Let me preface this by saying that I am not a Hurricanes fan. I graduated from FSU in 2006 and always have been an FSU fan, but having grown up in South Florida, I went to many games at the Orange Bowl and as long as they weren't playing FSU, I pulled for the Canes.
How does a school with 5 national championships, an extensive list of former players who have become stars in the NFL and is located in one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country not have a stadium they can call their own, let alone on campus? How can they have facilities that have been described to me as comparable to some of the high schools in South Florida? What exactly does the University of Miami really have to offer elite prospects anymore? The lack of a collegiate atmosphere at games, an awful stadium located 30 miles from campus and perhaps most importantly, an administration that does not seem concerned with winning are all dragging this program into irrelevance.
Over the past week, I've heard the Miami fans calling for Randy Shannon's head and although I do not think he is a good coach, he is exactly what Miami deserves. Throughout the Canes' illustrious history, they have never had coaches that stick around very long. During Bowdens 's tenure at FSU, UM employed 7 different head coaches! Many of them parlayed their success at Miami into other more lucrative or stable jobs. Even if Miami had a coach of Nick Saban's or Urban Meyer's caliber, they would not pony up a real contract even after these coaches delivered a national championship. In a way, it is an arrogant approach. "We're the U, we have won with all sorts of coaches, we don't need to pay this guy". THIS WON'T WORK ANYMORE! This method of relying on a loaded recruiting area and gambling on inexperienced, "cheap" coaches worked in the past but the landscape of college football has changed so dramatically that just being a "traditional power" is no longer enough to remain competitive. Look at Alabama before Saban arrived. Oklahoma before Stoops. Southern Cal before Carroll. All mediocre before hiring the right guy. Boise State? Texas Christian? Legitimate national powers. Why? Elite coaching. In college football more than any other sport, coaches matter. They are your identity. They define your "brand" of football, which is sold to recruits. What exactly is Miami selling today?
Since 2001, Miami has made a determined effort to shed the label of "Thug U" during President Donna Shalala's administration. Make no mistake about it, winning now comes second to graduation and staying out of the police blotter at the University of Miami. In this aspect, Randy Shannon has been incredibly successful. During his stint at Miami, he has had one player arrested. (Compare this to Urban Meyer's Gators, who boast 30 arrests during this same period.) Shannon has done a great job of keeping his kids out of trouble and in the classroom but fan bases and alumni don't really care if their "student"-athletes are getting into trouble, as long as the product on the field is elite. Did Gator fans stop showing up to The Swamp because players were fraudulently using credit cards of the deceased? You can't win with choir boys and the recent success of the Gators only confirms this fact. The University of Miami used to embrace this outlaw culture which it now refuses to acknowledge as part of its past. Winning in high-profile college sports cures all. It increases applications for admissions, exposure, merchandise sales and most importantly, revenue. A few arrests along the way make for some good taunting from rival fans, but not much else.
As long as the University of Miami refuses to pay for a real coach and treat their program with the respect it deserves, they better start forgetting about the Orange, Rose, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls of the past and embracing the Champs Sports, Emerald Nuts, and Papajohns.com Bowls of the future.