CORAL GABLES — His voice nearly cracking, Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt laid out some reasons why coach Randy Shannon was right for the Hurricanes. Academic success. Improved recruiting classes. Decades as part of the Miami family.
Then there was the 28-22 record that Hocutt couldn't ignore. The Hurricanes started moving on Sunday, with former offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland taking over for the fired Shannon on an interim basis, and players attending a tearful meeting.
"Stunned," said linebacker Colin McCarthy, a former Clearwater Central Catholic standout. "Can't really comment more than that."
"Change is difficult," Hocutt said. "This change was necessary."
The Hurricanes (7-5) still have yet to play for an ACC title and only 26,369 attended Saturday's loss to USF, the smallest home crowd since Larry Coker's last home game in 2006.
"(The decision) was not made on 60 minutes of football," Hocutt said. "It was made with the total body of work in mind."
Hocutt said finances would not affect the search: "We're going to do whatever it takes to get back to the top."
Speculation has centered on Mike Leach, Mark Richt, Tommy Tuberville and former Bucs coach Jon Gruden. Richt, a former Miami quarterback, said he has not been approached by Miami and plans to return for an 11th season at Georgia. Gruden said in a statement through ESPN: "I am committed to Monday Night Football and to ESPN."
Shannon, 44, has three years remaining on his contract. He is expected to receive a buyout of about $1.5 million. When the former UM linebacker was hired, president Donna Shalala said: "Randy Shannon is Miami."
Hocutt says every assistant is committed to stay through a bowl game.
"I'm hurt. You get hurt," Shannon said Sunday. "I'm disappointed. I wish I had more time. Four years they felt like was enough time. … I am proud of the last four years at the University of Miami.""
Said quarterback Jacory Harris: "Coach Shannon is like my father figure. It's not his fault at all."
Since the start of the 2007 season, 47 teams have more wins than Miami — including four from the state of Florida. The Hurricanes were 16-16 in the ACC under Shannon. And Miami will finish out of the Top 25 for the fourth time in five years.