As the down time of college athletics enters its early stages, an interesting situation is brewing at the University of Miami. Yes, the self monikered “U”. Seems as if the U isn’t really a destination anymore, at least not for coaches. Or maybe athletic directors. And based on these decisions, maybe someday soon not even the talent they hope to recruit. Let’s catch up on the train wreck the last 4 months have been at the U
After a disappointing 2010 football season the University of Miami fired head coach Randy Shannon, who managed a 28-22 record in his 4 seasons as head football coach. Almost immediately many big names surfaced as possible replacements. There was an alleged flirtation with former NFL coach Jon Gruden. There were alleged turndowns by Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, UCONN’s (now Maryland coach) Randy Edsell, and Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Miami finally got its man when they lured Al Golden away from Temple. Wait, Al Golden? The same Al Golden who won 1 Mid American Conference title, and had a 27-34 record in his Temple tenure? Is that the best they could do? Apparantly. AD Kirby Hocutt went as far as to say that Golden was their target all along. No knock on Golden, but 10 years ago an opening at Miami would have attracted numerous candidates – big names, with big resumes.
Shortly after naming Al Golden as Randy Shannon’s successor, rumors started to fly about Miami’s AD Kirby Hocutt’s time at the U. Seems he was getting some overtures from Texas Tech for their open AD spot. Surely Hocutt wouldn’t bolt sunny and vibrant Miami for Lubbock, right? Wrong. On February 26, 2011 Hocutt resigned from the U, and his hand picked football coach, to head to Texas Tech. Now granted, Hocutt is from Texas, so perhaps this is an opportunity to go home, but it would have seemed absurd to think that Miami’s AD would ever leave for Texas Tech.
Undaunted, the braintrust at the U began their search for a new AD. Names were bantied about, but nobody terribly exciting or relevant. In the end, Miami chose former University of Wisconsin Associate Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst. Apparantly he was Barry Alvarez’s right hand man. Score!
New AD Shawn Eichorst will have to get to work quickly finding a new head men’s basketball coach, which became open when coach Frank Haith left for Missouri. While Haith’s departure is no loss for the U, finding his replacement has been quite an ordeal. Now admittedly, the U’s basketball program hasn’t exactly been a powerhouse, but it is in talent rich South Florida, and a stone’s throw away from where the Miami Heat have become a basketball’s new center of attention. Miami must not have had the same confidence, particularly since they paid about $100,000 to hire a search firm to help identify the right candidate. The choice? Havard’s Tommy Amaker. His response? No thanks. Through all of this it should be pointed out that Kansas State’s Frank Martin, a Miami native, has practically begged for the job. With Eichorst now offically on board, Martin may get a serious look now. If so, he would actually be an upgrade for the program, at least based on his tenure with Kansas State.
Seems like it might not really be all about the U. So how did it go so wrong so quickly? How did Miami fall off the map in seemingly unceremonious fashion? Many say that it is due to the budget for athletics, while others blame an uninterested fan base. Still others claim that Miami’s facilities, or the fact that they don’t have any, are to blame. Whatever the reason, it seems obvious that Miami is not a top destination, as it used to be, and therefore won’t attract talent on name alone. It’s time for Miami to realize they won’t win by looking back on the past 25 years, but rather by looking ahead to the next 25, and hopefully Golden, Eichorst, and whoever else, have the vision, and support, to get to that level.
Let’s get pumped