Saturday, November 25, 2006

Schiano, Alvarez among top candidates for Miami coaching job

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — University of Miami defensive coordinator Randy Shannon wasn't ready to talk about it.

Former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez is in the area. His interest is unclear.

Meanwhile, names like Rutgers' Greg Schiano are bandied about.

Miami coach Larry Coker's long-awaited firing took place Friday. In between reasons for making a change, Miami athletic director Paul Dee also took questions on what the school is looking for in a successor.

"We will begin working on this right away," Dee said. "Our hope would be to have a coach as soon as (possible). But given the circumstances of bowl games and the like it might be a little longer than we otherwise would have taken."

Dee said school officials will consult with Chuck Neinas, 74, former Big Eight Conference commissioner and Executive Director of the College Football Association.
Neinas Sports Services — a one-person consulting company — has conducted about 50 searches, which have included hires at Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Missouri, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan and Nebraska. He commands from $10,000 to $40,000 for his services.

With Neinas known to work secretly on bringing talented applicants to schools, there may be some surprise candidates.

Dee did say that Shannon, whom Coker hired as a defensive coordinator, is a possible candidate. Miami's defenses regularly have ranked in the nation's top 10 each of his six seasons, and this season Miami set a regular-season school record by allowing just 66 yards rushing per game.
"I'm not talking about (the job) right now," Shannon said. "I'm just worried about the recruits. We gotta get that handled, calling the kids."

That is important because Demarcus VanDyke, a 6-foot-1, 163-pound defensive back/wide receiver from a Miami-area high school, withdrew his commitment to Miami once he heard Coker was fired. He now is considering Florida and Ohio State.

Earlier this week, Alvarez was in Miami, according to employees who work at the Ritz-Carlton. Alvarez also has a Naples condo, which he's staying at this weekend. He didn't return a message left at the front desk of his condo.

In his recently released book Don't Flinch, Alvarez said Miami contacted him twice about its coaching openings in 1995 and 2001. When Dee offered him $1.4 million to be coach, Alvarez wrote in his book, "I was thinking a little north of that number."

Dee said he'd get back to him. Alvarez later wrote he couldn't believe he told Dee that.
Schiano appears to be the popular choice but there's a question whether he might want the Penn State job more when Joe Paterno retires. Rutgers (9-1) also is having a season for the ages and has two games left plus a bowl game.

Rutgers officials reportedly are prepared to offer him an extension, which could go as high as $22 million for 10 years.

Other candidates include:

• LSU offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jimbo Fisher. Miami is familiar with him after LSU beat the Hurricanes 40-3 last season. Friday, LSU beat Arkansas 31-26.

• TCU coach Gary Patterson, who's used to working in a bigger TV market in Dallas. While TCU (8-2) won't reach a goal of a BCS game, the Horned Frogs have a chance at a fourth 10-win season under Patterson, who is 51-20 in six seasons.

• West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez, who has brought the Mountaineers (9-1) back to national prominence. However, there's a question of whether the West Virginia native would want to leave and he's also due a big raise.

• Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe also is another candidate.

Georgia coach Mark Richt, a former Miami quarterback, and Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville, a former Miami assistant, told ESPN they are not interested in the job. Steve Spurrier, responding to Internet reports, said last Sunday he will remain at South Carolina.

"It's the best job in the country," Dee said about the Miami position, noting the five national titles won under four different coaches. "This is as fine a job as you can have, because when the success comes, the success is tremendous. It's a hard job. This is not a job for the feeble. This is a job for somebody that likes coaching college football, that is excited by college football. I think this is a wonderful job for whoever wishes to take it and we can attract."

By Craig Handel, The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press