Football: New ‘Canes coaching staff looks to bring back old swagger

After having subpar seasons in 2003, 2004 and 2005, the athletic department saw it fit to restructure the University of Miami coaching staff. Then, after a 7-6 season in 2006, the athletic department had no choice but to part ways with Head Coach Larry Coker.

From there, the extensive search for a new head coach finished in the university’s own backyard, as they hired Hurricane defensive coordinator Randy Shannon to lead the team back to superiority. But, from the moment Shannon was hired, the focus fell on the all important question: Who would take the helm as offensive coordinator?

The search ended last week, as the team announced they would be hiring Patrick Nix as their new offensive coordinator.

Nix comes to Miami after having been at Georgia Tech for the past five seasons, including three as offensive coordinator.

“We’re happy that we have a great new offensive coordinator, an energetic person who brings a lot of ideas to this program and to this team,” Shannon said. “He knows the ACC, and he knows how to win as both a quarterback and as a coach. As a former defensive coordinator myself, you always judge a coach on what they present. Patrick Nix did a great job against us last year adjusting to what we did as a defense. And, as we adjusted on defense, he adjusted on offense again, to keep us off-balance. Imagine what he’ll do against other defenses.”

Nix, 34, was a star quarterback at Auburn and is still considered one of the top passers in Auburn’s history. The Hurricanes hope that some of this magic will spread over to the quarterbacks and offensive players he will coach.

Besides the addition of Nix as the offensive coordinator and the movement of Shannon from defensive coordinator to head coach, the Hurricane coaching staff will lose coach Mario Cristobal, who has taken over as the head coach at Florida International University. Cristobal served as Miami’s tight ends coach from 2004-2005 and as the offensive line coach in 2006.

Replacing Cristobal as the Hurricanes new offensive line coach is Jeff Stoutland. Stoutland, who is coming over to the ‘Canes after being the Michigan State offensive line coach, will have a very pivotal role on the Hurricane coaching staff, as the offensive line has recently proved to be a great weakness for the ‘Canes.

These additions and subtractions were a concern for the team early on because it was expected that these coaching moves could hurt the team’s 2007 recruiting class. This, though, has not been the case.

For Miami, few recruits have completely pulled themselves away from Miami after Coker was fired and the leaving of Cristobal. With Shannon at the helm, the Hurricanes didn’t skip a beat in regard to recruitment.

Hopefully the new tag team of Shannon and Nix, the maturing of some of the team’s younger players and the addition of this year’s recruiting class will help the Hurricanes overcome their weaknesses and once again soar above the competition.

Pravin Patel may be contacted at