I'd like to start off, if I may, with a little history lesson.
The "U" on the helmets of the Miami Hurricanes pretty much stood for "U Win" before Howard Schnellenberger arrived on campus. He was the first to talk about, and lock down, the "State of Miami", and he of course led the Canes to their first national championship. The guy could have run for mayor and won.
Then he left, after five years, for a failed stint in the USFL.
Jimmy Johnson then took the reins. He went 52-9 as a head coach, five of those losses coming in his first season, and won a national championship in 1987. Under Johnson's tenure, the Hurricanes became known as "The Bad Boys of College Football", and Johnson encouraged on-the-field antics as the situation permitted.
Then he left, after four years, for an incredibly successful stint in the NFL.
Let's fast-forward. Dennis Erickson, six years, two national championships. Butch Davis, six years, no national championships. Larry Coker, six years, one national championship.
Are we sensing a pattern here?
Randy Shannon is entering his fourth year as head coach, along with a shiny new four year contract, a talented veteran team, and that same no-nonsense attitude. The stars are aligned in an enormous "U", and the hum of the fairweather fans circling the Miami bandwagon is reaching a fever pitch.
Let's say things go well for this football team in 2010 and years beyond. I define that to be BCS bowl wins, national title wins, big successes in big games like Canes fans are used to. The media loves Randy Shannon for turning a troubled team around, South Florida recruits are being funneled directly into orange and green jerseys, and the future looks bright. But what about Shannon? Will he be lured by the riches and exposure of the NFL, or possibly another college team who offers him a higher paycheck?
In a word, no.
"Randy Shannon is Miami", President Donna Shalala remarked on Shannon's hiring, and it's completely true. He started at outside linebacker for the 1987 championship team. After a brief pro career, he worked for the Canes from 1991 - 1997 and, after coaching for the Miami Dolphins until 2000, he returned to Coral Gables to be Miami's defensive coordinator. All in all, Shannon has been with the Canes for 21 seasons, four as a student and 17 as a coach.
Quite the pedigree.
If Miami returns to the dominance so synonymous with the U, Coach Shannon will be offered lucrative checks to bolt and coach another team. If it's a college team, I think Miami will be willing to make the negotiations necessary to keep him around (this of course assumes he's successful). The only thing that worries me is the temptation of going to the NFL, something so many college coaches have given into, but again I don't think he'll leave. Something tells me that, quite literally, if you cut Randy Shannon, he will bleed orange and green. I think his loyalty to Miami will keep him here as long as the school is willing to sign his paychecks.
Could we be looking at the next Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno? It's much too early to tell, and not having seen Shannon go through any pro negotiations, I don't know what his aspirations truly are. But there's a really good chance he'll stay faithful to Miami for a good long time. That helps with recruiting, that helps with program stability, that helps with exposure, the advantages are endless.
Look for Randy Shannon to be with the Canes for a good long time if he gets some championships under his belt.