Not a State of Emergency for Miami (Yet)
Former Miami Hurricanes linebacker Melvin Bratton had some strong words for the Miami program this week. Bratton, who was in attendance for the Canes’ debacle at home against Florida State Saturday, told The Miami Herald the program was in a “state of emergency.”
Bratton told the paper “You can blame the coach, you can blame the players. To me, it’s a state of emergency right now. Everybody needs to take control, take a step back and say, `What can I do better?’ Is it the coaching? Is it the weight room? Do guys need to spend more time studying, dissecting plays? I don’t have the answer. But what I don’t see is any urgency. I don’t see that fight. And that is inexcusable.”
Alright, I’m just as pissed about Saturday as anyone, but Bratton’s going overboard with his comments. While acknowledging that a 45-17 home defeat to a mediocre Florida State team is unacceptable, this loss needs to be placed in context. First off, The U hasn’t been The U since 2005, and you can thank Larry Coker for that. Randy Shannon has taken incremental steps towards rebuilding the program, but we’re still far off from where we need to be.
Truthfully, less than a handful of coaches in the country have the ability, determination, resources, and program to build a dominant dynasty. You have Bob Stoops doing it at Oklahoma, Mack Brown at Texas, Jim Tressel at Ohio State, Nick Saban at Alabama, and Urban Meyer at Florida. Pete Carroll was on that list until he left for Seattle. For every one of those coaches and programs you have conference-mates and rivals that are down, rebuilding, and dissatisfied with the state of the program. And even the aforementioned coaches and schools have had down years or down times recently (do the names David Shula or Ron Zook ring a bell?).
Randy Shannon is not in the class of any of those elite coaches, but not many people are. To me, his biggest problem is not having a national championship-caliber quarterback leading his team. Anyone who’s seen Jacory Harris play knows he does not have a D-I level arm. That’s just reality. Shannon took a great approach recruiting winners to the program, but that doesn’t work as well with quarterbacks; you need one that can either throw extremely well, run extremely well, or do both. Harris is better than Robert Marve, but so is every other QB in the country. Much like Denard Robinson for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, Shannon is an elite quarterback away from having his butt saved.
The Canes’ schedule gets easier from this weekend on. How they look and fare throughout the rest of the season will say a lot more about the state of the program and Coach Shannon than this weekend did. If they lose more than a game the rest of the way, it’s fair to say the team needs to start looking for a new staff. If not, you have to let them keep going.
Bratton, and others, just have to accept the sad reality that Miami’s incredible dynasties from the 80s, early 90s and early 2000s are not easily attainable. We were truly spoiled by those successful runs and unless he and other alumni are willing to pony up the $12 million a year it would take to get Nick Saban away from Bama and into Coral Gables, we have to realize “very good” is a more realistic standard than “best team in the country” year-in and year-out. Then again, since that’s where we want to be, we need to get coaches in there who can make it happen. At this point it’s too early to hit the emergency eject button. If there are any more games like this the rest of the year I’ll join Bratton, but not yet.