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No more entitlement at The U

I haven't had a lot of time to devote to this blog since Tuesday's live Q&A which featured Northwestern QB Jacory Harris and freshman cornerback and new starter DeMarcus Van Dyke (hint: go check out some of their answers. It was probably the most fun I've had yet on a live blog).

But I wanted to come and share some thoughts and extra insight from this week before we turn our full attention to Saturday's season-opener against Marshall.

For starters, what struck me most about Tuesday's press conference wasn't the decision to pick Kirby Freeman as the team's starting quarterback. It's the fact Randy Shannon stayed true Shannonto his word. It's not that I ever really doubted Miami's new sheriff. It's just that maybe I was Cokerized (yeah I'm stealing the phrase from The Legion). For all the talk about taking Miami back to the old school -- where the competition in practice is what really determines who starts -- I somehow always believed through camp that the usual suspects would end up earning the starting spots come game time. I thought Randy was simply trying to light a fire under his veterans. But now I know Randy is beyond the head games. He really is going to do all he has to do to take The U back to the old Cane ways. If you get hurt, you move to the end of the totem poll, he said. If you don't bring it everyday, you ride the pine.

The fact he and his staff picked Freeman and in my eyes these other four surprise starters -- Khalil Jones at receiver, Dwayne Hendricks at defensive tackle, DeMarcus Van Dyke at cornerback and John Rochford at center -- sent a strong message to the team. Let's not forget the Sam Shields' suspension too. Tuesday, as players filed into The Edgerrin James room following Shannon's press conference, they got a chance to start looking at the depth chart for the first time. In some cases, there was genuine surprise. In all cases, there were smiles -- even from the guys not slated to start. The reason? Shannon stayed true to his word with them too. Just as Barry Jackson wrote in Wednesday's editions -- there is no longer entitlement on this team.

As I learned from somewhat revealing conversations with tight end Chris Zellner and safety Lovon Ponder, that wasn't always the case last season -- especially on offense. Both told me starters were often given preferential treatment and if they were hurt, they were allowed to return to their starting jobs even while the other guy was out busting his butt in practice. The only place where that didn't seem to happen was on defense. Oddly enough, that's one unit where the Hurricanes continued to play at a national championship-type level.

"Last year, you knew you had a lot of people that knew they were starting. So, a lot of guys would come to practice and would be like, well, I'm not really starting, so I'm not giving my best effort," Zellner told me. "... I saw Kyle one time where he hurt his knee a little bit. Last year, they probably would have sat Kyle because he's a great asset to our team. This year, I was like Kyle 'You going to play?' He was like, 'Yeah, it's a competition... And that's just the way it was. I think we needed it."

Ponder echoed those same sentiments. "We had a team where a lot of people were put ahead of other people,'' he said. "But now, people are on the same level. We don't have big-headed guys or guys putting people down. Going into games, guys were being treated differently -- with practice reps and all that. Now, coach Shannon treats everybody equally bad, equally good."

I'm sure hearing some of those responses must make the Cane familia angry and even more resentful toward the Coker regime. But at least you can take solace in the fact LC (I always used to giggle when I would see his initials on his practice shorts) can only now give his opinion from a studio off in TV land. When asked what he thought of the QB selection recently, Coker said he was surprised but not shocked Shannon and his staff picked Freeman.

Truth is, now I wonder how this team might have been different last year if Shannon was making all the big decisions. There's no doubt in my mind Kyle's injured throwing thumb wasn't just a problem that surfaced when he was hurt in the Virginia Tech game. Had Shannon been running the show, would Wright have been pulled before then? I guess we'll start finding out just how different this team is now with a different leader and different standards.

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: Almost forgot! I need to promote The Herald's new high school football show, the Big Show, starring yours truly as host. With the help of Recruitflix.com, we put together a The_big_show countdown of the top 20 high school teams in Miami-Dade and Broward with video highlights and interviews of key players. As the former high school writer, this is sort of a dream come true for me. I've always felt the high schools in Dade and Broward were so richly loaded with talent they deserved better coverage than they received. It took me and a staff of three at Recruitflix to put this thing together. It's finally online. There will also be clips every week following games uploaded to the Herald website. We'll improve the quality as the season progresses. But for now, please, please, please, check out THE BIG SHOW. And let me know what you think of it.

Comments

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good blog Manny. its a new day.

I always thought Coker was most of the problem with the team last year. Even this year, as I read through potential starters and backups all over the field, I hear the same thing..."Highly recruited blue chipper who has failed to live up to expectations..." That's Coker! Remember, it wasn't just Wright who underachieved at QB under Coker. Berlin was also the most highly coveted QB in high school when he came here, and Coker REFUSED to change the offense and put him in the shotgun where he had success (anyone remember what Bowden did with Charlie Ward?). Hester never found a position. Moore never panned out. Leggett never panned out. Charlie Jones never panned out. We had a punter playing wide reciever! On and on and on, and these were all 4 and 5 star guys. No...Coker was the problem, and now he's gone, and Shannon has made it clear that the spots must be earned. I can't wait for Saturday.

As long as the second- and third-stringers get to play enough minutes that they aren't shut out of the action completely, this sort of survival-of-the-fittest approach is just guaranteed to make your team better.

Coker had a weird thing about continuity -- some people were just "starters," in his mind. Shannon honestly seems to have no preconceptions about who should play. It's not the Freeman start that proves that to me; it's Rochford, Kahlil Jones and DVD. There's no way -- none! -- that those guys would have started under LC, even assuming that Coker could have recruited DVD away from Gainesville.

Damn,

The more and more I here about the shit that went on under Coker the madder I get.
Everyone keeps talking about how we dont have the talent we use to when all along they just haven't had a chance to play.
Those days are over and I hope we show everyone starting Saturday.

Manny, in your opinion are all positions open every week???

another good blog manny...can't wait to see your indepth look come season....just 2 more days

http://canespace.typepad.com/canespace/2007/08/canes-2007-star.html#comment-81077143 The news is Sam Shields got suspended from the first game for unpaid traffic/parking tickets. And will not play untill these tickets are paid off. Posted by: alf | August 30, 2007 at 12:46 AM

"It's just that maybe I was Cokerized (yeah I'm stealing the phrase from The Legion)."

LOL, Coker should give back the money he is getting from the U. I think he should pay the U instead. I once was blind but now I see. Go Shannon!!!!

Hi ya Manny- good blog. I think we will all find as the days and games go by all the "cokerizations" that took place. I even go "Aie Dios Mio" when I read that stuff and I don't speak spanish!

Good blog the other night with Harris and DVD that was cool, of course, I was late again.

Question: when do you expect Glenn 9 o'clock Sharpe back in the lineup?
Thanks

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cokerized cokerized: 1) To be overwhelmed with apathy. To lose confidence, vitality, and aggression, especially in the face of a heart-breaking loss; 2) To shamelessly take something outstanding and diminish its value entirely. To turn a ferocious juggernaut into a an emasculated shell of its former self.


Green - that is funny!

Cokerization - to cokerize

Manny what you think about Ponder everyone is always talking about Phillips (rightfully so) but man Ponder did some stuff last year that had me thinking he might be the next Great Safety at MIA.

Dude you have been off the hook with your Blogs lately, keep it up !!!

GO CANES!!!!!

Excellent thoughts Manny. Keep it up! I'm still playing like I'm U in my NCAA online league recaps. We're having fun with it! LOL

Nice blog Manny, more proof that Coker was completely inept at running a high quality football program (as if we needed anymore, right?) I still angers me though to read all of the crap he allowed to happen, its amazing that they won as many as they did when you start to really think about how bad the entire culture was around the program from top to bottom.

All I can say is good riddance..

The new era begins on saturday, we will witness the rebirth of the Canes dynasty. I havent been this excited for a season in a looooooong time, Im like a 12 year old kid again! LOL.

Thanks for the insight. The smiles on the players was the most revealing line.

Real good stuff Manny. For the record, can you tell us if you are a fan of DA U or just someone who covers them for the paper?

"Where the competition in practice is what really determines who starts"

Why should practice determine who starts in games. Have you ever heard of a work out warrior that just doesnt play well in games? Sometimes people just play better when then lights are on and the stadium is filled with people.

(I always used to giggle when I would see his initials on his practice shorts)

the wifey probably does the same for his whitie-tighties....

http://www.charlotte.com/sports/story/256236.html just in time for U v. marshall, time warner adds ESPNU (our namesake : )

EK,

Manny is a U fan. He ain't Omar.

That is not true. I always gave 2nd stringers a shot. They failed me.

who's omar ; )

http://www.jonesbahamas.com/?c=45&a=13909 Miami herald partners with bahama journal ... ya mon

Calvin sniffed the worthless POS out first publicly but I saw him for what he was after the FSU game last year..... A TOTAL COWARD!

Whoever said he should pay back Miami is utterly true.

Medioker is the reason WW and Lames Bryant came in with an attitude that they belonged on the starting line-up, like Kyle, because Uncle Fudd promised them and kissed their azzes.

But then they ran into Shannon and he told them they'd have to prove it on the field. When they couldn't do it they whined and complained and eventually left.

Any word on Chambers and McNeal??? I expect these young studs to crack the line-up somewhere before long.

Correction, JAMES Bryant. That was funny though. lol

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theacc.com) -- Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner John Swofford announced Tuesday that 22 of the league's 2007 football games will be broadcast nationally by four national radio networks including a total of 14 over the ACC's International Sports Properties (ISP) National Radio Network.

Great blog Manny, btw. U keep showing Us what a reporter is supposed to do and be.

Again, though, what's with Tim Tebow on the cover page of the MIAMI Herald's football preview???

That's even worse than Quinn being on the cover last year.

Besides, Randy Shannon is the news across the state.

Why does the Herald always find a way to shaft the U???

Imagine the newspaper in Indianapolis putting Ken Dorsey on the cover page of their college football section.

What is it with the Herald???

It's such a slap in the face, especially given Miami's dominance over the last 25 years.

I always told my fellow Hurricane buddies that there is talent on this team, and last year. Talented enough to win the ACC.
It was coaching, or lack thereof, pure and simple. Now, RS is getting the most out of these guys. We're gonna see the true value of teamwork and competition this year.

I still say 9-3, but if 'that guy in the booth' was coaching this team I would have said 5-7.

expect a Hurricane to grace friday's preview ...

http://www.ispsports.com/radio_network.cfm?school_id=13 Hurricanes Radio Network

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2007/08/gop-debate-on-u.html republicans skip UM/univision debate; give hispanics the finger. iiIii

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/blogs/content/shared-blogs/palmbeach/umblog is nonchalant jorge milian on greenies ; ) 21 blogs for august : ) more blogs than the previous 7 months combined! working to shed his nonchalance ...

man coker was the biggest mistake THE U....has ever made...oh well...we're coming back...CONQUER DADE....next 3 national titles....USC WHO??????

http://www.newsadvance.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=LNA/MGArticle/LNA_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173352548290&path=!sports ACC to donate $300,000 to grief-stricken vatech!

http://hurricanesports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/083007aaa.html 17th avenue bridge closed; find alternate OB routes.

http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/story/686827.html big10 TV launches today. 1-2 more years before our conference negotiates with network execs. will ACC-TV launch in 2011?

Manny, great insight and post... I used this term in Canespace and will repeat it here cause it just makes sense of a team so different from before. Former = cokerized, Present = "Shannonized.

Yeaaaaah Baby!!!! The whole team is now Shannonized!!!!

Marshall has the right moniker for a massacre (with class and dignity ala Shannon's way) and that is the thundering herd of Bison getting mowed down for steaks.

It's funny how their recruits want a piece of the U... Well I guess who's coming to dinner?

http://www.hispanicprwire.com/news.php?l=in&id=9337&cha=14 UM Law, Business & Medical earn high marks from hispanic business magazine!

http://www.chicagobears.com/news/NewsStory.asp?story_id=3759 campbell soup features former Canes Devin Hester & Jonathan Vilma in ad campaign!

Hey the challenge will be for Shannon to keep the former underachievers together during the moment of truth!!

Everything is good right now, but when you are in a tough situation, that is when you revert back to bad habits.

If I were Shannon, I would continue to focus on repetition. That is the only way to correct bad habits.

hey manny navarro, 1400+ posts since july 23! more posts in the last 5 weeks than the preceding 9 months (oct 18 - jul 20) combined : ) DON'T STOP THINKING 'BOUT TOMORROW ...

Nice job as usual Manny... thanks for all of the U info!

Let's Go Canes!

Thanks again, Manny.

Keep on bringing this $hit. The show looks great.

It's not that I ever really doubted Miami's new sheriff. It's just that maybe I was Cokerized (yeah I'm stealing the phrase from The Legion)

You had me rollin....Quite a few of us were Cokerized...

Grassy.com

GO CANES !!

Grassy.com?

LOL

who came up with the name Skeletor for Coker
thats funny The Power of Cokerskull

Excellent Articles .How could you have a
talent like HESTER and not use him on offense for 3 years.Maybe Hester wanted to play defense. But Larry as "Commander" has to make the tough decision in WAR, to put people were maybe they don't want to be.But that's the job of a GENERAL a Leader and Larry was to nice of a guy and didnn't want to upset some of his HIGh profile recruits.
I LOVE RANDY and his way or the highway approach. Now DONNA AND PAUL DEE- that's another story.I wonder if Randy could take on three jobs ,(esp. when Donna bolts to Wash. D.C, with Hillary) as Pres.Of The U./Athletic Director and also head coach??

Does anyone know how fast Shields is reading from the article DVD is second in speed to Shields and DVD runs a 4.34-speed

We all have to go through growing pains but Coker should have gone after the Ohio St Championship game. U know the one we won! I liked Coker but he should have respected the program instead of his ego. We're a family that's what we forgot along the way through the good and bad times. But now is the time to prove them wrong. ACC this! ACC that. Umm! Canes play hard and bring back the U! All we need is to play w/ intensity as a Team and gang tackling. I hope the O catches its stride quickly because I'm tired of hearing about the PAC 10 and SEC. And of course we taught the guys how to play Big East. Now it's time to show the ACC how the U does it. We have been in dormant for too long. Hurricanes we got to play like you know u can. Go set tone Saturday at noon and leave no doubt.

Shields ran a 4.28 supposedly

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