Randy Shannon remains calm through storm

Miami coach Randy Shannon likes to get up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. and go for a run. It’s his outlet, he said, the one vice he has to relieve his stress.

He’s been running a lot lately.

“I don’t keep everything inside, no,” he said. “Everybody thinks I keep everything inside. I still coach and have fun.”

If there ever were a season in which it would be understandable for Shannon to be on edge, this would be it. He enters Saturday’s game against Maryland without his starting quarterback, Jacory Harris, and leading rusher, Damien Berry, who are both injured. With a 5-3 overall record and 3-2 ACC record, it doesn’t look like the Canes will be winning any titles in Shannon’s fourth season – especially after Virginia Tech’s Coastal Division win against Georgia Tech on Thursday night.

For the Canes, it’s adding up to be another pedestrian performance at a program where average seasons have cost previous coaches their jobs. Shannon has earned a reputation for his stoic and sometimes defensive demeanor, but somehow, he has remained calm and seemingly more approachable throughout this storm.

“It’s something you have to go through,” Shannon said. “It bothers me, it upsets me. It burns me up inside, but I know one thing – I have to get this team back and ready to play Maryland. If I go out there ranting and raving like a maniac and doing things like that instead of coaching and being excited at practice and giving Stephen Morris all the confidence in the world, it’s not going to happen. It’s going to be the same way.”

Miami fans are growing weary of the same way.

“People see athletic ability but they don’t see immaturity of some positions, or guys changing positions, or what was their role there,” Shannon said. “They say that everybody at the University of Miami has all this talent, but they keep forgetting everybody has talent. The talent has to grow and go in sync with each other.”

Shannon isn’t listening to the fans, though, he’s listening to his colleagues. He said about six coaches throughout the country, inside and out of the ACC, have called and offered him encouragement.

“They’re trying to compensate and making me understand, ‘You’re a coach like us, we just want to show you support. I know you’re going to get upset, Randy, but you’ve just got to stay [with] your plan, do what you do. Yeah, it’s Miami. Everybody is going to be on you, the fans, everybody. You just don’t know what’s going to happen at Miami. Just keep doing what you’re doing, everybody respects what you’re doing,’” Shannon said. “That’s all I can do. I know my job is to concentrate on winning the game against Maryland this week. That’s the total focus. We still have a lot of things to look forward to in this conference.”

Shannon did something Miami fans don’t want to hear – he gave more reasons why this team hasn’t been as far along as many might have expected it to.

“Everybody wants us to do it, but has everybody looked at it this way? On the offensive line, we’ve played three freshmen. People don’t realize that,” he said. “ … A new center, Tyler Horn, Orlando (Franklin) has moved to a new position, and we’ve probably given up, what? 11 or 12 sacks this season compared to 35 last year? Then you’ve got running backs that are new … Your third string running back is now your starting running back because (Graig) Cooper has been out. Then you go to your receivers, yeah, they’re doing good, but we lost three tight ends last year – all real, real, real good players. You total those guys up and we were catching maybe 45-50 balls last year between those three guys. Defensively, we moved Colin McCarthy from outside linebacker to inside to try and give us some stability.”

Does Miami AD Kirby Hocutt understand all of those reasons?

“Don’t know,” Shannon said, “don’t know.”

Hocutt declined to comment about Shannon’s future at Miami, but it appears he has the support of university president Donna Shalala. Shannon’s four-year contract, coupled with the discipline he’s instilled and his nearly flawless graduation rate – are reasons he should still be sleeping well.

His 26-20 record on the field, though, is reason to run.