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We know that Randy Shannon is on the short list and is the subject of an alumni email campaign supporting his candidacy. We know that when he was defensive coordinator at Miami, his squad was one of the best in the country. We know that he’s brought in top-15 recruiting classes the past few years running. We know his recruiting connections in the state of Florida run deep, which is partly why schools like Minnesota are interested in nabbing him. We know that he raised the academic (all teams in APR top 10) and disciplinary (no arrests during his tenure!) profile of a Miami Hurricanes program in which both were sorely lacking before he took over as head coach. And finally, we know that if his star QB hadn’t gotten injured and his team had won two games it should have won this season (UVA and South Florida), giving them a record of 9-3 instead of 7-5, that Shannon probably would not have been let go this past weekend after four seasons at the helm. (For what it’s worth, Bobby Bowden thinks Miami made a big mistake.)
Coach Shannon is about as good as you could ask for on paper, and I don’t have any inside information to this effect, but he sounds like a man of outstanding character to boot. His personal story, for those not familiar, is nothing short of inspiring.
I’m not as concerned as some might be about his overall record as a head coach (28-22, 16-16 ACC), nor do I care all that much about the decidedly strange tale of Robert Marve, in which Shannon was a key player. I’m not certain about this, but I think Shannon’s got the stuff that it takes to be a very good D-I head coach (though to the extent there are questions about that, there are similar questions about all the “unproven” offensive and defensive coordinators currently on the search list).
The main question I have about Shannon is unique to Vanderbilt’s situation. We’ve seen that he can take a program with discipline issues and an undistinguished academic track record and instill some positive values. But that hasn’t translated into success on the field, at least not the kind that they’re accustomed to at “The U.” Vanderbilt is a different animal. We’ve got the student-athlete thing down (to some extent, and let’s not be unrealistically arrogant about it) and we’re not constantly worried about which key player is going to get arrested from one week to the next (please join me in knocking on wood). In Commie Country it seems that fans are proud of the “clean and scholarly” reputation, but ready for something more. We’re ready for wins. At least enough wins to be competitive for a bowl game, any bowl game, year-in and year-out.
Is Randy Shannon a “winner”? I don’t know, but I certainly wouldn’t say he’s a “loser.” Looks like he may have gotten a raw deal at Miami and, as a consequence, it’s possible that he’ll be one of the best bargains on the market. Hard to know from the outside looking in. Also hard to know what kind of offensive staff he would bring in, seeing as he axed his previous OC who ran the spread attack in favor of an NFL-style offensive look. In any event, you’d be hard pressed to argue with the job he did recruiting at Miami (even though The U probably sells itself to a certain extent), and Vanderbilt could absolutely use (read: desperately needs) a guy who knows how to bring in strong recruits. For this reason and because everything I’ve read about his departure leads me to believe he is good at establishing relationships with his players (if not the bizarre Miami fan base), I am excited about the prospect of hiring a Randy Shannon.
This marks my newest tangent and at least the fifth time I’ve been stoked about a different coach in which DW is taking an interest. Other than me being fickle and nerdy, I’m taking that as a signal of the quality of coaches out there on the market. Vanderbilt needs to get this right, but as I see it they’ve got a lot to work with.