Ask ten Hurricanes fans today whom they think should be the next head coach to replace Al Golden, and you'll probably get ten different answers. The leader in public opinion is probably former coach Butch Davis, whether for nostalgic reasons or because fans really believe he's the man to bring the program back to prominence. Others lean toward former FIU coach Mario Cristobal because he was a UM player and has a proven track record of recruiting in Miami.
For the majority of fans who haven't made up their minds yet, though, it's worth considering what kind of a coach could finally end this era of mediocrity for the Canes. Here's what this program needs:
A coach with obvious, recent ties to the Miami Hurricanes program.
Most programs usually start with this qualification when looking for a coach. Think Michigan when it turned to then-San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Hiring one of your own always makes the bigger splash, feels the safest, and assures there is no learning curve when it comes to getting used to your city. Miami isn't for everyone — just ask Nick Saban.
Before the Hurricanes open the coaching search, the most logical first step is exploring all the "in-family" possibilities. Whether it be an ex-player, coach, or even someone like Mike Shula who knows and loves the city of Miami, handing the job to someone who gets us makes the most sense.
The new coach has to keep elite South Florida talent home.
It's one thing for the new Hurricanes coach to keep three-star linebackers at home, which Al Golden did just fine. It's an entirely different problem for him to get the Dalvin Cooks of the world to stay in Dade County. The Hurricanes have had some players head to the NFL in the past few years — most of which produced little at Miami — but it's been a long time since the team has put together any draft classes that come close to what they used to churn out on a yearly basis.
The new Canes coach has to be a closer when it comes to recruiting — in Miami, not in New Jersey. The best players in the nation go to high school right here in South Florida. Hurricanes fans are sick of seeing them on the other side of the field every Saturday.
The new coach must involve former players and embrace the U's past.
It's perplexing that embracing the Canes' history even needs to be mentioned, but it's been a long time since a Hurricanes coach used the program's best asset: its storied past and wealthy roster of NFL alumni. The University of Miami is a family, and ex-players treat it as such. It's ridiculous that they are given the Heisman arm when trying to get closer to the football program. Last year's star running back Duke Johnson was even told to leave the stadium this past Saturday because he was wearing a backpack.
A good portion of the coaching staff should be ex-Hurricanes. They want to help. You should take their help. This is not something that should need explaining. Miami isn't every other program. If you want the swagger back, there is no better swag-coach than the man who did the swaggering himself in your shoes a few years ago.
Or you can choose to have guys like Mark D'Onofrio yelling nonsense at your squad all week. You decide.
The next coach must truly believe this is his dream job.
Al Golden blew smoke up every Canes fan's ass, because he clearly didn't think this was "the best job in the country." Golden tried and failed to leave Miami at least once. Miami was never his dream job. He had no ties to Miami. The minute the Penn State job opened up, he tried as hard as possible to bolt north. The next coach can't be full of it when he says Miami is where he wants to be. Leaving for the NFL and its money is one thing, but using Miami to get a better college job is unacceptable.
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This is why you hope to keep the job in the family rather than hire another coach who led a MAAC team to a 8-5 record.
The next Canes coach has to know how to use the talent once he gets it.
Miami breeds a certain type of player: fast, athletic, dynamic, and play-making. The next Hurricanes coach must adapt to the talent around him, not try to fit the local crop of talent into a system that would work better in Wisconsin during the winter. Miami has no shortage of speed. Hell, the Hurricanes in the '90s basically invented speed. So the team's next coach needs to fit his game plan to the kids who grew up playing this same style of play. Too many times, Golden would recruit a kid everyone wanted and then stick him in his system that totally didn't capitalize on all the reasons dozens of schools wanted him in the first place.
Players must begin to get better at Miami as their careers go on and be used in a system that best suits their skill sets.