Shannon couldn’t get it done in Miami

After four mediocre seasons, a 28-22 record, a 0-2 record in bowl games and no major moves in ACC play, Randy Shannon is out as coach of Miami.

Shannon had brought in some good talents and had stepped up the recruiting a bit, but he didn’t do anything with the talent, with way too many head-scratching losses. Not having a healthy Jacory Harris might have hurt the consistency over the second half of the season, but Shannon was in huge trouble even with a few acceptable excuses, with no buzz around the program, not enough from the offense and no guarantees next year is going to be much better. And losing to South Florida sealed it.

It’s one thing to have another disappointing ACC season; it’s another to keep slipping in the state of Florida. The Gators, even in a down year, are still on top of the food chain and will come roaring back once this year’s epic recruiting class kicks in. But for the ‘Canes to lose to Florida State 45-17 at home, especially with the momentum building under Jimbo Fisher, is unacceptable. Losing to South Florida at home, with Skip Holtz laying the foundation to create a possible power, is unacceptable. With UCF in the Conference USA title game and FIU winning the Sun Belt, everyone in the Sunshine State has something to get excited about (OK, so FAU is struggling), but Miami’s showing has been middling at best. It might not be fair, but it’s time for a change to see if someone else can restore the glory — or at least some semblance of it.

The problem, though, is Miami is losing a class person who did everything the right way off the field, at a program that has such a notorious history, and was a whale of a defensive coach on it. Shannon will be snapped up in a heartbeat as a defensive coordinator, if he wants another job right away, after a year in which his ‘Canes regularly camped out in the backfield and were strong against the pass. However, the run defense was too soft, the passing game wasn’t efficient enough, and the wins didn’t come. Doing things clean and classy is great only if it comes with wins.

Miami needs to generate a buzz again. It’s a tough sports town, with even the mega-watt Heat having to hustle to sell tickets. Miami, for all its success, is a small school that fills the stands only for the monster games and the rivalries, with the stadium usually about one-third full. Shannon doesn’t have the type of personality that’s going to create a big splash at a place with so many larger-than-life personalities in its rich and colorful history. Miami needs to find a coach who can not only bring wins but also do it with a bit of panache.

Is Miami still a great job? In many ways, absolutely. There are places to live worse than Coral Gables, and the recruiting area is as fertile as any in the country, but the expectations are unrealistic. Miami never again will be the superpower it was for so many years, and anything less than a national championship run will be seen by some as unacceptable. But for now, finding someone who can make Miami a Coastal Division champ would be a good first step. — Pete Fiutak

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Even though I shouldn’t be, I’m still a little surprised by the decision to can Shannon a few hours after Saturday’s damning loss to South Florida.

Shannon underachieved on the field over his four seasons. There’s no denying that fact. While his ‘Canes showed hints of building a bridge to the glory years in 2009, they also faded down the stretch and regressed this fall. We’ll never know for sure, but you get the strong feeling he never was going to turn the corner at a program he knew all too well aims for nothing less than championships. You have to ask yourself if Miami is any closer to the top than when Shannon took the job before the 2007 season. The correct answer is no. And that no longer became tolerable at a school with such a rich history and so much homegrown talent.

The only perplexing part of the equation is that Shannon has exceeded the off-field expectations of school president Donna Shalala, who made academics and ethics top priorities at a program with a checkered past. Under Shannon, the Hurricanes are graduating at record rates and are no longer regulars on the police blotter. The coach demanded accountability and instilled a new attitude of respect within the program. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to compensate for poor results and, maybe worse, lagging attendance. The number of empty seats for the Virginia Tech game was an embarrassment.

So what’s next? Miami typically pays poorly for head coaches, which helped Shannon get the job, so don’t bank on a huge splash. Would the program consider another former player and assistant coach? If so, it’s worth noting that young Mario Cristobal has done the improbable at Florida International, guiding a young program to a Sun Belt championship and its first bowl game. — Rich Cirminiello

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When the coach-firing season arrives, compassion and wisdom often leave the premises. But while college football coaches must be treated fairly and given a chance to do their jobs, they also must be fired when the situation demands it. The frequent problem with coach firings in the Football Bowl Subdivision is they occur much too quickly, without giving a coach the chance to fix the problems he inherited or created. If, on the other hand, a coach is given a fair shake, there can be only so many complaints about his firing.

Such is the case with Shannon, terminated by Miami after a terrible home loss to South Florida in front of a handful of fans at a stadium that hosts the Orange Bowl. It’s hard to look at Shannon’s tenure in Coral Gables and conclude he wasn’t given a reasonable chance to make “The U” relevant again.

Shannon had four years to do something with one of the sport’s best brand names. Yet not one division title, let alone a conference crown, fell under the Miami banner since the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator was promoted to the top spot in 2007. Quarterbacks never developed in this period of time; Miami’s offense never took flight with appreciable consistency; fundamentals proved to be sorely lacking; and ACC Coastal king Virginia Tech was able to regularly beat The U when it mattered. That fans didn’t pack Sun Life Stadium was not helpful, but of course, the crowds in Miami come when the product is a big draw. Shannon was supposed to make the Hurricanes once again the “it” program in the state of Florida. He whiffed in four years and now he’s gone.

Does this mean Shannon’s success in cleaning up the program off the field is being diminished or devalued? Maybe to a slight extent, but if Shannon had been given only three years, one could make a far stronger case. Not with four.

Who will replace Shannon? That’s really another concern for another day. Right now the main thing to note is that in a profession which can be so cold and unforgiving, this particular firing is not the slightest bit outrageous. Miami was right to part ways with a good man who just didn’t measure up between the painted white lines. — Matt Zemek