Saturday, December 09, 2006

Miami - closer to Alabama than you think

El Machete responded to my Del-”U”-sional posting in his own blog, characterizing my entry as an “angry rant”.

While I disagree that my posting was either “angry” or a “rant”, what I was essentially trying to point out is that the head coach at the University of Miami is not a highly desired job. If you had listened to the sports media over the past several weeks here in south Florida, you would have been under the impression that virtually any head coach at any University would jump at the chance to coach the Canes. However, the evidence suggests otherwise. The three past coaches have all been former Miami assistants. During the search process that resulted in the hiring of each of them, no head coach of another school ever accepted the Miami job.

Does that mean the hiring of these assistants, including Shannon, was wrong? Absolutely not. Randy Shannon is a good man, a good coach, and I wish him all the best against his ACC opponents.

I also agree with El Machete that Miami has been the dominant program in college football since 1983 (“20-25 years“, as he put it). Their success speaks for itself.

Why then does Miami seemingly have so much trouble attracting top coaches? This is the question the fans of Miami should be asking themselves, because the same thing that keeps top coaches from jumping at the job, may also be hurting recruiting.

Some of the “knocks” I had against the program were an effort, on my part, to explain why the top coaches don’t seem to want the job. Certainly, the poor attendance at games must contribute to the undesirability.

I don’t buy the “there are so many thing to do in Miami” excuse, when there is supposedly nothing to do in Gainesville. The vast majority of fans that attend a game in Gainesville come from all over the state. I myself drive over 4 hours to every home game, and if you have been anywhere near I-75 on a Gator game weekend, you know that tens of thousands of others are making the trek. Essentially, I, and countless others, choose to leave “option filled” south Florida on the weekends to go to Gainesville. Since the early 90’s, every home game, in a stadium currently 90,000+ strong, has sold out.

A more likely reason Miami has an smaller fan base than Florida is the relative small enrollment - about 15,000 at the “U”, verses nearly 50,000 at Florida. All those students make for a great deal of alumni. But you don’t need me making excuses for the “U”, do you?

I would also suggest that firing a 59-14 coach was a very, very bad idea, especially if you want to attract top talent. The message there - one down year, out you go.

Finally, Miami fans need to get used to the idea that they are involved in competitive conference play now. Your road to the national title runs through a conference title game now, and some pretty good teams. Try winning the ACC first. Then talk about national titles.

There is nothing sadder than a school who’s fans expectations don’t match what they can reasonably achieve. Eventually, you get in a situation where no sane, credible coach will take your job. The best current example of this is Alabama, living in the past, becoming a joke in the present.

Miami is not there yet. But if angry Miami fans are calling for Randy Shannon's job when he doesn't win the national title in the next 3 years, you will be well on the way there.

1 comment:

machete said...

Even looking at it without my built-in bias, I still can't see how you can say coaches would consider the Miami head coaching job "undesirable."

But at this point I suppose I can only simply refer to the standard "It's a 'Canes thing, you wouldn't understand."

For the record: Schiano was the only coach who was offered and declined, again to do with numerous tangible and intangibles reasons (being from Jersey, family from Jersey, wife not wanting to live in Florida, waiting for the Penn State job where he first coached, etc.), none of which being the undesirability of The U. Leach wanted and met for the job but was not offered it. Most, if not all, other coaches - including Spurrier - were just pure rumor.

Also, you can't take the 59-14 record as it is. Despite his early success (with a team of players recruited by another head coach), ever year was a decline, close games got closer until winnable games became losses, press conferences failed to show any fire or concern. There was a steady decline that most outsiders would probably never notice.

But again: "It's a 'Cane thing, you wouldn't understand."