Donna Shalala Is Running Hurricanes Football Into the Ground

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Alex Izaguirre
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty shaking madness made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke assesses the sorry state of Hurricanes football.

It is University of Miami Coach Al Golden's second year on the job, and he's on his way to another disappointing season. Yet he's done well recruiting players and nurturing a team decimated by the early departures of talented upperclassmen. The problem? UM President Donna Shalala has handcuffed Golden, just as she did his predecessors Randy Shannon, Larry Coker, and Butch Davis.

As a result, the team has been embarrassed by Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Florida State this season.

Shalala wants the big bucks a football program generates without a return to the renegade image from the 1980s, when the Hurricanes dominated college football. Those Canes were the best because they were led by three headstrong coaches -- Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, and Dennis Erickson -- who didn't let then-university President Tad Foote meddle with their control of the players.

That hasn't been the case during Shalala's tenure. The first sign of trouble came when she forced Davis to tell former players that they were not welcome on the sidelines. Then she didn't fight the city of Miami from tearing down the Orange Bowl, which had become hallowed ground for die-hard Canes fans. Instead, she hightailed it to Sunlife Stadium for a 25-year-deal and the promise of more luxury sky-boxes to sell to corporate sponsors.

When Shannon was trying to keep his student-athletes from the clutches of Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro, Shalala was happily accepting checks from the rogue ex-booster. Ever since then Hurricanes football has been in a free fall.

The NCAA began investigating Shapiro's allegations that he provided impermissible gifts to football and basketball players and recruits right under Shalala's nose. Before Golden's first game in 2011, eight players were declared ineligible by the NCAA for allegedly accepting free stuff from Shapiro. But it wasn't fair to them. How could they know they were doing something wrong when they saw Shalala parading around with the convicted ponzi schemer at booster events?

When Shannon didn't want anything to so with Shapiro, he went up the flag pole, demanding the university fire him. Shalala eventually dropped the axe on Shannon using the excuse that he wasn't winning games. But she didn't want Shannon around because he was starting to assert himself. Shalala even made Shannon fight for the money that was owed to him. He had to sue the University to get it.

Then four juniors from last year's team whose leadership and talent would have helped this season's squad left early for the NFL draft. Another defensive star, Ray Ray Armstrong, was booted before the season started. And two more young men quit the team in October.

It keeps getting worse. In early October, after less than two years on the job, Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst quit to take over the University of Nebraska sports program. The guy before him, Kirby Hocutt, left for the same job at Texas Tech University. When two athletic directors leave the beautiful city of Coral Gables for cow pastures and cornfields, that shows the problems start at the top of the University of Miami. Hocutt and Eichorst saw a no-win situation and bailed out.

The University of Miami is also recruiting less kids from Miami's inner city neighborhoods. There are only eight players on the roster from schools like Booker T. Washington, Norland, Miami Northwestern, Miami Central, and Carol City. The 80s teams won with an abundance of players from Overtown, Liberty City and other parts of northwest Miami-Dade. They still can without all the show-boating antics if Golden was allowed to get more inner-city kids.

I'd rather see the football program shut down than let Shalala keep ruining it.

Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.

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15 comments
daBEAST
daBEAST

Uncle Luke,

Now over a year removed from these comments - what's your take?  Sanctions gone - a bunch of inner city Miami guys signed - Golden staying.  Where does The U go from here?  How does academia and 'outlaw swagger' co-exist so that everyone wins?  There must be a way.  How is it done?

Dolemite
Dolemite

Its a college. Shes an incredible president. So if your just in it for the football team then your opinion means nothing. I went to UM I rather have good academics then a good football team. A good football team doesn't give you an education or get you a job. Uncle Luke did more shady things for UM football then anyone else. Hes just as bad as Nevin Shapiro accept hes got a code and won't drop the dime on his beloved program. 

 

PK2012
PK2012

And if "Uncle Luke" would rather the football program be shut down than Shalala be president, he can either wait until 2016 when she retires or STOP FOLLOWING MIAMI and go follow FIU. Just as good right? Bunch of local Miami players, no president holding them back, much more resources and a much bigger alumni base than UM. 

 

There's just no other way for true Miami fans to hear this local fanbase other than 'WAAAH!! WAAAAH!! THE TEAM I ONLY LIKED BECAUSE THEY WON CHAMPIONSHIPS ISN'T WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS ANYMORE!!!"

 

Bunch of entitled little brats.

PK2012
PK2012

Oh, and checking the new MomentUM campaign's website, Shalala's raised over $3B, not $2B. 

 

Shapiro's donations that she was supposedly giddy over were 0.0027% of what she's raised.

PK2012
PK2012

And just quickly, since I've heard all the causal reasons Shalala's "ruining the program" before, I'll say this:

 

* 'Orange Bowl' - Miami Started losing in the Orange Bowl under Coker and Shannon, there was no more home field advantage there than there is at Joe Robbie. More people went to Bethune Cookman this year than to three crappy games the 2001 championship season in the Orange Bowl. Miami fans are terrible and they won't go to games if you don't win championships, period.

 

* Academic requirements - SURPRISE! Shalala never raised academic requirements for athletes, they're the same base line ACC requirements FSU and Va Tech recruit with. We haven't lost recruits because they can't qualify, that just isn't true.

 

* 'Facilities' - setting aside that UM went to 11 national championship games with NO facilities, UM is now building a new athletic center that costs more than the new one Alabama is building and will be done first.

PK2012
PK2012

Luke is 100% wrong in quite literally everything he's said. I don't like Shalala's politics or her personality or what she's done with the med school, but UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS DON'T RUN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAMS! COACHES DO! Would he give credit to Alabama and LSU's presidents or Saban and Miles? Did Tad Foote make Miami a champion or did Jimmy Johnson?

 

Just going down the line of Campbell's lies:

* Shalala didn't handcuff Golden, Shannon, Coker, or Davis. Coker won a championship and SHE WASN'T EVEN PRESIDENT WHEN DAVIS WAS AT UM. If she did handcuff anyone, is there any chance Campbell could point out how? No. 

* Shalala wants the "big bucks" of the program? UM football doesn't make money, it doesn't even subsidize the rest of UM's sports, the athletic department runs at a small loss. This includes apparel sales as "football revenue".

* "ever since the NCAA began investigating Shapiro's allegations...Hurricanes football has been in a free fall". Yea right, UM football has been in a free fall since Butch Davis' recruits matriculated, check the records.

* Athletic directors leaving - are you f*cking kidding me? Hocutt fired Shannon and hired Golden (unpopular hire at the time), so what he did while he was here was good. Both ADs got hired away for higher paying AD jobs at bigger universities in their home states. Shalala's problem was that she hired ADs who were too good at their jobs? OK then.

* And of course Nevin Shapiro. Right, the president of UM should demand to investigate the dealings of everyone who wants to donate money, and she should be following players to nightclubs every weekend to make sure no one pays for their cover charges. And 'happily accepting checks'? Shapiro gave UM $83,000 TOTAL, including impermissible dinners, etc. to players. Shalala's raised over 2 BILLION dollars for UM, Shapiro's contribution is 0.004% of that - he's a nobody, small potatoes, nobody was 'looking the other way' because of his 'huge' gifts. 

 

I'll end my rant with this - Tad Foote wanted to end UM's football program, he wanted the emphasis off winning, literally, said they shouldn't strive to be #1 in football anymore. Donna Shalala does not.

 

And more to the point, UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS DON'T RUN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PROGRAMS, HEAD COACHES DO. 

 

Like the rest of UM's local fan base (and especially Randy Shannon apologists), Luther Campbell has NOTHING CAUSAL TO POINT TO to say that Donna Shalala is the reason UM football has been down.

 

I however, do. Two bad coaches in a row. It starts and ends there. Larry Coker was a bad coach, he's now a San Antonio Roadrunner. Randy Shannon was a bad coach, he's now a position coach at TCU.

ScorpioCanez
ScorpioCanez

Luke you are so right about what you are saying, this Miami organization is so messed up, to where all the best talent out of the state of Florida chose to play for other schools. Nobody wants to go to a losing program thats facing sanction, all because of some Snitching lil punk that got caught on his own. So now he wants to bring the U down, out of anger because he got 20yrs in prision how Green is that! I been a canes fan since the 80's and I have never seen the canes defense this sorry, smh! And im not so sure this coaching staff & defensive coordinator is the right fit for miami program. Some of the play calling is real stupid & the defensive scheme there using does not work. I can only hope that this program get back too winning status in the near future.

NotSoCertain
NotSoCertain

She didn't seem to get in the way of the Wisconsin football program...

 

Also, remember a school's #1 priority is EDUCATION, not football.  You want kids that can barely read in school just because they can play football?   They are getting about $40k in tuition for kids that can actually read.

Kyle Pineda
Kyle Pineda

Boohoo, it's about time the team fell to the ground. Tired of all these gloryhunters acting like they're part of the "U" and they don't step foot on campus, and likely go to MDC or something. It's bizarre to root for a college you don't attend.

Alex Anico
Alex Anico

Brian where the fuck have you been dude??? He's been doing this for a while...And yes! UM is being run into the grave...program has been on a downward spiral for years now.

John Wilson
John Wilson

The U doesn't exist anymore; It's just another big name school riding on its name and past. Shit happens so just wait it out or, you know, do what colleges do and focus on the academics while the football takes care of itself.

Brian Finocchi
Brian Finocchi

What a fucking joke!!! Luther Cambell writing an op-ed LMAO!

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