Thoughts and observations from Wednesday as the search for a football coach at the University of Miami shifts from Jon Gruden to other candidates:
> Missing out on Gruden really is not a big deal for the Hurricanes. As I wrote in my previous blog, I never really thought a guy who has spent the last 19 years in the NFL (as broadcaster, head coach and assistant) would want to handle or be able to handle all of the intricate details of being a college coach. It's a lot more responsibility than being an NFL coach.
Wednesday, I spoke to former Bucs QB Shaun King, who played for Gruden, and he told me flatly the Hurricanes were crazy for wanting him. King just didn't think it was a good mix at all. In the end, I think Gruden was not as interested as many of us were first led to believe. But the fact athletic director Kirby Hocutt went after him shows me at least UM is serious about finding a big name, quality coach.
> Most believe the next name on UM's list is Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, who was supposed to be in town today to visit a recruit. Mullen didn't end up making the trip because he's battling the flu. But I've heard through a third party who spoke with one of Mullen's assistants that the former Gators offensive coordinator believes he already has a better job. He's coaching in the SEC and the school's facilities are better than UM's. As of Wednesday night, we had not heard that Mullen spoke to anyone from UM involved in the hiring process. But that may happen today as Hocutt and his Chuck Neinas continue to make their rounds.
> As it stands, I don't think we're going to see a resolution to this job very quickly. Since Gruden didn't surprise us and agree to taking the job today, I think this search will continue well into next week. The Hurricanes have already called off their first recruiting weekend Dec. 10 and 11. I think the target date to really find a coach is before the second recruiting weekend (Dec. 17 and 18) so that a new coach/staff can be in place to court those players. When Larry Coker was fired a day after the end of the 2006 regular season, it took UM a little more than two weeks to hire Shannon as their next coach.
> As for Shannon, he apparently is very interested in becoming the new coach at the University of Minnesota. ESPN’s Bruce Feldman said he spoke with Shannon Tuesday, and wrote Shannon would love to stay in college coaching because “you can make a difference in young people’s lives.” A few weeks ago, before Shannon was obviously fired, there was an a strange internet report that Shannon might be interested in going to Minnesota. You have to wonder if he knew what was coming and was already planning his next move. By the way, Colorado and Vanderbilt are two other schools reportedly interested in Shannon.
> Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, who is looking for a job, got a ringing endorsement from Donald Trump Wednesday. Trump sent a written message to UM President Donna Shalala praising Leach on the front page of a Palm Beach Post Sports Section. Leach took to the airwaves Wednesday on ESPN radio and then sent his own message.
"I think it is a great opportunity for anybody," Leach said of the UM job. "They have got a great tradition and all the rest. A great recruiting base and you could do big things at Miami.
"I have had success everywhere else, you know and I think it just has to do with everybody doing their role. See Texas Tech started out in the border conference, which was a really soft conference, then Texas Tech went to the Southwest Conference, which was a pretty good conference, then they went to the Big XII, which was a great conference, but in that ten years that me and my staff were in the Big XII we won more bowl games than all of the years that Tech had the rest of the years combined. You know so we have got a pretty good team and a good plan."
> Leach isn't the only guy who wants the job. I've heard from reliable sources current Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville would be very interested in the job.
> The Sun Bowl might not be as interested as they once were in taking the Hurricanes. We're hearing Boston College could end up taking the spot. It all likely depends on the opponent. The Sun Bowl would love for a UM-Notre Dame showdown. But at this point, it's more likely Notre Dame goes to the Champs Sports Bowl (had the Canes beat USF they would be there). Now if Notre Dame doesn't end up at the Sun Bowl, UM could slip down the pecking order. As it stands, the Sun Bowl could also be short on Pac-10 teams and take a Big East school as a potential replacement.
> The Hurricanes lost their first recruit since the firing on Wednesday when Brockton, Mass. cornerback Albert Louis-Jean decommitted from the Hurricanes. UM is down to six commitments now.