Despite reports to the contrary Wednesday, University of Miami coach Randy Shannon has apparently hired 61-year old Bill Young away from the University of Kansas Thursday afternoon in a move I can only deem eye-opening.
Young, a 38-year coaching veteran who turned the Jayhawks into one of the nation's best defensive units last season, told the Lawrence Journal World he wanted a new challenge. Well, Mr. Young, you got one. Miami was pretty bad near the end of last season. But if Young can do what he did in his six years at Kansas (with guys a little more less athletic than at UM to say the least) with some of the defensive talent the Hurricanes are hording in recruiting now, Randy Shannon may have hit himself a home run today.
"This is a huge move for Miami," national recruiting analyst Larry Blustein told me moments ago. "This goes with everything Miami has done in recruiting this year. He's a guy who has proven himself. What probably got him the job was what he did at the Orange Bowl against a Virginia Tech team Miami couldn't stop. I don't think Kansas athletes can compare to what Miami has and is getting in recruiting. Miami could have a very, very special defense in a couple of years."
It wasn't that long ago when Shannon's defense was special here at Miami. It was obvious last season the Hurricanes not only had a drop in talent, but likely coaching too. Tim Walton, whom Shannon promoted to defensive coordinator before firing him last month, simply couldn't maintain what Shannon had achieved -- even with two potential first round picks on the defense in Calais Campbell and Kenny Phillips.
What the Hurricanes are getting in Young is someone who won't have to look over his shoulder. While I believed the Hurricanes would actually go after a Patrick Nix-type like it did with the offensive coordinator job -- someone young, hungry and relatively cheap -- it appears Shannon tried swinging for the fences on this one and connected.
The Jayhawks finished as the 12th ranked defense in the nation and the No. 4 scoring defense, allowing just 16 points per game last season. But what I liked most about them last season was the fact they produced so many turnovers, and took chances and they were good at stopping the run. Young's teams have always been good at that. In 1999 at Southern Cal, the Trojans led the nation in takeaways and led the Pac-10 in rushing defense.
Perhaps the best part of this hiring too is that Young is a veteran coach. If you look at what Miami has, the majority of its staff is filled with guys relatively young in coaching experience -- guys like Clint Hurtt, Michael Barrow. Young will provide leadership and coaching experience to those guys.
"I thought Randy would take his time, wait until after signing day -- at least that's what I heard," Blustein said. "But what probably happened was that he took a shot at a high-caliber guy and it just so happened Young was interested too. This is a perfect place for a guy like Young who probably isn't looking to be a head coach. He's an older guy who has been there, done that. And Miami is certainly a nicer place than Lawrence, Kansas -- especially this time of year and for retirement."
With the current early enrollees unavailable for comment, I made a few phone calls to current Hurricane commitments coming in the fall. I spoke to Rivals 2-star linebacker Zach Kane, a 6-3, 220-pounder from New Jersey, who is supposed to be visiting UM this weekend. Kane was excited.
"I actually watched Kansas a lot this year and I didn't know who their coordinator was, but I was very impressed by what they did," Kane said. "He definitely knows his stuff.
"The best part about it is he's coming in fresh and we're coming fresh. He doesn't know any of the juniors or seniors more than he does us. It gives us all equal footing."
*PROGRAMMING NOTE: The podcast I planned to record with Larry Blustein isn't going to happen until tomorrow morning, which means the podcast likely won't make it online until late afternoon. I'm hoping to do a few recordings later tonight at the Dade-Broward All-Star practices to include with it.