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For Canes, time to pull the weeds out

ON A SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FLIGHT HEADED HOME TO SOUTH FLORIDA -- After Notre Dame was done taking the Canes to school Friday afternoon at the Sun Bowl, I spent about 20 minutes behind the stadium watching UM close its chapter on the 2010 season.

One by one, as players and assistant coaches trickled out from the locker room, all I saw were somber, defeated and disappointed faces. This unceremonious finish wasn't the way guys like Damien Berry, Leonard Hankerson and Ryan Hill figured their careers would end after Randy Shannon took over four years ago.

Hankerson tried to hide his disappointment. But he couldn't. In the middle of talking about all the great times he had at UM with his "brothers" and his "family" he broke down, covering his face with a towel so we couldn't see him weep. Berry, who led the Hurricanes in rushing this season, started to tear up as he said good-bye to a few equipment workers and friends who came to watch him play. Hill, who along with the rest of UM's secondary had a rough afternoon trying to chase down Michael Floyd, didn't hide the chip on his shoulder. Now that he knew his ride in Coral Gables was over, he cut loose when I asked him if he thought the next coach could do what Shannon couldn't.

"I think [he'll turn it around], but it will definitely take some time. I don't know how much time," Hill said before unleashing a little displeasure. "But I think the first thing he has to do is weed out the guys who he doesn't think will be beneficial to the program. We have a lot of guys that have to do a lot of maturing, that act like little boys. There are points like this in November, late in the season that it hurts you. We have a lot of growing to do in this program."

I couldn't have said it better myself. What Hill said summed up exactly what we failed to see during Shannon's tenure -- real, sound, player development. For all the praise Shannon got for being a great recruiter (I'll touch on that later), disciplinarian and bringing the school's APR scores up, two things he failed miserably at were hiring the right personnel to make his football team better on the field, and being a well-liked, charismatic ambassador of the program. Like it or not, the last two are probably the most important when it comes to winning and being a successful coach -- with recruiting right in there as well.

If there we one constant under Shannon, really, it was coaching instability. In Shannon's four seasons, UM had two offensive coordinators, two recruiting coordinators, two running backs coaches, two receivers coaches, three defensive line coaches and three defensive coordinators. And then you wondered why guys never seemed to take a step forward. It's kind of hard for players to develop when they have start over with a guy who has new ideas constantly. It's even harder when many of those assistants weren't very good to begin with.

Shannon's personality -- as you well know -- wasn't sparkly either. For as much as his players may have loved him and still do, he never really won the fans or the media over, opting instead to be abrasive and at times combative when he really didn't need to be. Instead of letting people see the good side of his program that might bring people closer to liking it -- like the personality of his players (he shut down Twitter and cut off access to interviews), assistants and even how fired up he would get in the locker room (go back and watch those clips from Hurricane Gameday) -- he shut everybody out, closed the door for privacy. All we saw instead was that stern, disinterested look on the sideline from Shannon and a team that went 28-22 under his rule and did nothing but make people angry and frustrated on most Saturdays.

You want to talk about brand? That's not an image of a successful program, one you can sell to boosters, trustees and more importantly -- the people who buy tickets on Saturdays and the top high school recruits who might have been interested in coming to the program.

I said I was going to get into recruiting: Shannon was hardly great at that. To me, he did what was expected. He got many of the top players locally who wanted to come to UM and a few top-notch pieces from other places (Seantrel Henderson, Storm Johnson to name a few). But he still missed the boat on a lot of good players who wanted to come to Miami and didn't fill key needs (look at linebacker and cornerback). Coming out of high school, you didn't hear a lot about guys like Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard (Hollywood Hills) and West Virginia safety Robert Sands (Carol City). But you will in April during the NFL Draft. Both were in his backyard for the taking and now both will go on the first day of the draft. There are plenty of other examples -- UCF quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey (Maimi Central) is a big one.

I got the sense toward the end of his tenure, Shannon and his staff got a little complacent when it came to recruiting -- thinking they could go in at the last minute and swoop up local guys they wanted. Sound familiar? Ask local coaches like Miami Central's Telly Lockette, who just led the Rockets to the Class 6A state title with a roster loaded with nearly two dozen D-I recruits, and he'll tell you the Hurricanes didn't begin recruiting a single one of his players until Shannon was fired. Southrdige coach Patrick Burrows, who has two legit defensive backs headed to BCS programs, said he sent his top two players down to UM in his truck nearly every day during spring practice when they were juniors.

"They just kept coming back telling me 'Coach, they're just not interested in us,'" Burrows said two weeks ago.

The point here isn't to bash Shannon as his era comes to an end and his players begin walking out the door. There really is no need to pile on here. The point here is to learn from four years worth of mistakes.

There is no reason a talented player like Sam Shields should go through his career at UM as a mediocre player at best only to go to the NFL and start for the Green Bay Packers (where he's learned the basics of playing the cornerback position with flash cards). There is no reason a player like Leonard Hankerson should have to go work with former Dolphins receiver Mark Duper to learn how to become a better receiver. There is no reason a player like Jacory Harris, in his third year at UM, should still be looking like a freshman in his third bowl game.

I'm not saying players don't deserve some blame themselves for underperforming. But how can a football team continue to make the same mistakes game after game after game? How come the Canes looked progressively worse at the end of each and of Shannon's four seasons? UM ranked 114th in penalties this season, led the nation in interceptions thrown and probably was first in missed tackles (nobody counts those).

If you didn't think so before, I hope you know now that Al Golden has a heck of a job in front of him. Not only does he need to mend and solidify the fence that fell down locally in recruiting, he needs to hire a top-notch staff that is going to start making the players here a lot better and put them in situations to be successful. He needs to bring fans back to Sun Life Stadium and a sense of excitement back to the program.

Do you realize that if the Gators win their bowl game today, the Hurricanes will be the only in-state FBS program that didn't win its bowl game? Do you realize Miami's 7-6 record was tied with FIU for the second-worst among the FBS state schools (FAU finished 4-8)? The Golden Panthers won their bowl game. And right now I'm not sure UM could beat the Golden Panthers. UCF, meanwhile, not only won its bowl game, but is going to finish in the Top 25. The Canes lost to USF. And those Seminoles up at Florida State, they won 10 games in Jimbo Fisher's first season and seem primed to start ruling the state again. Sure, the Gators are down. But they've got a new head coach and Charlie Weis is supposed to be the team's next offensive coordinator.

It's time to start realizing how big a hole the Canes are really in.

It's time to start pulling out those weeds in Coral Gables.

It's time to start moving forward.

Good luck, Coach Golden. You've got a nation full of Canes who are praying you get the job done.


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This blog pretty much sums up everything -- a total breakdown on just about every level. I stopped watching the Sun Bowl late in the first half when, trailing 24-0, UM ran up the middle for 4 yards on 3rd and 10. It was the best decision I made all season. Anyway, I'd love to know which guys Ryan Hill says "need to be weeded out." I think we can all guess who they are and I think they were probably 4- and 5-star recruits who just showed up and assumed they could dominate because of their physical skills and the logo on the helmet. My guess is that some of these guys will be the hotly rumored transfers. But the program is stuck with guys from this group who will be seniors next season. Yes, Coach Golden has quite a job ahead.


Good write up, but it should've come after the Virginia game. I realize it might have taken a set to do it then, so I'm not going to criticize.

This was good work.

Well there's always next year....BWAHAHAHAHAHA

amen here's to the 2011 season with the Golden Ticket!!!!!!!!!!!!

Junkie - Temple's problems were drastically overstated. He's in a prime recruiting area for Pennsylvania and New Jersey kids and Temple made an administrative decision to build the program when they hired him (they spent more than twice as much as any other MAC program while Golden was their head coach).

I've liked everything I've heard from and about Al Golden. But I'm not impressed in the least with his work at Temple.

Excellent article, my friends and I (most Canes alums and season ticket holders) have been saying these things for the past couple of years. I cannot strongly argue about Shannon getting a 4th year at UM (it allowed his recruits to complete their tenure), but what stood out about the Shannon era is that the team seemed to regress not only late in games but also late in each season (losing key games in November and December. Despite what was described as great recruiting, and I will not dispute that, the players did not seem to develop as expected. There are a couple of good examples right now, Sean Spence was outstanding as a freshman but has only recently returned to that level. The WR corp is loaded with top recruits but they are nothing special and drop way too many balls. LB was always a Cane staple back in the day, look at the legacy of UM linebackers in the NFL. Right now, they do not have one player who is certain to even be drafted! Spence has a shot; hopefully Golden will regain the magic. Shannon is a FBS level position coach or a lower level coordinator at best, they guy just doesn't have the people skills to run a franchise like this.

I watched FSU beat SC (a damn good team) The hits they were putting on the SC team were awesome. They knocked out the top SC back (Gilmore)on the first play. Think, did you see ONE solid hit from UM during the entire ND game? Think about it.
Secondly, the UM teams of old NEVER gave up. Even when behind they always played as if they knew that they would ultimately win. (and they usually did) This team GAVE UP when they got behind in the 1st QTR.

Posted by: Masochist | January 01, 2011 at 06:20 PM

They gave up yet ND only scored 2 FGs after halftime.. lol @ some of the garbage posted on this board.

Eudocimus, it doesn't matter what Temple spent, the bottom line is Golden took over a terrible, consistantly loser of a program and turned them into winners. What Shannon walked into pales in comparison to what Golden took over, won and produced. Which is alot more than what we got from that moron Shannon. The fact is for a team to win U have to have a competent head coach to win. We now have that in Golden, which is something we did not have in Shannon or Coker.

The first thing Golden should do to mend fences with the local schools is to hire, or at least consult with, Don Soldinger. Also football scholarships can be pulled if the player is not performing up to par.

We did not have a competent coach with Shannon or Coker.

It sounds like we have that with Golden, but Temple tells us nothing.

Hope for the best.

IBGO, I agree with U. Soldinger would be a great hire to run the special teams and coach running backs, and it would do wonders repairing relationships with local high schools. Also another guy to look at would be Gary Stevens as offensive coordinator, or at least qb coach. I for the life of me cannot figure out why we have not hired Dupar as WR coach. He turned Hankerson into a record breaker when before he was the man with the hands of stone.

Well when U look at what he took over and what the program was when he left, its kinda hard to dispute what he did there. My biggest concern is going to be the offense, particularly who is going to be the offensive coordinator and the passing game. From what I have seen of Temple we will have a strong running game, so with the backs we have if we can recruit some good prostyle QBs we should be fine. There is no doubt we will be better with Golden than we have been the last 9 or so years.

Notre Dame, I know that "The U" was a 3 point favorite, and Sportscenter kept showing the graph that 58% of America thought Miami would roll. Well, it wasnt even close. It was not a last second field goal that beat us, or a bad call. It was you IRISH. You were the better team by far. Your player obviously wanted to be there, comming after the "U" the whole game, all with a frosh QB that missed his prom. Im not mad, just impressed. I tip my hat. Its fair to ask when UM scored two quick TD's in the 4th qtr "Where was this team?" Many are not interested in your legends and mystic of your storied pass, yet when speaking of this Sun Bowl, be kind- You beat a Miami team with maybe more talent than your own, many "U" fans just need to spit out the bitter taste of defeat and support Golden and perhaps stonger perfomances ahead.

Great write up Manny, keep up the good work bro.

To the morons that keep referencing miami h/s football with northwestern-northwestern is not the only school in miami and the best recruits in the state still do come from miami, look it up...

and being a well-liked, charismatic ambassador of the program.

F.A.U. ?

The good thing is we have talent on the roster and only 15 slots open. So golden can have competition at every position. Shannon had to fill like 30 slots a yr because we coker left the place empty. So, give it time people. thats all we can hope for. Shannon might have been the worse coach in D1 history at a major program

Posted by: Dom | January 01, 2011 at 04:08 PM

So, out of all this mess, ... that's the good thing huh ?

I agree Kirby Holcutt is a Fraud..and If by saying UM needs to run the ball makes Golden a great coach..then everyone who has followed UM football should have gotten an offer to become head coach..what a bunch of Simpletons

the first thing Al Golden needs to do is let J "INT" 12 Know he is the back up QB going into spring practice... And start getting rid of all the clowns that don't belong in D1 football.

Coach Coker took a bashing from Miami fans toward the end of his tenure, But he did win the 2001 Nat. Championship and should have won the 2002 mythical title using the players he and Butch Davis and staff recruited. The question is: could Coach Shannon have done the same? At least Coker didn't screw things up at the begginning of his tenure. Would Shannon have been able to hold the 2000 class together and coach that team to a title?
Look forward to reading your responses.
Good luck Coach Golden in moving this program forward and eliminating the weeds.

Nice column and remarks Manny,... but way too late. Seems to me that this article could easily have been written 2 years ago. South Florida beat writers need to grow a pair. You didn't have any access to the team during his tenure and still didn't publicly rip him for this. Were you guys afraid of hurting Randy's feelings. No one held his feet to the fire to change his ways, and in the process, he ran this cluster **** of a program into the ground. Instead you guys coddled him and reveled in his stories about his troubled early life. Way too late guys.


I am glad that Aubrey Hill saw the writing on the wall and knew he wouldn't last long at The U. Weren't we supposed to have the deepest receiving corps in the nation. What a joke. This kids couldn't catch footballs almost like they were trying to catch water balloons. And I can never forget Travis Benjamin blocking twice when it was a pass play called in the OSU game. That game set the tone for receivers throughout the year.

Yeah, there has to be some congruency with the coaching staff. I hope he knows how to evaluate their talent to develop players based on how many players that are ready for the NFL. Coach Nix was a disaster. He only had one year as GTech coordinator under Gailey. Whipple's offense would work a lot better as run heavy offense first to bring the safeties closer only to hit them with a home run ball thrown down the field.

I just hope Golden get his coaching staff right the first time. Hint... if you are going to hire an offensive coordinator from the NFL make sure he wasn't fired or released from the team while the Head coach is still coaching the same team. That usually means that the coordinator wasn't or couldn't get his job done right.

The exaggerations are way overstated!
If recruiting was so bad under Shannon, then is it widely & universally accepted this UM team is loaded with NFL-TALENT college recruits, who have most poorly coached?


manny time for you to quit somking weed and start mixing in a salad now and then...

Excellent article. Probably one of the best in a long time. Outstanding analysis!

Jimmy Johnson was despised by everyone outside his immediate circle, but he still did pretty well.

If I had the words and know how I would have said the same things that you mentioned in your article.There's no way we'll have 100pc agreement on likes and dislikes.Some people like Hitler,Castro,Chavez,et.etc,for the wrong reasons and do the same for Shannon rather than take a closer look at the good or bad of the program.The impact that Shannon had on the U is what matters and it was negative.That's the issue.

great work Manny - Golden has his work cut out for him but I do think we are moving in the right direction and he is what we need to right the ship

God bless Manny Navarro!

You speak the truth and everyone is listening.

(If they gave a Pulitzer for colege football commentary, you would have just been nominated.)

Great piece, we know Golden will read it. People will be listening again.

Great job. Thank you. Whew. Here's to the future.

randy shannon, I never want to see your face ever ever ever again!!!! go coach in canada!!!

CAN T SPEAK for certain but Coach Shannon indicated he was looking for players who were academically sound.Don t know if some of the local players had the grades or academic strength to make it at the U.Not necessarilly defending Coach Shannon but being OBJECTIVE.At any rate, good coaches to coach up the kids was lacking big-time.TRUE.It requires a SYSTEM to effectively improve a football institution.Hopefully,Coacg Golden can begin that process.TO instill CONFIDENCE IN THE PROGRAM IS KEY.That s been lacking also.Hopefully his organizational skills and improved recruiting from throughout the country will bring the TOUGHNESS and LEADERSHIP we currently lack in our athletes.STRONG MENTAL PRESCENSE IS SEVERLY LACKING ALSO.ALOT TO WORK ON.THANK GOSH WE HAAVE A NEW COACH AND HE BRINGS ALOT OF ENERGY.WILL IT BE ENOUGH TO RE-ENERGIZE THIS FLAT PROGRAM????????WE WILL SEE.HOPE FOR THE BEST.GO CANES.

Great article Manny
I liked what Golden said about the alumni coming back. Did Shannon prohibit them for seeing the players?

Has to get better...can it get much worse?

It will not take Golden long to turn things around and establish a new culture. Under Golden you will produce or YOU WILL SIT. No way a Canes team playing with some passion loses the UVA game or USF game - instead they would have at least gone 9-3 last year under anyone other than Shannon. They could have propped up the guy from Weekend at Bernie's on the sideline and he would have beaten UVA and USF.

I think Golden can get 9-10 wins next year and get us in the mix for the ACC title game.

Most of our players look totally lost on the field. They look weak and soft and lost. And uninterested. The whole "we know we're better than this" BS is weak sauce from a bunch of kids who can't put their money where their mouths are. Well times are a changin boys and you are going to have to work 100 times harder and play all-out every down or YOU ARE GOING TO SIT.

I think there is a little of Butch Davis in Golden. He will be stomping the sidelines and making his presence felt everywhere. The guy is a relentless recruiter, in fact he is relentless in everything he does.

This is the best thing you have written all season. Quarter of the way into this I checked, and again twice, that it was Manny that had posted this. Everything you wrote seems true beyond any question. Let's all hope for better in 2011, and when UM and ND get back to it in 2012.

scottso65, GREAT POST. Thsnks for some level headed thinking after all the doomsdayers. At Temple, Golden didn't typically didn't beat teams better than him (though he beat UCONN this year while Shannon LOST to USF) but in getting 8-9 wins he beat the teams he SHOULD beat (something VT does year in and year out). Miami will no lnoger play down to competition under Godlen and blow out losses (heck Temple lost only 22-13 @ Penn St.) will finally go away.

Miami has plenty of talent but the coaching was THE WORST (see our time mgt, play calling, not benching Jacory earlier, and 114th in penalties) in the nation. And guys started playing tight (hence many dropped balls) as the pressure mounted and Shannon was befuddled with angst and confusion.

A year ago, FSU (7-6 and a home loss to USF - uh, sound familiar) had a defense that was HORRRIBLE (I think 100-something in the nation); this year, a totally different unit.

Canes fans, we have not had a head coach in 9 years and this team has talent. Golden will get the attitude changed quickly and guys like Morris, Storm, Miller, Vernon, Forston, Sentreal, Ray Ray, Cleveland, etc. will flourish.

Do you really think Boise St's or TCU's coaches would have gone 7-6 will Miami's talent and schedule? Nobody wanted Coker and nobody wants Shannon as HC's (cause they're not HCs). Canes will be fine and much sooner than all you doomsdayers think. Be glad we finally have a real coach.

I agree with the commentor who said that "Randy Shannon was absolutely right in the way he treated the media. The media has NEVER been a friend of the program and that is especially true of the Miami Herald, Posted by: Don't trust'em Al! | January 01, 2011 at 04:15 PM". I strongly believe that the negative reporting by the Herald's staff caused several potential recruits to change their commitment to other schools over the past two years. These schools reaped the benefits: UF, USF, Louisville, Auburn, and West Virginia.

However, I must agree with Manny on the other points made in his article. However, we must note that these current players will see yet another new system to learn (4th DC, 3rd OC, 4th DL Coach, and 2nd HC). It will take time for Golden to get his system into place. The question is whether the Administration and Fans will be patient and give him the time needed for a turn around. It took Gary Patterson at TCU 13 years. Are we that patient?

Miami ain't TCU so the wait will not be long. Count on it.

Well put Manny, well put. The truth it hurts. But, it's the truth........

Manny, the only problem I have with this blog is this. This may be the first season that Coach Fisher has the HC by his name, but it's not his first year. Bowden may have been HC, but Jimbo is the one that built that team to where it is. Even Bowden said that Jimbo was in charge. So it's kind of hard to say this is his first season since technically he's been building that team for 3 years now.
Other then that, you just may be spot on with your accessment. And Ryan Hill said it best.... alot of players have to start locking in and do some growing up and leading.

Great post Manny

Great Blog! As a Cane 4 life and I mean back in the seventies when we really had nothing and stunk. I was there. Long before Shellenberger, I feel that I know this program very well. First of all, Shannon was never going to take us to the promised land again. Many have also stated that South Florida has been over-rated from the recruiting stand point. Could not agree more! Speed has caught up to Florida around the country people. Look at the our National Championship Teams. LOOK AT THEM! We had recruits from PA., NJ, CA, TX, SC, VA, KY, OH, Ocala, Orlando and Miami. We recruited very nasty, but smart and hungry kids all over the country. Don't think that Golden does not know this. Hell, he was a Joe Pa boy! He can recruit in the north east where there are many strong HS programs. The key to UM succes will be to get out of this South Florida thing that has proven is over-rated and get back to NATINAL RECRUITING. Golden is very, very good at this. Look at Temples roster. I rest my case. I believe that we will see a huge improvement next season. Yes, we have a ton of work to do, but look at the blue Chips that Golden goes after... won't all be down here and don't you think he has commitments that will come to him from Temple? Never been more embarrassed as I was with this years bowl game. NEVER! And to lose to THEM? Lead the nation in interceptions at Quarterback U? Lead the nation in penalties without the punishing hits to back them up? Miss tackles and be out of position in almost every game? Come on Cane Fans, lets get behind Golden, recruit away from here, play the kids that want it and earn it everyday, play smarter, run your 3-4 "mad man" defense and get a smart, tough quarterback. Hell, run the option if we are loaded at running back. Use a tight end for God's sake. We have gotten so far away from Hurricane Football, it is not funny. I for one will support Golden and YES, DO SOME WEEDING AT THE U!

finally got you to see what others have been saying for years. UM deserves someone up on the program, and tells the truth, not after its aal done. shannon should have been canned after the virg. game in the OB, but your only 3 yrs late.

This is the BEST Story I've read about the Hurricane Shortcomings in several years.

It's understandable how the UM beat writers are afraid to write these reality reviews while the regime is still in place but it also does the program a huge disservice by providing cover or not exposing the truth so someone could put the information to good use.

The Great News is that the talent is Still in our backyard and we can tap back into to it with the right leadership. Golden is already leaps and bounds ahead of shannon in recognizing what must be done on the recruiting trail. That probably won't pay dividends so late into this recruiting class but should bloom brightly next year.

Keep the Truth coming. No pulling punches please.

Go Canes!

first of all miami northwestern has placed numerouse players in the nfl from the um.....brett perriman, melvin bratton, tolbert bain, vernon carey, and many others such as torrie cox, antonio bryant, tony martin, nate webster, i can go on and on...and currently spence, washington, jones, and fortson will be playing in the nfl garanteed. now that golden is the coach i also see streeter and tompkins having breaout years.

... 15 months from now ...

Al, you there ? Al ? I can't hear U .

ok Goldie ... See U soon

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