ACC: Randy Shannon

Moving Day: Pittsburgh

February, 13, 2013
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Syracuse has officially made the move into the ACC football blog. Now it's Pitt's turn. The Panthers will become full members of the ACC on July 1, joining the Coastal Division with former Big East partners Miami and Virginia Tech. As far as we're concerned, here in the blogosphere, the move has been made.

Andrea Adelson and Heather Dinich are here to welcome Pittsburgh into the ACC blog. C'mon in, there's plenty of room.

Heather Dinich: Andrea, one of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season was Pitt's 35-17 win against Virginia Tech on Sept. 15. It wasn't just that Virginia Tech lost, it was how Pitt won -- convincingly, by manhandling the Hokies up front on both sides of the ball. Few, if any, saw that coming, as Virginia Tech was outworked and outmuscled by a team that had lost its first two games of the season, including to Youngstown State. How concerned should the rest of the Coastal Division be about the 2013 Panthers?

[+] EnlargePitt's Paul Chryst
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicPittsburgh needs head coach Paul Chryst to stabilize a staff that has endured turnover in recent seasons.
Andrea Adelson: Heather, that was a great shock to us all, because up to that point, Pitt had not proven to be very good up front. In fact, the Panthers struggled for much of the season to gain consistency on their offensive and defensive lines. That win was one of their most complete of the season, topped only by their 27-6 win against No. 18 Rutgers later in the year. I am on the record as saying I believe Pitt will have an opportunity to contend for the Coastal Division. First, quarterback play should be improved dramatically, with either former Freshman All-American Tom Savage or four-star recruit Chad Voytik at the helm. Second, the Panthers have a solid running back in Rushel Shell and an unheralded receiver in Devin Street. And third, the Panthers return nine starters on defense, including All-Big East tackle Aaron Donald. I also think this team will be better in Year 2 under Paul Chryst. It's actually the first time since 2009 and '10 that the Panthers have had the same head coach in back-to-back seasons.

Having said that, there are a few concerns. First and foremost is playing consistently week in and week out. Those who follow me on the Big East blog know I referred to this team as "Good Pitt/Bad Pitt" all season because of the Jekyll and Hyde performances. Pitt followed a lose two, win two pattern all season. Chryst needs to find a way to get his team to play at the same level every single week. Second, the offensive line has to be better, because it has been pretty bad the past several years. Pitt won't be able to play the way Chryst wants to play on offense if the line doesn't improve. And third, Pitt is searching for yet another defensive coordinator since Dave Huxtable has gone to NC State. So that's my take. What will Pitt find in the Coastal this year?

HD: A much-improved Virginia Tech team. A Miami team ready to play for the league title (if it's eligible, of course). An eligible North Carolina team ready to contend for the Coastal Division title in the second season under Larry Fedora. A Georgia Tech team that returns the bulk of its playmakers and should get upgrades at quarterback (Vad Lee) and defensive coordinator (Ted Roof). Duke will have something to prove, as it has had some significant staff changes, including the departure of senior quarterback Sean Renfree and record-setting senior receiver Conner Vernon. Virginia had a staff overhaul, but coach Mike London should be feeling some heat to get back to a bowl.

SportsNation

How do you think Pitt will fare in its first season in the Coastal Division?

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Discuss (Total votes: 3,360)

Overall, the Coastal Division should be much, much better than it was last year. Heck, it can't get much worse, as the Hokies had their worst season in 20 years, two teams were ineligible, and Georgia Tech needed a waiver just to play in a bowl game. The Coastal Division is more balanced than the Atlantic Division, and Pitt will fit right in, adding to that parity. I'm looking forward to seeing Pitt-Miami and Pitt-Virginia Tech on a more regular basis. Miami has yet to play for the ACC title since joining the league, while Virginia Tech has owned it. Make no mistake -- last season was an anomaly in Blacksburg. What will it take for Pitt to follow the Hokies' path in the ACC?

AA: Great question, Heather. No. 1 on the list has to be coaching stability. The Pitt program has been set back because of the missteps over the past three years with head coaches. Most everybody believes Chryst is a solid football coach, but he is going to need time to get this program where he wants it. And he has exceptional resources to get the job done, with state-of-the-art facilities and extremely fertile recruiting ground in the Pennsylvania area. Pitt does not have to go far to find some of the most talented players in the nation. They finished just outside the top 40 on signing day last week. They can sell their ties to the Steelers, playing in an NFL stadium, and their incredible history, filled with national championships and Hall of Famers. Now, you could come back and say, "Well, Miami has all that, and more, and the Canes have failed to dominate the ACC as predicted." Very true. But you also make my point for me. Miami's weakness has been at the head-coaching position, as well, with Larry Coker and Randy Shannon unable to continue the success Miami had in the Big East. Al Golden now has the Canes in position to be the favorites in the Coastal.

Virginia Tech? Well, Virginia Tech has had Frank Beamer, the picture of coaching stability. After Wisconsin lost coach Bret Bielema, many wondered whether athletic director Barry Alvarez would approach Chryst, a long-time Wisconsin assistant and Wisconsin graduate. But Chryst let it be known he did not have any intention of leaving Pitt after a year on the job. He is committed to the Panthers. Now the administration has to show its commitment by giving him time to build. If he's as good as many think he can be, Pitt will be fine.

Want a head coach? Look to Miami

January, 14, 2013
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The Miami football teams of the early 2000s churned out NFL prospects left and right, producing 20 first-round picks between 2001-04.

Do you know what else Miami produced in the early part of that decade? Head coaches. The Miami coaching staffs of 2000 and 2001 -- staffs that had a huge role in the recruitment and development of those pro prospects -- have produced both NFL and college head coaches.

Not just one or two, either.

With the Cleveland Browns' recent hire of Rob Chudzinski, the 1999-2000 staff under Butch Davis produced six head coaches -- three of them now in the NFL.
  • Rob Chudzinski, tight ends coach. Interestingly enough, his former boss (Davis) left Miami after the 2000 season to coach Cleveland.
  • Greg Schiano, defensive coordinator. Left for Rutgers after 2000 season and now Tampa Bay Bucs head coach.
  • Larry Coker, offensive coordinator. Succeeded Davis after the 2000 season, now head coach at UT-San Antonio.
  • Chuck Pagano, defensive backs. Now coaching Indianapolis Colts, and became an inspiration for his battle with leukemia.
  • Curtis Johnson, receivers coach. Entering his second year as Tulane head coach.
  • Mario Cristobal, graduate assistant. Spent six years as FIU head coach before rejoining Miami staff last week.

As for the 2001 staff, which helped Miami win the national championship and produced arguably the greatest team in college football history:
  • Mark Stoops, defensive backs. Replaced Pagano and is now head coach at Kentucky.
  • Randy Shannon, defensive coordinator. Succeeded Coker and served as Miami coach from 2007-10.
  • Chudzinski and Johnson. Both remained on staff.

Lots of folks mention the Nick Saban coaching tree, but when you look at the staff Davis assembled, the group he had around him in the late 1990s and 2000 is pretty impressive.

We can sit here and debate Davis and his abilities as a head coach, and go back and forth on his role in what went down at North Carolina. But it's hard to ignore the fact he has a pretty good eye for talent -- both among players and coaches.
TCU officially hired Randy Shannon Thursday as the team's linebackers coach.

It's good to see Shannon land on his feet in a spot he's familiar with. I got to know him a bit when he was at Miami, and he had good intentions and truly cared about his players. As Al Golden has quickly found out, it's not easy to coach at Miami. Shannon is a defensive guy and should do well at TCU.

ACC's lunchtime links

June, 6, 2012
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Former ACC coaches are making news this week ...

Randy Shannon sues Miami

May, 2, 2012
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MIAMI -- Former Miami coach Randy Shannon is suing his alma mater, saying the university decided to not pay him all that he was guaranteed in his final contract.

Shannon was fired in November 2010 after going 28-22 in four seasons. On Feb. 1, 2010, two deals -- an employment agreement and a guarantee agreement -- both went into effect. The lawsuit states that because those were less than a year old when Shannon was fired, the university decided to prorate the amount of what he was owed in the event of a firing by about one-sixth.

Exact amounts of what Shannon was owed were not detailed in the lawsuit, because terms of the employment agreement requires him to keep the amounts confidential. The lawsuit said Miami has been making monthly payments to Shannon, but at a rate lower than what was stipulated in the coach's contract.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

ACC's lunchtime links

January, 17, 2012
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Psst. Don't forget about the chat. What else are you gonna do at 1 p.m. ET? Work? Puh-lease.

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 17, 2011
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Game on, Coastal Division.
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- There were police on guard Wednesday morning to help control the flow of media access to Miami’s football practice. Players, assistant coaches and university officials have declined to comment or have been instructed not to. Athletic director Shawn Eichorst declined an interview request from ESPN.com. So did university president Donna Shalala. Even one member of Miami’s marching band and a member of the cheer squad both declined to talk about the NCAA investigation hanging over Miami’s football program right now.

While silence is prevalent here on campus Wednesday, former booster Nevin Shapiro can’t seem to say enough about the U. His allegations, some of which have been supported by the research and investigation of Yahoo! Sports, could be devastating to the future of Miami football.

And yet the only person answering questions right now is first-year coach Al Golden.

While his candor is refreshing, he’s not the one who needs to answer for this mess.

Former athletic director Paul Dee, who once sat as chairman on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and lambasted USC for its violations, has some explaining to do. Former athletic director Kirby Hocutt, who abruptly resigned to become athletic director at Texas Tech after he hired Golden, has some questions to answer. (Hocutt did not immediately return a call to his office.) Shalala, who can be seen in a Yahoo! Sports photo accepting a donation that was allegedly comprised of illegal money, needs to address the issue beyond the statement released earlier today. And former coaches Randy Shannon and Larry Coker, under whose watch these alleged violations took place, also need to state their cases. (Shannon did not return a text message to his cellphone.)

Funny how the majority of Miami officials who are accountable for this mess are gone.

And Golden is left to clean it up -- not that you could tell from his demeanor or practice this morning.

The only difference on the practice field was a little bit of extra intensity.

“The coaches are more fired up today,” said Rob Dunning, Miami’s assistant communications director, who routinely watches the Canes practice.

Defensive line coach Jethro Franklin was not pleased with his group’s pressure on quarterback Jacory Harris.

“Keep the quarterback in the pocket!” he barked. “DON’T. BREAK. CONTAIN! Pass-rush lanes!”

The staff is doing its best to maintain a sense of normalcy, but there is nothing normal about the allegations that have been levied against the program.

How much of it is true? Who knew about any of it? How didn’t they know?

All questions that need to be answered -- and not by Golden.

Possible candidates for UNC

July, 28, 2011
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We'll know more about which direction North Carolina is headed following today's 11 a.m. press conference, but it's hard not to assume they're going the interim direction. Colleague Bruce Feldman listed some potential candidates for the long-term, and one name appears on both of our lists: Bud Foster. The Hokies' defensive guru has made no secret about the fact he wants to be a head coach, and his name has been tied to several openings in the past. It seems completely unreasonable to think an entirely new staff could come in just two weeks before the start of fall camp, but there will be plenty of speculation as to who will lead the Tar Heels on a permanent basis. I haven't heard anything confirming any names, so consider this a list of possibilities for North Carolina's next coach:

INTERIM

Everett Withers, defensive coordinator: He has 24 seasons of coaching experience at both the collegiate and NFL levels. North Carolina's defense has been in the spotlight under Withers, and what he cobbled together in spite of the NCAA investigations was impressive.

John Shoop, offensive coordinator:He has two decades of coaching experience in both the NCAA and NFL, and has been a coordinator for both. Carolina's offense improved under Shoop, but he's a quirky character who has been given his fair share of heat at times from UNC fans.

Sam Pittman, offensive line coach:The title of associate head coach was added earlier this month, but Pittman has spent the past four seasons coaching the Tar Heels' offensive line. School spokesman Kevin Best said there's not necessarily a correlation between Pittman's recent promotion and the timing of the coaching change.

NEW HIRE

Bud Foster, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator:Give the man a chance, willya?

Randy Shannon, former Miami coach:He knows the ACC, he's a good recruiter, and the timing would work well if an interim were hired this year because Shannon isn't coaching this season. Shannon was reportedly interested in the Maryland job and wants to return to coaching.

Name your Bowden: Terry or Tommy, both have plenty of coaching experience to offer.

Miami players starting to take ownership

April, 11, 2011
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One of the biggest criticisms of Miami under former coach Randy Shannon was a lack of passion and emotion -- the kind of flat performances that were obvious in losses to rival Florida State and also South Florida.

While much of that starts at the top, at some point the players have to take ownership, and it seems as if some leaders are starting to emerge.

First-year coach Al Golden said he told the staff following Thursday’s practice that he thinks the team is making a lot of progress -- not just in adjusting to the new schemes, but with the attitude in which they’re executing them.

“That was as physical as we’ve been all spring right there,” Golden told reporters following Saturday’s 120-play scrimmage.

The defense was the highlight on Saturday, as James Gaines and Thomas Finnie grabbed the first two interceptions of the spring. Golden said quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris were “not as sharp as last week,” but he wanted to reserve further judgment until after he watched the tape. Each quarterback threw one interception.

Linebacker Jordan Futch said some of the players have been meeting at Erik Lichter’s house to get better prepared, and have even been making their own practice scripts.

“(We’re) not letting the coaches do everything, not just holding our hands out saying, ‘Oh, coach, what do we do? but taking initiative,” said Futch, who finished with six tackles, including two sacks. “As seniors, me and Sean (Spence) are really getting the guys to come along, and make sure they study their playbook and know their assignments.”

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 16, 2011
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It's only Wednesday?

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 15, 2011
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The schedule wasn't the only news out of the ACC on Monday ...
Al Golden and Randy EdsallGetty ImagesAl Golden and Randy Edsall are the latest head coaches to take over ACC programs.
First-year Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch introduced himself to the players the best way he knew how -- he recruited them. He brought them into his office one by one and asked them about their families, their hometowns, and their high school situations.

“I never got to recruit any of these players,” he said in an interview on signing day. “It will be different in the future. I’ll know the players. I’ll know their families and their situations. Here, I really don’t know anything. So I asked our players to really introduce themselves to me, more than me introducing myself to them. It’s been really nice to talk to these guys, find out about their backgrounds, what made them choose the U. I didn’t know any of those answers.”

Nor did he know the personnel.

It wasn’t until after signing day that Miami’s staff finally had a chance to look at 15-20 clips of each player on the roster and evaluate them. The Hurricanes aren’t the only program in transition this spring, as five teams will have either a new head coach, new coordinator, or both. Al Golden replaced Randy Shannon at Miami, Maryland hired Randy Edsall, Clemson and Boston College both hired new offensive coordinators, and Duke will have its third defensive coordinator in as many years. Two hires -- Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown, who was retained by Edsall, and North Carolina defensive line coach Brian Baker -- didn’t even last a month before they left for other jobs.

The biggest changes, though, will be at Maryland and Miami. With the hires of Golden and Edsall, the ACC has now had head-coaching changes at 10 of the 12 schools in the past five years. Wake Forest and Virginia Tech are the exceptions, as Jim Grobe and Frank Beamer, who are entering their 11th and 24th seasons, respectively, are easily the most tenured in the league. Four coaches will either be in their first or second seasons this year.

“You look at Butch Davis and Tom O’Brien, and their tenure is beginning to look long in our league,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford. “There’s a lot of freshness, a lot of new coaches who are still early in their tenures. Hopefully with longevity and stability, those programs will grow and develop.”

The instability in the coaching ranks hasn’t helped the ACC gain any solid footing in the national college football landscape. Just when it seemed as if former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen had the Terps heading in the right direction -- a nine-win season led by the league’s coach of the year and rookie of the year -- the change was made.

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said the expectations for Friedgen’s successor would be consistent appearances in the Top 25 -- exactly where the Terps left off in the final Associated Press poll of 2010.

“I’ll put more pressure on myself than what anybody can put on me,” Edsall said. “I know Ralph, I’ve worked with Ralph. Those things are unfortunate, but I’m here to do a job and get Maryland to the highest level we can. My whole goal and approach is to win the ACC championship. That’s what I want to do, and that’s what we’ve been striving to do since I got here.”

[+] EnlargeTajh Boyd
AP Photo/Patrick CollardClemson will likely have growing pains next season with a new offensive coordinator and a first-year QB in Tajh Boyd.
With rapidly-improving Florida State in the same division, it won’t be easy. Clemson will have some catching up to do, too. First-year Clemson coordinator Chad Morris is not only tasked with installing a new offense and terminology, he’s also got to do it with a first-year starting quarterback in Tajh Boyd.

“It’s based on a very fast paced style of play,” Morris said. “It’s based basically on being a run, play-action oriented offense.”

Miami will have a pro-style offense, but the staff has yet to determine whether Jacory Harris or Stephen Morris will execute it. That decision could be made as early as the end of spring practices.

“We’re going to be multiple,” Fisch said. “We’re going to use a lot of personnel groupings and formations to our advantage. We’re going to be balanced in ways of trying to get the ball into all of our playmakers' hands. I’m not worried as much about run-pass ratio as I’m worried about are all of our players getting enough touches. Am I making sure I’m getting the ball in the hands of our guys who are dynamic? Our balance will come from the distribution of the football rather than the play call itself.”

Miami fans are less concerned with how the Canes win as they are how fast they can win. It takes time, though, to get acclimated to new philosophies, personalities and terminology. Both Edsall and Golden are also in new recruiting territories, and had to scramble to put their 2011 classes together. Golden came in at somewhat of an “awkward” time, as the program was still preparing for its bowl game under an interim head coach.

“It’s not like taking over something that was a smooth transition,” Golden said. “It was difficult.”

Apparently, staying in the ACC can be as difficult as joining.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 11, 2011
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A few odds n' ends to hold you over til' Monday ...

Season of change for Maryland

February, 8, 2011
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Maryland AD Kevin Anderson wanted change.

Well, he got it -- and then some.

The moves that have been made at Maryland this offseason have raised some eyebrows, starting at the top with the hire of coach Randy Edsall. Not that Edsall isn't a good coach -- he'll win at Maryland and make the Terps a contender in the Atlantic Division. The hire didn't exactly make the splash Maryland fans were hoping for, though, and Edsall only brought two of the assistants from Connecticut with him who helped him get to a BCS bowl. The latest move -- defensive coordinator Don Brown to Edsall's old stomping grounds, Connecticut -- was a lateral move at best. Brown said it was to be closer to his family, but the timing of it was indeed "peculiar," as one local high school coach called it.

The Terps have hired Clemson's former running backs coach, Andre Powell, to coach the same position, but the defensive coordinator job is still up for grabs. Bruce Feldman wrote that a source told him former Miami coach Randy Shannon will interview for the job this week. Shannon and Powell would both be good additions to the staff, but Brown's departure will take some time to adjust to, as the players will now have to adapt to a new system, philosophy, terminology and coach.

The question is whether all of these moves will actually make Maryland better than its 9-4 season in 2010. That's a tall task in College Park. It has to be significantly better in order to justify firing the ACC's coach of the year, and Maryland doesn't appear ready to take that kind of leap in 2011. With the recent top-10 recruiting classes they just lured in, Florida State and Clemson should be the teams to beat in the Atlantic Division in the near future.

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