Coker Released, Will Coach Bowl Game

CORAL GABLES – Miami coach Larry Coker has been released from his contract, but will coach the bowl game if the Hurricanes receive an invitation.

Coker, 58, won a national championship in 2001 and a 59-15 record in six seasons at Miami. However, he is just 6-6 this year and 18-12 in his last 30 games leading to his dismissal.

Athletic director Paul Dee met with Coker Friday morning following a 17-14 victory over Boston College on Thanksgiving night to let him know that he had been released.

"It was probably the most difficult thing I have ever did in my professional career," said Dee, who considered Larry a friend.

This season has been one of turmoil for the Hurricanes after falling out of the AP Poll for the first time since 1999, having a sideline-clearing brawl with Florida International, and multiple player suspensions throughout the year.

"There are a multiplicity of factors that you are well aware of, but we looked at a lot of things like performance, we looked at direction, and all of the things that have been written about are the kinds of things somebody on the inside would be taking a look at," Dee said.

The search for a new coach will begin right away.

"Our hope would be to have a coach as soon as practicable, but given the circumstances of people and their bowl games it might be a little longer than we would otherwise have taken," Dee said.

Some possible candidates for the position are Greg Schiano, Randy Shannon, Barry Alvarez, Rod Chudzinski, and Steve Kragthorpe.

"It is the best job in the country," Dee said. "This is as fine of a job as you can have because when the success comes, the success is tremendous. This is a hard job. This is not a job for the feeble. This is a job for somebody who likes coaching college football and is excited about college football."

Prior head coaching experience is not a prerequisite according to Dee, but did say it is an important factor when selecting a new coach, which could affect Shannon and Chudzinksi's chances.

Schiano, a former UM defensive coordinator in 1999-2000, is the favorite to replace Coker.

This season Schiano has led Rutgers to a 9-1 record and a No. 15 ranking in the AP Poll. In 2005, he guided the Scarlet Knights to their first bowl appearance in 27 years.

Coker will coach the bowl game because, "He deserved it and he earned it" according to Dee, however Coker will not be out recruiting in the recruiting process due to the NCAA limit of one home visit per recruit and they would like to save the visit for the new head coach.

"I do appreciate the opportunity that I have had here," Coker said. "I think the future is outstanding here. The thing I have seen here from both sides. I have seen a lot of joy, enthusiasm, and support for the program…I don't feel that joy and excitement around the program right now and I want to see that come back. It will come back. I don't know the direction they will go here, but I am disappointed I am not going to be a part of it."

Coker said that he has turned down two lucrative head coaching job offers during his time at Miami and a position with an NFL team.

When asked if he was planning on continuing to coach, he said, "I am not retiring. I plan on doing something. I mean look at me, I am a pretty studly guy—I have a lot left it in me."


The Hurricanes will have some time off before preparing for a bowl game if they receive an invitation. The Emerald Bowl in San Francisco (Dec. 27) and the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise (Dec. 31) have the ACC's seventh and eighth selection respectively.

Currently Florida State (6-5, 3-5 in the ACC) and Virginia (5-6, 4-3) are in the running along with Miami (6-6, 3-5) for the final two spots. Both teams defeated Miami in head-to-head games this year.

Florida State hosts Florida on Saturday and Virginia plays at No. 17 Virginia Tech. If both teams are selected by the Emerald Bowl and MPC Computers Bowl, Miami could still receive a bowl invitation if another conference does not fill their bowl quota.

Christopher Stock can be reached at

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