Race & Randy Shannon: Is Color A Factor In Miami's Coaching Situation?

Marcus SessionCorrespondent INovember 23, 2010

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 18:  Head coach Randy Shannon of the Miami Hurricanes stands on the field during the game against the Duke Blue Devils at Wallace Wade Stadium on October 18, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the season winding down, the Miami Hurricanes (7 – 4) have had an up and down season by many regards. The one thing that has been consistent this year is the criticism coming from the fan base and sports pundits all over the country. Fans are losing their minds all over the place, and the chants of "fire Randy Shannon" only seem to get louder and louder. The comments sections on most Miami Hurricanes articles are littered with civil war between fans, but one comment highlights something that no one wants to talk about. The comment has been copied here in its original form with no changes, so that the author's message is not altered.

Canes fans I want to alert you to an issue that no one wants to talk about but is playing a major role in how Randy Shannon is being judged. If you read many of the articles and posts on different sites you will see that in most cases Shannon is not being held accountable for the failures of this team. Many are blaming his assistants and the players and although they do shoulder some blame it is ultimately the responsibility of the head coach to rectify the situation.

The reality is Canes fans that there is a disturbing agenda being pushed by some fans, members of the media and most prominently Donna Shalala and that agenda has to do with unfortunately race. Unless you've lived under a rock over the last several years there has been a major push by a number of people to get more African American head coaches in Division 1A football. As of now there are 13 African American head coaches in Division 1A. The most prominent of the thirteen jobs that African Americans hold in college football belongs to Randy Shannon here at Miami.

The other jobs are at places like Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky so no one pays much attention to those but in the case of Miami it is extremely important to many people including Donna Shalala that Randy Shannon succeed as coach here for the very reason that if he doesn't it will be a major setback to this liberal movement to give more blacks jobs at major programs. That is why Donna is going to cut him plenty of slack and he will be the coach next year and most likely beyond that unless Canes Fans who don't share this ridiculous agenda unite and let Donna know that this is unacceptable now and always!!!

The bottom line is Shannon is not getting it done those are the facts!!! The most vociferous Shannon apologists who most certainly share this agenda as well and come on here and defend Randy will give you a boatload of excuses which they have given you for the last four years. First it was Coker's fault then it's Whipple's then the players. The bottom line is that it's all smoke and mirrors to cover up Randy's failures. Agenda's like these are not logical.

They are short sighted and destructive. Shannon must be removed as head coach because he has failed as a coach and that is the bottom line and his race should not give him immunity from criticism and from being held accountable for his failures. Send an email or call Donna Shalala and tell her that enough is enough and Shannon must go or she is not going to get our money to watch an inferior product. Your move Canes Fans!!!”

Posted by: Anthony | November 21, 2010 at 04:50 AM

Read more: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/umiami/2010/11/thoughts-on-virginia-tech-bowl-picture-more.html#ixzz167N6pfag

There are plenty of people who have differing views on race and the way things are. It’s part of living in the world; people have a bias or opinion for all sorts of things. What the comment did do is make me want to bring the issue front and center here, to say that it is simply conspiracy theorist babble. He just said the president of a major university won’t fire the coach because he is black to prove some selfish point. 

I don’t know the commentor, but that is the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my life.  If Randy was 5–7 every single year, believe me, he would be fired and not have received a contract extension from the school. I am assuming Anthony is white based solely on the tone of the article, and I am a bit surprised that he chose to pull the race card here. Not to mention that he several people told him he was “spot on” following his comment, so it’s at least an opinion held by some.

Bringing race into this really makes no sense because this is a football discussion, and this theory has no facts behind it at all, except some guy sitting at home thinks he knows how to run a football program. Let’s provide some facts to truly see where Randy Shannon falls in terms of his performance against other coaches during their first four years of being a head coach.

Randy Shannon (Miami) = 28 – 21 .571 Win Percentage

Butch Davis (Miami) = 31 – 15 .674 Win Percentage

Larry Coker (Miami - ACC) = 25 – 12 .676 Win Percentage*

Greg Schiano (Rutgers) = 12 – 34 .261 Win Percentage (No Conference Titles)

Mark Richt (Georgia) = 42 – 10 .808 Win Percentage

Les Miles (Oklahoma State) = 28 – 21 .571 Win Percentage (No Conference Titles)

Mack Brown (Texas 1998 – 2001) = 38 – 13 .745 Win Percentage**

Mike Leach (Texas Tech) = 31 – 21 .591 Win Percentage

*These are the years Coker coached post Ken Dorsey when Miami joined the ACC.

**Previous head coaching experience at North Carolina


The data above took the first four years of being a head coach from several coaches around college football, with the exception of two, Larry Coker and Mack Brown. From the above statistics, Randy Shannon is relatively close with coaches that people are clamoring to replace him with through his first four years, and he still has two more games to improve on that number. People look at the overall records and think that tells the story, but it does not show the entire picture. Most of these coaches muddled through 7–5, 8–4, and 9–3 seasons before having a 12–0 or 11–1 season in their fifth or sixth years.

What makes Mack Brown's statistics interesting is that he took over an already established program at Texas while bringing head coaching experience from North Carolina, and it still took a while before he had the team reeling off 10 win seasons.  Butch Davis coached when Miami was dominating the Big Least sorry East, and only did slightly better than Shannon in his first four seasons. All of those people asking for Greg Schiano to be hired, look at his win percentage in the horrible Big East, and put that issue to rest.

This article is not meant to be some defense of Randy Shannon, but to bring some realism to the discussion. Numbers don’t lie, and the even bigger number is that none of these coaches won a National title in their first four years of coaching except Larry Coker because he inherited one of the best teams in college football history. Butch Davis coached at Miami for six years before getting them to a point where they were ready to win a National Title, but Randy Shannon should make magic happen in his first four? So if fans are comparing Randy Shannon Era football to Jimmy Johnson or even Dennis Erickson’s tenures, he will lose in that race. 

To tie all of this together, Anthony’s comment brought race into the discussion, and playing devil’s advocate, one could say that race is a factor opposite to what he is saying. Many fans never wanted Shannon as coach, and there was uneasiness from the beginning of his tenure. It seems that for some individuals, there is more ire when certain people are in the head coaching spot. Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame did not get to finish five years when five years was the standard at Notre Dame. The truth is many fans were ready to pounce at the first misstep by Shannon.

People wanted Randy fired the first season because Miami was losing to perceived “inferior” teams, but the same level of consternation did not exist when other coaches on this list had similar struggles. The truth is no one wanted the Miami job; several coaches turned it down because of the expectations and pay deficiency.

They have expectations at other elite schools, Alabama, Florida, LSU, but at least you get paid $3+ million dollars to deal with all of it. Ask yourself why Schiano would choose Rutgers over Miami when this is supposed be such a great job? He makes almost $2 million a year, and the expectations are a fraction of what they are at Miami. What’s worse is Schiano has never won a conference title in the Big East for 10 years, but yet he is still employed.

I don’t buy into all of the racial angles even though some fans seem to believe there is a racial agenda. Either way, Shannon has a lot of work to do, but so do the players and other coaches associated with this program. Shannon is not perfect, and no one ever said that he was. The grass is always greener when things are not going well, but realistically who are viable coaching candidates they can get on the cheap at this point? Firing him won’t replace the players that are here for several years, it won’t make Travis Benjamin catch, or Colin McCarthy not miss tackles, and to be honest what coach are they going to go get that will guarantee results? 

The answer is that there are no guarantees in college football, and no coach is a sure thing. Hopefully, the majority of fans are not adopting this extreme point of view because it has no basis in fact. It is a dangerous narrative for recruits to start hearing that fans are mad because Shalala is protecting the black head coach. Unless that is stated somewhere publicly, fans, please keep the issues to football and judge everything from that perspective. Bringing up fictitious agendas will only make the problem worse.  If Shannon is ultimately fired, then he has no one to blame but himself, and I am sure he would say the same thing.