Thursday, May 13

Extensions, Smart Thugs, Higher Expectations At The U

Randy Shannon recently received a four year extension as football coach at the University of Miami. We all know that college coaching contracts are barely worth the ink and paper used to construct them, but it serves more as a symbolic gesture that the administration approves of what the coach has done thus far. The commitment to Shannon is a reward for his work off the field of competition more than on it.

While Shannon took over a program in complete disarray and improved the program's wins in each of his three seasons from 5 to 7 to 9, there is a large contingent that wants him gone. While the main contingent of Miami fans is small in numbers compared to their larger public counterparts, it is no less forgiving. The school has 5 national titles under its belt in the past 30 years and there are those that think they should be in contention every year. Larry Coker did a great thing for the school, he steered the rudder on one of the greatest college football teams ever to a title. After that things fell apart, some of which was Coker's fault and some of which was not. Either way the Randy Shannon era began with a bare cupboard and a team rife with off the field incidents, an on the field brawl, and the murder of one of its star players.

While it is easy to point out the troublemakers Miami has produced during their historic rise to prominence in college football, there have been just as many if not more success stories within the program. Shannon is one of them. His experience as a kid from the bad part of town, who became a champion at Miami and a player and coach in the NFL has turned into a pipeline of recruiting that has the Canes poised to turn their fortunes around. When Randy came in he made it clear that the players would go to class and stay out of trouble. So far it has worked. The team has escaped the police blotter and was even recognized by the NCAA for its success in the classroom.

Yet with the perverse world we live in those accolades are seen as a negative to many. They believe the only way for Miami to be successful is to channel the brash behavior of teams of the past. This idea is not only asinine, it is impractical. The NCAA Football Committee is getting ready to put into effect a rule that would call back touchdowns for live ball taunting; times have changed. The "Swagger" the Canes became known for cannot be displayed in the same manner as in the 80s, early 90s and even from a decade ago. A lot of this desire comes from a peak at other rivals who are having football success. The big program in this picture are the Florida Gators. Florida has had almost 30 players arrested over the past four years but the results on the field overshadow everything. This has led to the false assumption that Miami needs to "thug it up" in order to vault ahead of Florida in the state once again. That could not be further from the truth. Shannon has collected great talent using his methods, there is no need for introducing a negative element. College football is not the wild west like it used to be, the media scrutiny and amount of money at stake have taken away that rebel attitude which Miami required to become a powerhouse. The closest thing to a rebel in college football is Boise State or Orrin Hatch.

The steps taken by Miami to clean up the program should be seen as positive. However, the bottom line is winning. Shannon has shown improvement but he still has a ways to go in actual game management and league titles. The revitalization of the Miami football program cannot be made unless they take control of the conference. The ACC has ironically been made into more of a joke after their expansion to 12 teams. Virginia Tech has been the lone school to boast success on a national stage and that still came without a title. Miami fans want to dream about reclaiming national titles but they need to start thinking inside the conference, hell inside their own division. Anything short of a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship will be a disappointment. Considering two road trips to Columbus and Pittsburgh in the first four weeks of the season, 2011 should be the target year for national title aspirations.

With the Hurricanes recently gaining the ficticious NFL pipeline crown as well as these new developments in the program, confidence is at a high it has not been at for a long time in Coral Gables. One thing Shannon detractors cannot deny is that he has brought in the talent and has the players conducting themselves the right way, the only missing piece is the hardest: a national title.


Anonymous said...

One thing anyone has to respect about Miami is that they aren't afraid to play anyone, anywhere. Oklahoma last year, ohio state and pittsburgh this year, possibly alabama and notre dame in 2012, florida in 2013. Miami always has a brutal out of conference schedule. While teams like Florida, virginia tech among many other "top schools" act like punks when it comes to out of conference scheduling year after year. They take the easy road to a title every year. Miami doesn't do that. And for being mediocre for years, Miami still has an amazing television draw today.

Anonymous said...

This contract extension I believe was a smart move for the University. It does alot in terms of recruiting for the canes. Shannon now can focus on his job and if Miami protects the football and the defense creates turnovers, this could be a dangerous team because they have depth at every position. I think they have the talent to beat every team on their schedule, including ohio state. The buckeyes are a very good team but they're by no means Invincible.

Cleet said...

I agree with what you are saying, and there is only one thing left to do which is prove it on the field. Shannon and the team can point to a tough schedule this year but that is outside conference, there is no reason they should not win the Coastal and in 2011 contend for a title. Shannon can keep the kids' noses clean every year but he eventually has to get to the BCS or he will get canned.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Believe me, Shannon knows that there will be immense pressure on him in the second term of his contract. The players know as well. He has all the pieces in place to win at least a conference championship, youth is no longer a liable excuse. If Shannon doesnt produce an ACC Title this year and at least in contention for a national title by 2011, he'll be under tremendous heat. The university will be under fire by the fanbase to get rid of him. Miami fans expect titles every year, I know because I am one.

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