Posted by Adam Jacobi
In collegiate athletics these days, it's all too common to see "it's just business" used as an excuse for quickly divorcing one's self from the emotional difficulties that come with major personnel changes. Players never like seeing their coaches leave the team before they do, even though it's increasingly common, and when a coach compounds the stress by stone-facedly blaming the almighty dollar, nobody's better off.
It's refreshing, then, to see the way Randy Shannon dealt with his firing from Miami two weekends ago. Rather than just say "that's that" or make a cursory goodbye through the press, Shannon went through the unusual effort to address dozens of his players on his way out with hand-written notes.
"It was the nicest thing he ever said to me since I’ve been here," tackle Orlando Franklin told the Miami Herald on Monday. “He was just telling me to keep my head up and don’t get sidetracked. I’m going to actually rewrap it and put it under my Christmas tree so I can open it on Christmas Day. I felt real nice when I [saw] it in my locker."
Miami cornerback Ryan Hill said he talked to about 20 teammates who told him they received notes and suspects many more actually did. Other fired coaches, consider the bar raised.
This sort of high commitment to the well-being, character, and progress of the young men even after Shannon was no longer professionally obligated to do so is something that would be nice to see more often. No, we don't want to get into seeing coaches get into the act of self-publicized token goodbyes and other empty gestures, but Shannon's notes are the type of thing that takes effort. Plus, y'know, we didn't hear about this from him, either.
Perhaps Miami's next coach will be better at meeting expectations when it comes to wins and losses, and Shannon's failure to do so is a perfectly acceptable reason for him to get fired. Seriously, it happens at basically every school, and there's no reason for Miami to be different. That next new coach will have absolutely giant shoes to fill where it comes to genuine concern for his players, though, and that's something the current Hurricanes will be acutely aware of going forward. Miami would be wise to hire with great consideration to character accordingly.