Football at the University of Miami is at a cross roads, going into the final game against USF the Hurricanes have turmoil swirling around the entire program. The Virginia Tech game seems to be the straw that broke the Camel’s back even though the Canes played well for most of the game, the fourth quarter left a bad taste in the mouth of a large number of fans. Long time Shannon supporters are starting to jump ship, and former players are coming out in droves and firing pot shots and the head coach.
Randy Shannon won’t have much to be thankful about during Thanksgiving dinner, despite what he said about him “receiving support” from the university he has to be worried about his job. From Shannon’s history though he is not worried about himself as much as he will be about his players, who have staunchly supported their coach several times.
You can tell Shannon is feeling the heat because he has named Stephen Morris the starter for the game against South Florida even though Jacory Harris is healthy enough to play. Morris has looked good in the games he has played save one quarter against Virginia Tech, and Shannon has decided that he needs to move some of his investments to the Stephen Morris portfolio. Shannon seems to imply it will be good to have a true quarterback competition going into the spring, and Jacory Harris will have to earn the starting job back.
Shannon has already started locking up recruits for the 2012 class, and commenting on the difficulty of the schedule being the only team in the ACC that plays FSU and VT every year. Shannon is waging political warfare like he never has before in an attempt to stem the tide rising against him. Some of these are great moves by Shannon for self-preservation, but there is one problem it may already be too late to save his job.
There is virtually nothing Shannon can do to save his job at this point if that decision has already been made, but if there is a spirited discussion going on behind closed doors he has only one option available to him. Miami has to go out and beat USF 56–7 or something along those lines, the type of beating we have not seen at Miami over an FBS opponent in a long time. Then if he makes it past Monday whomever the Canes play in a bowl game better get blown out as well, that is the only way to buy back some sort of confidence that things might be able to change. That still would not be enough to get back any good will from the critics.
With the chatter of John Gruden being interested in coming to Miami seeming to gain steam very quickly, one has to wonder if his interest is true or not. It’s all rumor at this point, but it has desperate Hurricanes fans clinging to the idea because they have lost hope. Over at allcanes.com/blog an article was written recently about the Gruden situation, and there were a lot of good points made. Shalala and Hocutt have not gotten where they are by being stupid and reactionary, if they listened to emotional fans they would make knee jerk reactions and that would not be good.
They are not going to make a change for the sake of making a change to appease fans whining on message boards and blog posts, whatever they decide to do will surely be calculated and planned properly. Sure we don’t know how much money Miami has in the coffers to spend on a head coach, but a private school with no state funding and a smaller student population is at a disadvantage financially in some areas compared to public universities. The John Gruden discussion could have an extremely positive effect on the program, or plummet it to a point that it may be hard to recover from.
Gruden won a Super Bowl in his first year with Tampa Bay (some would say with Tony Dungy’s team), and some consider him the Larry Coker of the NFL. Gruden only had one other double digit win season after the Super Bowl year, and he had a continuous carousel of quarterbacks he collected and messed around with. Gruden is a big name, but there is not enough there to say he is a sure thing to lead the Hurricanes back to glory. These are the things Hocutt and Shalala have to look at when they make a decision on the coaching situation.
It is not an easy decision on what to do next, and the decision to fire Shannon is going to be based on what coaches are available to take the job and want to come here. Gary Patterson, Chris Petersen are two names Canes fans would love to have in Coral Gables, but who says they would leave the god like situations they are in right now? Firing Shannon for another young coach or an unproven assistant has a lot of risk as well.
Regardless of what decision is made Hurricanes fans will be waiting anxiously on Sunday to see if there is movement in Coral Gables. The fan base is split by those who want Shannon gone, and those who want to give him one more year. If the Hurricanes convincingly win the last two games of this season, then some of that bad taste won’t taste as bitter.
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