First things first, via Barry Jackson:
After UM's blowout loss against Florida State, Shalala called Shannon to tell him not to worry and reiterated her faith in him. Shalala also took the unusual step of calling angry fans who had sent her nasty e-mails to complain. She has consistently defended Shannon, publicly and privately, and UM's administration did not blame Shannon for Saturday's loss largely because of the injury to Jacory Harris. A Board of Trustee member said Saturday that Shannon's job is not in jeopardy and he is expected to return next season.
``He can't get away with winning five or six games,'' said a second Board of Trustee member. ``But if they win eight games every year, as long as the kids keep graduating and stay out of trouble, that's most important to Donna. He's got her full support.''
Shannon's four-year contract would carry a significant payoff if he's fired, though it's not as onerous as Larry Coker's was. So that will help his case the next couple of seasons as long as the bottom doesn't fall out.
So is Shalala content not winning national titles as long as UM players graduate and aren't arrested? ``I want a championship and a high graduation rate, and that's my standard,'' she said last month. ``Who would play the game if you don't want to win?''
But Shannon's margin for error is larger because the UM administration loves how players are scared of him and stay out of trouble. Don't underestimate how proud it makes UM leadership to see last week's front page USA Today story showing UM's football graduation rate trails only Stanford's.
And now an update on Jacory, via Canesport:
"Jacory is doing fine right now," Shannon said. "He had a slight concussion. Talking to our medical staff and team, they've done a great job of evaluating and making sure Jacory is okay. The process of when Jacory will be playing is up to the medical staff. Jacory won't play until our medical staff sees fit that he's ready to go. If he's not able to play this week we'll start off the game with Stephen Morris as our leader in this week's game."
So, about the game. If anyone was still wondering about that whole leadership thing, this quote from Tyler Horn about Stephen Morris might paint a picture of how bleak things are:
"I’m really proud of him. He came in, he rallied us, he grabbed us and was like, ‘come on guys,we’re going to do this.’ And he led us. He’s a natural leader. He got us fired up, ready to go. He led us down the field and scored touchdowns. That was really big. I’m really proud of him. He grew up a whole lot today. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him."
Horn was probably trying to be as complementary of Morris as possible, but the quote is still revealing. Later on in the interview, he pretty much summed things up when talking about the team's mood after the Travis Benjamin touchdown:
"We were ready to go. We believed. ‘We can do this, we can do this.’ That’s what Stephen kept on saying. We were fired up. We thought we had them. We were believing. You just can’t wait until the fourth quarter, though, to believe. Should have believed in the first quarter."
Other than that, I'm not sure what else needs to be said about this game. It fucking sucked. The game next Saturday against Maryland is at Noon EST on ESPNU, which assures the least amount of attendees and viewers as possible. That might end up being a good thing.
Plus a bonus story about how terrible the defense was yesterday
The ACC's most opportunistic defense — the Hurricanes came into the game with a league-best 21 takeaways — managed just two against the Cavaliers, and one of those was on special teams.
Quarterback sacks? Not a one on this day, despite being among the nation's best with 25 for the season.
"Obviously, we wanted to get more turnovers," said senior cornerback Ryan Hill.
Worse yet, the Hurricanes struggled in their base defense. Before Harris' second-quarter injury, UM already had dug itself a 7-0 hole when a blown coverage allowed Virginia quarterback Marc Verica to find tight end Colter Phillips for a 16-yard touchdown pass.