Monday, January 2, 2006
Kehoe one of four Hurricanes assistants fired
ESPN.com news services
CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Miami fired four assistant coaches Monday, three days after the Hurricanes' season ended with a humbling 40-3 loss to LSU in the Peach Bowl -- the biggest bowl defeat in the program's history.
Offensive line coach Art Kehoe, who coached on all five of the school's national championship teams, was fired, along with offensive coordinator Dan Werner, linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves and running backs coach Don Soldinger.
"The decision was mine. Mine alone," said coach Larry Coker, who added the Peach Bowl results wasn't the only reason for the dismissals.
Combined, the four fired coaches were involved with Miami football for 59 seasons.
"For me, it's definitely personally a very tough decision," Coker said. "But it's a decision I think had to be made. ... We have high standards here, high standards are set and I think we have to work hard to live up to those standards."
Miami was 9-3 this season and is 53-9 over Coker's first five seasons as head coach. But six of the losses came in the last two years, including the humbling Peach Bowl loss, the Hurricanes' worst defeat since 1998.
And Miami is almost certain to finish outside the AP Top 10 for the second straight season; that hasn't happened since before Coker took over in 2001.
"I'm very surprised. These coaches know how to win," offensive lineman Tyler McMeans, whose Miami career ended with the Peach Bowl loss, said. "They've all been a part of great programs at Miami. There's going to be big changes for this program now, obviously."
Soldinger, who also served as Miami's special teams coordinator, said Coker didn't give him an explanation for the move.
"If he can find somebody better, more power to him," said Soldinger, 61, who was at Miami from 1984-88 and again from 1995 through Monday. "Maybe he'll find younger. He won't find anybody better."
Werner's play calling has been the subject of scrutiny for months in Miami. The Hurricanes entered the bowl season with the 60th-ranked offense in Division I-A in terms of yards per game. Last season, Miami ranked 66th in that department.
Coker said he was unhappy that Miami playmakers like wideout Sinorice Moss and tight end Greg Olsen, in his estimation, didn't get enough touches this season.
"I understand the profession," Werner said in a statement distributed by the school. "When the offense is not productive, it falls on my shoulders. I'm not happy with the decision, but I have to move on."
Kehoe, who was also the assistant head coach and offensive line coach, was at the school since 1979.
"I've got all the emotions raging inside of me right now," Kehoe said. "You've just got to quell yourself and just try to do something better for yourself and your family. ... Last time I checked, we won more, we played in more big games, we'd done more in college football than anyone in the whole game."
Defensive line coach Greg Mark, another longtime Hurricanes player and coach, was fired for undisclosed reasons on Oct. 17, bringing the total of Miami assistant coaches dismissed in less than three months to five.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.