One of the most fun and revealing University of Miami videos to watch this season have been the behind the scenes looks on Hurricanes Gameday. With privileged access to the locker room and sidelines, Gameday has provided a chance to see Randy Shannon and his players up close and personal -- or at least the parts they don't want edited out.
The most revealing moments for me have been seeing Shannon cut loose with his players, laugh and show a side of himself we in the media and TV cameras rarely see. For instance, in last week's episode when UM played Georgia Tech we get to see and hear Shannon say things like: "You know who I'm rolling with? Tyler Horn. Y'all watch his intensity. Y'all watch how he knocks people downfield." Then, we get to watch Shannon celebrate the opening touchdown drive by leaping up and bouncing off Horn in midair. It leaves you saying to yourself: Is this really the guy we talk to on Tuesday morning media days at UM?
The truth is as mild-mannered or unemotional as Shannon may appear on most days, he has shown in these videos week to week to be a very inspired and emotional coach. Former Hurricane Gerard Daphnis (who played tight end for UM from 1993 to 1996 and is now a co-host on the CBS-4 Canes4Life Show 11:30 a.m., Saturday) saw this first hand last weekend in Atlanta. Daphnis spent Saturday with former Cane Edgerrin James watching the Hurricanes from a different angle.
How was the experience for him? "It was eye-opening," Daphnis said.
"The most eye-opening thing for me from a positive perspective was that I saw the kids and the way they interacted with each other was the same way we interacted when I was there. Guys were teasing each other, getting up in each other's face. At one point in the first half, there was a running back that got up in the face of a linebacker and said 'If you miss another tackle, it's going to be me and you.' I liked that a lot. It shows you these kids are accountable for each other."
What also impressed Daphnis? Hearing Shannon's halftime speech and watching UM's assistants coach up each of their units.
"It's not that they're not getting the same thing from the motivational standpoint or coaching standpoint, the thing that was bothersome was how do you hear that speech and come out flat in the second half and let Georgia Tech come right down the field and score?," Daphnis said. "Me and EJ heard that speech and we were like where can we get some extra pants? Hand me a helmet."
Daphnis said he went to the game hoping to get a better idea of why UM (7-3, 5-2 ACC) just hasn't been able to get over "the hump and win big games against ranked opponents." After seeing UM pound the Yellow Jackets 35-10, he still doens't have an answer.
"It just doesn't add up," Daphnis said. "If I'm a coach, I'm frustrated. I keep hearing this constant thing between coaches in youth level, college level and NFL that the kids now are different, meaning what motivates them is different. What they gravitate toward is different.
"I remember when I played, a guy on the field would look at me the wrong way and I would want to take it to them. I'll give you an example. Darrin Smith, he's one of the nicest guys you'll meet in your life, very Christian based. He doesn't swear, doesn't do anything bad. When he put on his helmet, you couldn't tell that was him. All the rules changed. Looking at a guy like Darrin is indication to me that you can still be that good student and good person and then turnaround and be a beast on the field. Why is it not translating? I'm still searching for that answer myself. I'm doing more research.
"It's just kind of mind boggling. They have all the things available to them to be successful. The only thing I think, it's like having kids. I have five kids -- four girls and one boy. As an adult we always have this mentality we always want our kids to have it better than us. But that mindset is a little bit tainted and flawed. The thing that made me as hungry of a person is because I didn't have these things. It made me want to set goals. If your making it easier for these kids, they don't always develop the same type of hunger. In one hand your helping them out, but the other your taking that hunger away. The job is finding the happy medium.
"Something that stuck out to me was that when I played at Miami there were quite a few jerks on the team -- a-holes, guys who were selfish. Guys like receiver like Chris T. Jones who would say "I want the ball, throw me the damn ball, your messing with my money.' On the outside, that may be seen as a selfish person. But it was those guys who were selfish to a certain extent that went out there and wanted to make big plays and made big plays. The way I came off, you need a certain amount of those guys on your team. And right now, that type of guy doesn't exist on this team. Everyone does their part. There are no selfish individuals. They are truly a team. But sometimes the great players are selfish -- they want the ball, the game on their backs. As far as I'm concerned sometimes you need that. And there are none of those guys on this team."
> The final regular season episode of Canes4Life on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on CBS-4 will feature a visit from former quarterback Ryan Collins. I'll be on at the end as usual to provide my reasons for Hope & Concern heading into Saturday's game against Virginia Tech.