Bowl game chatter & New Years perspective…

A very Happy New Year to my Miami contingent and all who come across this blog. Here’s hoping that 2008 is a banner year for all.

I spent the better part of the 31st, 1st and 2nd in front of the tube and taking in the action, like most college football freaks. Some might call me a masochist, watching others teams rewarded for a stellar season while Miami sits on the sidelines, licking their wounds after a 5-7 campaign.

Hardly the case.

As sick as I am over the Canes version 2007, I had a feeling several other teams and coaches falling flat on their face this new year. Look at the state of college football. Upsets all seasons long. Teams looking Super Bowl one week and Toilet Bowl the next. There was no ‘sure thing’. Ask your buds who bet online.

Inconsistency was the name of the game. Miami saw it firsthand as much as the next letdown team this year. Worked by Oklahoma early on, followed by a Orange Bowl-style beatdown of Texas A&M a few weeks later. Mid-season, the first win over Florida State since 2004 and two weeks after that, an overtime loss to N.C. State with a quarterback who went 1-of-14 with three interceptions.

Icing on this crap cake came in the form of four straight losses to end the year, en route to a five-win season and no bowl invite. Yum.

The ‘sort-of’ silver lining came in the form of extra time in the weight room and a coaching staff that spent the month of December, recruiting like champs. Outside linebacker Arthur Brown chose Miami over USC, Florida, LSU and North Carolina the same day Randy Shannon decided to sever ties with defensive coordinator Tim Walton.

Double score and bonus points. 

Reeling in big time recruits while watching other bowl bound teams fail is making the post-season a bit more tolerable.

The zest, enthusiasm and countdown to the bowl game were all missing, but I rolled into year’s end rooting for upsets, drama and losses. Sick as it sounds, it felt cathartic watching the ‘right’ teams losing certain games. Some situations, good for college football and others simply made it easier to tolerate bleeding the orange and green right now. 

The biggest downer? The message board rants.

There are some qualified and knowledgeable fans with solid insight on the program, posing logical questions and providing solid scenarios regard the past, present and immediate or long-term future.

Then then the are the rest. The opinionated folk with tunnel vision, zero patience, ever changing opinions and choose to comment before logically working something out in their heads.

A big group of the doom and gloomers appeared the minute Texas Tech’s game-winning field goal sailed through the uprights against a Virginia team that whooped Miami, 48-0 in the Orange Bowl finale. 

As expected, many rehashed the Shannon hire and waved their pirate flags in favor of Mike Leach, the Raiders head coach who interviewed for the Canes’ opening last December.

Leach has been running his high octane offense in West Texas for eight season now, yet no big time college program has lured him away and no NFL offensive coordinator gigs have been offered either.  Texas Tech hasn’t finished any better than T-2nd in the Big XII South and hasn’t seen better than a three-loss season since the Leach era kicked off in 2000.

The Red Raiders have seen a five-loss season on four occasions, six losses once and wrapped up this year 9-4. The 2008 Gator Bowl was a step forward for this program for a team losing six seniors. Texas Tech is a young team that’s been ‘under construction’ for a while. It didn’t happen overnight. Leach has been working this thing for eight years.

It’s absolutely moronic to believe that Leach was going to roll into Coral Gables and implement some high octane, flashy offense in one year and with this current squad. Any new coach would’ve struggled big time with the 2007 Miami Hurricanes. Bank on it. 

Another thing Leach wouldn’t do? Recruit the living hell out of South Florida and the nation the way Shannon and staff have. Leach lovers, where do you think Pirate Boy has Miami fighting this recruiting war? Nowhere close to where a Miami native and long-time Canes head coach, who has been part of this program in every facet since his playing days two decades ago. 

The majority of the 27 future signees are on board because of Shannon. The six Northwestern kids? Some of the biggest supporters of the one-year coach you’re gonna find. Arthur Brown? Put that 100% on the relationship forged with Micheal Barrow as well as current recruit Marcus Forston, out there selling The U and this coaching staff to any other All-American who will listen.

It takes time to build a ‘team’. Some Canes enthusiasts fail to realize that – either in denial regarding how far this program sunk, or simply bitter and delusional as a result of said plummet.

Shannon absolutely cannot be judged year one after inheriting a depleted 7-6 team any more than Leach should be praised for beating some mid-level ACC team who handed the Canes one of their seven losses this season.

Look across the nation. It’s no mystery what’s going on in house regarding this year’s BCS teams. Locking down the nation’s best talent. Developing players. Implementing a belief in ‘ team’ and driving home that winner’s mentality. 

Southern Cal. Oklahoma. Georgia. LSU. Ohio State. Wins and losses aside this bowl season, all are fully loaded.

Talent in/talent out. Good players being replaced by better ones. Depth at so many positions, it should be illegal. Second stringers as good as the opponent’s starters.

It’s a pretty simple formula – and one Miami used to know all too well.

Watching USC manhandle Illinois in the Rose Bowl, all I could do was think about Miami’s most recent run. The U should be exactly where the Trojans are. If the Canes had a Pete Carroll building the program up instead of a Larry Coker tearing it down, Miami would be exactly where Southern Cal is today.

Carroll started building his winner the same year Coker started dismantling the Canes he inherited. Carroll went 6-6 year one and continued to improve while Coker topped out his first attempt and backslid each of the next five seasons, thanks to poorly judging and recruiting talent, as well as failing to develop the players he brought in. 

USC’s six-year run since that .500 campaign Carroll’s inaugural season proves one thing; teams that go on 34-game win streaks, make four straight BCS games and win a championship, sandwiched between a snub and highway robbery shouldn’t be insignificant a few seasons later.

Absolutely criminal. 

The lengths one has to go to destroy such a dynasty? It’s virtually impossible.

I call it ‘The Imperfect Storm’. 

Watch the BCS games. Anyone in denial or burying their head in the sand over the state of Miami football the past few years – the past three days are living proof. The recipe to success is playing out game after game. 

The Trojans team who pounded the Illni reminded me of the 2003 Canes. Scary-good and loaded on defense. A talented running back. Good receivers and an up and down quarterback who will cost you a few key games. 

USC forced turnovers, punching at the ball and always looking to strip. They played aggressive and with a bounce in their step all day long. The Rose Bowl was won before the Trojans even took the field.

With all that top local and national talent, who outside the Land of Lincoln didn’t expect that lopsided blowout?

Difference is, the machine keeps chugging away out in Tinseltown. Carroll has been the constant, keeping things flowing smoothly. Steve Sarkisian is competent running an offense once headed up by the supposedly irreplaceable Norm Chow

The same Chow who is yet to turn the Tennessee Titans around after three seasons.

Miami reached a fork in the road in 2003 and Coker took this program down a dead end path. The next three seasons slowly set The U back to the depths as low – if not lower – than the probation era of the mid to late 90s. 

We’ll find out in time if Shannon can coach this team and build a winner – but the clock doesn’t start until 2009. Until then, sit back, take it all in and exercise some patience. These aren’t Shannon’s players and this is his first head coaching gig. 

A lot was done on the fly this year. Mistakes were made. Some over-the-top coachspeak has fans digging up random, six month old quotes and wanting heads to roll. Goals were set and not reached and in the end, an assistant was fired, signaling Shannon’s official return to the drawing board. 

Amazing some choose to focus on what is ‘said’ in a media room rant instead of what is done to fix a problem. It’s time to see the bigger picture. Does it matter that Shannon originally said no one would be fired and soon thereafter, fired Walton? The right decision was made and it was a tough one.

I’ll take the right outcome and a poorly handled explanation any day of the week over saying the right things and not following through when the rubber meets the road. Talk is cheap. We need action, not words. 

Miami needs talent. Period, point blank. If there’s anything I’ve taken from bowl season is that talent is as important, if not more, than great coaching. Look at Hawaii. June Jones takes over an 0-12 team and a few years later, they’re 13-0 and in the Sugar Bowl. Sure, they play a bunch of bums… but they played the same bums pre-Jones and were going winless. That deserves some credit.

Mark Richt, a good enough head coach at Georgia, but has also lost some big time games over his tenure with the Bulldogs and has faceplanted with the money on the table. This year’s Sugar Bowl was no chess match. It was David vs. Goliath; literally. The Dawgs out-talented the hell out of the Fighting Chanting Dancing Rainbows. Not much can trump superior talent. 

Of course, it’s a balance of the two. Oklahoma couldn’t out-talent a fiery West Virginia tonight, nor could Florida play the ‘speed’ card against a supposedly slower Big Ten team. 

Here in lies another piece to Miami’s rebuilding puzzle; motivation and heart. 

West Virginia choked down the stretch against Pitt and was the last team to bow out of the National Championship race, handing the title game to LSU on a platter after Ohio State backed in thanks to Missouri losing the same evening. 

The Mountaineers wanted it more tonight, whereas the Sooners seemed to be going through the motions and Bob Stoops looks like less of a genius, losing his last four bowl games and fielding a defense that allowed 349 yards on the ground, mostly to a scrambling quarterback and second string, freshman tailback.

On the Michigan front, a senior-heavy team winless in their bowl careers – not to mention, 0-4 against arch-rival Ohio State – willed themselves to victory over a supposedly savvy Florida team and Heisman winner Tim Tebow.

The Wolverines had Lloyd Carr coaching his last game and his squad saved their best for last after losing to Appalachain State in the opener and getting throttled by Oregon a week later.

Urban Meyer was outcoached and outclassed and a cocky defending national champion was put out to pasture with four losses and no BCS berth a year later. Even with the ‘second coming’ behind center.

The message here may be lengthy, but it’s loud and clear. After a half decade of dominating, Miami went way off track. Recent success had this fan base in denial regarding the gradual decline. It was actually more logical to believe the program was maintaining than to believe so much could be lost so soon.

It takes time to build a champion. Howard Schnellenberger needed four years. Jimmy Johnson lose five games year one, choked away a title year three and won his ring year four. Dennis Erickson inherited a juggernaut, bringing home two rings in three years, before leaving a third on the table and sending the program to probation.

Butch Davis needed five years to turn things around during probation and Shannon will need a few years to bring in his kids and clean up the mess Coker made. There is no quick fix here. It’s not ‘ground zero’ but there’s some serious structural damage.

Have faith. Realize it’s a process. Miami will be back. Recruits are lining up, ready to put the Canes back on the map. Let nature take it’s course. Things are gonna jell and a few Januarys from now, BCS games will be in the cards again. 

We’ve seen it before at The U. This is officially ‘rebuilding mode’. Give it time, be patient, knowing you’ll see it again.




10 thoughts on “Bowl game chatter & New Years perspective…

  1. And yet another “quality” recruit comes on board in the form of Marcus Robinson.

    To those “soft verbalites” and others who are waffling through this time of year, it is time to get on board or get gone.

    I find some comfort with this recruiting class so far. I KNOW they are only names and numbers, but you have to be impressed with some of these kid’s potential.

    The Maarvelous one has been working out every day here in Tampa with his old coach. Talk is that the wrist is nearly completely healed. He has gained weight and looks stronger than he was as a frosh. Hopefully, he will be part of the answer this upcoming season.

    Watching throughout this bowl season, I have been amazed at the speed distribution throughout the nation. I reckon it’s not just a Sunshine State “thing” anymore.

  2. To me college football is about execution and emotion. The U has had neither the last few years. Under Coker, we were so worried about our perception that the soul of the team was taken away. We have no emotion when we play now and that is what has made The U. Other teams show much more than we do nowadays. Maybe it’s because we always ended up getting penalized for it, but it needs to come back regardless. Not showboat, but get excited and get your teammates and crowd into it. Right now, we make a play (maybe), get up and go back to the huddle. We need to get back to our game. With the players we have coming in we can get back the swagger and playmaking. It will take time to get back up there with USC, but we can do it. Just on a side note, I hope Nix watched the Georgia game and what OC Bobo did, because that was a perfect gameplan for that opponent. Aside from the TAMU game, we were bland and predictable.
    -Columbus Cane

  3. I appreciate you enthusiasm 305, but every single team playing from Dec 31st on and every single coach except Bobby Bowden are better than our team and Randy Shannon as a coach. Miami has serious problems that aren’t going to solved anytime soon and as for assigning blame to Walton, Shannon hired him in the first place!

    I’m glad Shannon can recruit, because if we’ve learned anything in his first year as coach his teams come out flat more often than not, and his staff is so poor in Xs and Os and game planning that we almost have to have twice as much talent as the other team to be successful.

    You can continue to blame Coker for the mess and talent gap, but plenty of new first year coaches have come into programs, lit a fire under some under achieving kids a@# and played with heart and enthusiasm when losing.

    Miami’s last three games were nothing short of dare I say it an abortion and that reflects on the staff and the head man as much as the players. To be flat out embarrassed by anyone at home 48-0 especially considering the circumstances around that game is coaching. Plain and simple, Miami came out with a deer in the headlights look.

    Miami looked like one of those bottom feeders in a mediocre league who teams schedule of for home coming. As bad as Larry CHOKER was, I never felt that way about our teams when he was the coach. I thought he was a loser, but he still had his team fighting at the end of his tenure as compared to Shannon’s kids who just quit.

    305, I have read your blog since the beginning and appreciate all your open and honest thoughts but the last few weeks you have tried to cheer lead in order to mask the obvious. We promoted someone to Head Coach was totally unprepared for the rigors of the job. A program of our rich history and heritage deserved better.

  4. … as for assigning blame to Walton, Shannon hired him in the first place!

    It was a mistake and it was rectified one year into the experiment. Most other head coaches would’ve given Walton a mulligan. Butch Davis kept the inept Bill Miller running the D from 1995-1998 before canning him at season’s end.

    Davis was a first time head coach at Miami in ’95 and has his woes, but he turned it around FIVE years later and dealt with people calling for his head the whole time.

    Davis had probation to deal with. Shannon has Coker’s mess. They’re not too far off.

    You can continue to blame Coker for the mess and talent gap, but plenty of new first year coaches have come into programs, lit a fire under some under achieving kids a@# and played with heart and enthusiasm when losing.

    Miami is a different beast than ‘other schools’. You know that. This program is in the gutter and most of these kids are broken beyond repair, having come to Miami to ride the gravy train and then being shell-shocked when the program went in the toilet. These upperclassmen aren’t going to put Miami back on the map. It’ll be the underclassmen and incoming freshman who help rebuild while the others bide their time and wait for the NFL to reward their individual skills instead of their individual success and team success.

    Miami looked like one of those bottom feeders in a mediocre league who teams schedule of for home coming. As bad as Larry CHOKER was, I never felt that way about our teams when he was the coach. I thought he was a loser, but he still had his team fighting at the end of his tenure as compared to Shannon’s kids who just quit.

    Coker’s team in 2006 was as bad as this bunch in 2007. Had Coker stuck around, do you REALLY think you’d have seen improvement in 2007? You’re talking about a guy whose teams progressively got worse every year he was here.

    Shannon needed to implement “his way” instead of coddling the kids who were here and changing his philosophies to accommodate this current bunch. He will do it ‘his way’ and all the current recruits that’ll sign next month all believe the hype. They’re on board. They love Randy Shannon and will bust their asses for him. THOSE are the guys I’m worried about. Not kids like #9 who cashed it in and went through the motions his entire career.

    305, I have read your blog since the beginning and appreciate all your open and honest thoughts but the last few weeks you have tried to cheer lead in order to mask the obvious. We promoted someone to Head Coach was totally unprepared for the rigors of the job. A program of our rich history and heritage deserved better.

    I am not cheerleading. I think it’s absolute moronic to write off a college head coach after one year in the game. Shannon deserves time to recruit and build a program his way. He inherited the worst Miami football team we’ve seen in 20+ years. That’s not an overnight fix. He will follow the JJ blueprint and bring the talent back to the program. He still has to prove he can gameday coach, but before that he has to bring the talent back home.

    As for what this program ‘deserved’ coaching wise, enlighten me as to who else wanted this job or who was better suited? People weren’t exactly lining up to come to Miami.

    You have no idea if Shannon is “totally unprepared for the rigors of the job” after one year. That’s ridiculous. Every coach in the game was a first time head coach at some point of their careers and most struggled out the gate. Stoops didn’t look like a gem year one (1999) nor did Davis (1995). It takes time to build a team from the ground up and even more time to start from scratch at Miami.

    Don’t trivialize my comments by calling them rah-rah. I always call things out when they’re out of whack. If someone deserves criticism, I’m all over it. In this case, I grade Randy Shannon out at a D+ for 2007. That said, it’s no time to close the book on him after one year. You can’t “instantly” rebuild a team Coker put in the toilet.

    And yes, I will continue to blame that man for where we’re at. 5-7 didn’t just happen. That took five good years of inept coaching, recruiting and not developing talent. That old man absolutely changed the mindset and culture of Miami football. Go back and watch some old highlight DVDs and listen to him in the locker room while staring at the blank looks on players faces.

    The only real coach in the Coker era was Ed Reed and he’s been gone since January 2002.

  5. Not one bowl game was compelling enough for me to sit and watch straight through. I’m still lamenting 5-7 and hoping next year we are BCS bound again!

  6. Some of what chart busting cane has said is simply absurd and inaccurate.

    “Shannon is not up to the rigors of the job.”

    Maybe that was because Walton was so inept Shannon had to do both jobs and it showed at year’s end!

    I agree Shannon failed to light a fire under these guys rear ends but we have a serious serious talent gap with the rest of the ACC except Duke (who is no hiring some stud coaches- check out some of the guys Cutcliffe is poaching from Tennessee). Those of you who don’t believe that are living in an alternate reality. I can name very few BCS conference teams with less talent, particularly at the skill positions than Miami. Virginia beating us 48-0 represents the talent gap between the two teams. Before the season I thought UVA would win the ACC, and Miami would finish below .500. I was wrong about the Cavs winning the ACC but they did go 6-2 in the league while UM went 2-6. That is a TALENT gap not a coaching gap because Al Groh is about as bad a coach as you’ll find at a big D1 program.

    That’s why I disagree with Chris about the timetable. I think we are winning 3-4 games in 2008 and maybe 5-6 in 2009. 2010 we make a decent bowl and in 2011 we compete for an ACC title. The damage is that bad and College Football isn’t like it was when the coaches Chris named in his post turned UM around faster. Big public state schools have huge recruiting budgets and all the TV money has allowed garbage programs like Kentucky and Texas Tech to compete for recruits.

    Coker did a lot of damage but I do think he was more seasoned as a coach when he took over than Shannon was. That’s why some of the game day decisions he made were actually quite good, better than Butch Davis who was a joke as a gameday coach. But he neutered the players, made bad recruiting decisions and jettisoned our best staff members after scapegoating them.

    But for some people here and on the message boards to write a coach off after one season is absurd.

    However let me state publicly I am very disappointed that Shannon isn’t apparently willing to bring Ed Orgeron, Art Kehoe and Don Soldinger back into the fold in some fashion. Kehoe and Solly were Miami and I firmly believe if we lose our links with the past like those two guys we have nothing. We don’t have the fancy on-campus stadium, the shining facilities, the huge alumni base of other schools. We have our history, our pride and Kehoe and Solly were part of that. Without embracing our history we will NEVER be a national power again. Sure maybe some nice 8 or 9 win seasons, but NEVER a consistent BCS contender. I’m not saying hiring Art Kehoe is going to solve much of anything, but it would be an important symbolic step that our program isn’t running from its past the way it ran from the Orange Bowl.

    BTW, I just did an audio podcast remembering the 1987 Canes and if anyone would like the link email me at the address on my profile:


  7. However let me state publicly I am very disappointed that Shannon isn’t apparently willing to bring Ed Orgeron, Art Kehoe and Don Soldinger back into the fold in some fashion.

    K – There are issue with all three of those guys. It’s more than just Shannon. Kehoe ABSOLUTELY burned bridges on his way out the door. Instead of taking it like a man, he bitched and tried to sue the school over his severance package.

    Orgeron would be a great coach, but he’s had too much off the field drama that Miami doesn’t need to get reassociated with. Dude is a mess.

    As for Sol, I’d love to see him back, but he was another who didn’t play well with others. Sol is set in his ways and didn’t mesh well with the other coaches.

    Miami is better off with Stoutland than Kehoe and hopefully a good DC is on board soon, or Shannon takes back over. There are better options than Ed O. But that said, I think Miami REALLY needs Sol back. He deserves another shot and is as old school as they come.

    We’re not losing ties to the past. Randy is heading things up and guys like Mike Barrow and Clint Hurtt are on staff. In time, more past Canes will return but in the immediate future, I too want Sol back.

  8. Chris- thanks for the clarification

    Too bad about Kehoe.

    I just hope it doesn’t cost us Pathchan.

    Solly we need back. Tommie Robinson is okay I guess but he’s no solly. I don’t think Baby J and C. Jones would have regressed as time went on with Solly. Our backs from 84 to 88 and 95 to 05 got better, blocked well and also caught passes out of the backfield and picked up blitzes something our current backs don’t do!

    I hope you are right about embracing our history. Without it we are a lower tier program (due to being a small private school with a lesser budget and alumni base than our competition) in a BCS league. With it we are the “U.” I certainly hope others see it my way on this point. It’s the difference between 7-5 being a good year and competiting for titles.

    I should also point out I wanted to say in my earlier post that if we only win 3 or 4 games as I expect next year I won’t be too upset. Those whom claim to be Canes fans but only came to our house because we were winning can leave- just like Patrick Johnson- I can think of no better way to weed out the trash while we rebuild than a few losing seasons and see all the fans of winning not the Canes flock to LSU, Ohio State and the other presumptuous media driven programs.

  9. Good points by all on the Shannon hire. While I won’t side up,, I will observe that “we”, as Canes fans, seem at times to feel that we are ordained our right to be able to solve our woes instimatically (I realize that is not a word), choosing to forget the past,,, forget what it “really” takes to revive a program.

    “We are Miami, by God,,,, we AUTOMATICALLY kick ass,,, NEXT!!!!”

    I am as guilty as the everyone, no doubt.

    Seems though,,, that the real truth likely lies somewhere between the polarity that exists on this board.

    Facts are, that fixing what is wrong here is not as simple as pouring a spoonful of TASTER’S CHOICE into a cup of boiling water and expecting to drink a cup of coffee. It just isn’t.

    That, is the message that I get from 305. I don’t see the “cheer leading” that has been spoken of. I see a point trying to be made,,, albeit with a degree of the passion that we all have,,, but the point is valid.

    No-one who is a Cane fan can open and close the Randy Shannon book after just one season. The argument “against” has no better backbone than the argument “for”. It is too early for anyone to be assigning labels to our future success or failure. The truth though, is that there are very few coaches who are tasked with rebuilding a storied program from the depths that we are faced with who can accomplish that feat in 12 months.


    The man certainly deserves a chance. Respectfully,,, chill,,,,, we are ALL gonna find out,,,, it just won’t be today.

    Imagine,, if you will,,,, that Shannon was the hire after Butch,,,,,,,,, yeah,,,,,,, “it’s easy it you try”.

  10. Well Patcham to Florida and Johnson to LSU. Oh well. We still have a nice class if all our verbals sign. We can still get a couple of players still out there and look forward to the 2008 season which is a ways off. I guess we wait for Signing Day and also see who Shannons taps as the next DC. I am still amazed that we did not make a bowl game, watching all these teams play who were nothing special. I guess that shows where we are right now.
    -Columbus Cane

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