Randy's Gone, But Will Donna Shalala and Kirby Hocutt Step Up?
Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme
Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for
Miami New Times. This week, Uncle Luke comes to terms with the
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end of the Randy Shannon era.
Saturday was one of the saddest
days for Miami-Dade's African American community with the firing of
Randy Shannon as the University of Miami's head football coach. At
the end of the day, I can't argue with athletic director Kirby
Hocutt's decision to let Shannon go, but his dismissal still hurts.
haven't hidden the fact that Shannon is a dear friend of mine, but
his ascendance to the top job of the Hurricanes program meant a lot
to blacks. He was one of the few people of
color to have a very high profile job in this town. We already know
it is virtually impossible that a black person will ever be elected county
mayor or be selected to be county manager, so seeing Shannon, a
hometown guy, reach the mountain top was something the African
American community could be proud of and aspire to.
But I know, more
than anybody, that college football is a cold hard business. Following the Hurricanes win over
Clemson, I spoke with Shannon, telling him that if he didn't win the
ACC this year, he would probably get fired. His response was that he
had no control over that. All he could do was coach the team as best
Unfortunately, his players let
him down and the university's administration turned their backs on
Shannon once the losses hit the school in the pocket book. When you
lose to a team like Virginia, the worst squad in the ACC, and South
Florida, a mediocre team from a mediocre conference like the Big East
in front of only 20,000 fans, there is not much Shannon could have
done to save his job.
I still believe Shannon would
have eventually won a national championship at the University of
Miami had he been given complete autonomy over the football program.
At the end of the day, he did what his bosses -- Hocutt and university President Donna
Shalala -- wanted him to do. He came in and cleaned up the program,
played the role of tough disciplinarian and graduated more players
than any other coach before him. Make no mistake, Shalala is fine
having a football program like Duke where the players' performance in
the classroom outweighs their performance on the field.
saying that it is a bad thing, but at the same time, she and Hocutt
handcuffed Shannon from being the guy who won championships with the
Hurricanes as a player, graduate assistant and defensive coordinator.
People forget that Hocutt forced offensive coordinator Mark Whipple
on Shannon. Whipple was a disaster that Shannon had no control over.
I know he contemplated firing Whipple during the season, but Shannon
was too much of a nice guy to pull the trigger. And we all know nice
guys finish last.
There was a day when the
University of Miami had the most sought after coaches in Howard
Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, and Dennis Erickson. Now the school
has fired its last two coaches for doing what the administration
wanted. Hocutt and Shalala were happy with a 7-5 team as long
as the players didn't act like the old rough and rugged teams from
the 80s. For the past nine years they've wanted a program that was
run like a military boot camp.
Hocutt and Shalala need to know they
can't have it both ways.
If they are serious about winning
championships, then going after a guy like Jon Gruden makes sense.
But they need to give him complete control. They can't tell him who
to hire to run the offense and the defense. If they don't, then this
program will continue to go down the tubes.
Now that they don't have Shannon
to deflect the criticism, the pressure is on Shalala and Hocutt to
let whoever comes in to let the U live up to its old traditions.
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