Posted by Adam Jacobi
It's hard to say that the Vanderbllt football community can be left "reeling" by any bad news these days; the program is traditionally the worst in the SEC, after all, reaching a bowl game less than once per decade since World War 2 and usually not coming close. All the same, Vanderbilt's considerable admission standards discourage many high school prospects of limited discipline or character, so scandals are few and far between at Vandy; it's just year in and year out, three wins a season or so. That breeds plenty of turnover in the coaching ranks, as one might imagine, so a coaching change in Nashville is hardly the headline material it is in, say, Tallahassee or Lincoln.
And yet, the resignation of first-year head coach Robbie Caldwell on Saturday was something of a surprise, even to Vandy fans; while the Commodores were just 2-9 (and screaming headlong into 2-10) on the season, Caldwell was still a first-year head coach, and um, Vanderbilt isn't exactly a "win very very immediately or go home" type of program. So Caldwell's departure wasn't exactly a foregone conclusion, even if it's sort of par for the course at Vandy.
All the same, the fan base is scrambling to find a replacement that'll hold up Vanderbilt's academic standards without capitulating on discipline, and some Vandy alums already have such a candidate in mind: Randy Shannon.
Miami 's recently ousted head coach caught the attention of some Vanderbilt alums, and here was their pitch to other alumni in an email being circulated (and posted to a premium Canes website ):
Dear Vanderbilt Alumni, friends and fans:
With the recent resignation of Coach Robbie Caldwell, the Vanderbilt football team needs a head coach who has had success both on and off the field. A group of us strongly believe that Randy Shannon should be the next head football coach at Vanderbilt. Our goal is to get several hundred names affixed to the email below and send it as our recommendation to Vice Chancellor David Williams .
As quoted by the SunSentinnel.com, "Randy Shannon was hired as the head football coach at the University of Miami on Dec. 8, 2006. He replaced Larry Coker, who was fired after a 7-6 season. Shannon, who played at Miami from 1984-88, has long been affiliated with the program. Born Feb. 24, 1966, Shannon was a four-year letter winner when he played linebacker for the Hurricanes. He won a national title in 1987. He was selected in the 11th round by the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. He became the first rookie to start at outside linebacker for the Cowboys since 1966. He played just two seasons before going into coaching. He became a graduate assistant at Miami in 1991, winning a national title that season. He was then promoted to defensive line and linebackers coach before taking a job with the Miami Dolphins as an assistant coach in 1998. Shannon returned to the Miami Hurricanes as the defensive coordinator in 2001. He held that job for six years, building one of college football's top defenses. In his first season, he led a defense that was ranked in the top 10 nationally in three categories.
According to the Miami Official Athletic Site -- "All of Shannon's teams have continued to uphold to UM's academic success off the field. His UM football teams have achieved NCAA Academic Progress Rates (APR) of 978, 977, 969 and 966, which have all ranked in the top 10 nationally. The 978 APR in the 2010 APR report was tied for the sixth highest rate in the country. The 977 APR in the 2009 report was the 7th-highest rate in the country out of 119 Bowl-Subdivision football programs. Those rates also were the second highest in the Atlantic Coast Conference and highest among all schools in Florida."
We believe that Coach Shannon is a proven winner and would be the right coach at the right time for Vanderbilt. He is a winner on the field and academically in the classroom. If you agree that Vanderbilt should strongly consider Randy Shannon as its next football head coach, please affix your name to the email below. Please feel free to send to other alumni, friends, or fans who you believe share the same sentiments. Please have them affix their names to this email. We ask that you copy us on any outgoing emails so that we know who is being added.
There's no telling how much regard Vanderbilt has or will have for this petition, of course; Shannon's track record is something that those in charge of finding Vandy's next coach will (or at least should) already be aware of. Still, it's interesting to see that while Shannon didn't succeed in Miami's eyes as a coach, college football fans are still noticing what he and his team accomplished off the field and recognizing him for it. Perhaps Vanderbilt is a better environment for Shannon. Perhaps Minnesota is. Regardless, it seems evident that Shannon's time between jobs will be brief.