The Miami Hurricanes met as a football team for the first time since Sunday, the day they were informed as a team by athletic director Kirby Hocutt that Randy Shannon had been fired as coach. Although internet reports surfaced saying the team meeting Thursday might be for players to meet their new coach, it wasn't.
"We just had a meeting to go over academics, make sure the guys get their stuff done academically," sophomore cornerback Brandon McGee said. "Emotionally it's been tough. When you take a guy like coach Shannon away from the program, away from kind of what he built, it's not easy. It's been emotional but I feel like our coaches prepared us for moments like this and we're able to prepare for what's next."
Next for the Canes? Final exams and a whole lot of studying. The team won't practice again at Greentree until Dec. 11. In the meantime, McGee said, players have been working out and trying to refocus after a 7-5 season. Oh yeah, and they've been hearing plenty of rumors about who their next coach might be, too.
"We don't really pay attention to it too much. I think the fans feed into it much more than we do," McGee said. "Everyday we hear a different name.
"The only name I kept hearing was Jon Gruden. I was like 12 years old when he won the Super Bowl with Tampa Bay. I'm pretty much open to anything. Whatever coach they bring in, I'm sure they'll bring in the best guy to win."
Gruden all but ended any speculation he'll become UM's next coach on Thursday when he said he was willing to help the Hurricanes find a new coach during a teleconference on ESPN.
The news shocked at least one Hurricane -- defensive end Adewale Ojomo. "Wow," Ojomo said. "I was thinking coach Gruden might come in. Nobody told us that in here. But those were the rumors."
For the most part, players said they really don't care who among the current candidates gets hired. They just want a good coach.
"A coach that cares about his players," defensive end Olivier Vernon said of what he would like.
"Just a good coach who is going to come in and know the great tradition of Miami," Ojomo said. "Experience is the best teacher."
"It doesn't matter to me as long as its a coach who gets the job done," freshman tackle Seantrel Henderson said. "I love being a Cane, the family feeling as far as the team."
> Henderson walked out of Thursday's meeting with a black boot on his left foot. He's had it for over week. The 6-8, 350-pound right tackle has a sprained achilles, but said he won't miss UM's bowl game.
> Miami Northwestern High quarterback Teddy Bridgewater -- one of six remaining Hurricanes commitments -- hasn't wanted to talk about recruiting lately. But I spoke to his mother, Rose Murphy by phone Thursday, who told me Bridgewater is still continuing to mull over what do since Shannon's firing.
"It's been crazy," Murphy said. "But we're taking it one day at a time. And like he says, when the time comes he'll let everybody know.
"Everytime I think it's one school or when I think he's made a decision on UM, LSU or whatever, I really don't know. When I talked to him today he said, 'Mama, I haven't decided.' So, I really don't know. I try to stay out of it and tell him whatever decision he makes I support him. I know where I would want him. But he has to make his own decision. I just want what's best for him. If he goes away, I'm fine with it. But if he stays home and plays in Miami I'm fine with it. I just want him to do what he wants to do -- and get a free education."
Murphy said UM and LSU remain at the top of her son's list, but Florida and other schools remain in hot pursuit. "It's been a lot for him to deal with," Murphy said. "They come to the house, talk to him, call him. I can't really say Manny what he's feeling."
The Hurricanes lost one commitment since Shannon's firing -- four-star cornerback Albert Louis-Jean of Brockton, Mass. UM already canceled its first recruiting weekend Dec. 10-11 and is hoping to have a coach in place so it can host recruits Dec. 17-18. When Larry Coker was fired, it took UM a little more than two weeks to find a replacement.
> In case you missed, CBS Sports Columnist Gregg Doyel took some serious shots at Canes athletic director Kirby Hocutt. He thinks Hocutt is already fumbling the coaching search process. I don't think Hocutt has and I think UM will still end up with a very good head coach.