Coaching search: The case for and against Randy Shannon

Josh Katzenstein

Being head coach of the Miami Hurricanes was Randy Shannon’s dream job. He was born in Miami, played for the Hurricanes and only lived outside Miami when he played two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys.

After being fired during his fourth season — one of many parallels to former Gophers coach Tim Brewster — the 44-year-old Shannon will likely need to find another city, or state, in which to work, according to Jorge Milian, who has covered the team for The Palm Beach Post for 15 years.

Shannon told ESPN’s Bruce Feldman that he would prefer to stay in college football because “you can make a difference in young people’s lives.” If that’s the case, he has a few choices, including Minnesota, if he wants to coach next season.

During the Illinois game, athletics director Joel Maturi said, “We’re going to take the amount of time that’s necessary to get the best fit for Minnesota and the coach who’s interested in being at Minnesota.”

That explains why the process might still be ongoing despite Colorado, Indiana and Miami possibly poaching candidates.

Maturi also said he had frontrunners in his mind during that win over Illinois, but “I’m also smart enough to know you’ve got to look at every recommendation, every suggestion, and every potential candidate to see what’s the best long-term fit for Minnesota.”

Shannon is the latest object of the coaching speculation game. Let’s take a look

Why it could happen

Shannon had a 28-22 overall record and went just 16-16 in the ACC, which didn”t fly at “The U,” but that’s much better than Tim Brewster’s 15-30 overall record that included a 6-21 Big Ten record.

Some people just need a change of scenery. There’s no better example than Gene Chizik, who has No. 2 Auburn at 12-0 just two years removed from a 2-10 (and 0-8 in the Big 12) season at Iowa State.

Like Chizik, Shannon would be in his second stint as head coach. Yes, Chizik had Auburn ties, but the Tigers took a shot on a guy that only won five total games in his first two seasons as head coach. In his first season, Chizik went 8-5 with quarterback Cam Newton sitting out his transfer period. Why couldn’t Shannon, a defensive-minded coach that would have 10 returning starters, do something similar at Minnesota?

Also, much has been made about the race of the next Gophers coach, in some part due to Tony Dungy’s involvement in the search. It sounds like Houston coach Kevin Sumlin has taken his name out of the search hat, so Dungy, a strong voice in Minnesota and defensive-minded coach, could back Shannon.

Lastly, Shannon has an off-field record that sings to athletics directors. In his four seasons at Miami, only one player had a problem with the law, and he wasn’t even arrested, Milian said. Shannon also posted the third-highest Academic Progress Report among active coaches as of August.

“He rules with an iron fist,” Milian said. “It’s Randy’s way or no way. There’s not even the highway.”

Winning is the end all, but other things matter.

Why it won’t happen

Shannon has way, way too much in common with Brewster. Both failed to fill their home stadiums, both were 0-2 in bowl games and both were fired on the heels of winnable games (the Hurricanes should never lose to South Florida).

Shannon also had to deal with unhappy fans promoting his displacement, though not as consistently as Brewster.

And the ever important question looms: If Shannon couldn’t win at Miami, his dream job, why could he win up here?

Shannon had the No. 5 recruiting class in 2008, according to Rivals.com, and then dipped to No. 15 and No. 16 in ’09 and ’10, respectively. So either the players weren’t as good as Rivals thought, or Shannon might not be that great of a coach.

Check back at mndaily.com for continuing coverage of the coaching search.