Not much talk about Randy Shannon going from interim to full-time coach at Florida
Now that Jim McElwain has been deep-sixed as the head coach at Florida, interim coach Randy Shannon is at the helm.
Despite the fact that McElwain won the East in each of his first two campaigns with the Gators, a lack of progress on offense and continued clashes with the administration quickly led to his ouster. Perhaps he was never the proper fit in the first place.
UF remains a Top 10 job in America, so there will be plenty of well-qualified suitors in the running to take over for McElwain. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, who was a gifted offensive coordinator in Gainesville from 2005-08, is on the radar. Another candidate is UCF’s Scott Frost, who inherited a pitiful program just two seasons ago yet is currently 7-0.
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Several others are in the conversation, although there’s one name nobody seems to be mentioning right now: Randy Shannon.
Florida is 3-4 after three straight losses in SEC play to LSU and Texas A&M at home and then Georgia at neutral-site Jacksonville. Next is a road trip to Missouri, which features the No. 2 passing offense in the conference at 325.8 yards per game.
Even if the Gators have been atrocious offensively in 2017 and not up to their usual standard defensively, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that they run the table the rest of the way to finish 7-4 — the Northern Colorado contest in Week 2 was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. After Mizzou, they get South Carolina, UAB and Florida State.
But on the league’s weekly coaches teleconference Wednesday, Shannon refused to look beyond Saturday’s tilt in Columbia.
“The approach is just go in there and represent the University of Florida, go out there and play at a high level, compete at a high level, and have the mindset the only thing that matters is playing Missouri this weekend,” he said. “We put that and instill those into our guys on this football team mind and make sure they understand the only that matters is Missouri and playing this game this week.”
Shannon’s situation at UF bares little resemblance to Ed Orgeron’s just a year ago at LSU. Because he was a Louisiana native, the whole state rooted for him to get the job full-time after taking over for Les Miles on an interim basis.
The Tigers were good down the stretch, but they were hardly great. After a 2-2 start — that was the end for Miles, who was excused after a last-second loss to Auburn — they went 6-2 and beat Louisville in the Citrus Bowl. While they again fell short of expectations, decision makers had seen enough from Orgeron to hand him the keys officially.
According to Orgeron (below), he gets the SEC’s high level of scrutiny. He was feeling the heat himself a few weeks ago following an upset loss to Troy on homecoming.
“I think that these are very prestigious jobs when you’re at a place like LSU, and I’m only going to speak for myself,” he said. “You’re expected to win, you’re expected to do well, and when you don’t the pressure is going to be on. That’s just part of the job, and I understand that.
“But the SEC is a great competitive environment, the best conference that I’ve ever been in. That’s why you choose to come here. You understand that you have to win, so I have no problem winning. I have no problem with the expectations. We have the same expectations of ourselves.”
It was somewhat of a shock to see McElwain pink-slipped even before Tennessee’s Butch Jones, who’s presently 3-5 and sitting on the hottest seat in the nation. He has sympathy for McElwain, even if Jones has his own problems at this point.
“We do have our tunnel vision,” he said, “and it’s all about preparation with your current team and making sure your team has great preparation.
“But also, in this profession, it’s a small group of individuals who usually have great relationships over a long period of time. And whether they’re personal relationships or relationships out of respect for what they’ve done in the coaching profession, I think sometimes it’s great to reach out to somebody because, at the end of the day, we’re in a great profession and we’re all going through all of the many challenges and rewards that this profession brings about.”
Like Orgeron, Shannon has been a head coach before. Unfortunately, like Orgeron, it didn’t go particularly well. Orgeron was 10-25 in three years at Ole Miss from 2005-07, while Shannon was 28-22 in four seasons at Miami from 2007-10.
Why were Tigers fans so thrilled to rally around Orgeron but Gators fans have shown no such desire to support Shannon? Orgeron may have began his playing career at LSU, but he left after one season and finished up at Northwestern State. Shannon suited up for and coached at Miami, so he understands the ins and outs of Sunshine State football.
He had more success at Miami than Orgeron had at Ole Miss, but Gator Nation clearly feels no attachment to Shannon.
“It’s pressure, but it’s what we get in this business for,” he said. “Everybody loves to coach the game, loves the excitement of the football game. And you’re playing in the SEC conference, with the fan base and stadiums always packed and everybody’s coming to the game no matter what team you’re playing. It’s tremendous, and you have a chance to go out and compete and play with some of the best athletes and going against some of the best coaches’ mindsets in the country.”
If Shannon wins out, he’d do something that McElwain never did: beat the Seminoles. In two attempts, he was blown out by FSU 27-2 and 31-13. Defeating the ‘Noles would certainly pad Shannon’s résumé, but he shouldn’t get too comfortable in McElwain’s chair.