The State of the U's Present
The Miami Hurricanes have taken three out four from top 25 opponents and are ranked No. 11 one month into the college football season.
QB Jacory Harris and his "U SWAG" haircut is back in Heisman conversations. Confidence is high in Coral Gables and so are the expectations.
But watch out, Miami's next opponent are the high scoring ... FAMU Rattlers? Don't scoff. Don't giggle. Pay attention.
As former Jets/Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards reminds repeatedly through Coors Light commercials: "You play to win the game!"
And the FAMU Rattlers have every intention of doing that. Are they out-manned, outgunned and out-everything else? Absolutely. Should Miami win this game? Without a doubt in my mind. Is it possible the 'Canes lose to the Rattlers? No way... well... maybe.
Don't label me a doomsayer yet. I only make these seemingly absurd statements to emphasize a point. Randy Shannon and his coaching staff have done an amazing job pumping up their players for their first four FBS, top-25 opponents. I hope they don't back off on their intensity for FAMU. Remember Appalachian State vs. Michigan two years back? In the Big House?
Yes Appalachian State was a winning Division I-AA school and Michigan was worse than we knew back then. But still, it wasn't supposed to happen. Or so we assumed. I'm done playing devil's advocate.
Miami wins big against FAMU and UM fans will get a glimpse of what backup QB A.J. Highsmith can do once UM is up big. Also, RB Graig Cooper may not suit up for Saturday's game against FAMU. That means Javarris James will share the load with redshirt sophomore Lee Chambers and Mike James (who is filling in at FB for injured starter Pat Hill.)
The huge blowout win (like UM/FAMU's last meeting in 2006 where Miami won 51-10) is most contingent on improvement on the success the 'Canes have already had thus far.
This is especially true in offensive coordinator Mark Whipple's opinion:
"The play calling hasn't been great," Whipple said. "We have to get better, there's no question. I made a lot mistakes."
He's right. In fact, he's so right that the Hurricanes offense is currently ranked 67th. That's hardly the kind of production expected from a group so explosive.
The State of Randy Shannon's Present
What does a university do when they have a head coach who's gone 15-14 over three seasons, never won a division title or a bowl game and had at least five players transfer out of the program? Well, when that head coach defeated three out four top 25 teams in a span of five weeks, you think about extending his contract.
The word out of Coral Gables is that athletic director Kirby Hocutt has no intention of losing Randy Shannon in any capacity.
"Randy Shannon is going to be our head coach for a long, long time," Hocutt said.
Shannon's contract is set to expire in 2010 but the whispers circling the university hallways are that he will have a contract extension in the near future.
If and when he does receive that extension, it's possible his yearly salary could be in the vicinity of $3 million, the same salary Larry Coker was making when he was fired. It seems fair for a man that turned around the mess that Coker left behind.
It also helps Shannon's cause for a raise when he recruits and signs a FS (Ray Ray Armstrong) and a DE (Olivier Vernon) and has them contribute immediately as true freshmen.
One of these days soon, as coach Shannon has his players line up for practice at 5:45 a.m., he just might be able to afford to take the whole team to breakfast and not sweat the bill.