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Shannon laying down strict law at Miami

PINEHURST, N.C. -- New Miami coach Randy Shannon instituted several new rules for the Hurricanes when he replaced Larry Coker as coach in December. For the most part, the new tough standards kept the Hurricanes out of trouble this summer.

Miami players were noticeably absent from the police blotter this summer, a feat that has to please athletic director Paul Dee and university president Donna Shalala.

Last year, Miami endured two gun-related incidents off the field -- defensive lineman Bryan Pata was murdered outside his apartment and reserve safety Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks after being confronted by an unknown person. The assailant fled when teammate Brandon Meriweather fired his own gun at the man.

On the field, the Hurricanes were involved in an ugly melee with Florida International in Miami's 35-0 victory on Oct. 14. The ACC suspended 13 players for their roles in that brawl.

Those distractions contributed to Miami's 7-6 record in 2006 -- the program's worst finish since a 5-6 mark in 1997 -- and Coker's firing after six seasons.

Shannon, who had worked as Coker's defensive coordinator since 2001, was hired to replace his former boss and set out to clean up the mess.

"The things we were trying to do were deteriorating," Shannon said. "When a bunch of little things pile up, it becomes a mountain."

Shannon outlawed guns for Miami's players -- any player caught having a weapon will not only be kicked off the team but also dismissed from school.

"If you're living in Iowa and you're going hunting, it's fine to have a rifle or shotgun," Hurricanes guard Derrick Morse said. "But if you're living in Miami, you don't need to be walking around with a handgun. I wish it was a year earlier when that rule went into effect."

Shannon also requires any player with a grade point average lower than 2.5 to live on campus. If a player is living off campus and falls below the 2.5 mark during fall semester, he'll be required to move back into dorms for spring semester.

"You better not sign a year lease if you're not going to take care of your classes," Morse said. "They've got to deal with that. They're grown men. They're 21 or 22 years old. They've got to act like grown men."

Players caught having cell phones in class will lose their phones for two weeks. Any teammates attending the same class also lose their cell phones for two weeks.

"Guys are looking out for each other now," Morse said.

If players skip class, Morse said, Shannon not only requires them to complete extra conditioning but also demotes them on the depth chart.

"His discipline is at a level where it's almost crazy," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "You don't want to do anything wrong."

Bowden likes staff

Florida State's Bobby Bowden, who hired five new assistant coaches during the offseason, said he wouldn't have overhauled his staff if his son, former offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, hadn't resigned.

"It's funny, you won't do things a lot of times until someone makes you," Bowden said. "If I hadn't lost my son as offensive coordinator, I wouldn't have made the changes. But when Jeff resigned, I thought to myself, 'If it's going to get this drastic, this is my last shot, so I'm going to make it the best I can make it. I'm going to get the best coaching staff I can get in here. I don't care what it costs.'

"This is my last shot, but there is no time limit on that. Don't come to me next year and say my last shot went by. I hope it lasts a long time. But I ain't going through it again. I'd rather coach than retire. But I also have to win enough games, and I don't think I've won enough the last few years. So I hope to build it back up and remain in coaching."

While new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and offensive line coach Rick Trickett were considered hiring coups for Bowden, he believes the return of linebackers coach Chuck Amato might be even more important.

Amato, who was fired as North Carolina State's coach after seven seasons, worked as an FSU assistant from 1982-99.

"The most successful teams we've had were when Chuck Amato was working with Mickey Andrews on defense," Bowden said. "Those two are hard to beat."

Groh: Quarterback will be ready

Virginia's Jameel Sewell, perhaps the ACC's most improved quarterback from the beginning to the end of last season, should be ready for the start of preseason practice next month, Cavaliers coach Al Groh said.

Sewell, who set Virginia freshman records with 143 completions, 1,342 passing yards and five touchdowns in 2006, underwent surgery on his left (throwing) wrist in early December. He didn't throw during spring practice, but Groh said Sewell has participated in of the Cavaliers' offseason activities.

"He's been a full participant in the offseason workouts," Groh said. "He's positive about where he is. We're positive about where he is. But we all understand it's probably going to be until he's in a game to really see how it is. We'll just have to wait and see, and that creates a small level of anxiety."

Backup quarterbacks Marc Verica and Scott Deke haven't appeared in a college game.

Georgia Tech back is defenders' Choice

Clemson running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller are called "Thunder and Lightning." Miami's Javarris James has the famous cousin, and Virginia Tech's Branden Ore is considered a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy, if the Hokies are in the hunt for the BCS championship game at season's end.

But Miami defensive end Calais Campbell and Virginia defensive end Chris Long -- two of the ACC's top defensive players -- say Georgia Tech's Tashard Choice is the league's best running back.

Choice, who transferred from Oklahoma before the 2005 season, led the ACC with 1,473 rushing yards last season.

"I think last year he was probably the hardest guy I had to tackle," Campbell said. "I've got a lot of respect for him because he runs hard every play. I think he's going to be a great NFL back one day."

Extra Points

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer offered his first comments on Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is charged with participating in an illegal dogfighting operation in Virginia. "My response is I know Michael Vick as a very caring, a very concerned, a very good person, and I'm going to wait until this is all said and done to change any of my thoughts or to make any other observations," Beamer said. Beamer said he hasn't spoken to Vick since they appeared together at the NFL draft in April. Vick led the Hokies to the 1999 national championship game.

• Florida State athletic director Dave Hart is close to finalizing deals for the Seminoles to play games in Atlanta and Tampa during future seasons. Hart hasn't yet secured opponents for the 2008 game in Atlanta, which would be played in the Georgia Dome. The Seminoles play Alabama at Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium on Sept. 29, and they've also agreed to play a game in Orlando in either 2012 or 2013, pending renovation of Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.

• Miami guard Derrick Morse says the Hurricanes will be less predictable on offense this season, with new coordinator Patrick Nix calling plays. Nix worked as Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator the previous three seasons. "My mom doesn't know anything about football, and she knew what was going to be called," Morse said. "I think predictable is what people thought about our offense. If normal people thought that, imagine what defensive coordinators were seeing."

• ACC commissioner John Swofford said the league's championship game could move from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charlotte, Orlando or Tampa beginning in 2008. Swofford said the game could remain in Jacksonville or rotate between three cities.

• Swofford said Tuesday morning that the league would begin conducting background checks on officials working its basketball and football games.

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at schlabachma@yahoo.com.