Possible Coaching Candidate: Randy Shannon

In Canestime's latest installment of its "Possible coaching candidate" series, we will now examine one of the most controversial candidates being discussed, current Hurricanes defensive coordinator Randy Shannon.

While Shannon presents a résumé that might make him overly qualified for the Hurricanes head-coaching job, many detractors still remain doubtful. In this in-depth analysis, I will attempt to dispel the concerns over Shannon by providing facts and statistics to back them up.

Concern # 1: "Randy Shannon doesn't make adjustments as a defensive coordinator"

This seems to be the most popular criticism lately as the Shannon rumors begin to become a too real for some. The claim is that Shannon enters football games with one game plan and refuses to modify his strategy on the fly during a game. By this logic, Shannon's defense would be allowing a large number of points in the second half of games, as the opponents adjust their game plans at halftime and freely move the ball on Shannon's squad in the 3rd and 4th quarters. However, by examining the stats, we find the exact opposite to be true.

Since taking over in 2001, Shannon's defense has allowed an average of just 6 points per game in the second half. That's right, 6 points. Now, if we are to view this statistic objectively, then in no way possible can we look at this number and think this is a guy that doesn't know how to make in-game adjustments. Another important thing to note about this stat is the consistency. It's not as if Shannon inherited a superb defense that helped bolster the average of this number.

The amount of points allowed by his defenses in the second half of games are as follows: 2001- 7 points, 2002 - 7 points, 2003 – 7 points, 2004 – 6 points, 2005 – 5 points, and 2006 – 6 points. This is a remarkable body of work, and one any school in America would love to see for their defense. Defensive coordinators, who on average allow less than one touchdown in every second half of a game over the past 6 years, cannot be labeled "unable to make adjustments" by any fan that follows football. So, with one Shannon "myth" debunked, we move on.

Concern # 2: "Larry Coker was a coordinator before we hired him, look what happened"

Not at all a valid fear, but a trendy one nonetheless. This line of thinking is illogical as well as ridiculous. Yes, Coker was promoted from within and has since been fired, however, Butch Davis was also promoted to head coach from a coordinator position and he enjoyed great success in his time at Miami. The fact is, every coach at one point and time was a coordinator; it's how the system works. Just like you can't expect to graduate college with a business degree and become a CEO the next year, it's unrealistic to believe every coach will immediately become the headman at a school.

The fact is, in this case hiring from within will greatly benefit Miami. Randy Shannon knows the expectations that the Hurricanes have every year, and he should, as he's been around the program for twenty years. He knows the ins and outs of the program, and the players might make a better transition if the new coach is someone they're familiar with. Essentially, to think along the lines of "Coker wasn't a good coach, so that means everybody associated with him isn't either," isn't exactly the smartest way to approach this.

The fact is, we have no idea how a head coach from a smaller school like Rutgers or TCU will respond to the huge spotlight that will be on them at Miami. They will be put under a microscope like never before. Randy's knowledge of the program helps make the risk of bringing in a coach from a small school and hiring him about even. The real question to consider is this: if people are so worried about Shannon's lack of prior head coaching experience, then why does every Miami fan give their full support to candidates like Norm Chow and Bob Bratkowski, two coaches who have never held head coaching positions?

Concern # 3: "Randy Shannon is a defensive minded coach, defense isn't our problem"

Randy Shannon unfairly gets labeled a defensive minded coach because he is the defensive coordinator, which is all we know him by right now. If you look back at some of the better coaches in all of college football, you'll be surprised to find out most of them started out as defensive coordinators before accepting head coaching jobs. Most notably, Bob Stoops and Pete Carroll.

Despite being known as defensive minded coaches before accepting their current head coaching jobs, both men now boast two of the more prominent offensive systems in all of college football. Shannon is great at what he does, which is usually the trait of most coordinators that earn them the chance to be promoted. Given the opportunity, none of us know how his offense would be run. However, looking at his track record on defense, we see a guy who is annually among the best in the country at his position. Randy knows what he's doing when it comes to coaching as well as recruiting. I'm confident he would be capable of getting the right guy in here to run his offense.

Now that we've debunked the 3 biggest concerns for Randy Shannon becoming head coach, we can finally properly assess his credentials.

Shannon, a lifetime Hurricane, played linebacker for Miami in the 80's, winning a championship with the U in 1987. The 2001 recipient of the Frank Boyles Award (given annually to the best assistant coach in college football), Shannon is widely regarded as one of the best assistants in all of college football. In his 6 years at Miami, Shannon has produced a top 10 defense for all except one season, 2004. It was in this year that he saw 5 first round picks defect from his team, but he was still able to manage a top 30 ranking for his unit, a commendable accomplishment given the circumstances.

Production aside, Shannon's intangibles alone help propel him to the top of the race in the search for the new head coach. Not only is he a lifetime Hurricane, but he is also an excellent recruiter. Shannon has produced numerous first and second round NFL picks, a list that includes college standouts Kelly Jennings, Roger McIntosh, Antrel Rolle, Sean Taylor, Jon Vilma, Dj Williams, Vince Wilfork, Ed Reed, and Dan Morgan.

Over the past three years of chaos at Miami, one thing we could always rely on was Randy Shannon. Through the championships, controversial losses, and firing of coaches, one person always remained, quietly doing his job for the school he loves. Randy Shannon has been here through the glorious times and darkest of days at the U, remaining a figure of power and stability for the U.

Randy Shannon IS a Miami Hurricane, and deserves the chance to lead the team that he has devoted the past 15 years of his life to. He's paid his dues, now it's time to reap his reward.

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