Things are about to get awfully different at Greentree Practice Field now that Commander Randy Shannon is at the helm. Spring football, set to begin Tuesday, is going to look and sound a lot more old-school. At least that's the way Commander Shannon made it sound Monday when he met with the media to lay down the foundation for the first spring practices at UM under his ruling fist.
Among my favorite Shannon quotes:
1. "We don't have a quarterback situation." Followed by, "they will not be made available to the media until after the spring."
2. "We do not have any individuals. We do not have a starting lineup. We have to find a nucleus of 11 guys that can play offense, defense and special teams. We're going to find the best guys offensively and defensively so we can establish a team mentality more than individuals. We're going to keep the pressure on everybody."
3. "Sometimes individualization can destroy a team. I've seen that happen a lot of times when you focus on one thing the big picture is forgotten about. The big picture is we have to build a team that can win games at the University of Miami.
4. "The biggest point between winning and losing is competition."
5. "The more you mingle with guys the more you'll lay it on the line for guys you don't know. The biggest thing we've done and are changing is getting everybody to know each other and making sure they understand that everybody works hard. Now when it's time to lay it on the line I can't let you down, you can't let me down."
If you didn't know what kind of coach Randy Shannon was going to be, maybe now you have inkling. Shannon, a former Canes linebacker himself, grew up in era at UM where competition brought out the best in everybody and when coaches sounded like they were reading from a manual. So, Monday, by declaring no positions belong to anybody and said things like 'there is no I in team', he's opened the door to this team being a whole lot better and likely a lot cornier when it speaks.
I'm sure every Canes fan will be more than happy to start hearing some good old fashioned cliches in exchange for a better record and a better team atmosphere. As a writer, I can't say I'll be happy to put boring quotes in stories. But I am looking forward to seeing better football. And I've got a feeling this UM team won't be down for long. Unlike the previous regime, where coach Larry Coker never wanted Kyle Wright to feel like he wasn't going to be the starter by always telling the media "Kyle is the starter," everyone at The U will get to feel uncomfortable with Commander Shannon. And that's a good thing. Competition is what brought out the beast UM once was. And the folks Shannon has surrounded himself with, guys like linebacker Micheal Barrow and others, are cut from the same mold. If you're an old-school UM cat who enjoys the old-school UM way, this leadership group is going to make your toes tingle.
But if you're a talented recruit who has grown up in the me-me-me world today, there could be problems when old school and new school clash. I suspect that will be the case with a least a few of the guys on this roster. That's certainly something that's going to be interesting to watch develop as Shannon rules this team. Over the next few months, I expect several kids who might have been starters or contributors to bolt or find themselves riding the bench because they aren't necessarily down with the new ideas (two, Rashaun Jones and Rhyan Anderson already have). I know what you're thinking: What's wrong with getting rid of guys who don't want to work hard or follow the new rules every time? Nothing, I'm an old school guy myself. I like the attitude of get with the program or get going.
The problem is today's youth -- at least not everyone -- is not like that. And I'm afraid if Randy comes on too strong, The U might eventually end up losing some talented kids who probably aren't bad, but just need some extra guidance. I'm not saying Randy isn't capable of change. He could end up changing his hard stance on certain rules. But so far he's carried himself as a no-nonsense guy who doesn't seem like someone willing to give chances. And with today's kids, I'm not sure that's going to fly. All successful coaches have had to adapt a little.
Which brings me to my question of the day for the blog: From what you've seen and heard of Randy Shannon thus far, do you feel this program will be better or worse? How do you feel about his stance on opening up every position for competition? And which players or position do you want to the most improvement out of by the end of the spring?