Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Way back in 2002

Larry Coker returned from nowhere this week to take the head coaching job at Texas-San Antonio, a program that will begin play in the FCS in 2011.

Coker was fired from Miami following a 2006 regular season in which the Hurricanes finished 6-6 and generated several weeks' worth of "Outside the Lines" material with an embarrassing brawl against Florida International.

In Coker's preceding five seasons, Miami lost a grand total of seven regular-season games. I didn't follow Miami closely enough in that time to know whether there was something specific about Coker's management style or abilities that led the Hurricanes into their current slide, but there was something going on -- Miami went from zero losses in his first season to one in his second season, two in his third, three in his fourth, three in his fifth and six in his sixth. His time as head coach directly coincided with an obvious decline in offensive performance under coordinator Rich Olson, and it's generally believed that once his players (and not those recruited by Butch Davis) made up the majority of the roster, the drop-off in play became obvious.

It seems that Coker was just a better coordinator than a coach -- Miami's version of Charlie Weis (plus 20 years, minus 150 pounds). On the other hand, his record was pretty damn impressive until his disastrous final season, and you have to wonder how things might have been different at if he hadn't come painfully close to a 25-0 record and consecutive national title to start his career:

That team was a juggernaut that probably should have gone down as one of the best of all-time. The roster was flat-out ridiculous, and outside of a one-point win over #9 Florida State, there wasn't a serious challenge all year until the thriller against Ohio State.

How times have changed ...

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