Football Commentary: A Miami man will coach Miami: Will the ‘Cane connection be enough?

“A Michigan man will coach Michigan, not an Arizona State man.”

These famous words were uttered by the legendary Bo Schembechler in 1989. After receiving notice from then head basketball coach Bill Frieder that after the season he would be leaving the Wolverines to take a job at Arizona State, Schembechler, then the athletic director at Michigan, refused to wait.

He immediately fired Frieder and promoted an assistant coach to lead the Wolverines in the NCAA tournament. The assistant, Steve Fisher, went on to lead the Wolverines to a national championship.

While the circumstances in Coral Gables aren’t quite as dramatic, the decision has been made: a Miami man will coach Miami.

New head coach Randy Shannon is a Hurricane through and through. He was born in Miami, attending Norland High School. He came to the University of Miami and played linebacker for the 1987 national championship team. He was a graduate assistant for the 1991 championship team. After a short stint with the Dolphins in the 1990s, Shannon returned as defensive coordinator. His fierce squad spearheaded the resurgence of Miami, bringing the school, in 2001, its fifth national championship.

Shannon’s ‘Cane credentials are beyond comparison. He truly bleeds orange and green. But does this fact mean that he will lead Miami back to national prominence? While there is no guarantee, a ‘Cane connection could be important for the future of the program.

Success at the University of Miami has always sprung not only from ability, but attitude. For almost 30 years now, “It’s A Canes Thing. You Wouldn’t Understand,” has echoed outward from the Hecht Athletic Center, shaking the college football world. Miami revolutionized the way the game was played. Speedy offense, smash-mouth defense and a belief that no one else deserved to be on the field: that was Hurricane football.

In the past few years, that belief has drifted away from the program. Defense has remained a strength of the Hurricanes, but the offense has been stagnant. Perhaps more importantly, the bravado has drifted away. Sure, the ‘Canes have tried to manufacture it, stomping at midfield in Louisville. However, any image-boost that might have created was blown away; a 31-7 defeat will do that to a team. If Miami can find its machismo, victories could follow.

No one knows that better than Randy Shannon. After living through the evolution of the program, he knows what Miami is capable of, and what is required for success. From the decade of dominance to the post-probation resurgence, Shannon has been there, playing an integral part every single time.

Who better to lead the program now, as it enters new, uncharted waters? Who better to lead the program than a Miami man?

Matthew Bunch may be contacted at