That’s what I’m about to do here because you have ABSOLUTELY dropped the ball, Mr. Dee. A golden opportunity was missed yesterday morning when nothing was said or done regarding Miami’s ACC title dreams going down the toilet Saturday in Atlanta.
On Monday October 30th, the University of Miami should’ve called a press conference stating that head coach Larry Coker will be let go at the end of the 2006 season. He would finish out the four remaining regular season games but in 2007, The U would go a different direction with it’s football program.
There’s nothing easy about pulling the trigger on a decision of this magnitude. Still, the writing is on the wall and has been for a while now. Everyone knows this is coming. Why the delay? Rip the Band Aid off. The ‘slow peel’ method never worked in the past and it certainly isn’t the answer now, Paul.
Dee has oft stated that Miami would evaluate the Coker situation at the end of 2006. Days after the embarrassing 31-7 loss at Louisville (Sept. 16th), he did the local talk radio circuit and stated that the Canes still had a shot at winning the ACC. That was the rallying cry and it bought the Miami admin some time.
Like any good lawyer, Dee knew exactly what he was doing with this smokescreen. The Canes were about to embark on a four game stretch where their only ACC opponents were North Carolina and Duke. Heading into Georgia Tech weekend (Oct. 28th), it’d have taken a miracle for Miami to not be 2-1 in conference play. As bad as things looked in mid-September, the Canes technically were still in the hunt for the next six weeks, though the worst team in the ACC took them to the wire in Durham, NC.
After the 1-2 start, Miami won games against Houston, UNC, FIU and Duke. Dee’s notion that the Canes could still win the ACC seemed far fetched, but still proved mathematically true until losing 30-23 at Georgia Tech this past weekend.
Sitting at 5-3, Miami is now out of the mix and Paul Dee has nothing to hide behind regarding the impending firing of Larry Coker. There will be no ACC title game and right now the Canes are looking at either a 7-5 or 6-6 regular season.
Gone are the days of calling fans spoiled or talking about Coker’s 53-9 record entering 2006. 53-9 sounds good on paper, but peel thing back a few layers. Miami is now 6-5 in its last 11 games.
The Canes are going to miss the BCS for a third straight season after going four straight times between 2000-2003. Right now, a lowly Peach Bowl invite would be as welcomed as a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket.
When Miami fans are freezing their tails off in the ‘Blue Turf’ Bowl in Idaho mid-December, we’ll all be longing for the ‘good ole days’ of back-to-back New Years in Atlanta…
The moment Rashaun Jones fumbled the final punt on Saturday and the “L” was in the books, Dee and the Board of Trustees should’ve been on the phone with Coker’s attorney, working on a buyout. An announcement should’ve been made 24-48 hours later with Coker resigning but staying on through the Boston College game on Thanksgiving.
If North Carolina could do that with John Bunting, why is a football powerhouse struggling to determine Coker’s future?
Here’s what Paul Dee should’ve done this week and can do any Monday following a Miami loss in November:
>>> Clear the air. No more unknowns. Let the coaches, players, alumni and fans all know where Miami Football is headed. What’s happened in 2006 will not be tolerated. Send a message to the college football coaching community that The U is in the market for a new leader and let potential recruits know that the ship is being righted for 2007 and beyond.
>>> Having Coker step down now will force the media and the bitter fan base to do an about face regarding the fourth coach in school history to bring home a title. These final four games would have people reminiscing about what Coker did between 2001-2003 and the month of November would be The Larry Coker Farewell Tour.
From a public relations standpoint, everything would be out in the open and it would prompt the national media to celebrate what Larry Coker DID do for Miami instead of focusing on the wheels falling off. The U would get some great press out of this and even the bigger Coker critics would finally show an ounce of compassion for the man instead of making it out to be something personal.
>>> By NOT doing it, the Coker era ends with a thud. The boos and ‘Fire Coker’ chants will rain down this Saturday when Miami struggles with Virginia Tech and the lack of support for the Thanksgiving match up against Boston College will be beyond atrocious.
Thursday November 23rd will be Senior Day in the OB and the last game of the Coker Era and it’ll be met by no more than 20,000 fans. Days later, the hammer will fall and Coker’s tenure will end with a whimper and no chance for the national media or fans to give this man his due for what good he DID bring to Miami.
>>> Had the Coker Era ended yesterday, it’d have given his players something to rally around. We all know these Canes are reeling. They never recovered from the FIU brawl and media backlash. Losing to Georgia Tech knocked them down another rung.
Instead of the pressure which comes from playing to save your coaches job, you immediately eliminate that from the equation. You find a graceful way to let Coker resign, let him coach the final four games and let his players rally around him. They love this man and the best motivation for them would be busting their asses for four games in an effort to prove that Coker didn’t deserve to be fired. That extra motivation against the likes of Virginia Tech, Maryland and Boston College certainly can’t hurt.
These Canes need a rallying cry and letting Coker resign would given them that – much like our arch-rivals did in Gainesville a few seasons ago.
Ron Zook was canned after a 4-3 start and a disheartening loss to lowly Mississippi State back in October 2004. Zook’s bunch lost the following week against Georgia, but the 4-4 Gators then rallied to win their final three regular season games, including a 20-13 upset of then #8 Florida State.
Zook’s players made their statement and carried him off the newly named Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium. (The 7-4 Gators lost to the Canes, 27-10 in the Peach Bowl with interim coach, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong.)
Had Dee let Coker go on Monday, his players could’ve rallied around him for the final four regular season games. Beat Boston College on Senior Day, let the kids carry Coker off the Orange Bowl field (for the first and last time) and let Randy Shannon serve as interim head coach for the meaningless bowl game.
>>> All of this is still an option next Monday after Miami loses to Virginia Tech. Please don’t stand on ceremony, Paul. You missed your chance after the Georgia Tech loss, but my agenda will make even more sense for a 5-4 Miami bunch than it did a 5-3 squad. Regardless of how the final few weeks play out, something needs to be done before accepting a lowly bowl invite.
>>> The fact this hasn’t been done have me wondering what Paul Dee and Donna Shalala’s game plan truly is. It’s painfully obvious that Miami doesn’t want to buy out Coker’s contract and is staving off what most see as the inevitable.
At any other major program, Coker would’ve been asked to resign either after the loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl or the trouncing at Louisville – a combined beatdown of 71-10. Sandwiched between those two, a 13-10 loss to Florida State , an expected win against Division I-AA, Florida A&M and all on the heels of back-to-back 9-3 seasons. Instead, Miami stood by Coker through an embarrassing brawl with an intracity rival and now a third loss in eight games.
Another case where money proves to be the root of all evil.
The longer the Miami top brass waits to pull the trigger on this, the more fans will spew their venom and call for Coker’s head. Dee and Shalala could end this witch hunt by pulling the trigger sooner than later. Each week that passes with no change, the natives will get that much more restless.
Paul Dee, it’s your move. I’m curious to see if the master attorney can shoot any holes in what I believe is an air tight argument and an open & shut case.
The defense rests.