Donna Shalala Must Ease Up on UM Football
It is University of Miami Coach Al Golden's second year on the job, and he's on his way to another disappointing season. Yet he's done well recruiting players and nurturing a team decimated by the early departures of talented upperclassmen.
The problem? UM President Donna Shalala has handcuffed Golden, just as she did his predecessors Randy Shannon, Larry Coker, and Butch Davis. As a result, the team has been embarrassed by Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Florida State.
Shalala wants the big bucks a football program generates without a return to the renegade image from the 1980s, when the Hurricanes dominated college football. Those Canes were the best because they were led by three headstrong coaches — Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, and Dennis Erickson — who didn't let then-university President Tad Foote meddle with their control of the players.
That hasn't been the case during Shalala's tenure. When Shannon was trying to keep his student-athletes from the clutches of Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro, Shalala was happily accepting checks from the rogue ex-booster. Ever since the NCAA began investigating Shapiro's allegations that he provided impermissible gifts to football and basketball players and recruits right under Shalala's nose, Hurricanes football has been in a free fall.
Four juniors from last year's team whose leadership and talent would have helped this season's squad left early for the NFL draft. Another defensive star, Ray Ray Armstrong, was booted before the season started. And two more men quit the team in October.
It keeps getting worse. In early October, after less than two years on the job, Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst quit to take over the University of Nebraska sports program. The guy before him, Kirby Hocutt, left for the same job at Texas Tech University. When two athletic directors leave the beautiful city of Coral Gables for cow pastures and cornfields, that shows the problems start at the top of the University of Miami.
I'd rather see the football program shut down than let Shalala keep ruining it.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
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