Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Shannon: ‘I’m here to assist’
Ex-Miami head coach: Job at UA is to coach up linebackers
Arkansas hired former Miami head coach Randy Shannon away from TCU to become the Razorbacks' linebackers coach.
FAYETTEVILLE New Arkansas linebackers coach Randy Shannon hasn’t experienced any problems adjusting to being a position coach again after a four-year stint as the University of Miami’s head coach.
Shannon said he’s following the advice of Sonny Lubick, the former Colorado State head coach who was Miami’s defensive coordinator when Shannon began his coaching career as a Hurricanes’ graduate assistant in 1991.
“He said in this business if you don’t have an ego, you’ll work a long time,” Shannon said Monday during a teleconference with reporters. “If you’re a football coach, you can coach at any point in time.
“You’re just doing your job to be the best that you can be because if we’re all successful, we all get better. ... My job is to coach, no matter from a head coach, a defensive coordinator, an assistant coach. Whatever position it is, I have to coach and do my job.”
Shannon, 46, was TCU’s linebackers coach this season after working as an ESPN analyst in 2011. He was fired by Miami, his alma matter, after leading the Hurricanes to a 28-22 record as head coach from 2007-2010.
Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema announced Shannon’s hiring on Sunday, a day after TCU ended its season with a 17-16 loss to Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Shannon said he’s “thrilled” to be a part of Arkansas’ coaching staff and that he’s ready to get to Fayetteville later this week and go to work. Arkansas has not yet released his contract details.
“This is going to be a unique and special situation working with Coach Bret Bielema and his coaching staff,” Shannon said. “The staff that he has assembled is going to be unbelievable.
“What really attracted me about this job is having the opportunity to coach with Coach Bielema and have an opportunity to be in the Southeastern Conference. You look at Arkansas, and I think it’s one of the greatest places you can have as far as being a coach and also have an opportunity to win championships.”
Shannon, a Miami assistant for several years before being promoted to head coach, said he got to know Bielema and some of the assistants now at Arkansas while recruiting. He said he’s excited to work with defensive coordinator Chris Ash.
In Shannon’s first season as Miami’s defensive coordinator in 2001, he won the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant.
“My deal is to make sure everybody understands I’m just here to assist and be one of the greatest linebackers coaches that Arkansas ever had and also have one of the greatest defenses that Coach Ash is going to run,” Shannon said. “So make sure we understand he’s running the defense and whatever he says, that’s what we’re going to do.”
Shannon’s name come up last year when Arkansas had a vacancy for a defensive coordinator and then-Razorbacks Coach Bobby Petrino hired Paul Haynes from Ohio State.
“I never talked to Coach Petrino, not one time,” Shannon said. “One thing you’ve got to remember, in this business there are always going to be rumors.”
In Shannon’s lone season at TCU, he coached senior linebacker Kenny Cain, who was a second-team All-Big 12 Conference choice by the coaches and media, and redshirt sophomore Joel Haulsey, who earned honorable mention All-Big 12 status.
At Arkansas, Shannon will coach a position where A.J. Turner and Otha Peters got extensive starting experience as true freshmen last season because of injuries to seniors Alonzo Highsmith and Tenarius Wright and senior Terrell Williams’ suspension.
“Whoever shows up that you have on the football team, you’ve got to coach those guys like they’re [NFL] first-rounders,” Shannon said. “You’ve got to coach them like they’re All-Americans, and they’ll become that.
“You just want guys that really want to work, and the guys that we have on the football team, it’s my job to get them to play hard and be the best that they can be. That’s what Coach Bielema hired me to do.”
Shannon, who played two seasons with the Dallas Cowboys after being an 11th-round draft pick in 1989, never had coached anywhere in college but Miami before going to TCU last season. South Florida was his recruiting base, Shannon said he also has recruited California, New Jersey, Texas, Chicago, Memphis and St. Louis.
“I’ve been kind of a universal national recruiter for most of my time being at Miami,” he said.
Shannon is the third Broyles Award winner to work at Arkansas, but the first to do so after winning it. Offensive coordinators Greg Davis (Texas) and Gus Malzahn (Auburn) both won the Broyles Award after coaching with the Razorbacks.
“That was a great award,” Shannon said. “I got to meet Coach [Frank] Broyles. We had a great time together.
“I didn’t think I was going to win it because I was the first time being a coordinator. But we played really well on defense that year.
“I met a lot of people back in Arkansas who have reached out to me, so I’m kind of excited about getting back and being part of the Razorback family.”
Randy Shannon at a glance
POSITION Arkansas linebackers coach AGE 46 (Born Feb. 24, 1966) HOMETOWN Miami ALMA MATER University of Miami (earned liberal arts degree in 1988)
COACHING HISTORY Miami graduate assistant 1991;
Miami defensive line coach 1992; Miami linebackers coach 1993-1997; Miami Dolphins defensive assistant 1998-2000;
Miami defensive coordinator 2001-2006; Miami head coach 2007-2010 (28-22 record);
TCU linebackers coach 2012;
Arkansas linebackers coach present.
AS A PLAYER Linebacker at Miami from 1985-1988. An 11th-round NFL Draft pick by Dallas in 1989, played for Cowboys in 1989 and 1990.
NOTEWORTHY Won Broyles Award as the nation’s top college assistant coach in 2001, his first season as Miami’s defensive coordinator. ... Was part of three national championship teams at Miami in 1987, 1991 and 2001.
... Spent the 2011 season as an analyst for ESPN after being fired as Miami’s head coach.
Sports, Pages 13 on 01/01/2013