Hurricanes Get It Right In Hiring Shannon

By Tony McClean
Updated: December 8, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — After a tumultuous season that has seen its notorious football program hit the skids on and off the field, it appears that the University of Miami has finally done something right.

Randy Shannon, who has served at UM’s linebacker coach and defensive coordinator since 2001, was named to replace Larry Coker as the Hurricanes’ head coach on Friday.
Now before you look at this as a token hire, you must know all the facts about him and why this may be the most important hire in the school’s long football history.
While many other prominent coaches, including Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano (and former UM assistant) and former UM quarterback Bernie Kosar, were considered, Shannon appears to be the most qualified person to take over the Hurricanes program.
He’s more than put in his time inside and outside the organization. A graduate of Miami’s Norland High School, Shannon was a member of the Hurricanes’ 1987 national championship team and was an 11th-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 1989.
Under his college coach Jimmie Johnson, Shannon was a Dolphins defensive assistant in 1998 and 1999 before becoming Miami’s linebackers coach in 2000.
He returned to UM a year later as defensive coordinator and became the first UM coach to win the Frank Broyles Award that year as the top assistant in college football. Over the years, Shannon has developed a reputation as an excellent recruiter and a disciplinarian.
His defensive squads over the years have been among the nation’s best since his tenure. In 2006, the Hurricanes (6-6) are ranked fifth overall, fourth against the run and 12th in scoring defense.
Given his longtime ties to the the university and his commitment to discipline, it’s clear that Shannon was the best choice UM could make. So far, the news of Shannon’s hire has been met with enthusiasm by the community and players alike.
“It’s the guy that I wanted. It’s the guy a lot of us wanted,” Miami quarterback Kirby Freeman told The Associated Press. “Randy’s been extremely sincere to this football program. He’s been sincere about his feelings toward everyone on this team and the direction he wants this program to go. This is definitely the decision I wanted.”
Shannon also becomes the sixth black head coach currently at one of the 119 Division I-A schools, joining Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom, UCLA’s Karl Dorrell, Buffalo’s Turner Gill, Kansas State’s Ron Prince and Washington’s Tyrone Willingham.
Back in 2002, I wrote a story about a high school friend of mine who at the time was serving as a UM assistant. Vernon Hargreaves related the story of how Shannon helped him become the Hurricanes’ linebacker coach.
Hargreaves was serving as an assistant coach for UConn in 1999 when he heard about an opening on the UM staff. “I had met Randy through recruiting stops and we had always kept in touch with each other”, Hargreaves added.
“He (Shannon) was the linebacker coach at the time and knew of the opening. During the interview process, he passed my name along to Coach (Butch) Davis. The next thing I knew, I got a call back from Randy saying Butch is going to call you, get all your stuff together see what happens. I was scrambling furiously to get it all together and organized”.
Vern eventually got the job and served on the UM staff for nearly eight years. Although I never met him, it let me know just what kind of person Shannon is.
It appears that UM not only gets a good coach in Shannon, but also a person has the ability to change the face of Hurricane football for a long time to come. After a year that has seen UM take its share of hits on and off the field, Shannon’s discipline and football knowledge will be just what the doctor ordered.
NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this story.