Thankfully Shannon leaves the program in MUCH better shape than he found it and for that he should be commended. So, that leaves us with the question of who gets the keys to the Miami Hurricanes football team.
Even though it might still be a bit of a long shot the perfect man for the job is Jon Gruden.
Gruden is exactly what The U needs at this point in time. Intense, outspoken, a true figurehead for the program. Let's face it, after 4 seasons under Shannon we still had no idea what the identity of the Miami program was on the field or off of it.
Gruden's outspoken and firery persona could no doubt change that. Even though he has no ties to The U it's like Donna Shalala and Kirby Hocutt created him in a laboratory specifically for this job at this time.
He's got the NFL pedigree that was Howard Schnellenberger's calling card when he took the job and put the program on the map.
He's got bravado that is reminiscent of Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson. The kind of bravado that has current U students wearing shirts that say "The U Invented Swagger."
He has no strong ties to Miami, just like Howard, Jimmy, Dennis, and Butch before him. While it's common practice for most universities to try and hire a new coach with at least some previous tie to the program that was never really the practice at The U. Every time a new coach was needed (before Coker) the program sought out and found the perfect hire from outside, even if it upset seemingly everyone. Over the last 3 decades the only Miami coaching hires who were clearly not up to the job were Coker and Shannon, the only 2 hires who had previous ties to Miami.
Even the most valid criticisms of the potential hire shouldn't be that troubling.
Sure, he might follow a similar pattern to his time in Tampa, winning a title early in his tenure, with the previous coaches players, and then never reaching the top of the mountain again. Um, I'm okay with that. I'll take a title using the pieces Shannon assembled and am beyond confident that given Gruden's resume he won't be leaving this problem in the disrepair that Coker did.
Finally, yes, it is possible he may only stay a couple years and head to the NFL. Again, I have no problem with that. Having the hottest coaching commodity in the NFL take the job at Miami automatically make the statement that The U is the place to be in college football. We don't just battle with FSU, LSU, UF, UGA, USC or any other school for coaches. No, this hire would show that we can take on the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers in competition for a coach and emerge with the man we all want.
Simply put, hiring Gruden would affirm that we are The U and nobody else ever can be.