When Kirby Hocutt came to Coral Gables, he brought with him excitement and promise. His departure leaves this Canes fan uncertain as to our future.
Hocutt arrived at UM around the same time as Donna Shalala took over the reigns of the university and Randy Shannon came in as Football Coach. Miami had what looked like a very progressive and forward thinking team.
The three of them accomplished a great deal in their time together and helped launch The U to the top spot in graduation rate as well as the top spot in academics among Florida universities. More importantly, under their guidance, Miami managed to rid itself of many of the vestiges of the “Thug U” / “Convict U” mentality. Although I still got some comments from people about Miami being full of criminals, by and large those could be combated with the reality that Miami was running a CLEAN program, led by competent and upstanding individuals.
However, in sports, they weren’t able to accomplish enough. I’m still a huge Randy Shannon fan. What he brought to the team as a former player, an African American, and as a person were all things that made me proud to be a Cane. His dismissal hurt. His seeming inability to coach arguably some of the best talent in the country to victory can not be overlooked however.
The three of them, Hocutt, Shannon, and Shalala seemed to help usher in a sense of ‘U-Ness.’ Something missing from Miami for the last decade or so. They helped the university improve its image both on the field and in the classroom (which only helps this UM grad).
As I mentioned above, Shannon’s dismissal was heart-wrenching. His replacement, Al Golden, appears to be a very nice pick-up for the Canes. His work ethic is unquestionable thus far. It could mean a new era for UM football dominance to come. Time will tell.
Hocutt’s departure however has me worried. It’s under Hocutt that many of the academic and PR strides have been made. I’m not sure if he deserves all that credit, but if so, UM might be in trouble.
Dan LeBatard, a Miami Herald reporter and Sports Talk radio host published a piece the other day that made me a little sick to my stomach. In the article, LeBatard makes a pretty strong case that Hocutt could have had the Texas Tech job in his sights while leading the search for Shannon’s replacement. I’m not sure how real LeBatard’s scenario is. I do know it makes logical sense and that hurts.
Miami got pwned this past recruiting season. Louisville in particular picked up at least three 4-Star recruits. Shannon’s dismissal and now Hocutt’s departure do not bode well for UM football. Miami needs to bounce back with a solid AD candidate and breathe some stability into this shaky foundation.
The U is, in my opinion, one of the strongest collegiate brands in the country. I fear for its ability to weather this period.
We shall see over the next couple years if The U is just about talk and swag or if it has roots.