KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILYRandy Shannon is the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes.
I'll let that sink in for a minute...
Okay, now we can proceed.
I like this hire. I don't love it - not yet anyway - but I like the idea of hiring an energetic young coach who is viewed as a rising star in the football world. I also like the idea of hiring a "Cane" to lead this program. More on that later...
I'm going to be completely honest here and say that my initial reaction to the news was something like "oh, okay" but as I've thought it out and looked around at what else was out there, I'm liking Shannon more and more. He would not have been my first choice - that would have been Greg Schiano - but I can't think of any of the other rumored candidates that I would have liked more.
I liked Mike Leach for his offense but had concerns about his ability to recruit, especially on defense, and on his ability to maintain our defensive excellence going forward. Plus he's nuts.
Rich Rodriguez is a good coach but again I'm not sure whether he would have been a good fit, especially at more than twice what it cost to sign Shannon to a contract. He's good, but is Rodriguez really 6-years and $14 million good (counting the $2 million buyout)?
Gary Patterson? Well, he's done a nice job at TCU but to me that doesn't really make him an elite coaching prospect. I'm not really all that fond of the idea of grabbing someone from a lesser conference and hoping they can cut it at the level Miami needs to be at. Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, Larry Coker and now Randy Shannon had all worked at major programs and/or in the NFL before being hired at The U.
Jim Grobe? I know a couple of national media guys love him - I think Gregg Doyel from CBS Sportsline wants to have Grobe's baby - but I need to see more than one big year at Wake before I annoint him the "Chosen One" for a big job. Look at Wake's weak non-conference schedule this year (and every other year for that matter) and that win total isn't as impressive, especially when you consider that several of the big boys in the ACC were down this year. If Wake is back in the ACC title game next year I'll eat Grobe's sweat socks on rye bread with a little mustard.
Same goes for Steve Kragthorpe. What exactly has this guy done to merit consideration for a job like Miami's? What exactly has he done at Tulsa to inspire confidence in his coaching abilities? Again, nice job but not enough for me to offer a guy like him the job at UM. You gotta do something at a school like Michigan State - at least - before you can be considered by The U.
Bob Stoops? Was never gonna happen.
Same for Steve Spurrier.
I would have been interested in waiting until January to pilfer a coordinator from the NFL - Ron Rivera perhaps - but since the school apparently wasn't interested in going that route then I'd have to write that off as a pipe dream as well. Not only that, but if you wait that long and none of the guys you're interested in want the job then you're screwed.
Shannon is a very good hire whose resume is every bit as strong as any of the coaches we actually had a chance of hiring.
Plus, he's a Cane.
Randy played for the Canes, was a part of three National Championships as a coach and player and he's worked his way up the ranks under different head coaches to get where he is.
This program means as much to him as it does to any of us and I really, really like that.
So far in his career, Shannon has also been a climber. If he succeeds at Miami you can bet that the big boys in the NFL will come calling 5-6 years down the road and I see that as a good thing - Shannon has more than enough motivation, and a bright enough future, to work his butt off to get this program back to where it belongs.
If he wins at Miami over the next several seasons he will be the next "Mr. Thing" in the coaching world. Just watch.
Let's be honest here - our defense has never been the problem. Shannon's unit did everything it could to keep this team in games over the past three years and the offense wasn't able to get the job done. It'll be very interesting to see what he does with the offense. Does he bring in Bernie Kosar to be a part of the staff (Maybe as QB coach? Come on, Bernie, you've got all the cash you'll ever need! Come work with the QB's and then maybe you'll be a legit head coaching candidate the next time we need a new coach.) or does he have other people in mind?
Time will tell.
Finally, I'd like to address the complaint that Shannon was "too much a part of the negativity" surrounding the team the past couple of years.
Shannon is no more likely to be like Larry Coker than Coker was going to be like Butch Davis.
Coker came up under Davis and was NOTHING LIKE BUTCH during his time as a head coach.
Just because you're on someone's staff doesn't mean you're going to run the program just like that guy. In fact, I'd bet most assistants/coordinators sit back and think "I'd do this differently" to themselves all the time.
Let's judge Randy Shannon on what he does over the next several years rather than on what happened when someone else was calling the shots, okay?
If Shannon had the same track record - player at Miami, three rings, coordinator of a top ranked defense - and was coming from Oklahoma, USC or wherever, we'd all be geeked up about getting the next hottest thing in the coaching world.
Don't blame Shannon for Coker's mistakes. Our problems have been on offense, not defense, and Shannon had nothing to do with the offense. In my never-to-be-humble opinion, without our defensive excellence we would have been 6-6 in 2004 and 2005 as well as in 2006.
It also doesn't hurt that Randy Shannon is now the highest profile black head coach in the country. No disrespect to Karl Dorrell at UCLA, but Shannon now has the best job of any of the 6 black head coaches in Division I football and who knows what that could mean?
I'm not a believer in choosing - or excluding - head coaches based on their race, but I do believe that having a black head coach at Miami will be a huge positive for the school in many ways. It'll give UM more positive press going forward, for one thing. Some think it will help in recruiting but I'm not sure about that myself - UM has always gotten plenty of great players anyway - but perhaps that perception could be a positive in and of itself.
There is a lot to like about Randy Shannon being the next head coach of the University of Miami football team and not much to dislike about it at this point. He is every bit as qualified for the job as any of the other candidates that were realistic possibilities so let's not waste too much time worrying about what would have happened if we would have chosen Jim Grobe or Gary Patterson.
Let's just see what happens with recruiting and go from there....
Kevin 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. For more on Kevin you can visit this link http://kmox.com/pages/75067.php?contentType=4&contentId=195728. You can also reach him via e-mail at email@example.com