The emails and comments have poured in this past day after Beast’s recent piece, focused on the debacle that was Tuesday’s media day at ‘The U’.
Responses have been all over the map – some feeling that players / coaches not talking to the media isn’t a big deal, while others see it as yet one more reason to crucify head coach Randy Shannon.
I’ve supported Shannon from the get go, but there’s little defending his implied stance that the media is an enemy instead of an ally.
Letting players off the hook, sheltering them after an embarrassing loss? It’s cowardice and all comes back to one word; accountability.
It’s a word Shannon loves to put out there in his quest to mold young men. Go to class. Keep your grades up. Hold the door open for a lady. Take your hat off when indoors. Earn your degree and go out into the world a productive member of society.
Fail to do things of that nature and there’s a price to be paid. Miss practice and you don’t see game time. Skip class and your riding the pine. Tote a gun and you’re off the team.
Again, being accountable for one’s actions.
On one level there’s a method to Shannon’s madness and he’s done a tremendous job cleaning the a long-time image problem at UM and turning the culture around. No one can argue that. This university isn’t a football factory and succeeding in the classroom should be right up there with winning on the field.
That said, the wins aren’t piling up and he’s absolutely failing with the media. By not forcing his players to face the music, he’s doing both them and this program a disservice.
Two weeks back Miami players were on cloud nine after whipping North Carolina. Sean Spence rode Brandon Harris off the field like a horse, playing grab-ass after an interception while impromptu sideline dances broke out during stoppages of play all night.
Chest bumping. High fives. All was well in Canesville and as soon as the game was in the books, there wasn’t a player on this squad who didn’t want to shout from the rooftops how good it felt to get that win. For Randy. For the program. For themselves.
Tons of storytelling weeks back about Antrel Rolle dropping by to rally the troops. Talk about how players knew what they needed to do moving forward. How this win was for Coach. How they “got their dog back”. How this win was going to set the tone for the season. How the Canes controlled the destiny and an ACC Championship remained their goal.
Then Virginia happened.
A face plant of epic proportions. Sure, there’s been talk of Pat Hill trying to fire up teammates at halftime – which meant a lot as the senior fullback is a quiet, reserved family guy. (Kudos to No. 30 for taking action.)
There was also the comment from LaRon Byrd that this team “underestimated” the Cavaliers and talk that the hit on Jacory Harris rattled the team’s cage a bit – both of which sure as hell sound rather weak coming from a team whose mantra is “no excuses”.
It all sounds like vintage Randy media day double talk, with the players seemingly taking cues from a head coach who shows little tolerance, patience and respect for local media trying to do their job.
Those who haven’t heard a Shannon-led press conference, dig into the allCanes Radio archives. Beast’s 11/3 show has some post-Virginia footage where you hear and impatient leader wanting nothing to do with this aspect of his job. (Tune in at the 13:25 mark.)
Regarding the injury to Harris and the impact it had on the team, Shannon said the following; “You’re trying to get everybody going but it needed someone to step up and we didn’t have that guy to step up. But I was searching for it, seeing if somebody could step up. It wasn’t that I could say `you need to step up.’ I can’t do that. Someone has to step up and say, `listen, follow me, Jacory’s going to be OK and we’re going to be OK and pull this game out.’
“We needed that to happen earlier in the game, we needed that to happen in the second quarter and we didn’t have that from this football team. Somebody, a senior, a fifth-year guy, a fourth-year guy to step up and say, `come on, let’s go.’”
Another hollow answer from a coach being passive instead of proactive.
How long do you stand idly by waiting on kids to ‘get it’ before you find another way to motivate, deliver the message and get results? You’re the teacher, they’re they pupil. Give them better material to work with if you want them to make the grade.
If one or two students are failing, that’s on them. When the entire class isn’t getting it done, that’s on the instructor.
Byrd stating that this team again underestimated an opponent – identical to J-Harris’ comments in the wake of the Wisconsin loss last year. Ten months later, same excuse.
Isn’t that in itself Einstein’s definition of “insanity”? Doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results?
One reason I supported Shannon these past few years – besides being a life-long Cane and local product – was due to chartable growth and the fact he was holding kids accountable.
5-7 with a dog of a team became 7-6 and 9-4, with some signature wins in 2009. Talent and depth was returning, meaning another huge step was expected in 2010.
Stay competitive and be in every game. Play with passion. Show progress instead of regressing. Making a legit run at an ACC title. Climb in the rankings. Win those must-win games.
At 5-3 and in a lurch, where is the growth? Where is the accountability? Why do old habits continue to die hard?
Should the losses continue piling up, will the mantra at year’s end be “injury-plagued” instead of “no excuses”? Sure sounds that way based on some recent quotes.
Beast wrote that senior defensive back Ryan Hill was one of a handful of Canes to face the media on Tuesday afternoon. Back in the day you had a dozen players out there glad-handing and playing the game. Yesterday it was five of eighty-five – including Eduardo Clements, up there talking about bolstering the running game to take the pressure off of Stephen Morris this weekend.
A fifth-string running back who hasn’t seen action since Florida State (with eight carries on the year) is the mouthpiece of the offense on this most recent media day? What sense does that make?
To R-Hill’s point that he showed up because the majority of his teammates didn’t want to, I ask both Shannon and his players, why? You couldn’t say enough after soundly beating the Tar Heels, but after a loss to the Cavaliers cat’s got your tongue?
If Coach Shannon isn’t going to take this opportunity to share a life lesson with you guys, I will.
Win or lose, man up. Don’t cower because you failed to get your job done last weekend. Own it as this is a lesson you’ll need later in life.
Screw up at work and there’s hell to pay. Let a friend or family member down and there’s a price to pay. Very rare in life that when expectations aren’t met you can just stick your head in the sand or hide under the covers.
This fan base will forgive solid effort, heart and the acceptance of responsibility.
What it won’t do is forgive excuses, a lack of growth, the same mistakes week in, week out and not fessing up.
If you’re gonna bark after a win, take your freakin’ medicine after a loss.
As Beast mentioned, Mike Rumph rolled into that media room a few days after getting burned and giving up the game-winner to Chafie Field and No. 2 Penn State back in 1999. Because Rumph owned it, the Miami media was easy on him and had a heart for a young kid who messed up.
The local media can actually help if those inside this program treat them with respect and are welcoming. Let’s be honest, the University of Miami football program needs the Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel and Palm Beach Post more than those papers need UM – a squad that’s lost twenty games in 3.5 years under Shannon.
Miami football doesn’t want to talk? Fine. That’s more coverage for LeBron. D-Wade. Bosh. Brandon Marshall. Ronnie Brown. Dmitry Kulikov. Hanley Ramirez. Josh Johnson. The list goes on.
No shortage of professional athletes in this city ready to talk their trade and shine in the spotlight.
It’s also more press for other local college programs, as well as Miami’s state rivals are there are more Florida State, Florida, Central Florida and South Florida alum in the Tri-City area than there are UM grads.
You can shine the media when you’re one top – defense winning championships while the offense puts asses in seats.
When you’re 5-3 and the remaining outlook is murky, you need all the free press you can muster up.
If Shannon chooses not to see that, then Donna Shalala and Kirby Hocutt need to step in and demand a change on the PR front.
Al-Queda isn’t as cryptic as Miami’s head honcho behind a podium after a loss.
An improved graduation rate and kids staying off police blotters is more than welcomed and is truly a feather in this program’s cap, but winning game is what builds hype, sells season tickets, moves merchandise and gets boosters drunk on success, ready to open their checkbooks.
Something continues to stink in Coral Gables and it isn’t the three-day old stench of Virginia’s upset.
I’ve carried the Shannon torch since day one and in the wake of what’s been happening lately, even I’m losing faith in the process.
Get it together UM’s top brass. The clock is ticking and the diehards are beyond restless.