Why is Randy Shannon going to be the guy to get Miami out of its malaise? BG1906, one of our two guest bloggers this week, takes a shot at answering that question as well as giving the Canes a few suggestions as to how to do it.
A little about BG1906: Bryce Gaylor is a 34-year old web applications developer from Bowie, MD. "I'm married (wife Maria) with no kids. I was born in Tennessee, but moved to Hollywood when my parents divorced. During my high school years, my family would relocate again to the Washington, D.C. metro area, where I currently reside. I attended Bowie State Univ. (MD) but graduated from U of Maryland-University College. I have a BS in Computer Studies and am working on a dual masters degree (IT/MBA). Been a Canes fan since I was 8 yrs old. Go Canes!"
Here's his take...
Why, I’ll Tell You Why… As the Larry Coker Era at “The U” came to an end, I vividly recall the sense of frustration, despair, and anticipation felt by the LEGION as we all questioned the future of our beloved program. The Hurricanes had been on a steady decline that finally culminated in a disappointing 7-6 season, in which the Canes needed last minute heroics to defeat both the Duke Blue Devils and the Nevada Wolfpack—teams that in years past, the Canes would have disposed of quite handily.
Facing reality, the administration at the University of Miami decided that Coach Coker was no longer the man they wanted to lead the program, and he was quickly fired at season’s end. But, then a new problem arose. It was the height of recruiting season, and the University of Miami, the most dominant football program of the last 25+ years, was without a head coach. The program had a negative image, we were losing, and recruits were decommitting. My-oh-my, what do were the Canes to do? We needed a coach who could not only come in and restore the pride and true fighting spirit associated with University of Miami football, but one who could also re-instill discipline, accountability, and the never-say-die winning attitude that the Canes had historically been known for. He had to be a master recruiter, and realize that the key to the success of the University of Miami football program rested in primarily recruiting from the plethora of high school football talent in South Florida (Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties). Yet, the question remained: Who would want to coach at the University of Miami? The expectations are unrealistic, the facilities aren’t the best, the pay isn’t on par based with other elite programs in college football, the fan base at times can be fickle, and furthermore, it is no longer viewed as an elite program. Who wants to coach at UM?
As it turns out, there were plenty of trendy names out there to throw around: Greg Schiano (Rutgers), Mike Leach (Texas Tech), Steve Kragthorpe (Tulsa/Louisville), Gary Patterson (TCU); hell, there was even a Steve Spurrier (S. Carolina) rumor floating around at one time, but none of them were, as they would say in the Matrix, “THE ONE.” None of these individuals fit the bill. The right man for the job was actually in front of us the whole time, and he is exactly the man UM needed to inject life into a now malaise Hurricanes football program. That man was none other than former Canes defensive coordinator, Randy Shannon.
Many times while watching the Canes play on ESPN, I would hear both Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso rave about how good and well coached the Miami Hurricanes defense was, and how one day Randy Shannon was going to become a very successful head coach, and that some team was going to benefit tremendously from his vast array of football knowledge. I remember thinking to myself after Coach Coker was fired, “Why are we looking everywhere for a head coach, when the perfect candidate for the job is already amongst us? Why let him go be somebody else’s ‘great head coach’ when we need him here at ‘The U’? We want him here at ‘The U’!” Lucky for us Canes fan, whether it was because those other coaches turned us down or not, we got our man!
Coach Shannon is everything UMIAMI; he is a tried and true Hurricane. He has played in the program, coached in the program, and has come of age in the program. He has been under the tutelage of some of the greatest Hurricane coaches of all times: Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis, and like it or not, Larry Coker. He has seen the successes of them all, but also witnessed their failures (Erickson and Coker) giving him a wealth of experiences and history to draw from. He knows the program from a perspective that no one else can: as a player, as an assistant, as a coordinator, and now as the Head Coach. He knows the formula that the Miami Hurricane football tradition was built upon (hard work, competition, and the us-against-the world mentality) and he has seen that tradition erode due to poor coaching, prima donna and complacent athletes, and strained recruiting relationships within the South Florida high school community.
Immediately following his hire, Coach Shannon began attacking those problems he knew were holding the program back. He meticulously and carefully assembled a group of coaches whom he has full confidence in as his supporting cast. He did not go out and get all the big names like FSU, but he went out and got coaches that he respected for their recruiting acumen and football prowess. Each coach—Nix, Walton, Stoutland, Hurtt, Robinson, Barrow, Mosley, McGriff, and Panunzzio—are outstanding recruiters first and foremost, and each is establishing the recruiting ties again, not only in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, but throughout the entire state of Florida, as only 2 of Miami’s 19 current verbal commitments are not from the state of Florida.
Shannon is also recruiting kids that fit the traditional Miami Hurricane blueprint. These kids are leaders on their teams and in their communities. They are confident, resilient, hard-working, competitive, and above all, they are winners. By recruiting this type of athlete, half of Coach Shannon’s “work” is already done, because he at least doesn’t have to worry about “deprogramming” the mind set of the athletes that he is recruiting, because they already take on the very same traits that make Coach Shannon special. They can relate to him on all levels—athletically, socially, and academically—because in many ways Coach Shannon is just like them. In Coach Shannon, they see a man who has come from the same “struggle,” yet despite the hardships he has had to overcome, he continues to triumph, as he refuses to lose or make excuses.
This is the type of leader and inspirational figure that must be at the head of the football program at the University of Miami, and lead us back to that from whence we have come. I have total confidence in Coach Shannon, and I truly believe in what he is doing to restore the Hurricane tradition we all know and love. Without a shadow of doubt, I believe that Coach Randy Shannon was not only the right choice, but the only choice for leading the Canes back to the Promised Land, as we reascend into the heights of the elite in college football.
1. Continue to put up the “Fence” around South Florida (Recruiting): Coach Shannon and his staff are doing a fantastic job in recruiting. It is early and nothing is set in stone, but if these recruits stick, they are just the type of recruits that past great UM teams were built upon. They are no strangers to hard work, and want to compete and get better. They are superior athletes and more than anything, they are winners. It is important as the home school to keep these athletes here, as virtually every school in the nation knows that the best high school football is played in South Florida. However, it is important to nurture established out of state pipelines as well. States like Texas (Kevin Williams, Eric Winston), California (Ken Dorsey, K2), Louisiana (Reggie Wayne, Ed Reed), and lately Tennessee (Supa Coop), among others have traditionally given us great talent. However, we must do so without neglecting our home kids, as they must be the top priority of the program.
2. Continue to destroy the complacency and sense of entitlement that this era of Canes possesses: I love how Coach Shannon attacks the prima donna attitude that has set in here at “The U.” It will take time, however, to change the culture. This mental state was not developed over night, and will not disappear over night. Taking the names off the jerseys, while it might seem on the outside like an insignificant move, is an attempt to foster team unity, and to remove individualism and selfishness from the team’s culture. I also love that he demands the best out his athletes at all times in practice and in games. Again, this will take time as the poor practice habits and lackadaisical efforts on game day did not happen over night, so it will take some benchings and suspensions to get the players to understand what has been dubbed “The Shannon Way,” what I refer to as “The Hurricane Way.” In our hay days, hard work, competition, and team play were the staples of the program, and that must return.
3. Develop the family tree you’ve assembled (Coaches): Coach Shannon has assembled a very good coaching staff. Now he just needs to let them coach, but also nurture them by being the good example that coaches like Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, Butch Davis were to him. Miami has always been a place where coaches come in as virtual unknowns, but by the time they leave, are highly thought of and are some of the best in the business, college or pro.
4. Stay humble and stay hungry: Lastly, stay humble and stay hungry. Remember what got you here and what the expectations are. On a personal level, stay the same great coach that you are, and maintain the healthy respect your student athletes have for you, and understand that you are like a father figure to them (in many cases you, along with the other coaches, are the only father figures some of them may have) and that they can talk to you and trust you. Football wise, stay hungry and always want the best. You know the culture in Miami and what the expectations are. I love that you don’t shy away from those expectations, but embrace them and welcome them. Stay motivated, and success will continue to follow your every step because, as you already know…It’s all about “The U”!