Like it or not, Larry Coker is here to stay. For now.
As is typical for UM fans, the “What have you done for us lately?” attitude has left this statistic indelible in our minds: 40-3, as in our recent humiliating loss to LSU.
It was a game in which everything that could did go wrong, on offense and defense, in the air and on the ground. But the blame, which should have been spread evenly among the entire team and coaching staff, instead was placed squarely (and awkwardly) on the shoulders of two of this school’s greatest coaches, Don Soldinger and Art Kehoe.
Now, it is understandable for fans to be shocked, disappointed, and even downright angry to see two men who bleed orange and green be scapegoats following the Peach Bowl. Soldinger’s track record of grooming NFL-caliber running backs will be sorely missed, especially to the talented backs on our roster that have yet to turn a corner. Kehoe was instrumental in every single one of UM’s national championship runs. To say their firings were unnecessary is to speak for every true Hurricanes’ fan out there. But calling for Coker’s head is a wholly separate issue.
Because, as alarming as that 40-3 statistic is, here is one even more lopsided: 53-9.
No, that’s not a game we lost under Coker, but it’s not one we won, either. That’s Coker’s record (an impressive .855 winning percentage) since stepping in at the helm of a program resurrected by Butch Davis, a record that includes two trips to the national championship. One of those trips ended with one of the more dominant performances in college football history (the 2001 ‘Canes were recently voted by ESPN.com as the greatest college football team-better than USC’s recent juggernaut), while the other ended in.you know what? Let’s not bring up that Fiesta Bowl.
And while several UM fans are quick to point out that much of Coker’s initial success came as a result of the previous regime’s recruiting abilities, they are also quick to forget that Coker was the offensive coordinator during that time, and a pretty good one at that. Ask Ken Dorsey. Or Clinton Portis. Or Jeremy Shockey. They’re the ones with the big rings.
Maybe Coker isn’t the coach everyone thought he would be. Maybe he wasn’t able to coach the way he wanted to with the staff he had (he recently hired Todd Berry, a quarterback under Coker at Tulsa, to be our QB coach). Maybe he will never lead UM to The Promised Land again.
But at 53-9, doesn’t he deserve a chance?