Florida Coaching: Worst In U.S. Sports?
Speaking as a Miami native, the Florida I know has a lot of very talented players in almost every sport, but the coaching is downright pathetic across the board.
Considering South Florida's three most prolific sports franchises (Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat & Florida Marlins) are currently ranked third in their respective divisions, and that only one of the three major Florida universities (Florida State, Florida and Miami) finished within this season's "Top 25" rankings, I believe a mass coach cleansing will soon reign over my home state.
Granted, none of this is fact-based, just my opinion, but here is who I see going, and the order in which I predict they will...
05. Randy Shannon
After losing their season's final game to the previously non-existent Bulls of South Florida (although they're really of Middle Florida, since they play in Tampa), University of Miami football coach Randy Shannon is as good as jobless already.
However, this poses an odd predicament for the Hurricanes, since they offered the former Miami Dolphins assistant and linebackers coach a four-year deal before this dismal season even started and will have to pay him, even after letting him go.
As we all know, "The U" is a little strapped for cash in the coaching department these days, they absolutely despise the coach-hiring process and they can ill afford to pay two coaches simultaneously, but they also can't afford to lose to downtrodden teams like the USF Bulls, so a firing here isn't really optional.
Consider Randy Shannon gone as of Nov. 27.
Update: As predicted in my article, Randy Shannon has officially been fired now, according to reports that are starting to surface this morning.
04. Tony Sparano
How does one manage to take a team with WR Brandon Marshall, RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams and three former NFL starting QBs (Chad Pennington, Chad Henne & Tyler Thigpen), and lead them to a very mediocre .500 record? Simple, tick off the players and run inefficient college-style offenses repeatedly.
Enter Tony Sparano.
From the moment Sparano took over control of the Miami Dolphins in 2008 until linebacker and team motivator Joey Porter ended his tenure here at the end of the 2009 season, there was rumored friction between the two. That friction inevitably spilled over onto the television screen one Sunday afternoon and unquestionably fueled Porter's undoing in Miami.
However, because Sparano and Bill Parcells had worked together to turn a laughing-stock 1-15 squad into an 11-5 division-winning one during their very first year here, the city gave its head coach the benefit of the doubt on that one.
Fast forward two years to Parcells' executive office retirement and possibly a second straight non-playoff year, and the feelings toward Coach Sparano are now a little icy, at best.
Add to that the fact that he keeps running "The Wildcat" time and time again, despite it's ridiculously low success rating, and that he's now rumored to be in a war of words with Brandon Marshall because the star receiver feels he isn't getting enough touches in Sparano's system, and Tony may soon have to buy his own tickets to enter Sun Life Stadium because he sure as heck won't be coaching the team if this continues.
In his defense, though, he has had some quarterbacking issues due to injuries this season, Brandon Marshall really hasn't been the most reliable option during those "few" times he has been thrown to and neither the Jets nor the Pats ever seem to lose, so it might not be completely his fault, either.
Only time will tell if he loses his job or not, but my prediction is that is he doesn't win out the rest of this season, he'll be jobless by the start of 2011. Period.
03. Erik Spoelstra
The former "NBA Coach of the Year" candidate is now a man counting his days in Miami, so long as my city's "Big Three" of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh keep getting upset by lesser teams such as the Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies and a Utah Jazz squad they once led by 22 points.
How did we get to this point?
Some say it's a lack of team chemistry even though the main three offensive players continually do more and more with one another. Some say it's the lack of a true point guard, although all the stats surprisingly show that we're slightly better both offensively and defensively when Carlos Arroyo is on the floor.
Some say it's our rebounding, but in the last five games or so, both Big Z and CB4 have been overcoming the 10-apiece rebound marker. Plus, our depth in the "Bigs Department" just got better with the recent signing of former Dallas Mavericks center Erick Dampier.
These facts all lead me back to my original question, "How did we get to this point?" Well, in my opinion, part of it is injuries and the other part is inefficient coaching.
In the injury department, we'll find several key components of this Miami Heat roster. Three-point sharpshooter Mike Miller underwent thumb surgery before the regular season began and isn't expected to return to the lineup until the team's Christmas showdown with the L.A. Lakers.
PF Udonis Haslem, who until he went down a week ago, had been our main rebounding weapon for the fifth straight season, underwent foot surgery last Tuesday and might be out for the rest of the season, or at the very least until the 2011 All-Star game on Feb. 20.
Additionally, there are players who are injured, but who are playing through it, such as Juwan Howard with his broken nose, Chris Bosh with his back spams, Dwyane Wade with his sore left wrist and LeBron James with his sore shin.
However, considering each of the last four have logged significant minutes during all of the recent games, save for the one game Dwyane Wade sat out against the Grizzlies, and the fact that the now 9-8 Heat went out and got rebounding specialist Erick Dampier when they learned the extent of Haslem's injuries, these injuries sound more like excuses than actual serious reasons to worry.
If Spoelstra can't figure out how to get his men in sync soon, he may instead find himself having to figure out how to pay his bills without any coaching income.
And for those of us who can't remember all the way back to the 2006 season, when Riley swapped Stan Van Gundy for himself after a mediocre 11-10 start en route to a championship, it wouldn't be the first time the G.M. pulls a coach mid-season.
Spoelstra, you've been warned!
02. Urban Meyer
This one may come as a bit of a shock to anybody who hasn't been watching post-Tebow Gators football, but the University of Florida has not looked good at all this season...and as a Gators fan, it actually hurts me to admit that!
Still, considering that since 2005, Coach Meyer has amassed an awesome 64-15 overall record, which includes an impressive 36-12 record in what may likely be college football's hardest conference, the SEC, I can guarantee you Urban has enough clout to where he won't get fired for this awful 7-5 season.
So if this coaching change were to happen, it'd likely be because Coach Meyer wakes up one morning admitting to himself that he doesn't know how to rebuild a team and relinquishes the position as a means to salvage his coaching reputation, leaving it a bit scarred with only one bad season under his belt, rather than several.
For anybody that didn't watch the Gators final game of the season, against in-state rivals Florida State, this squad is not looking like they'll be getting better any time soon.
Not only did UF have to spend all three of their timeouts in the first half because they had multiple QBs on the field and didn't know what the heck was going on as the play-clock repeatedly wound down on them, but then when rushed (which was almost always), they were fumbling, throwing interceptions, etc.
Using the same three-QB rotation system they've been using recently with John Brantley, Trey Burton and Jordan Reed continually swapping spots, no one QB had much time to find their rhythm, and the end result proved this, as they were ridiculously routed 31-7 by the FSU Seminoles, who will likely remain the state's only "Top 25" team, as they entered the game ranked No. 22 and won.
When Center Mike Pouncey and starting QB John Brantley can't even snap the ball correctly, and the camera pans over to head coach Urban Meyer, who's watching from the sideline looking as if he hasn't a care in the world because I think he mentally checked out after the season's first loss, you know your team's doomed for failure.
That was the case with the Florida Gators during that game, and that's my case for why I feel like Urban might be contemplating an early retirement once again now that his season's over.
Don't be too surprised if this comes to fruition soon.
01. Edwin Rodriguez
Edwin Rodriguez doesn't have to worry, his job is secure... at least, for this upcoming season!
That's right, like many others in South Florida, I believe that come the Florida Marlins' stadium switch in 2012, Edwin Rodriguez will be replaced by a higher-profile coach who can draw crowds.
Due to legislation passed by controversial county mayor Carlos Alvarez, Miami-Dade's taxpayers funded the building of a new stadium (many, against their own wishes) and trust me, heads will roll if that stadium was built for nearly-empty crowds.
As my friend Thomas Galicia, a Bleacher Report featured columnist, sarcastically put it: "Edwin is just a placeholder for Ozzie [Guillen], though. Ozzie has one year left on his White Sox deal and Edwin is only signed for one year, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence, right?"
Considering Guillen already has some coaching history here, I'm sure it's not.
Also, keep in mind, MLB told the Marlins that they need to start spending money soon, since they've been notoriously stingy with what they do have.
If anybody's willing to make waves by giving a big-name guy like Derek Jeter that undeserved $23 million per season, four-year deal he's been seeking, it'd be a team like the Florida Marlins...one that absolutely needs a marquee name to put beside Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson, if they expect to sell out any games in 2012, let alone the majority of them to appease their county's taxpayers.
So yes, odd contracts and untimely coach replacements may be coming soon for the Marlins, but it won't be because somebody hasn't done their job (Rodriguez) or because somebody's earned such a large paycheck (possibly Jeter), it'll simply be because the Marlins need to put butts in the seat.
Plain and simple.
So how is it that a region with trios such as Wade/James/Bosh in basketball, Marshall/Brown/Williams in football or Hanley/Uggla/Josh Johnson in baseball have all only clawed their way up into third place? Is it bad coaching?
Maybe... but then again, maybe not.
We may not agree on that, but we can certainly agree on this: If changes aren't made soon, these five guys here may shortly become part of another group of people – the 9.6 percent of our country's population that's currently unemployed. You can take that much to the bank!