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Shalala Canes Coker by Stan Silliman


Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
Shalala Canes Coker

      Football coach Larry Coker fired from Miami. Repeat: the head Cane is canned by a Shalala. Not caned by a shillelagh but canned by a Shalala. While he was drinking a Coke can, yet. Uncanny, isn’t it: The head Cane, Coker, drinking a Coke, canned by a name meaning Cane.
We say unfair. Age discrimination, obviously, so we dashed off a letter to AARP. Here’s the letter: … ._ …_ . ._.. ._ ._. ._. _._ _    Okay, old joke, but if anyone will understand Morse code it will be someone from the AARP.
    Patently unjust, we say. Not a nicer guy in football with a better winning percentage than Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, Vince Lombardi, Jim Tressel and Pete Carroll. He had a 7-2 bowl record as a Miami assistant and head coach including a very controversial loss to Ohio State which could have brought him a second national championship.

    He overachieved and was underappreciated. He coached at a tropical hellhole but so loved the job at a place where all the former head coaches were paid millions but couldn’t leave quick enough. It was a special hell for coaches where any and all pastures looked greener. Coker was happy to sign for $ 500,000 when others were being offered $ 2 Mil a year, happy to drive his 1979 Mercedes to work and happy to head up a place where he had been offensive coordinator for five years.

    Okay, let’s back up. Miami had a reputation as Thug U way before Coker came aboard. Larry did what he could to change the perception. The recruiting base tended to be from areas where the players were harder core who needed second and third chances.  Was that reason to can him? No. Coker went about graduating a higher percentage than previous coaches. That’s a plus.  Yet there were still many negatives. Smaller fan base than their competitors, no campus stadium, inadequate practice facilities, those are negatives. But a campus with a model laden beach a few blocks away? That’s a positive when recruiting. Allowing guns in your players’ hands and in the dorms? Big negative. Allowing your players to leave the bench against Florida International in an ugly brawl?  Yes, definitely a negative. Allowing your players to record and release a curse-word laden, misogynistic rap record from their dorm? We say negative. Also going 6 and 6 can be considered a negative - apparently the bigger of the negatives. Shootings, brawlings, records about raping, may be overlooked if you win nine games or more. But lose six when you’re shooting and brawling and the administration takes notice. Worse yet, if you’re 58 and look like you’re 68 and your team shoots and raps and brawls and only wins half their games and last year you signed a five year contract extension at $ 2 Mil per and… you’re still driving that run down 1979 Mercedes with a squeaky radio through a mostly Jewish neighborhood then…
Shalala Canes Coker by Stan Silliman
    Now we wonder if AARP got our little note which was dots and dashes for
S A V E  L A R R Y. We’re not sure how much time the AARP spends on fired guys who have four years left on a $ 2 mil per year contract but if he wants, Larry can always come home to Okemah, Oklahoma (maybe buy the whole town) or sit around and wait until Tulsa opens up (a head coaching job he turned down twice) or hang around South Beach and show everybody his ‘ship dance (‘ship is short for championship) like the one he did when he won the 2001 National Championship. Only problem might be, and this is a quote from defensive tackle Matt Walters “He was shaking his booty and to be honest with you, it was ugly.”

    We hate to say that about the nicest guy in football.

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