Sending a Message


On Sunday, it was reported that Randy Shannon would stick with Robert Marve as his number one quarterback.

The collective response: “Why?”

This is a good question and a fair one.

Marve started off against Duke just fine and led his team to an early touchdown. However, late in the first half he threw a dumb interception, the type that was all too common around these parts when Kirby Freeman was the quarterback.

Shannon inserted Jacory Harris into the game.

Harris led a touchdown drive on his second possession and gave the Canes the momentum going into halftime.

After opening up the second half with a dumb interception, Harris then opened the floodgates, crushing the Blue Devils in a matter of about ten minutes.

What’s more, he looked like Ken Dorsey in doing so. So why is it that Shannon would stick with Marve?

I can think of two reasons. I like one better than the other.

The first is that Marve played well until one mistake. After that, Harris took over for the game, but that game is over.

I see Shannon’s side of the argument, but I was under the impression that this program is about winning. From where I am sitting, Harris won the game, not Marve.

The second, and better reason, is the dreaded quarterback controversy.

In 1994, a very talented Miami team fractured down the middle due to a quarterback controversy involving Ryan Collins and Frank Costa. The team divided into two camps and the season became one of underachievement, punctuated by a very public beating in a bowl game.

It was every coach’s worst nightmare, and the type of thing that can lead a program down a very bad path.

Shannon does not want that to happen to this group of kids, which has shown so much promise.

Marve is his guy. For better or worse, he gets the first shot every game. When he is good, he keeps the ball.

When he makes bad mistakes (like throwing into a group of three defenders) he gets to sit. This is the type of message that keeps a team together.

Quarterback is the most important position to have stability at, especially with a young team.

It is easy to say that a receiver will be pulled from the rotation for dropping balls, because there are about ten of them who are interchangeable (e.g. Sam Shields, Leonard Hankerson).

However, a quarterback has to be the leader. And leaders cannot be interchangeable.

I like Shannon’s move. It sends the right message. Performance matters, but Shannon’s faith is deep in his players. It will take more than one bad performance to get the rug pulled out.

It is the message that will keep this group from splintering.

October 22, 2008


Dan Stein

Senior Sports Writer

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