Shannon says new deal will be big recruiting help

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Randy Shannon routinely would hear the same question on the recruiting trail. Players and parents alike, they couldn't figure out why Miami was winning more games, yet the coach wasn't getting rewarded with a new contract.

That's not a problem anymore.

Shannon has signed a new four-year contract to remain as the Hurricanes' head coach, ending a back-and-forth negotiating process that began more than a year ago and included an undisclosed raise over the approximate $1.2 million he made last season.

"I'm here, and it's going to be for the long term," Shannon said in an interview Thursday morning with The Associated Press. "For recruiting purposes, now people will see that instead of us telling them that."

The university announced Shannon had signed a new deal Wednesday night. The sides came to an agreement in principle last week.

"We are very proud of the positive steps our football program has taken under the leadership of Coach Shannon," Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement announcing the contract. "With a commitment to excellence in the classroom, in the community, and in competition, we are well on our way, once again, to the top of the college football world."

Shannon has gone 21-17 in his three seasons, winning five games in 2007, then seven in 2008 and nine in 2009. The 2010 season was to be Shannon's last under his current deal, and there was some thought he could wind up taking a chance — coaching this fall with no guarantees, basically betting that a breakout season this fall could net him a big payday.

Turns out, risk like that wasn't needed for reward.

"The biggest issue I heard recruiting last year was 'Coach, you changed it around so why won't they give you a contract extension?'" Shannon said. "There were schools saying 'They don't want him there,' and no matter how much I said they do want me here, there were recruits and parents who weren't seeing that part."

They'll see it now, as clear as the black ink and white paper on which the new contract was printed.

"Coach Shannon continues to bring together a special group of young men who will position our program for championship success," Hocutt said.

Getting this deal done was a top priority for Hocutt, who raves about Shannon for a number of reasons, perhaps most significantly the way the 'Canes have excelled academically on his watch. There's been few significant off-the-field disciplinary issues since Shannon took over, and the football program ranks among the national leaders in the Academic Progress Rates scores charted by the NCAA.

On Wednesday, Miami was recognized by the NCAA for having a multiyear APR score in the top 10 percent.

And under Shannon, the on-field product is getting better, too.

He went 5-7 in 2007, the first season after taking over from Larry Coker, then rebounded to go 7-6 and reach the Emerald Bowl one season later. The Hurricanes easily beat eventual Atlantic Coast Conference champion Georgia Tech last season, plus topped Florida State and Oklahoma in two other tests, then closed at 9-4 after falling to Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl.

There's plenty of pieces in place for more improvement in 2010.

Quarterback Jacory Harris (3,352 yards, 24 TDs) will be back for his second season as a starter, running back Damien Berry could be poised to take over in the backfield and the Hurricanes might have the deepest crop of receivers in the nation, led by senior Leonard Hankerson and speedster Travis Benjamin.

Defensively, lineman Allen Bailey is already being talked about as a first-rounder in the 2011 NFL draft, linebacker Colin McCarthy returns for his senior season and fellow linebacker Sean Spence could be among the ACC's best.

Shannon got them all to come to Miami. The way the Hurricanes see it, it's time for that potential to finally start paying off.

"My attorney kept telling me, be patient, not take it personal, it's business," Shannon said. "It was business. I'm glad it's done."