CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- As usual, Bobby Bowden watched many of Miami's games this season, only now as a football fan instead of an opposing coach trying to beat the Hurricanes.
The iconic former Florida State coach's assessment: Randy Shannon had the Hurricanes on the right path.
Bowden told The Associated Press on Monday that he was "surprised" Miami fired Shannon over the weekend, even though the Hurricanes had just completed a 7-5 regular season -- one that included a 28-point loss at home to the Seminoles.
"I was surprised. I was surprised," Bowden said in a telephone interview. "I like Randy and I think he's done a great job. I've watched his team some this year and they've kind of been up and down, like teams are, but I know this -- he's recruited well, and that's the name of the game."
Shannon was 28-22 in his four seasons, without an Atlantic Coast Conference title or bowl victory. Head-to-head, Shannon won two of the three games he coached against Bowden's Seminoles.
Bowden was in the same spot last year that Shannon found himself in over the past few weeks, fighting for more time. Bowden failed in his quest to stay for the 2010 season, when Florida State turned the program over to Jimbo Fisher, who has taken the Seminoles to the ACC title game and in line for a spot in the Orange Bowl.
Shannon thought he would stay for 2011 as well, pointing to recruiting success, how the program's image has gotten better and the team's academic success -- among the very best in major college football.
"That's why I thought he would have another year," Bowden said.
Speculation for Shannon's replacement has centered on Mike Leach, Mark Richt, Tommy Tuberville and Jon Gruden, with numerous other names also linked. Miami has said it does not plan to confirm the names of any candidates until it makes a hire, and the university has not revealed a timetable for that move.
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is Miami's interim coach, and will meet with reporters for the first time on Tuesday. Miami spent Monday doing academic scheduling with players, getting them ready for upcoming end-of-semester exams and other projects. The team is not expected to practice again before Saturday, and there are some indications that the Hurricanes may accept a bowl berth by the weekend.
Bowden and Shannon have a history dating back decades, even from when Shannon was being recruited out of high school. They struck a bond at their first ACC coaches' meeting together, and Shannon said often last year that he wished Bowden would be able to stay at Florida State as often as he liked.
Bowden felt the same way this time around.
"It's a two-headed thing now for coaches," Bowden said. "The schools, they want you to do all the right things, the kids not getting in trouble, the kids doing well in the classroom. And Randy was doing those things. But if you don't win enough games, well, I guess that's what matters most."