Four years ago, Miami couldn't buy a coach. Figuratively and literally.
Miami was turned down at every turn, from former 'Canes coaches like Greg Schiano to alums like Mark Richt. Eventually they had to go to the man they knew wouldn't say no: life-long Hurricane Randy Shannon.
Four years later, things have a much different feel. The U might not be back, but the appeal seems like it is.
Miami so far was, from all indications, throwing bookoo bucks at the hottest coaching candidate in the game ... NFL or college. Although the 'Canes were pretty much rebuked by Jon Gruden, it signaled an important and meaningful change. First of all, it shows Miami is serious about getting a top-notch coach. Secondly, it helps to ease an old concern for coaches about the job: they have money to pay and are willing to spend it.
The school is in a better financial state than the last search, and it's evident. Ironically, that's partly due to Miami not spending in the past. The lack of success -- per Miami standards -- has roused boosters to contribute to the effort. Plus, school president Donna Shalala launched a fundraising campaing -- the Sprint for Miami Athletics -- that targeted $75 million. Mission accomplished. The goal was to help remove one of the old stigmas about the job, the one that says the facilities are poor. Just recently, the school announced plans for a $13 million reconstruction of the athletic center, upgrading it to a level to compete with other major programs. In addition, the university boasts a renovated baseball stadium and new fieldhouse for basketball.
Plus, they don't have the burden of paying off a pair of former coaches. At the time of the last search, there was a large buyout owed to Larry Coker while the school was still paying fired basketball coach Perry Clark. There wasn't much cash to go around.
Point is, Miami got the money and has invested in getting on par with the competition. A quality coach would be the next step in that department.
Also adding to the appeal is the fact that Miami's cupboard isn't bare. When Shannon took over from Coker, the program was clearly headed in a decline and didn't have the talent needed to win. The dearth of first-round picks at the end of Coker's time and beginning of Shannon's demonstrates that. The school's celebrated first-round draft streak has come to a screeching halt. Well the talent is back. There are a couple of possible first-round picks that could be in the upcoming draft and a few more second-round quality guys. There's the star that every program coveted anchoring the offensive line in mega recruit Seantrel Henderson. There are playmakers to tantalize every offensive engineer.
This is what doomed in Shannon. Everybody could see the talent was there to win, but he couldn't do it. Now other coaches will see it, too.
There's also no cleanup necessary. Shannon is leaving the program from an academic and behaviorial standpoint in pristine condition. There's no arguing that. In this day and age, one arrest in a four year tenure is unheard of.
Add these once-lacking factors to the ones that the school already possesses. Remember the first rule of real estate: location, location, location! There's the championship pedigree and exposure, too.
Yes, things are different this time. The questions aren't out there anymore about if Miami is a top job anymore. Last time it wasn't. Now, it's back to being one. The 'Canes are getting their seat back at the adult table as far as appeal goes. On the field is another matter, but they are banking on being able to get the right guy this time to take care of that.
It has the dough to buy a coach, and it doesn't seem it will have as hard of a time getting the chance to throw a sales pitch.
Of course, if the search becomes a sequence of denial, we reserve the right to retract.