Football: Randy Shannon chosen to coach

Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator for the ‘Canes since 2001, was introduced Dec. 8, 2006 as Miami’s 20th head coach.

Shannon, a man with long ties to the city of Miami and the football team, was selected after a nation-wide search that included some of the biggest names in coaching.

“As the search progressed, it became very clear that Coach Shannon was the right person for this position,” said Miami athletic director Paul Dee. “His history at the University of Miami as a student-athlete, a graduate, an assistant coach and as a coordinator has prepared him extremely well to lead a program that he fully understands.”

Shannon is a native of Miami. He was a starting linebacker for the 1987 National Championship-winning team. After graduation, he signed on as an assistant to his alma mater. He has played on or coached on three of the school’s five national championship teams.

“Randy has the discipline and heart of a champion,” President Donna E. Shalala said. “Randy Shannon is Miami – tough, disciplined, smart, caring, passionate, enthusiastic and no-nonsense.”

He has traveled a long and winding road to get to where he is now. Shannon’s father was murdered during a brawl when he was three. Three siblings – two brothers and a sister – had cocaine addictions and died due to complications from AIDS.

After becoming a father at 16, Shannon’s future seemed cloudy as well. But with a strong will, Shannon found success at Norland High School in Miami and got a scholarship to UM. He was the first in his family to earn a college degree.

“When I walk into those homes and look into the eyes of those young men and their mothers, I really get it,” Shannon said to The Miami Herald. “There isn’t a story they can tell me that I haven’t experienced myself. So when I tell them that there is hope, there is a way to get out of bad situations, they can look at me and see that it’s true.”

Shannon will become only the sixth active African-American football coach in Division I-A, but he downplays what effect that will have.

“When I go to [Atlantic Coast Conference] meetings, they’re going to look at me and go, ‘Hey, Randy, How you doing?’ They’re not going to go, ‘Hey, minority Randy.’ I’m just going to be Randy Shannon.'”

Shannon signed a four year contract with the Hurricanes. He will receive about $800,000 his first year, with progressive undisclosed raises. If incentives kick in, he could potentially receive nearly $1 million a year.

Many on Miami’s squad have lauded the hiring, noting how Shannon’s promotion will avoid the radical changes that usually accompany hiring a new coach.

“We don’t have to get accustomed to new coaching staff, a new way to conduct practices,” quarterback Kyle Wright said. “We see him every day. We’re used to him.”

Shalala pointed out how strongly the University wanted to keep Shannon on the ‘Canes coaching staff.

“He has been preparing himself for a head coaching position his whole life and I am very happy that the opportunity came at the University of Miami, his alma mater. We are extremely lucky to have him.”

Matthew Bunch may be contacted at