CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Randy Shannon helped the Miami
Hurricanes win three national championships. Now he'll try to
reverse their decline.
Shannon, a former Hurricanes linebacker and their defensive
coordinator since 2001, was chosen to replace Larry Coker as head
coach and introduced at a news conference Friday.
"I deserved a shot," Shannon said. "I'm going have a lot of
fun with it."
Miami fired Coker two weeks ago after the team finished the
regular season 6-6, its worst record since 1997.
"I couldn't be more overwhelmed," quarterback Kirby Freeman
said. "I was pulling for Randy. This is what we need."
"Perfect," said tight end Kellen Winslow, now with the
Cleveland Browns. "He's the perfect choice."
"He's going to get back to what the formula was," said former
defensive end Dan Stubbs, who played with Shannon on Miami's 1987
national championship team. "He played here. He knows what kind of
people you need."
School officials are optimistic that Shannon's popularity with
players will revitalize recruiting. Under Coker, the Hurricanes
have found themselves sharing South Florida's bountiful pool of
prep talent with other schools.
"It's over," athletic director Paul Dee said. "Randy and his
staff are going to do a terrific job recruiting, and whatever
interlopers we've had, we're going to bid them adieu."
A Miami native, Shannon becomes the first African-American head football
coach for the Hurricanes. He's the sixth black among the 119
current head coaches in Division I-A, joining Mississippi State's
Sylvester Croom, UCLA's Karl Dorrell, Buffalo's Turner Gill, Kansas
State's Ron Prince and Washington's Tyrone Willingham.
"I hate the words, 'I can't,'" Shannon said. "I'll prove you
"This is a great day for the University of Miami," school
president Donna Shalala said. "Randy Shannon is Miami ... and I'm
absolutely delighted he'll be the next head coach."
The Miami Herald first reported the hiring Thursday night. A source told ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach that Shannon was offered a four-year contract Thursday and accepted later in the day. Financial terms weren't immediately known, but Shannon's annual salary is believed to be more than $1 million per season.
"It's the guy that I wanted. It's the guy a lot of us wanted,"
Freeman said. "Randy's been extremely
sincere to this football program. He's been sincere about his
feelings toward everyone on this team and the direction he wants
this program to go. This is definitely the decision I wanted.
"Randy is the future of our football team now. And we're going
to have some bright, bright success. I'm excited. I'm really
Shannon, 40, was a starting linebacker on the Hurricanes' 1987
national championship team. He became a Hurricanes graduate
assistant in 1991, when they again finished No. 1. After spending
three seasons on the Miami Dolphins staff, Shannon rejoined the
Hurricanes when Coker became head coach in 2001, and they went 12-0
to win their most recent championship.
"You know what's amazing? I never had to move," Shannon said
with a laugh. "You talk about lucky."
The Hurricanes decided to promote from within after talking to
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, a former Miami assistant, and Texas
Tech's Mike Leach. Schiano, apparently the Hurricanes' first
choice, said he told them not to consider him for the job.
"In our national search, we spoke to a lot of people about
coaches and to a number of coaches about their availability,"
Dee said in a statement. "As the search
progressed, it became very clear that coach Shannon was the right
person for this position."
Coker is expected to coach Miami against Nevada on Dec. 31 at
the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Practice resumes next
Friday. Shannon will likely take charge of recruiting immediately.
"This team is still coach Coker's team," Shannon said. "If he
wants to coach in this bowl game, he will be the coach in this bowl
At least one more change is coming -- at offensive coordinator.
Dee said the university has given Shannon "the resources to seek
his offensive coordinator," which means Rich Olson, who was
brought back to Miami before the 2006 season, will not be retained.
Coker was fired Nov. 24 with three years remaining on his
contract. He went 59-15 but lost 12 games the past three seasons,
and this year the Hurricanes fell from the national rankings for
the first time since 1999.
"I hate the words, 'I can't.' I'll prove you wrong."
-- Randy Shannon
Most of the Hurricanes' struggles in recent years stemmed from
an erratic offense, while Shannon's defense consistently ranked
among the nation's best. Even this year, the defense ranked fifth
in the nation, allowing only 252 yards per game.
"It's an interesting hire," Miami quarterback Kyle Wright told ESPN's Joe Schad. "It's ironic that after a nationwide search, it ends up being coach Shannon. We'll have to see how it turns out. He's highly respected here. We know how he operates and conducts himself, so we won't have to get used to a new style of play. What I want to see now is who we get as offensive coordinator."
But it was a turbulent season for the Hurricanes. Defensive
lineman Bryan Pata was murdered Nov. 7, and the program's image was
tarnished by a brawl with Florida International that resulted in
the suspensions of 31 players -- 13 from Miami.
"Everybody talks about the image of Miami," Shannon said.
"It's not the image. It's the perception. We'll be fine."
"A lot of former players called me," Shalala said. "I'll tell you what impressed me. Russell
Maryland said, 'I was scared to death of him.' A lot of players
said, 'He frightened me.' That meant they saw him as a
disciplinarian who had high standards."
Shannon was a four-year letterman and two-year starter at Miami.
He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 and became their first
rookie starter at outside linebacker in 26 years. His son, Xavier,
plays center at Florida International.
Information from The Associated Press, ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach and ESPN's Joe Schad was used in this report.