going to do."

On needing a change on offense with the offense...

"I think when things don't go well, as we said earlier you have to evaluate and make changes that need to be made. You contiously do that and you can't stay the same. That is why I am concerned about the next five years. We have got to make sure we are going in the right direction with the right staff as far as coaching on the field."

On keeping WR coach Curtis Johnson as opposed to RB coach Don Soldinger who has been relatively more successful at his position in recent years...

"Again those are decisons that I make for the reasons that I make them. You evaluate the whole process and there are reasons for it."

On if this is the only coaching changes you will make...

"Yes."

Coach Soldinger stated he didn't receive specifics of why he was fired and thought he deserved them after 11 years of coaching with you...

"No I didn't give specifics. As I am giving you, I felt it was for the betterment of the program and I needed to go a different direction. That was the reason."

On if UM President Donna Shalala had any input on this decision...

"No, as I said earlier this was my decision--it was a coaching decision."

On having a list of candidates for the open positions including a defensive line coach which was removed earlier in the season...

"I always have a short list of people that I am interested in hiring and I'll definitely follow up at the proper time in doing that. The first thing now is to finish with recruiting. I definitely have a short list of people that I will hire at the right time. I don't have a timetable, but the right thing is to hire the right people."

On if decisions need to be made before signing day on February 1...

"Not necesarily. Sooner the better. If it works out sooner, fine. The main thing is to hire the right people. I think that is the most important scenario."

On talking with committed recruits to reassure them of coming...

"We are in the process of talking to them. We have unlimited calls this week so we will definitely talk to them."

On what you are looking for in terms of qualities in hiring new coaches...

"First off we are looking for good, quality people. We are looking for expertise and knowledge of the game. We are looking for good teachers. We have good players here and I think we have to teach these players. We are looking for an energy and an excitement to put some energy on the field and some explosiveness on the field offensively."

On changing some aspects of the offense...

"I think that is something we need to do. We can't stay the same. If you stay the same people catch up and they understand your schemes then they gameplan for those things and it makes it difficult. We have good players, but also we have to give those players advantages and proper matchups."

On the current offensive system...

"We are not getting the playmakers the ball. How many balls did Greg Olsen catch the other night? None. How many balls did Sinorice Moss catch? Two. We have got to get our playmakers the football. These guys are as good as it gets. Sinorice Moss and Greg Olsen will be NFL football players, in my opinion. Those guys have got to touch the football. We have to protect our quarterback and there are things we have got to do better."

On hiring Werner two years ago for the offensive coordinator position and if it was a hiring mistake...

"No it was not a mistake at the time. Dan Werner is a good football coach and a good person. I think we just need to go a different direction. At the time it was certainly not a mistake."

On if the players know about the decisions...

"We are in the process of calling our players. The most important thing is talking to our players on this team and then talk to our recruits."

On Devin Hester's decision to reportedly enter the NFL Draft...

"I talked to Devin last night and I'll let him announce what he is going to do. He did call me last night and I really appreciated his conversation."

On if there was a point during the season you felt a decision needed to be made...

"I couldn't put a finger on it. It has been a process. I think the thing you do is you evaluate what is happening and the direction you are going. It is not a one time thing, it is over a period of time."

On if someone on the current offensive staff could be promoted to offensive coordinator...

"No, not at this time."

On if someone could switch coaching roles like Mario Cristobal coaching the offensive line instead of the tight ends...

"He may assume a larger role. I have been at places where we have had two offensive line coaches with someone coaching tackles and tight ends. And an offensive line coach that coaches guards and centers--we did that at Ohio State and Tulsa."

On recruiting in the final month with less coaches...

"We will absorb that. With Pete Garcia here, he can do that. Andreu Swasey and Mike Casano can go on the road. We have personnel."

On if Baraka Atkins and Ryan Moore will be coming back or leaving early...

"I have not heard that. The word is that they are coming back. But we won't know that for sure. It is a day-to-day thing. You know how that works."

On if players will be transferring and the message to players to stay at UM...

"I haven't heard that rumor at all. I don't know where you heard that, but I haven't heard it at all. The message I would give to players is, as I said earlier, these are tough decisions, personal and professional. But I would not have made these decisions if I didn't feel strongly that it would help our football team. I will say this, this football program deserves the best. I think it all boils down to those 110 players in the weight room and they invest a lot. The decisions I make because I believe it is in their best interest."

Christopher Stock is a Senior Editor with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@canestime.com

Canes Time Top Stories