There's no place like Saturday...

November 29, 2010

College Football Report - The U takes a U turn:

The U is now led by, who? For the third time this decade, the University of Miami is looking for a head man to wander their programs college football sidelines. Randy Shannon was fired Saturday, Nov. 27, hours after the Hurricanes lost to the South Florida Bulls at an abandoned Sun Life Stadium in Miami. The firing also comes months after the Hurricanes gave Shannon a four year extension on his contract.

Like those who came before him at Miami, Shannon couldn’t live up to the programs gauntly expectations. With a record of 28-22, however, Shannon couldn’t live up to Miami of Ohio expectations.

Off the field, Shannon cleaned up the Miami program, turning The U into one of the more respected athletic/academic programs in the country. The Hurricanes repeatedly found themselves at the top of the conference, and country in graduation rates and APR rankings. He led a team that had just one arrest in his four years, comparred to the Gators 30 under Urban Meyer.

On the field, Shannon struggled to compete in one of college football’s proclaimed “easiest” BCS conferences. Shannon was 16-16 in ACC games. The biggest problem the coach brought was the inability to coach his team to a winning performance in big games. The Hurricanes were just 4-10 against AP ranked teams under Shannon, and had an 0-2 bowl record.

So, on the same day that a plane circled Sun Life Stadium dragging a banner that read – 4 YEARS 0 ACC TITLES LOTS OF EXCUSES FIRE SHANNON – Shannon was fired. Remarkably, it may have had a bigger effect than most think. The Hurricanes previous coach, Larry Coker, was fired the same day banners flew over the Orange Bowl, calling for the firing of Coker.

Shannon was respected by his players and his colleagues that surrounded him, many of which were shocked to hear of the news Saturday night. In the end, however, it came down to wins.

For now, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland will take over as the team’s interim head coach, coaching the team in whatever bowl the Hurricanes receive an invite from.

As for Shannon, I wouldn’t expect a long wait in finding another job. The South Florida native has an excellent recruiting reputation and has been liked by everyone whose surrounded him.

The search now begins for a replacement, though, and Hurricanes Athletic Director Kriby Hocutt has expressed his concern to bring in a coach with previous head coaching experience. Here is a list of some of the names that have been thrown around in discussion for the job, and a few others that need to be. Included is the probability of that individual taking the position. Expect a hire within the next week.

Jon Gruden – ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst

Gruden’s name has been brought up every time a coaching position comes available. Gruden’s last coaching gig was with the Tampa Bay Buc’s, who he led to a Super Bowl win. There are sources claiming Gruden has expressed interest in the job, as has Miami towards Gruden, but right now, Gruden claims he remains dedicated to Monday Night Football. Odds: 4/1

Mark Richt – Georgia head coach

Richt’s name came up mainly because the Georgia head man played at Miami from 1979-82. He has said that he’s happy at Georgia and wants to stay a Bulldog, and I believe him. This doesn’t seem like a same situation of Kelly leaving Cincinnati for Notre Dame. Richt has a big-time gig already, even if the Bulldogs were 6-6 this season. Odds: 10/1

Dan Mullen – Mississippi State head coach

Mullen, the previous offensive coordinator for the Gators when Tim Tebow was axing fools, hasn’t commented on the Miami position, but I’m not ruling him out. Mullen, who’s in his first year as head coach at Mississippi State, turned around the Bulldogs in just one season, but they’ll remain behind LSU, Alabama, Auburn and most likely Arkansas in the SEC West for years to come. He also has a history recruiting the South Florida area. 3/1

Tommy Tuberville – Texas Tech head coach

Tuberville, the ex-Auburn head coach, has ties to Miami as an assistant coach from 1986-’93. Tuberville recently took the Texas Tech position after sitting out a year of coaching. The likelihood he leaves Tech, seems less than Mullen leaving his new position, though. 7/1

Randy Edsall – Connecticut head coach

Edsall has brought the UConn football team to something credible over the last few seasons. Apart from a 1998 position with Georgia Tech as a defensive coordinator, Edsall has spent the majority of his coaching years in the Atlantic Northeast. He’s got a record of 69-69, but has worked with less talent than anyone in the Big East conference. The money may be Edsall’s biggest draw to Miami. 5/1

Brent Venables – Oklahoma defensive coordinator

Venables is one of the lone coordinators in the country whose name is contention for the position. The main reason is the relationship between Miami Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt and Venables. The two both played football at Kansas State, where Venables later coached Hocutt as a linebacker coach from 1993-’98. Hocutt and Venables were both at Oklahoma together as well. Venables has been an outstanding coordinator at Oklahoma, and while Hocutt has stated he wants a coach with head coaching experience, I think he might make an exception on Venables part. 2/1

Charlie Strong – Louisville head coach

Strong, like Mullen, called Florida home for a while as a defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer. Strong has a great reputation recruiting South Florida as well. He turned around a Louisville team from 4-8 to bowl eligible this season, and would bring along a staff familiar with Miami, including past Miami defensive line coach and recruiting cordinator, Clint Hurtt. 6/1

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