Happy New Year???

We are pleased to announce Kevin Wheeler as part of the CanesTime staff. Wheeler is a talk show host with KMOX in St. Louis and a 1994 graduate of the University of Miami. He spent 10 years with the Sporting News Radio Network prior to joining KMOX in August, 2006 and he has also written for The Sporting News and Diamond Libraries.

Happy New Year???

I've been out of the loop for a few days, so pardon me for asking, but has hell frozen over?

No? You say that's just Boise late December?

Ugh.

Now I'm no stranger to cold weather. I'm sitting here in St. Louis taking a beating from Old Man Winter as I type this. I grew up near Detroit and lived in Chicago for the past 12 years, so I know cold.

But I also know that this is an unusual cold, a cold that is not of this world. As Burgess Meredith's character in "Grumpy Old Men" would say, "It's butt cold out here."

Ol' Satan must be wearing longjohns...

The Canes playing their bowl game in Boise, Idaho while Boise State is set to play in a BCS game?

Oh, the horror!

No, no, no. This just isn't right and I refuse to accept this. It's against the natural order of things.

Not only are we going to have to watch our beloved Canes play on that ridiculous Smurf-blue field, but we've got to stomach watching them face Nevada knowing full well that there is every chance they could actually lose the game.

Hey, don't take it out on me. I don't want them to lose to Nevada, in fact I really don't think that's going to happen, but you have to admit it's possible.

The fact that losing to Nevada wouldn't shock any of us speaks volumes.

Even though everything about playing in the MPC Computers Bowl feels wrong - horribly wrong - it does signify a fitting end for Larry Coker. The man who took the reigns of this program while it was at its peak leaves after dragging the team into the dark pit for a New Year's Eve bowl game.

If being in this game doesn't sum up what has happened to the Canes during Coker's tenure then I don't know what does.

This program went from being one of the most dominant in the country, one that stocked the NFL with Pro Bowl caliber players for years, to a .500 club that could do no better than an also-ran bowl game on the ugliest field in the country against the third place team from the WAC.

There is a silver lining to all of this, however.

The program is getting a fresh start beginning on January 1st, the day after Coker coaches his last game for the Canes. No matter who the new coach is there will be a honeymoon and honeymoons are always sweet. No matter who that coach is we'll all feel a little better heading into next season because we won't know for certain that we'll see the same lack of instensity, discipline and creativity we've seen the past several seasons.

There will be hope.

We can all sit back an enjoy this game as we prepare to ring in the New Year, knowing full well that there will be a fresh start in the not-too-distant future.

I don't know about you, but I'm gonna party like it's 1999...

The sheer joy I feel in knowing that the program will undergo some kind of transformation during the offseason is almost impossible to contain. There are some coaches I'd prefer over others, but no matter who gets the job I'll be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt - like I did with Coker - until he proves whether or not he's the man to get the Canes back to the top of the mountain.

I've always believed that change is good. In fact, one of the things I've always loved about the University of Miami is that we've never had a dinosaur for a head coach. We should all want "climbers" to be the head coach at Miami because they have a drive, a constant self-motivation to improve and get better.

Larry Coker was not a climber. Miami was the pinnacle of his career, there was no upward mobility in his future, and I think that led him to get a little too comfortable. I can't prove that, it's just my opinion, but I know a lot of you feel the very same way.

One of the things that has always pushed Miami football players to that "next level" is the desire to be great, not only in college but in the NFL as well. Every single player that comes to Miami wants to join the likes of Ray Lewis, Jim Kelly, Michael Irvin, Ed Reed and the rest in the NFL. For the players at "The U," it's never been enough just to be good. Hell, it's never been enough to just be great. It's always been about trying to be the greatest.

It is my belief that our head coach, as well as the rest of the staff, needs to have that same drive, that same desire to be the greates. I don't mind that Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson and Butch Davis left us to move on to the NFL. The reason they were able to do so is that they were never satisfied simply being the head coach at the University of Miami.

I don't want our next head coach to view this job as the best job he'll ever have. As Hurricanes we all know how great this program is and what a great place Miami is to build a life, but we're not the NFL and the NFL is the Mount Everest of the football world. I want a coach who aspires to greatness, a coach that has the same desire to "take it to the next level" as all of the players do even if that means he'll be leaving in four or five years.

When it comes to replenishing talent we all like to say "Miami doesn't rebuild, it reloads."

We should look at it the same way when it comes to our head football coach.

Now I've been cheering for Larry Coker all along, wanting him to succeed even when it was painfully obvious it just wasn't going to happen. He is a good man and I wish him well in the future. I thank him for all the work he's done at the University of Miami and for the National Championship the team won while he was at the helm.

But I'm glad he's gone. I'm glad we have the opportunity to bring in a fresh, new approach. I'm glad we're no longer saddled with a guy who was happy to grow old with us.

Let's go get ourselves a "climber," a guy who wants to be the next Vince Lombardi, Don Shula or Bill Belichick.

Let's reload.

Kevin Wheeler can be reached at kevin_wheeler_1994@comcast.net

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