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Shannon helps Futch through tragedy

How do you tell a player who has blown out his knee and is out for the season to keep fighting their way back? What do you say to a player whose older brother was shot and killed over a set of car rims?  How do you comfort an athlete who just lost an uncle -- and a big fan -- to a brain tumor? 

Randy Shannon How do you play counselor and coach when all of that pain has inflicted itself on just one of your football players in a span of three very tough months? 

University of Miami linebacker Jordan Futch didn't ask for all of that anguish, but it came his way last October. First, he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee five games into his sophomore season (his second season-ending injury in a row).

Then, it got worse when his mother, Caroline Futch, called him frantically and in tears on Jan. 21. Much to her relief, her first born, Jordan, was fine. Her elder step son, Sean Jr., wasn't as lucky. The rumors she'd been hearing about her husband's son being killed later turned out to be true. Sean Jr., 21, was with found in the back seat of a friend's car in Liberty City hunched over the backseat of baby he was trying to protect from gunfire. There was a bullet hole in the back of his head, all part of a deal gone wrong.

"It wasn't his fault," Jordan contends. "He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some guys tried to steal some rims he was trying to sell. They started beating his friend up and so he got his gun out and tried to protect himself. And then they started shooting. There was a child in the back seat and my brother was trying to protect this child. My brother jumped back into the car and tried to protect the child and get in the way. They put a couple rounds in the car and unfortunately one hit him in the back of the head, which was the killer shot. That was it. He was gone.

"He wasn't do anything bad. He was trying to get some money for his rent. It's a hard world out there with this economy."

Jordan Futch Guns, drugs and bad neighborhoods are things Randy Shannon tries hard to keep his players away from. But as much as he's done to build a divide from trouble, tragedy still finds its way into their lives through friends and family members. Futch isn't the only Hurricane who has lost a family member close to him recently. Last season, safety Randy Phillips lost his younger brother Randall to a drug overdose. This summer, freshman linebacker Travis Williams lost his brother to gunshots shortly after arriving on campus. 

Tragedies? Shannon knows them all too well from his own life. You know the stories. His father was gunned down when he was 3. He had older twin brothers addicted to crack cocaine and other siblings die from AIDS. Some people might could grow numb to bad news. Somehow, Shannon doesn't. 

When Futch's mother called him to tell him about what her son was dealing with -- two weeks before National Signing Day no less -- Shannon called Futch into his office. Shannon put his arm around him -- like he does with all the others you never hear about -- and he let Futch cry.

"I know they speak on a man-to-man level I'm not privy too," Caroline Futch said. "But whatever he's done to help Jordan, he's done an amazing job. When I spoke to Randy, I told him 'Look I know you have a perspective going through this with your family. I've never lost a child or sibling. Please do what you can.' He just knew what he had to say to Jordan. I can't tell you where it came from other than the coaches' own personal experiences. I'm grateful. You see how Jordan is now."

Futch is grateful, too. The way he talks about Shannon goes beyond your typical coach-player relationship. It's not easy to get a 6-3, 240-pound linebacker to cry. But when Futch talks about what Shannon means to him, the tears flow.

"I just have to thank god everyday, thank the man above and thank coach Shannon for the love and support," Futch said. "Coach Shannon, like I said, I don't want to start tearing up, he was the real supporter. He had his issues with his family, a lot of people lost. It was real special to have him and that's why I love coach Shannon so much and I'll do whatever for that man because I know he'll do whatever for us. It means so much to have him here as coach. He's another father figure for me. I really appreciate him."

As you know, Shannon isn't one to smile much. But when I told him what Futch had said about him, he couldn't help himself. If there's something Shannon loves about being the coach of this program -- in the city he grew up in -- it's being more than just the coach.

"It's part of the job being a counselor, being a motivator," Shannon said. "Sometimes you have to be a father to them. Sometimes you have to be a grandfather. It's all kind of things and all kind of hats you have to wear, which is part of the job. Families give you their young men and they expect you to keep them on the right track. That's what we do here."


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Great article!!

Kudos for the article and bigger Kudos to Jordan for being such a man in the face of adversity and to Coach for being there for him and all his players.


Fantastic article...great work Manny!

let your emotions out on the field.

great work, Manny.

This article represents one of the many reasons why I want Randy Shannon to be coaching the University of Miami football team for a long time.

He's doing fine in the win column, he'll continue to improve in that area, but there is more to life than that.

This is by far one of my favorite articles ever. Thankyou. Best of luck to Jordan. Thankyou Coach Shannon. We as fans need to do a bettet job of keeping things in perspective and realize these guys are people first. I love UM and want them to win as much as anyone but let's keep in mind that Shannon is a great person and a very good coach. He deserves credit for rebuilding the program the right way! Go Canes!!!

Just another reason I love Randy representing this university.

super article. kind of puts it all in perspective.

Where are the Shannon haters now, kick rocks your not real fans if you don't want this coach to do well. Awesome graduation rate, father figure, and improving head coach. WAY TO GO RANDY.

Great article Manny! IF college sports are to more than just a semi-pro or professional league in that there is a focus on preparing late adolescents/young adults for a productive life, THEN the kind of relationship that Coach Shannon is developing with these guys is EXACTLY what it is all about. Strive to win (and I enjoy the wins as much or more than anyone) but also take advantage of the opportunities college gives to learn, develop yourself and form bonds with others that can last the rest of your life, well beyond the day when your physical prowess declines.

the rula,
Very well said. I dont understand how these "fans" want Randy out. He has as good leadership qualities as any coach in the Nation. He is making a difference in these kids' lives. I would be privleged to play for a guy like him.

This is an excellent article!

i got tears on my eyes writing this,love coach shannon,helping these young man,some of us need that person in our life,good story.LETS BEAT CLEMSON BABY GO FUTCH

Experience, while often painful, is the best way to be able to help someone else. I hope parents of other recruits are reading this.

What an article and what a man, both Jordan and Randy. Give Randy another extension and forgive all his shortcomings. You hear something like that and you think about 12 measly little points at OSU and what a joke it was to even consider badmouthing this coach. We're lucky to have him. We're lucky to have everyone on this team.

This is a great article and it's nice to see Shannon supporting Futch through a tough time.

I still think he's a failed coach. A nice man, but he can't coach.

Great article.....Both Jordan and Randy continue to strive for the best!!!! We love them both!!!!

I got goosebumps reading Futch's words. So proud of our coach but especially the young men on our team, who continue to do things the right way.

Go Canes!

The more I read about Coach Shannon the more I want him to succeed. One thing is for sure. Coach Shannon may not succeed as the "U"s head coach but he has already won the most important battle. He's victorious in the game of life. GOOO! CANES!

Great article!

It would be nice to read more news articles like this.

This is a great article and goes to show that life is bigger than what is done on the field but unfortunately wins matter the most. With that being said this just makes me pull even harder for this team and the players! We have some crazy fans to want to see this coach gone, he is just right for this area and the kids around here. There is no better fit for the "U"! Stay strong Jordan and let ur anger show on the field, controlled but act a fool! I'm pulling for you on and off the field and wish you the best of luck and hope u stay injury free! Now let's go get this win Saturday!!!I would like to see us play 1 game mistake free and see how we really look and what team we can really be! I really think we have had our last loss for this season and will win out!! GO CANES!

Manny, great article just one of the many reasons why we need Shannon and his players to succeed on and off the field. This Man is the main reason i buy season tickets to go to a half empty stadium in a so called football town. I hope that his legacy come to fruition here at his alma mater and that he's our Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno he'll do better at coaching i have faith it's been a bumpy road i know that but i have Faith. To all the haters keep watching the games at home like always!

Thanks, Manny!

This is why I the Boss will always have my respect. Great article.

Reading an article like this is a great reminder that this UM Football that we all root for and enjoy is afterall.....Just A Game. God Bless Coach Shannon and all those kids.

i dont think there is anyone on the planet who doesnt want to see coach shannon succeed. but he's learning on the fly too and i hope he gets it in gear.

who wants mr shannon out?, not me!!!!!! keep up the great work coach!!!!!1! we are back!!!! and randy its because of you!!!! go canes best wishes to u jordan!

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