Shannon tells AP he wants to coach again

Nearly a year ago, everything changed for Miami coach Randy

Shannon. He was fired by his alma mater, his hometown school, the

place he had been for virtually every bit of his adult life.

Time has healed most of that wound.

In an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Shannon

discussed his past, his future, how the Hurricanes look under new

coach Al Golden – and the investigation into claims made by former

Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, allegations that have already rocked

the athletic department and could impact the football team for

years.

He’s ready to move on to the next challenge, and now just waits

for someone to bring the invitation his way.

”I needed this year to sit out,” said Shannon, who was fired

last Nov. 27. ”I needed to learn something new. And I think I’ve

done that.”

Shannon has been spending time at Alabama, TCU, North Carolina,

UNLV, Oregon, Iowa State and Minnesota, packing up for a week at a

time to embed with those programs and soak up knowledge.

The visits had little to do with football – he refused

invitations to sit down in X’s and O’s meetings – but rather were

about learning how the organizations worked, from security to

scheduling and anything in between.

The way Shannon sees it, he knows plenty about football at this

point in his life. After really only knowing the Miami way – he

played there, was an assistant there, a coordinator there and then

head coach – of operating the off-the-field sides of a program, he

wanted to pick and choose from an array of schools to develop a

better plan should the chance to coach come his way again.

”I spent my money and went to college,” he said. ”I met with

the strength coaches, the policemen who are around some teams,

compliance people, athletic directors, support staff. It wasn’t

just football. It was very little football. I needed to see other

things, see a lot of ways to do different things, and it made me a

whole lot better.”

Shannon was fired after Miami lost to South Florida in last

year’s regular-season finale – the teams play again Saturday in

Tampa, Fla. Before the 2010 game in Miami, a small plane circled

the stadium before kickoff displaying a banner that urged school

officials to make the change. Hours after that loss, Shannon was

gone with a 28-22 record in four seasons.

And with that, one change followed another at Miami. Athletic

director Kirby Hocutt, who fired Shannon, hired Al Golden to take

his place. Then Hocutt left to accept a job at Texas Tech, despite

insisting he would not leave the Hurricanes just a couple weeks

earlier. Shawn Eichorst was eventually hired to replace Hocutt as

AD.

Then came the August bombshell, a Yahoo Sports story detailing

claims from Shapiro that he provided 72 Miami football players and

recruits with cars, cash, yacht trips, nightclub outings, strip

club access and more.

Maybe the only thing Shannon and Shapiro agree on is this:

Neither liked the other very much.

”All I said was `Wow,”’ Shannon said when he heard of

Shapiro’s claims. ”Everybody knows what kind of person I am. I

don’t like a lot of distractions or things going on. And we did

extensive education when I was at Miami, telling kids where they

need to go, who they need to be with, who they needed to watch out

for. We did everything we could.”

Shapiro never implicated Shannon, and has even acknowledged what

many around the program say to be true – that Shannon tried to

strictly forbid his players from dealing with the booster. An

investigation by the university and the NCAA found that some of the

violations occurred while Shannon was coaching, but that the most

egregious ones involving current players happened before they

actually signed with the Hurricanes.

Shannon did not speak directly about Shapiro, declining to do so

he said in deference to the ongoing investigation at his alma

mater.

”I’ll say this: I left the place in a whole lot better shape

than when I found it,” Shannon said.

Off the field, Miami raved about Shannon. His players didn’t get

in trouble. He cleaned up the program, addressing everything from

class attendance to gun ownership. The team’s grades and graduation

rates soared. He’s already being talked about as a candidate at

some schools that either will have – or expect to have – coaching

openings after this season.

At Miami, his problem was simple. The Hurricanes didn’t win

enough games. Prominent boosters grew more disappointed. And a year

after Shannon got an extension, he got fired, a move that sent him

into a funk for months, unsure of what he’d do next.

”I’m happy that he took the time to sit and relax and enjoy

himself,” said Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, who keeps in

somewhat regular contact with Shannon.

”From just talking to him, it seems like he is enjoying

himself. I’m happy for him. He went through a lot here at the

University of Miami. It’s the only school where he would go through

things like that. If he had coached somewhere else, he would have

gotten nowhere near the amount of pressure and scrutiny he got

here.

”Great coach, great guy,” Harris added. ”Loved his players.

It was a shame the way some people did him here. That plane last

year at the USF game, that was wrong.”

Shannon did some work with ESPN after being fired, and says now

he isn’t thinking about continuing to pursue TV. He’d rather coach.

Shannon interviewed last year for jobs at Maryland and UCLA, saying

he didn’t ”find the right fit” at either school.

He still follows Miami games, watching most on television, and

feels for what Golden has gone through since Shapiro’s claims came

out, saying ”no coach should have to deal with that.”

When he’s not traveling to various programs around the country,

Shannon is mainly home. He’s kept a finger on high school football

as well, going to games and regularly being asked when he’s

returning to the sideline. It happened again just Wednesday –

someone stopped by the table where Shannon was waiting for his

mixed-greens-and-chicken lunch, so he stood and shook the man’s

hand.

The visitor urged him to get back into coaching. Shannon assured

him he will someday.

”No regrets,” Shannon said. ”You move on. I’ve stayed down

here, not wanting to run from anybody or anything. There’s a lot of

supportive people out there. A lot of great things got done at

Miami. I think some people know that. What makes you feel good is

that you know some people still appreciate it.”

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