As you are no doubt aware, Randy Shannon was fired Saturday night after four seasons as Miami’s head coach.
Ahead of the press conference to officially announce his dismissal, Shannon released a statement thanking his alma mater for the opportunity and stating that he was proud of what his Hurricanes accomplished both on and off the field.
“I am proud of the last four years at the University of Miami and what we have been able to accomplish. I have a deep respect and appreciation for the young men who have played here during my tenure.
“We established three winning seasons; continually improved in the Atlantic Coast Conference over the last four years; brought in strong recruiting classes; and just as importantly, made tremendous strides off the field with our academic progress rate and graduation success rate among the best nationally.
“I believe that I leave the Hurricanes football program with a stronger foundation upon which they can continue to build. I thank President Shalala for the opportunity. Those that know my history know of my passion and dedication to the ‘U’, and only want success for this University moving forward.”
As for who will replace Shannon on the ‘Canes sidelines, the rumor mill is churning out names at a prodigious clip, with several well-known names, naturally, being tossed into the initial mix.
At the top of most speculation lists, and as he will always be whenever a high-profile job comes open and until he steps out of the broadcast booth, is Jon Gruden. The former Tampa Bay head coach and current Monday Night Football analyst has been mentioned in numerous reports since Shannon’s dismissal, and a we’ve been told that his name has come up early and often in conversations amongst various board trustees, former players and others with a vested interest in the football program. It’s being said that the school — or at least a faction of the school — is gunning for Gruden, although it appears to be a longshot at best to reel him in.
The Miami Herald reports, via several sources with ties to the program, that Georgia’s Mark Richt and former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach are at the top of UM’s wish list. We’ve heard independently that there is interest in Richt, but that the Leach connection would probably not occur. While the academic success of Leach’s teams at Tech would be a strong selling point to president Donna Shalala, the coach’s “issues” at his former school would negate any academic advantage he may have, if he’s even interested in the opening.
Given athletic director Kirby Hocutt‘s past ties to Oklahoma and Kansas State, and his success at his current school, current Sooners defensive coordinator and former Wildcats linebacker Brent Venables is being mentioned as a potential successor, although it’s thought the school would prefer a new head coach with previous experience in the position.
Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Arizona’s Mike Stoops are two current head coaches who have been rumored as well.