They did it. They won. Now what?
That's a question Hurricanes fans may not have to wait long to have answered. Coach Larry Coker's future at the University of Miami could be decided and announced as early as 11 a.m. today when the media are scheduled to congregate in the Edgerrin James Room on campus for the usual postgame talk with coach. Thursday night, Coker said he expected to return (SEE THE VIDEO) and planned to go to work Sunday when the recruiting season officially begins. But that all will likely change today as most members of the media figure the Hurricanes 6-6 season won't be enough to save Coker's job.
Canesport.com editor Gary Ferman reported early Friday morning, sources close to the situation had told him Coker will be fired this morning. According to Ferman's story, "University President Donna Shalala reportedly wanted to try to avoid dismissing Coker. But the steady decline of the program over the past three seasons combined with a restless fan base has left Shalala with no choice but to make that difficult decision to let Coker go."
We tried in the closing moments Thursday night to find athletic director Paul Dee for some insight. He was nowhere to be found on the field, where he usually stands and watches the final moments of every game. We all kind of got the sense Dee was avoiding us. Sure enough, when I saw him hanging out in the coaches lockerroom after the game, the only question I was able to sneak in before the door was closed in my face by a security guard was "Are you going to make a comment tonight?" To which Dee replied simply, "No." Same for the other members of the media. He didn't look happy, kind of like somebody who had to break bad news.
In search of further insight, I asked several players on the team if they thought Coker was still going to be their coach if they get to a bowl game -- likely either in Boise or San Francisco. The overwhelming response was basically "We think so." Anthony Wollschlager admitted while some players are privately worried Coker will be gone, he said Coker didn't say anything to make them believe Thursday's 17-14 win over Boston College would be his last game at UM.
Assuming Coker is fired this afternoon, speculation is Randy Shannon will likely assume the head coaching duties for the bowl game. My hunch is Shannon will not be the first choice for the job and will likely end up being the No. 2 or No. 3 choice if others like Greg Schiano pass it up. Either way, the next few hours figure to be real interesting. I'd be surprised if a decision is not made quickly because it appears the hiring process will take a long time. In the meantime, I think Mario Cristobal would be the likely choice to stick around and help with recruiting until a coach is finally hired. Thus, probably meaning he'd be retained in some form.
OK, enough about Coker and the coaches.
There are likely three players who could leave the team early and enter the NFL Draft -- tight end Greg Olsen, defensive end Calais Campbell and Jon Beason. Campbell reiterated he plans to come back and be the leader of this team next year despite what has to be the best season of any player on the team. Beason and Olsen are a little more questionable. Beason flat out said if Randy Shannon is gone he will test the NFL waters. If it's good enough, he's gone. Olsen was a little less clear. I think he too feels a coaching change could spring him to leave.
To see what both of them had to say as well as several other players, please follow the links to our videos and audio.
OK, so here's what I want to know from you. Did this victory Thursday night do enough for you to make you feel Coker should be given another shot? Also, what bowl game would you like to see Miami play in? And finally, has Kirby Freeman done enough in three games to beat out Kyle Wright to begin next season as the starting quarterback?
Chew on that and fire back.