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Thursday, January 28, 2010
Staff stability at Miami

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

First, raise your hand if you're a Miami fan and didn't want to see former offensive coordinator Patrick Nix leave.

Second, any Miami fans out there who have been disappointed by the hire of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple? Didn't think so. Anyone who didn't think the Bill Young hire as defensive coordinator two seasons ago was a score?

Yes, Miami's staff has had turnover.

No, it hasn't entirely been a bad thing, nor is there any need to lambaste Randy Shannon for it.

It's easy to look at the instability Miami has had in the three-plus seasons under Shannon and criticize the program's seemingly endless turnover, but it's not entirely fair. Shannon will be the first to admit he's aiming for the kind of staff security you can find in Blacksburg or Winston-Salem, but first he's got to get the right people in place.

Can you imagine taking over a program as scrutinized, and as rich in tradition as Miami and wondering whether or not former, well-respected players on staff such as Clint Hurtt are the best men for the job? Awkward. In general, just because a former player's résumé includes a school like Miami and a lengthy career in the NFL doesn't mean he's a good X's and O's college coach.

The hire of Rick Petri to run the defensive line should be an upgrade for the position. Petri, I'm told by two other assistant coaches in the ACC, is an old-school guy, a Rick Trickett-type if you will, but toned down a notch. He's well-respected among his peers and extremely smart. He's the kind of guy where you're always wondering what the heck he's thinking.

Offensively, Miami seems to have things settled. Defensively, the Canes don't quite seem to have figured it out yet. Maybe some of that has to do with Shannon, a strong defensive mind who can't make up his own mind about how involved to be with the defense. If he constantly has one hand in it, it will be tough for Miami to keep a defensive coordinator there for any extended period of time. If Shannon works exclusively as the CEO of the program, eventually the turnover should subside. So far, though, the changes have been good for Miami, and Petri should continue that trend.