Thursday, March 25, 2010
How much dough does Shannon deserve?
By Adam Rittenberg
It's amazing how the bowl season can totally reshape how a head coach, a team or even a league is viewed nationally. Covering the Big Ten, I know this better than most. The Big Ten love isn't exactly flowing from all corners of the country right now, but the league's many critics are awfully quiet after a solid bowl performance in December and January.
This brings us to Miami head coach Randy Shannon and the delay in finalizing his contract extension with the U. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde writes today that the school is low-balling Shannon in negotiations. Some very interesting stuff here.
When he's talked money with Miami over the past several months, four formal proposals have gone back and forth, according to a source. It has become the strangest of stories.
The latest offer remains less than new Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher's $1.8 million a year. It's less than new South Florida coach Skip Holtz's $1.7 million a year.
It's less than Duke's David Cutcliffe, who is the 10th highest paid coach in the ACC at a reported $1.5 million a year.
It's on par with the $1.3 million George O'Leary makes at Central Florida, the source said. This isn't to question that's a lot of money. It's to put that money in context of his peers.
How would you feel?
Just a guess here, but Miami probably felt a bit differently about Shannon in late September, when the Hurricanes were ranked No. 9 nationally after wins against Florida State and Oklahoma. Or what about in mid October, when Miami rose to No. 10 nationally after improving to 5-1 after beating Central Florida? I doubt you'd see the same penny pinching.
Apparently you're only as good as your last game, and for Shannon, it wasn't a good one. His Miami team got physically dominated by Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl, a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score (20-14). Go ahead and call me a Big Ten homer, but Miami, for all its speed, looked bad that night.
So what is Shannon worth to Miami at this point? I tend to agree with Hyde, who acknowledges Shannon's shortcomings as a first-time head coach but argues that he still deserves more than what is being offered.
He's made mistakes. Clock management. Media. Boosters. He can do better. He needs to win bigger. He says so himself.
But if this was about performance, why not build a bonus into the contract? A real bonus, like Clemson's Dabo Swinney, who had a clause jumping him from $800,000 last year to the ACC median salary of $1.75 million next season for making the conference championship game.
Shannon is asked if he'd accept a clause like that and nods his head. "Yes,'' he says.
Shannon's recruiting skills in the nation's most fertile area for talent remain strong, but he tells Hyde that the delay in finalizing a contract affects his ability to lure top prospects.
Miami might be strapped, but its football coach should never be making bottom-of-the-league money, especially when some signs of progress are there.