FEATURE COMMENTARY: ‘Canes can choose multiple routes for new head coach

This is part of a special feature, “Coker, Coaches, Quarterbacks: Commentary on the future of the hurricanes,” appearing in the current issue of The Hurricane. To read the remaining 2 parts, visit the Sports section of the site.

The deed has been done and Larry Coker is out as head coach at the University of Miami. It is time for the Paul Dee, Donna Shalala and the rest of the higher-ups at this institution to decide who will be the man in charge of the football program.

Who will this man be?

The first coach who many look at is a familiar face at UM. His name is Greg Schiano, former defensive coordinator for Miami from 1999 to 2000, and current head coach at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Schiano took the job, usually considered a coach-killer, and has resuscitated the program, producing a 10-1 record thus far this season. Schiano brought many tactics from Miami, including welcoming alumni to the sidelines and recruiting heavily in South Florida. That recruiting aptitude would be a huge leg-up for Schiano as head coach at UM, as the ‘Canes have struggled to maintain the famed recruiting wall around South Florida that began in the 1980s.

Schiano looks like a great pick on the surface, but he is not truly seasoned as a head coach, only in his sixth year. Also, Schiano specializes in defense, and if there is one thing the ‘Canes really don’t need too much help with, it’s defense.

So who else is out there?

The most controversial choice is a familiar name to ‘Canes fans, who have been cursing it since the 1960s. That man is Steven Orr Spurrier, also known as “the ol’ ball coach.” Spurrier has been public enemy number one for many in Miami because he led the Florida Gators on the field. However, Spurrier is currently the head coach at the less hated University of South Carolina, struggling to bring the Gamecocks to the national stage. He has said previously that he is not a candidate, but there have been reports of discussion from both sides. Some who know Spurrier say that he is a Florida kind of guy and might not shrug off the opportunity to move from Columbia to Coral Gables.

Spurrier posseses a great offensive mind, just the kind of thing the ‘Canes need. But he is a Gator at heart, which is something that might not fly with critical alumni. Also, there have been some scandals around Spurrier’s programs in the past. With the ‘Canes already struggling with their media-assigned “Thug U” persona, does the program need another cloud over its head?

Throw in names like Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin (who happens to be a friend of Donna Shalala), Rich Rodriguez of West Virginia, Mike Leach of Texas Tech, former ‘Cane Jimmy Johnson and just about every coach in the SEC who isn’t named Urban Meyer, and it becomes clear that the competition for this job is wide open. All have advantages and disadvantages. But one thing is for sure: the Miami Hurricanes need some kind of drastic change, some way of kick starting their offense, some way of returning to the style of play that made this university famous and someone who can recruit new talent.

As a matter of fact, I believe Howard Schnellenberger is just up the road at FAU. I wonder what he’s doing next September.

Matthew Bunch may be contacted a m.bunch@umiami.edu.