The news, not even 24 hours old, is already—and understandably—the biggest story in college football Monday morning; national columnists whipping together those expected who-should-replace-him type columns one comes to expect in situations like this.
While this site never had any aspirations of becoming some be-all, end-all type of news outlet—always content being the voice of the fans, with a desire to call it like it is—this is definitely an area we’re comfortable flexing our muscle.
allCanesBlog.com has covered University of Miami athletics for 19 seasons, has seen coaches come and go—living through good times and bad—while always bleeding orange and green, standing by this program through all of it.
As mentioned yesterday; there’s sadness for Golden the man, but can’t argue with the move regarding Golden the head coach and look forward to seeing this proud tradition restored.
Below is our laundry list of candidates. While this story is less than a day old for the national media with no ties to this program, this is something we’ve pondering for a while now. Here’s what we’re currently thinking—and why:
Fuente is doing a bang-up job at Memphis, while Herman has Houston rolling. Sticking the two together here as they’re sort of two in the same regarding current popularity, age and where their career trajectory appears headed.
Fuente’s Tigers knocked off Ole Miss this season, while Herman’s claim to fame is coaching up quarterbacks at Ohio State during last year’s national title run; done with a third-string signal caller. Both coaches have their programs undefeated at 7-0.
The desire to land up-and-comers like this is understandable, but a few things are working against Miami here—and always will, as UM is a private school in a diverse, metropolitan city, with a quirky fan base, off-campus stadium and competing with countless distractions when it comes to capturing interest and the local entertainment dollar.
For starters, both Fuente and Herman will be kings of the mountain come December as there are some—and will be more—desirable openings. Southern California and South Carolina coming first to mind. Will there be openings in Austin, Texas or Blacksburg, Virginia? Where else might heads roll?
Unless either of these two put their hat into the ring and had a burning desire to head south to Coral Gables, neither would truly be the right fit.
The Canes need a guy who wants to be at Miami, knows what the job entails and has the resolve to deal with what’s coming down the pike. Simply put; it’s not for everybody—especially anyone looking for a lot of the perks that come with other high profile collegiate gigs.
There will be countless opportunities for these two to command fatter paychecks, fuller stadiums and more loyal fanbases in traditional college towns that will roll out the red carpet for them.
“The U” is a high-risk, high-reward type job and isn’t usually one the most popular guy—or in this case, guys—with countless options will want to sign up for. Gauge interest and go from there, but odds appear slim with these two.
No. 5 — Rich Rodriguez (Arizona Wildcats head coach) — Another guy worth mentioning as Rodriguez has proven he can get it done where he’s a good fit, but can’t where he’s not. Success at West Virginia, failure at Michigan and reborn at Arizona, Rodriguez was the Pac-12 Coach of the Year last season and earned the same Big East honor twice with the Mountaineers.
Rodriguez is certainly worth talking to, but also seems like one of those guys who could land a bigger gig. A one-time Clemson offensive coordinator, South Carolina could be a fit. Same to be said if Frank Beamer moves on from Virginia Tech and defensive coordinator Bud Foster doesn’t get the nod.
This wouldn’t necessarily be bad hire for the Canes—but there’s absolutely zero sizzle-factor here. Rodriguez is a bit more proven than today’s up-and-comers, but would this be the home run-type hire “The U” at this crucial time? Not really.
No. 4 — Dana Holgersen (West Virginia Mountaineers head coach) — An upside with Holgersen; his top-notch offensive mind. While the old way used to have schools hiring defensive-minded coaches who brought in offensive-minded assistants, that trend has changed over the years (mostly due to the success rate of Urban Meyer.)
Holgersen had West Virginia rolling a few years back but the switch from the Big East to the more powerful Big XII created a hiccup, as the Mountaineers simply can’t compete recruiting-wise against the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, etc.
Could be a good time for Holgersen to make an off-season move and while he certainly isn’t a top-three choice for Miami, he wouldn’t be a bad Plan D or E. Like a Rodriguez, this certainly wouldn’t make a big splash—which the Canes need after a decade of mediocrity.
No. 3 — Greg Schaino (TV analyst) — We’re starting to hit a little closer to home with a name like Schiano; who was last seen in the midst of a disastrous run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Still, his 11 years with the Scarlet Knights had him taking a 1-11 team in 2002 and going 11-2 in 2006, knocking off second-ranked USF and then Kansas State in the bowl game.
For all the credit Golden got for his efforts reviving a doormat of a Temple program, Schiano did all that and more at Rutgers. Bigger wins. Culture change. Measurable success and recruiting the hell out of South Florida.
Schiano is always an interesting one when it comes to the “U Family” as he only did two years at Miami as a defensive coordinator in the late 1990’s. He also would’ve been a shoo-in for the head coaching gig had he not bolted for New Jersey soon before Butch Davis left for Cleveland, leaving the Canes to tab next-in-line Larry Coker as the new guy.
Schiano was in the running in 2006 when Coker was fired, but things never materialized. There was talk back then of negotiations but both sides couldn’t come to terms. There are also countless stories about his wife Christy not being a fan of the Miami area during their short time here. Where is all that 15 years and a few career stops later?
Said to be a micromanager-type, Schiano is another one of those guys that could be clamoring for a second chance at a missed opportunity—and while his time at “The U” was short, he knows the culture, the type of athletes that exist in this region and was the guy who brought that whole “attack, attack, attack” style of defense that completed Davis’ turnaround.
Schiano seems like a solid Plan C for Miami. It wouldn’t be a monster hire—but it’s in a better neighborhood than rolling the dice on a newbie, or going with a Rodriguez / Holgersen type of character.
No. 2a / 2b — Rob Chudzinski (Indianapolis Colts assistant head coach) / Mario Cristobal (Alabama offensive line coach) — Two former Miami Hurricanes players from the glory days who have climbed the coaching ranks. On paper and in theory, it really feels like this family-type of hire is just what “The U” needs to start getting back to its roots.
Chudzinski has the more impressive resume, serving as offensive coordinator for the Canes during that 2001-2003 run. Coached up tight ends in the NFL the next few years, with stops in Cleveland and San Diego.
Earned the offensive coordinator gig with the Browns, back to the Chargers, off to Carolina to coach the offense and then a one-year stint as head coach in Cleveland. The past two years have been under former Canes coach Chuck Pagano with the Colts (who could also be looking for work next year as Indianapolis is tanking.)
There are two knocks on Chud at this phase of his career; an admitted dislike regarding the recruiting grind, as well as not being an overly dynamic, full-of-personality candidate.
What Cristobal lacks in Chud’s experience, he certainly shies in those two areas where his former teammate comes off as deficient. Cristobal is a tireless recruiter and seems to have a little more of that politician-like polish and charm; to the point where his Canes family detractors oft refer to him as the “Cuban Al Golden”.
Cristobal put in that standard grad assist time at Miami, followed Schiano to Rutgers, cane back to UM under Coker for three seasons, did six years as Florida International’s head coach, almost came back to the Canes under Golden in 2013, but was scooped up by Nick Saban and Alabama, where he’s headed up recruiting and coaches the offensive line.
Where neither of these guys are a Fuente or Herman regarding trendiness, both have that orange and green blood pumping through their veins—and that can’t be counted out.
It’s one thing for Miami fans to want former players to take over—throwing enough names at the wall and hoping something sticks. It’s another to have two qualified guys who have climbed the coaching ranks
The detractors cite the way Davis left Miami a decade and a half ago, knock his game day abilities and quickly point to the North Carolina scandal.
Davis was fully exonerated regarding a scandal that began years before he even took the Canes gig in the mid-nineties, but for a university that just spent three years in the NCAA’s crosshairs—it’s understandable that fans and some BOT members are Davis-averse.
The reason Davis top this list; the positives greatly seem to outweigh any of those perceived negatives. Second chance and retreads don’t always work out; but that’s not to say there can’t be exceptions to the rule.
Davis’ narrative—in certain places—is similar to that of his mentor Jimmy Johnson. Both found success as head coaches at Miami; Johnson, both losing and winning a title, while Davis got the Canes to the doorstep of a championship and a never-before-see run.
Johnson found NFL success and two Super Bowl rings (with Davis on his staff), while Davis’ struggles at the next level had him back in the collegiate ranks before long.
Where the two appear to be mirror images; the glimmer in their eye when both talk about their days at the University of Miami. It’s easy for Johnson to have no regrets due to his success at Dallas—but even with those championships, he still reveres his years at “The U” as the best in his career.
For Davis; the difference between him and Johnson—there was no real NFL success, nor did he get to reap the benefits of his six years of tireless work at Miami, leaving prematurely last time around.
Johnson’s three rings came as a head coach. Davis’ three all came as an assistant on Johnson’s staff.
Davis offered up his mea culpa in last year’s 30 For 30 by Billy Corben and his Rakontur crew; The U : Part II—that compelling first act serving as a reminder for just how bad things were at Miami when Davis took over in 1995, in comparison to how he left things early 2001 when moving on.
Golden earned a lot of credit for sticking around to clean up a mess he didn’t make. Conversely, Davis signed up for the Miami job when he knew the hammer was about to fall.
Golden dealt with two years of negativity, with an eventual slap on the wrist punishment-wise, due to the NCAA playing dirty pool. Meanwhile, Davis was masterful in changing a broken culture and negotiating a rugged terrain that was the result of 31 lost scholarships over three seasons.
Sidelined the past few years, one can only imagine how badly Davis wants another shot at making amends and finally winning his own national championship. He already has the blueprint and an army of former players both getting his back and ready to help him move mountains.
Furthermore, Davis-to-The-U has the one thing that no other candidate offers; legitimate star power and a turnkey opportunity marketing-wise for a program that’s been embroiled in scandal, negativity and dark days. Whoever the Canes open with next fall—bank on a packed house if Davis leads Miami through that tunnel. Especially if there are a handful of old school Canes on that staff and making that jog with him.
Miami looked outside and found Golden, after looking inside for both Coker and Randy Shannon—neither who were up for the task as CEO-types or head coaching material.
As a talent evaluator and in regards to player development, Davis is one of the best the sport has ever seen. He’s been laying low, waiting on this opportunity since last year—a staff in place and a game plan he’s ready to put info effect. He wants the gig and wasn’t afraid to boldly admit it on air Monday morning.
“I’ve told people many, many times: everything I ever accomplished as a coach has its roots in Miami,” Davis explained on Miami’s 790 The Ticket. “When you spend 11 years there, you’ve got an awful lot invested in the community. Hopefully my name will be one that will have an opportunity to be considered.”
That doesn’t make this option foolproof and “Davis: The Remix” might not be the same at 63 as it was when he first took the gig at 42 years old—but age is no reason to pull back as there’s also experience and wisdom two decades later that Davis didn’t have in his first go-around.
Corben took to Twitter on Sunday and sprinkled a little fairy dust on an ideal scenario for Miami; close to what has been written here at allCanesBlog regarding a coach-in-waiting type of scenario should Davis surface as a legitimate candidate:
“Pro PR move: Hire Butch, stack assistants with Canes legends, groom one as successor, Butch retires as director of football ops, count cash.”
While that many seem a bit Hollywood coming from a director who is arguably watching “The U : Part III” being scripted before his very eyes, it’s truly not as far-fetched as one might think.
Between Davis and an army of former players who have gone on to greatness, the University of Miami has a more-than-qualified clean-up crew ready to rebuild this thing proper from the ground up.
At this point it’s simply a matter of getting over one aspect of the past, as it looks to reclaim all the success and proper infrastructure that era provided.
There’s no surefire answer for “The U” right now; but giving Davis another shot at seeing things through; it’s as close to a gimme as the Canes are gonna get.