Fans are lumped into different camps these days; Randy Shannon ‘lovers’ or anti-Shannon ‘haters’. Strange, so much focus is put on the man in charge instead of paying attention the past, present and future state of the program – where this recently was, where it is and where it’s on track to go.
There are always two ways to look at a situation; either through a logical or illogical mind, where emotion prevails and facts are replaced by off-base opinions and knee-jerk reactions.
I’ve said it time and again; my loyalty is with the University of Miami. It’s not about being pro and anti-Randy. I’m rooting for the guy in charge because he’s in charge. This is the current State of Miami and one can either get on board, bitch relentlessly or simply stick their head in the sand until this era comes to a close.
Based on fact, I’m satisfied with what I deem progress and overall improvement. 5-7 year one, 7-6 year two and 9-4 year three. After a 5-1 tear, the four-loss total wasn’t ideal – but Shannon has the Canes getting better each season. That’s not opinion, it’s fact.
Games that Miami would’ve lost the first two years, it found a way to win year three. A program that mailed it in or folded the tent so often the past two years; it starting showing some grit in both wins and losses this season.
It may not be the timetable many were hoping for. Then again, no one expected to see such a drop off in talent between ’04 and where the Canes are today.
Those quick to play the “Don’t Blame Larry” card- that’ll happen when his last recruit is no longer on board. Until Shannon has a roster full of those signees, Coker’s fingerprints remain on this program and squad.
In an effort to remind the overemotional folk where this all began, take it back to year one. Where did this program stand when Shannon took over? What was inherited talent-wise, putting Miami in the lurch it’s been in the past few seasons?
The ’07 Canes had 21 seniors, 31 juniors, 21 sophomores, 8 redshirt freshmen and 20 true freshmen. The recruiting haul that February was a combination of Coker’s class – which Shannon attempted to save, as well as a few new guys.
Graig Cooper was originally on Miami’s radar, but after a year at Milford Prep, Coop was unsure if the Canes were still a fit for him. Shannon reeled him in, as well as Allen Bailey. Fresh off a trip to Alabama, the Georgia-bred defensive lineman visited Coral Gables a week later and verballed to Shannon just before signing day.
Robert Marve was another one reeled in by Shannon. In the end, a bad call – but was the right call at the time. Marve was committed to Alabama and Texas product Nick Fanuzzi was Miami bound. The quarterbacks flip-flopped, flamed out and wound up transferring instead of working their way up depth charts.
A look across the board and it’s obvious this team was void of superior talent, especially in comparison to 2000-2003. A comparison to 2009 and the upgrade is also impossible to ignore.
Three seasons ago it was Kyle Wright and Kirby Freeman at quarterback; a five-star who never panned out and the other, a perennial back-up thrust into the starting role due to a lack of depth.
At running back, sophomore Javarris James was the guy, with Cooper challenging for some snaps. Charlie Jones, demoted to third string, transferred after never panning out. Jerrell Mabry held down fullback.
At wide receiver it was current cornerback Sam Shields and the disappointing Lance Leggett. Senior Darnell Jenkins proved the classic overachiever and had his moments, but a lack of depth had Shannon moving cornerback Ryan Hill to wide out, while junior Khalil Jones rounded out the position.
Some more depth perspective – punter Brian Monroe doubled as a third-string wide out a year prior.
DajLeon Farr and converted fullback Chris Zellner at tight end, with an offensive line comprised of Jason Fox, Andrew Bain, A.J. Trump, Derrick Morse and Reggie Youngblood, another five-star that never panned out. Back ups were Chris Barney, Tyrone Byrd, Matt Pipho, Chris Rutledge and Cyrim Wimbs.
Miami’s defensive line – Eric Moncur, Antonio Dixon, Teraz McCray and Calais Campbell. Back ups were Vegas Franklin, Josh Holmes, Dwayne Hendricks and Courtney Harris.
At linebacker, Colin McCarthy, Darryl Sharpton, and Glenn Cook with Spencer Adkins, Romeo Davis and Tavares Gooden second string.
The oft-banged up Glenn Sharpe returned at cornerback, R. Phillips on the other side with Lovon Ponder and Kenny Phillips holding down safety. Willie Cooper was the lone safety reserve as the position was depleted. Chavez Grant and Bruce Johnson were back up corners. Redshirt freshman Matt Bosher played both placekicker and punter.
Look at those names. Think back to year one. Let it sink in and compare it to today. Can you really brush off any notion of improvement?
This wasn’t a talent-heavy roster, proven by the lack of NFL love. C. Campbell, K. Phillips, T. Gooden and S. Adkins were the lone Canes from that era to get drafted – not quite the twenty first rounders drafted between 2000 and 2004.
Forty Canes reached the NFL overall over that five-year span.
Four have reached the past two seasons.
When you break down the 2007 squad, Shannon wasn’t working with much. 5-7 on the heels of the 7-6 season which got Coker fired; it starts to make sense.
Despite things bottoming out year one, Shannon still brought in the top-ranked class in the nation come February. That crop of talent, thrust into the spotlight year one. Dive in head first and help with the lack of depth.
A far cry from plugging a high school phenom into a well-oiled machine like Southern Cal, Oklahoma and even Florida of late. Miami’s ’08 class was thrown to the wolves like Butch Davis’ ’97 haul. Different circumstances, yet talent-starved and in need of one big class to jump start the process.
How many young quarterbacks were given the burden Harris had on his bony shoulders? Stuck behind an up-and-down offensive line year one and working with a first-year coordinator? Toss in a nagging injury down the stretch, helping account for the 4-3 skid.
The hard-ass, illogical fan screams that Harris needs to ‘toughen up’ or ‘find a way to get it done’. Fact remains, the first-year starter overachieved and the Canes got a hell of a lot of milage out of the sophomore, running him into the ground thanks to spotty line play.
Fix Harris up, put on some man weight and let him get after it again – healthy for that junior season and year two, where the growth will be obvious.
Miami went as far as Harris took them. At times, the Canes looked unstoppable. When out of sync, a lifeless bunch pushed to the brink by seemingly lesser teams. The anti-Shannonites love harping on a handful of collapses, quickly forgetting that when UM was ‘on’, you saw a glimpse of where this team will be in the near future.
Position by positon you’ll see a squad full of hits and misses. Randy first addressed immediate needs, building depth at wide receiver. Year two, offensive line and defensive standouts.
This time next year, an army of new running backs – Storm Johnson, Eduardo Clements, Maurice Hagans and Darion Hall – and five more offensive linemen to help pave the way.
Defensive line has some talent and more coming in. Shannon brought in Dyron Dye, Luther Robinson and Curtis Porter last season, all of which need to make some noise in ’10.
Tavadis Glenn, David Perry and Andrew Tallman will sign in February, adding depth to a position in need of some toughness.
Linebacker has been an issue ’04 and needs to take a huge step forward this season. The surge begins with the line, but linebacker dictates so much – as proven every time a Wisconsin tight end caught a pass and rumbled for another first down. Hurricanes linebackers were oft out of position and with what should be a talent upgrade, Miami is due to experience a step forward.
Sean Spence spent the majority of ’09 banged up, while McCarthy put together another solid season. Sharpton overachieved and made some big plays down the stretch, but a far cry from the Jon Vilma or D.J. Williams era.
Ramon Buchanan had some moments as a true sophomore, while Jordan Futch had a potential breakthrough season cut short by injury. Highly-touted Arthur Brown hasn’t panned out and true freshman Shayon Green missed the year due to injury. Someone in this mix needs to become ‘the guy’.
Miami lost recruit Javarie Johnson earlier (D.C. product choosing to stay close to home), but still has four linebackers on board to sign in February – Travis Williams, Kevin Nelson, Tyrone Cornelius and Kelvin Cain.
The secondary got a shot in the arm the past two years adding Brandon Harris, Ray Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque. A sophomore, a true freshman and a r-freshman, this position will get better in time. Gone are Shields and Grant, opening the door for someone new to step up. Last year’s Jamal Reid and Brandon McGee or one of the four incoming DBs, it’s up for grabs. Who wants it?
When building a case for 2010, it starts with the Canes returning some seniors – Bailey, Hankerson, McCarthy and Franklin. When you’re on top, you’re losing underclassmen left and right. When in rebuilding mode, guys need one more year and the program needs them.
It’s been a while since Miami had a senior class with some big time players. Randy has preached ‘retention’ since day one and year three it’s finally happening.
The Canes should be much healthier in 2010. Hardly the case this past season. Miami had upwards of a dozen starters sidelined for much of the season. Ojomo was missed on the defensive line. Marcus Forston was gone. Spence was banged up. Futch tore an ACL. Moncur was done. McCarthy and J12 played hurt. Cooper wore down as the year went on. Fox missed the final two games.
Injuries can be absorbed when you have the depth, but when you’re so heavily reliant on underclassmen, it’ll take its toll.
Year three is in the books and while Shannon still has his work cut out, he’s still on track for those who buy into a five-year plan. Close strong on the recruiting front, get this unit in the weight room and come out hard year four.
Get back to that ‘tougher, stronger, better’ mindset this team employed when rebuilding in the late 90s.
Shannon understands Miami’s expectations in a way Johnny Superfan never will.
Played for the Canes, spent years as a grad assistant and position coach, had a short stint with the Dolphins and spent six years as a top-notch defensive coordinator for The U. Owns three three rings and knows the city and it’s culture like the back of his hand.
He also knows the game of football and what it takes to field a proper team. Shannon coached linebackers the first three years of the Butch Davis era. He endured probation, coached with sub par talent / a lack of depth and he saw Davis rebuild the right way. If anyone has the blueprint for how to fix these current problems, it’s Shannon.
Whether he follows it and gets the job done, remains to be seen.
No disrespect, but this program was an absolute joke in ’07 and by ’09 worked its way back into the top ten on two occasions.
Injuries and spotty quarterback play killed Miami down the stretch, but the Canes proved they could hang with the big boys on the big stage, winning the opener at Tallahassee, whooping eventual ACC champion Georgia Tech and taking out eighth-ranked Oklahoma — games Miami wouldn’t have won at any point between ’05 and ’08.
This was a monumental fix from day one, which is why nobody else came running. You have to be “Miami” to endure the beating this fan base will throw at you for half a decade. Shannon is that guy.
Miami is a desirable job – when the Canes are on top. Coker literally inherited the best job in the game back in January ’01. Shannon landed Enron stock in late ’06 – void of talent and heavy on image woes due to a logo stomp, an on-the-field melee and beloved player’s murder.
Does UM want a head coach who keeps the arrest rate down, graduates players and has a father figure-like dynamic with his players? Damn straight. But not at the expense of winning. Both are attainable, as Miami proved with its 2000-2003 run.
Word is recent decommit Javarie Johnson couldn’t crank out better than 820 on his SAT, Miami’s required minimum. Should that prove true, how is his departure not a good thing?
Don’t rip UM for having standards. Criticism belongs on corner-cutting programs who let kids slip through the cracks at their football factories.
Shannon is doing it by the book, he’s steadily getting better and he came running at this job. For that alone, he deserves five years worth of your support. Some of you flippantly suggest cutting bait now and starting over, which prompts me to ask – what’s your plan?
“Fire Randy” is the go-to of so many, but what’s the agenda? No pie in the sky, never in a million years suggestions, who can step in and do better?
There’s never a solution from the anti-Shannon contingent, just the constant complaint.
Shannon is entering year four and busting his ass, tirelessly looking for solutions. He’s also due to sign an extension, so it’s time you accept the fact that Shannon and ‘Hurricanes football’ will be synonymous two more years minimum.
Knowing that and loving this program as you claim to do, can you give the same, tired argument rest already?
As long as he keeps improving, Randy Shannon has earned the right to be ‘the guy’.