A Closer Look: The Nix Firing

Head coach Randy Shannon announced the firing of second year offensive coordinator Patrick Nix on Monday night. CanesTime.com takes a closer look at that decision and what it means for the Hurricanes.

The writers of CanesTime.com each answer the question of what this means for the Hurricanes.

RAUL TANO: Let's not get carried away, folks. The 'Canes' offensive woes were a big problem this season, but as I've said before, it's not the alpha and omega of our problems. Certainly, the first step will be to find a suitable replacement for Nix, who just could never seem to get over the hump and develop an identity for the offense. Miami will have to work quickly to find a replacement and a good one at that. Coach Shannon did a satisfactory job last season hiring an experienced veteran defensive coordinator in Bill Young, who relieved a lot of Shannon's increased responsibility and tendencies to micromanage the defense during a game. Shannon absolutely needs an experienced offensive coach who will allow Shannon to focus on improving his ability to manage the clock and be a better game-day coach. More importantly though, Shannon will need to find a coach who has a scheme which fits the personnel, or one who could adapt a scheme to best fit the personnel the 'Canes can put on the field. Hurricanes fans don't wish to see sporadic play-calling inspired by seemingly little to no fluidity or strategy, and I imagine that Coach Shannon doesn't either. They need a coach who can manage a game and make quick, assertive, and intelligent decisions relating to personnel, play-calls, and offensive time management.

Additionally, I think it's imperative that the coordinator Shannon hires be experienced with teaching young quarterbacks how to develop. Miami quarterbacks have suffered in recent years from being poorly coached and underdeveloped. While Nix isn't necessarily guilty of being a poor developer of quarterback talent (truth be told he wasn't around long enough for a final verdict), Coach Shannon will need to hire someone who will help Jacory Harris and co. progress in their development and improve from year to year. Miami will never be elite if it can't coach its quarterbacks up and teach them proper footwork, technique, and decision-making skills.

Firing Patrick Nix may be a step in the right direction, but it is meaningless if the Hurricanes do not replace him with a competent experienced coach who will develop quarterbacks, implement a smart and sound scheme, and really help to improve their sideline organization during ballgames. If Shannon can do those things, both he and the ‘Canes have a bright future. If not, then Shannon may very well be in the hot seat by midseason 2009. Here's hoping that he makes a smart hire and the ‘Canes can rebound in '09.

LARRY COLE: College football is a results business and for Patrick Nix,the results on the field in the past two seasons have been disappointing and the result – his dismissal – was a formality at this point. Nix has lost favor in the media and fansalike, and after seeing the sideline results following the Emerald Nut Bowl on Saturday, seemingly the favor of the head coach. With that said, going forward, the Universityof Miami has nowhere to go but up on offense, considering Nix fielded units that ranked in the bottom third of the nation (110th and 89th, respectively, in 2007 and 2008) in total offense. However, moving up in the rankings will comewith a coaching search that will test head coach Randy Shannon's decisionmaking on a philosophical level as this move will determine the success of Miami football moving forward. More specifically, now that the move is made, Shannon needs to find a guy that willbe here for the foreseeable future as he should be looking to avoid, at all costs, a revolving door at the position that has plagued the University for the past nine years in which it saw five different names come through the doors of the Hecht Center.

Finding a new coordinator that meshes both on a philosophical and personal level will be paramount to the success of Miami football in this newest era as it has certainly been a detriment in the first two years of the Randy Shannon era. For Shannon, he will need to find "his guy" that he can entrust the offense and more importantly, the quarterback position in that will need to make strides under the appointed successor quickly.

DAVID VILLAVICENCIO: The termination of Patrick Nix means a lot for the future of Miami football. First of all, it means Miami will have its fourth offensive coordinator since Rob Chudzinski, the OC when Miami won the national championship in 2001. Since the departure of Chudzinski, Miami fans have moaned and groaned about the offensive performance under Dan Werner, Rich Olson, and most recently Patrick Nix. The fans got their wish tonight when coach Shannon removed Patrick Nix from the coaching staff. Teams would like continuity from their coordinators as it is difficult to be learning new systems year after year but this change needed to be made. Miami's offense struggled all year and there is no excuse for its struggles. Some may say that a team with so many freshmen is going to experiences highs and lows but with the amount of young playmakers on this Miami team, the struggles outweighed the highlights more than anyone would have liked. Nix claims that the offensive struggles were a result of a difference of opinion between he and Randy Shannon on how to run the offense. As the play caller, Nix is in control of what Miami does offensively and his system was not getting the job done.

As for the future, Miami needs to conduct a thorough search and find an offensive coordinator that fits their style of play and will effectively get the ball in the hands of the many young playmakers. A hot name that many wanted to replace Nix was Gus Malzahn. The former offensive coordinator at Tulsa accepted the same position at Auburn yesterday and is no longer available for Miami's opening. A name I believe the Canes will pursue if he becomes available is Dirk Koetter. Miami was interested in Koetter after it fired Rich Olson but missed out when he accepted a position with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If Jack Del Rio is fired in Jacksonville, Koetter will likely be available. Rob Chudzinski is available following the termination of Romeo Crennel in Cleveland however it is highly unlikely that he return to his alma mater after being an NFL assistant for so long. There will likely be some objection from the fan base regardless of who the Hurricanes hire as there is no clear cut favorite for the position. Personally, I would like to see a return to the pro-style offense that Miami succeeded with for many years. No matter what direction coach Randy Shannon, athletic director Kirby Hocutt and the rest of the decision makers at the University of Miami decide to take with the next offensive coordinator, they need to make sure they find someone who understands the Hurricanes strengths and weaknesses and will tailor the offense around these strengths and weaknesses. The next offensive coordinator at Miami needs to build his system around his players and not force a system that is ill-suited for the personnel in place to run it.

ALEX ORDOQUI: The decision to fire Patrick Nix is clearly a good and necessary move for the University of Miami. In two seasons at Miami, Nix failed to develop any kind of offensive identity and led two lackluster units. Aside from Miami's inability to score, the worst part about the job that Nix did is it was never clear what Miami was trying to get accomplished on offense. Was Miami a Spread Offense? Was Miami an I-Formation based offense? There was never a clear answer. Regardless of what candidate the Canes hire it needs to be someone with an established system who knows how he wants to attack defense.

Nix was also very predictable. Miami fans could almost always see the WR screen coming. There was never much doubt that when Khalil Jones and Pat Hill were entering the game that Miami was going to run the ball. While at times Nix called some good plays it seemed like he had no idea how to attack a defense. He never ran plays in an effort to set up of a defense for a big play. The Canes need to find an offensive coordinator that will add some innovation and consistency to the Miami offense.

As far as recruiting, Nix was not much of a factor for the Hurricanes in that department so it should not affect Miami's effort to sign another stellar class. It should actually turn out to be a positive development and could help Miami sign blue chip prospects Andre Debose and Orson Charles. It will be interesting to see if offense recruits react positively to this news.

There is however a negative aspect to this news. Miami's decision to fire Patrick Nix means that Coach Shannon's initial two coordinator selections have now been fired in his first two seasons as a head coach. This is not a good sign in Coach Shannon's ability to judge what coaches he needs to be successful. Despite this initial blunder, if Shannon can follow up this firing like he did when Tim Walton was fired by hiring someone the caliber of current defensive coordinator Bill Young I think all will be forgiven. He does however need to make better decisions when it comes to building his staff.

Miami now must turn its attention to what coordinator it will hire and what type of offense Miami will try to run. I believe the Canes are best suited to hire a coordinator that will run a pro style offense. This is a program that was built on this kind of system and has won 5 national titles using it. Hopefully, Miami will hire someone who believes in running the football and using play-action to attack defense vertically. The search for the OC starts now and it just might be the decision that decides Coach Shannon's legacy.

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