Tuesday morning interim head coach Jeff Stoutland addressed the media for the first time since he was delegated by Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt to lead UM in its preparation for the bowl game.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Stoutland who formerly was the offensive line coach. “Randy [Shannon] is a very close friend of mine. He brought me here four years ago and I was loyal to him, never really wanted to be anywhere else. To be honest there are a lot of players shaken by the whole thing.”
Stoutland was candid and spoke from the heart during his hour long presser. The stories he told and detailed information he gave was more than reporters gathered in four years covering Randy Shannon.
“We had a meeting as a staff, addressed the players, let them know we’re all hands on deck, will coach you hard, coach you well and give you all we have. We want to go win this football game whoever we play. We’ll go at it with a lot of detail, a lot of enthusiasm, and then whatever happens after that happens.”
It’s been a roller coast of events for Stoutland the last calendar year. In May, he was diagnosed with heart problems and underwent triple bypass surgery. Despite the rehabilitation process, he was still able to reel in talented recruits like offensive linemen Brandon Linder and Seantrel Henderson.
His offensive line unit only gave up 14 sacks this year compared to 35 last year. Sophomore guard Brandon Washington was even named to the first team All-ACC team yesterday.
“Thank God that whole thing happened because I don’t know where I’d be today,” said Stoutland referring to the operation. “[Doctors] said ‘do you understand you have 99 percent blockage in the widower vein?’ I didn’t even know what that was but it didn’t sound good.”
The long time assistant coach knows that there is a big adjustment now as he has the reigns of this squad temporarily.
“[I need] to have the pulse of the team,” Stoutland said. “I know the offensive linemen like the back of my hand, can tell you prior to the game how we’re going to play. Now my mindset is a lot of these players, I haven’t talked to these players at all. Linebackers I haven’t talked to at all other than coming off the field, in the weight room….I don’t think I have watched one play of defense, maybe on the scoreboard a little, but it’s going to be important to get to the sidelines.”
Miami has two quarterbacks that have the potential to start in junior Jacory Harris and freshman Stephen Morris. There will be an open competition leading up to the bowl game.
“I think we have two really good quarterbacks,” Stoutland said. “They are really bright. And that will make it that much more fun in practices and we’ll evaluate the thing right up to the end.”
No matter the speculation of a potential full time successor, Stoutland is going to continue to cherish his time here at the University of Miami no matter what his future has in store.
“It’s like the last stand,” Stoutland said. “We want to do this the right way. And when you have everybody on deck like that you can get it done.”
Justin Antweil may be contacted at email@example.com.