Once upon a time, Miami rode scum to the summit of college football. The Hurricanes won more games than anyone, but it sure seemed like they had more renegades, more scandals, more agents. More scum. That was 20, 25 years ago. That was another lifetime.
In this one, under Randy Shannon, Miami didn't reach the summit. Didn't come all that close. But Miami did remake its image in four years, graduating nearly everyone and having almost nobody get into trouble off the field.
In a related development, Randy Shannon was fired on Saturday night.
He was fired because it's downright impossible for a college football team to be as good off the field as it is on it. There are exceptions to that rule, but by and large the best teams are the scummiest teams. Alabama has had a recent spate of arrests and agent shenanigans. Florida has had players arrested by the dozen under Urban Meyer. Those are your last two national champions, by the way.
Miami hasn't challenged for national titles under Shannon, but it has done something even more remarkable: It has reshaped the way the country views Da U. And that wasn't easy, given the scum that once ran amok on that campus.
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But the scum, including some of the coaches who worked there, is gone. In their place, Randy Shannon recruited players who graduated but didn't get arrested. Imagine that. In his four seasons as coach, Shannon had the third-best APR among all coaches. The only coaches to do it better were at Air Force and Navy.
The only Division I-A schools that graduated more football players than Miami were service academies.
At the same time, Shannon had one player arrested in four years. That's a crazy number. That statistic is more impressive, more improbable, than the three 1,000-yard rushers Nevada had last season or the 1,500-yard rushing-passing numbers put up this season by Denard Robinson.
One arrest? In four years? At Miami?
Throw that coach a parade.
Or better yet, Miami, fire him.
But be wary of what comes next. Because Miami has made it clear to the world, not to mention to the guy who replaces Shannon, that winning the right way isn't enough at Miami. Nope.
Winning huge matters more than winning decently. That's what the new coach will think. That's what he'll have to think. The new coach will look at Shannon's graduation rates, and at Shannon's arrest record, and at Shannon's pink slip, and the new coach will think to himself:
Solid citizens? Screw THAT. I better get me some ballplayers.
Miami's athletics director, Kirby Hocutt, confirmed what his school wants when he issued a statement that read, in part, "We have made a decision to seek new leadership for our football program. Our expectations are to compete for championships and return to the top of the college football world. We will immediately begin a national search."
Telling words there. Miami wants "new leadership" for a program that was producing stellar young men -- college graduates, model citizens. That kind of leadership, the kind shown by Shannon, isn't what Miami wants. Nope. Miami wants "new leadership."
And Miami's goal is to return to the top of the college football world. Not to hang around the 70th percentile like Shannon did by averaging eight wins a year the past three seasons. No, Miami wants a return to its glory days. Miami's bosses want more -- a lot more. And Miami is capable of winning a lot more. We've all seen it happen.
And we have the lingering stench to prove it.