The Miami Hurricane fan base is up in arms, and the "fire Randy Shannon" brigade has started up again. I find it really interesting that the landscape of sports, both pro and college alike, have started to adopt a mentality that firing the coach is the solution to everything.
But in some ways you can't blame organizations for doing it. In many cases the coach isn't the problem, but it is typically the easiest remedy to show you're doing something, but won't always ensure a turn around.
Yes, there are a handful of coaches who have an impressive track record when turning programs around quickly, but those coaches aren’t just sitting around waiting for a job to come open. For all the people who are down on the current regime in Miami, you might want to think about a few things first.
I have had a good discussion with a fellow Hurricane fan on Bleacher Report about this subject and he made several good points about coaches at elite programs. I am posting part of his response, so that everyone can see the statements I am referring to which were very good and accurate. Here were some of the highlights of his main points.
1.) "No successful Coach lost more than 13 games combined over their first three years."
"We are currently at 17."
2.) "All 12 of the successful Coaches at these programs all either won their Division, Conference, or MNC by Year three after taking over.
OSU -Tressell went 13-0 National Champ Year two
OU – Stoops went 12-0 National Champ Year two
Mich – Lloyd Carr won the MNC Year three
UF – Meyer Won MNC Year two
Bama – Gene Stallings went 11-1 year two, Won MNC Year three
Bama – Nick Saban went 12-0 in the regular season and made the SEC Championship game in year two
LSU – Nick Saban went 10-3 won the SEC year two Won MNC Year four
USC – Pete Carroll went 11-2 Top 5 year two Won MNC Year three
UGA – Richt went 13-1 and finished No. 3 SEC CHAMP year two
UT- Brown was the worst 9-5 (Still won the B12 South) in year two
UM – Butch Davis. Tied for BE title year one and two
Utenn- Fulmer 9-0 year one, 10-2 year two (Tied for SEC East Title) Won–MNC Year seven
*Note Fulmer did not lose his 16th game at Tenn until his ninth Season”
I wouldn’t argue with any of those facts because they are true, but Larry Coker ran this program into the ground, he took over the structure built by Butch Davis and like Warren Sapp said, “just got out of the way."
We mortgaged the future for a National Title which really should have been three if things play out a bit differently. If you notice after Butch Davis left, they hired from within because of the request of the players on that team.
They then fire Coker and go on a coaching search and surprise no elite coaches want the job at Miami an “elite” program in college football. If you consider Mike Leach an elite coach then you are totally off base. Why didn’t any elite coaches want the job?
For starters Larry Coker left things in very bad shape and, whether you like it or not, a re-building job was necessary, secondly Miami is known as the program that doesn’t pay big money for elite coaches. Look at the salary disparity here for the coaches at Elite programs, I only include Leavitt from South Florida to compare to Randy’s salary.
Mack Brown – $5,000,000 (with incentives included)
Bob Stoops – $5,803,000 (with incentives included)
Pete Carroll – $4,400,000 (with incentives included)
Jim Tressel – $3,500,000
Urban Meyer – $4,000,000
Nick Saban – $3,900,000
Les Miles – $3,800,000
Jim Leavitt – $1,600,000
Randy Shannon – $1,500,000
Here are the salaries for the coaches in the ACC.
Bobby Bowden, Florida State – $2,500,000
Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech – $2,300,000
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech – $2,100,000
Butch Davis, North Carolina – $2,100,000
Al Groh, Virginia – $1,875,000
Ralph Friedgen, Maryland – $1,750,000
David Cutcliffe, Duke – $1,500,000
Randy Shannon, Miami – $1,500,000
Jim Grobe, Wake Forest – $1,200,000
Tom O’Brien, N.C. State – $1,100,000
Frank Spaziani, Boston College – $1,000,000
Dabo Swinney, Clemson – $1,000,000
Miami’s financial model for paying coaches has typically been more of a reward for performance type, they prefer to reward a coach with a top level salary when they prove they can win. Larry Coker was making near three million dollars when he was fired as head coach at Miami. Larry Coker had won a National Title, multiple conference titles, and had an impeccable coaching record until the last few years of his tenure.
Miami has made it clear they do not want to pay top dollar to bring in one of the elite coaches, so they elected to go with the cheaper option in Randy Shannon and also someone that President Shalala was comfortable with.
He is one of the only coaches that wanted the job at the salary they were offering which was that of a middle tier program, there were others interested but they were mostly assistants with no head coaching experience. He is a first time head coach, people are comparing him to coaches who have triple and quadruple the years of experience.
He is paid like a young coach because he is, and to compare him to coaches with years of head coaching experience under their belt will, of course, make him look inferior.
The worst part about this is if Shannon wins a National Championship in the next three years, all of a sudden everyone complaining will say they were on board the entire time.
Were there better options than Shannon? I am sure there were, but the administration chose to give the opportunity to Shannon and they knew it was not going to be an instant fix. I am sure goals were discussed for the program, and we have not been privy to all of that information.
From the sounds of things the administration is pleased with the job Shannon is doing because the players are not getting in trouble, and aren’t embarrassing the university on the field.
The athletic director was quoted saying, “Randy Shannon is going to be our head coach for a long, long time." You can see that image is what they care about the most because they wanted to distance themselves from ESPN’s “The U” documentary as far as humanly possible.
Shalala is not worried about National Titles and losing to Wake Forest, Clemson, and other teams we should beat. Randy will not go against the administration like Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson did. It’s a tough place to be as a coach when the administration is so worried about image that they want the coach to micro-manage the behavior of the players.
Randy’s contract expires in 2010, and I am sure a contract extension will be worked out during the off season because the athletic director has already said as much. I would be surprised if Randy is not here for the foreseeable future, but stranger things have happened.
There is an article about Shalala being sold on Shannon here.