The University of Miami football players had a mandatory team meeting Sunday morning where they were officially informed that Randy Shannon will no longer be with the program and began mapping out a new direction for the football program.
Players were stunned and disappointed with the administration’s decision to fire Shannon after four years.
“Tears have shed,” junior linebacker Jordan Futch said. “Emotions are running deep. It’s been a real emotional 24 hours.”
“I give Coach Shannon all the credit in the world because I know how far he took me in my career,” redshirt senior cornerback Ryan Hill said. “He gave me the opportunity to come back and set myself up for not only my future here, but also for my future out of football and hopefully the NFL.”
Junior quarterback Jacory Harris spoke to reporters for the first time since September. Shannon had kept Harris off limits to the media.
“Coach Shannon was like a father figure to me,” Harris said. “He brought me into this program and I still want coach Shannon to be my head coach. But it’s an unfortunate situation. It’s something that I’m sure a lot of people are mad at, especially on this team. Everybody that’s a part of this program really believed in coach Shannon.”
Harris said he hasn’t contemplated transferring despite the fact that true freshman Stephen Morris emerged as the starter on Saturday against USF even though Harris was healthy.
“Why would I consider transferring? I’ve been here for three years going on four. That’s like me running away from competition. I’ve never been the type to do that.”
Shannon was not made available for comment but he did release a statement through the Athletic Department.
“I am proud of the last four years at the University of Miami and what we have been able to accomplish. I have a deep respect and appreciation for the young men who played here during my tenure,” said Shannon who was 28-22 with zero bowl victories in four seasons as the signal caller for the Canes. “We established three winning seasons, continually improved in the Atlantic Coast Conference over the last four years; brought in strong recruiting classes; and just as importantly made tremendous strides off the field with our academic progress rate and graduation success rate among the best nationally. I believe that I leave the Hurricane football program with a stronger foundation upon which they can continue to build. I thank President Shalala for the opportunity. Those that know my history know of my passion and dedication to the ‘U’, and only want success for this University moving forward.”
Shannon cleaned up UM’s image off the field. He leads all active BCS coaches with a 977 lifetime APR average and graduation rates for the football team are higher than ever. Miami only had one off field arrest (Robert Marve in October of 2007) and improved in the win column in each of the last three seasons but there was a regression in 2010 (7-5).
Miami was 0-3 verse ranked opponents and suffered embarrassing losses to Virginia and South Florida.
Hocutt just wasn’t happy with the overall vibe from the program this year but wouldn’t specify on any particular aspects that would have led for Shannon keep his job.
“No, it didn’t take an ACC Title [to keep Shannon],” Hocutt said. “It took continuing steps to move this program towards national relevance. In some ways that could involve an ACC Title, but that is not mandated by an ACC Title. You can be relevant nationally and not win your conference. At the end of the day you must be relevant here nationally at the University of Miami.”
Hill, who is one of the longest tenured Hurricanes, may have summarized the turn of events best.
“You could bring in Jesus Christ and if you still have turnovers and penalties it will be the same outcome,” Hill said.
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.