Miami fires coach Randy Shannon

By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Sports Writer

CORAL GABLES (AP) His voice nearly cracking, Miami athletic

director Kirby Hocutt somberly laid out some of the many reasons why

Randy Shannon was right for the Hurricanes.

The academic success. Improved recruiting classes. His decades as part of the Miami family.

Then there were 22 reasons that Hocutt couldn’t ignore — the games

Miami lost under Shannon. In the end, those carried more weight than

anything else.

A coach who left an

indelible mark on Miami’s past will not be part of its future, and the

Hurricanes started the process of moving on Sunday, with former

offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland taking over on an interim basis, and

players gathering for a tearful meeting.

“Change is difficult and change is hard,” Hocutt said Sunday. “But

change, sometimes, it’s necessary. And this time, this change was

necessary.”

Hocutt fired Shannon on

Saturday night, hours after Miami lost to South Florida in its

regular-season finale. The Hurricanes fell to 7-5, still have yet to

play for an Atlantic Coast Conference title and lured only 26,369 fans

— many of them rooting for the visitors — to Sun Life Stadium on

Saturday, the smallest home crowd since Larry Coker’s last home game in

2006.

That crowd, or that loss, was not the final straw.

The sum of the parts — no ACC titles and no bowl wins — helped Hocutt make his decision.

“It was not made on 60 minutes of football,” Hocutt said. “It was made with the total body of work in mind.”

Miami moved swiftly, with Hocutt already enlisting the help of Chuck

Neinas — a consultant who specializes in finding the right coaches for

schools — and giving him an initial list of candidates. Hocutt would

not divulge who the initial targets are, and stressed that Miami will

take as much time as it needs to make the right hire.

Speculation has centered on Mike Leach, Mark Richt, Tommy Tuberville and Jon Gruden — each of whom would be a splashy get.

“We need somebody that’s experienced and understand what it takes to

win, and understands the great tradition around here,” defensive lineman

Adewale Ojomo said.

Shannon left with

three years remaining on his contract, and even until his final day had

plenty of support from many top university officials — president Donna

Shalala included.

“Better days are ahead. Great days are ahead for this program,” Hocutt said.

Shannon went 28-22 in four years. No assistant coaches were fired and

Hocutt says all have committed to stay through the Hurricanes’ bowl

game, although with a new regime coming in, their Miami futures are

shaky at best.

“I’m very disappointed,” quarterback Jacory Harris said. “Coach Shannon is like my father figure.”

Players were told formally Sunday morning by Hocutt, although they

all learned of the shakeup when the news broke late Saturday night.

The Hurricanes expect to have a bowl destination, possibly the Sun Bowl, by week’s end.

“We are in a tough situation,” Stoutland said. “There is no doubt,

but that does not change our commitment to the young men on this team.

Everyone on this coaching staff remains fully committed to this program

and finishing this season the right way.”

Since the start of the 2007 season, 47 teams have more wins than Miami

— including four from the state of Florida. The Hurricanes were 16-16

in the ACC under Shannon, the sixth-best mark in the 12-team league. And

barring a wild turn of events, Miami will finish out of the Top 25 for

the fourth time in five years.

The truest consistency was inconsistency.

Miami’s longest winning streak under Shannon was five games during

2008, and three of those victories came against teams that finished the

year with losing records. The Hurricanes went 1-7 away from home against

ranked teams since the start of 2007. The only win over a top-10 team

was last season, when Miami beat Oklahoma — a game Sam Bradford sat out

with a shoulder injury.

“Randy Shannon

is and always will be a part of this family and will always be a Miami

Hurricane,” Hocutt said. “However, we must move forward at this time.”

Shannon released a statement through the university, saying he

believes he left the program on better footing than it was when he

arrived.

“I am proud of the last four

years at the University of Miami and what we have been able to

accomplish,” Shannon said. “I have a deep respect and appreciation for

the young men who have played here during my tenure.”

Shannon is expected to receive a buyout of about $1.5 million.

Miami is a private school without the deepest of pockets when it

comes to paying coaches, but it has had a fundraising drive to support

athletics for several years.

Hocutt said finances would not limit Miami’s search.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to get back to the top of the college football world,” Hocutt said.