Did Bad Coaching, Bad Recruiting, or Both Lead to Miami Hurricanes Downfall?

T.L. PellmanSenior Analyst IJune 22, 2009

MIAMI - NOVEMBER 23:  Head coach Larry Coker of the University of Miami Hurricanes walks on the field during the game against the Boston College Golden Eagles at the Orange Bowl Stadium on November 23, 2006 in Miami, Florida. Miami defeated Boston College 17-10. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

The demise of Larry Coker.

It's pretty clear to even the most casual of college football fans what ultimately led to his dismissal in late November of 2006.

In 2001 and 2002, the Coker-led Hurricanes' program were at the pinnacle of the college football world. In back to back seasons they were playing for the "big one," the BCS national title game.

Over that two year period the Hurricanes won the National title in '01 followed by a loss to Ohio State the following year ear-marked by a few questionable calls.

Coker, and the Hurricane program, enjoyed a 24-1 record over the same period of time.

But, slowly and surely, the program started to decline.

2003 saw Miami finish at 11-2.

2004-'05 were 9-3 seasons until the final nail was driven in his coffin in 2006 when Coker's team finished .500 in league play and he was fired.

"Even a mediocre coach can win with superb talent" is a cliche' we hear often.

Is that a fair description of Larry Coker?

Or, perhaps, is this another situation where the mistakes weren't made on the field of play? A situation where they weren't made during the season in practices but rather in the football offices of the Miami program?

There's sufficient reason to think it's the latter. Matt Shodell, who reports on Miami and their recruiting efforts, made this comment in an interview with the Orlando Sentinal,

"I used to go in the coaches' offices, and sometimes they would literally have Rivals.com up on their screen. I won't name the coaches, but they would be writing names down on pieces of paper. I don't know how much film they were looking at."

Matt's opinion on how the Miami staff coordinated their recruiting targets was verified by Clint Hurtt, Miami recruiting coordinator.

"That's accurate. We spent way too much time recruiting off [Internet] lists and finding these top guys instead of truly evaluating. You can't just go off hearsay or just because Florida, Florida State or Alabama is recruiting him. That doesn't mean a thing."

The Miami staff had decided to take a short-cut, per se, and spent their time at home while other staff's where busy traveling from school to school evaluating talent.

I'm sure you all remember the story of Willie Williams and the soap-opera that surrounded his recruitment.

You may ask, "where is Williams now?"

He transferred after what can only be described as lack-luster results on the field.

In a more shocking statistic, Miami had one, ONE, player drafted this year by the NFL. If there is a more glowing example of the decline of talent on the Miami campus over the last few years, I'm hard pressed to find it.

Things have changed in Miami. Now the staff is not only evaluating highlight tapes but are making personal evaluations as well.

This bodes well for the future of the Miami program with two questions left to be answered.

One, do they have the right coach in place assuming they evaluate the talent on campus?

And two, is it any wonder why coaches like Pete Carroll and Nick Saban are still voicing their displeasure about being restricted from evaluating high school players in the spring?

I suspect Randy Shannon is on their band-wagon as well.