On Saturday afternoon, Miami lost at home -- to a team that doesn't have a winning record in the Big East -- and was forced to play a walk-on freshman QB. The 23-20 overtime defeat to this South Florida team made the news that came out of Coral Gables last night seem like it was the obvious call for Canes AD Kirby Hocutt.
Time was up for coach Randy Shannon.
Clearly, things were not working out for the home-grown fourth-year head coach. If anything, the loss to USF, coupled with last week's home loss to the Virginia Tech Hokies, probably short-circuited what could've been a volatile political maneuver for Hocutt -- parting ways with someone who has such strong ties to the Miami community. Shannon's power base, though, had dwindled rapidly this season. There were just too many flat performances, too many false starts. The Canes finished the regular season 7-5. They lost this year to good teams and to mediocre ones. The program that once thrived in big games now wilted in the face of them. A fan base that seldom comes out to a stadium a half-hour from the campus had lost faith before Saturday. That was evident in the sparse crowd that filled about one-third of the building.
There have been other high-profile teams that have flopped in the wake of great expectations this season, but Texas, Florida and Iowa have all delivered big seasons and league titles in recent years under their current leadership. Shannon hadn't broken through while leading Miami.