Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2007 – Round 1 #24 – New England Patriots – S Brandon Meriweather

The New England Patriots took Miami safety Brandon Meriweather with the 23rd overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. He’s one of a handful of terrific athletes who fell because of “character” problems, including on-field thuggery and off-field gunplay.

What the Experts Say: Profile: A talented defensive back with natural ball skills, Meriweather’s versatility is key. Has some character issues that teams must check out, but, if focused on the task at hand, offers starting potential.

Brandon Meriweather Miami Hurricanes Photo Player Evaluation: A talented defensive back with natural ball skills, Meriweather’s versatility is key. Has some character issues that teams must check out, but, if focused on the task at hand, offers starting potential.

STRENGTHS: Backpedal Quickness, Burst Out Of Breaks, Coverage Awareness

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Size, Tackling Ability

Biography: All-Conference selection as a senior after totaling 58/1/8. Led the team in tackles as a junior, finishing the year with 115/3/7.

Pos: Athletic secondary prospect who shows potential at safety and cornerback. Efficient, immediately diagnoses the action and takes good angles to the play. Fast to the sidelines, displays excellent range and possesses a sense of timing. Placed over the slot receiver and shows great ball skills. Very aware in coverage and has a burst of closing speed.

Neg: Bites on play-action passes, makes his first move up the field and will be caught out of position. Lacks strength at the point of attack.


New England has a reputation for not drafting players with character concerns. And with new commissioner Roger Goodell trying to clean up the league by getting tougher with players, we didn’t expect them to draft Meriweather. The Patriots take Meriweather who could be seen trying to stomp on players during the now infamous Miami-Florida International brawl. But the truth is this organization has taking risks on the past. The reason they haven’t been as criticized as some other teams is the players they bring in buy into the team philosophy and stay out of trouble. Don’t be surprised to see the same thing happen here. New England’s veterans should bring him into the fold and the fact that he should see plenty of playing time should help. The reason he should see the field so much is durability concerns surrounding the starters and he is too talented to keep on the sidelines. Meriweather has excellent instincts, he shows great range and he is an effective open field tackler.


University of Miami Baseball team to take extra security when they travel to Virginia Tech

Coach Jim Morris wants his players to feel comfortable.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami’s baseball team will travel to Virginia Tech this weekend as scheduled, though it’ll be with additional security.

Speaking one day after a gunman killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus before shooting himself — the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history — Miami coach Jim Morris said Tuesday that he doesn’t believe his team will be in an unsafe environment but is adding extra protection to put his players’ minds at ease.

“I just want our guys to feel comfortable,” Morris said.

Morris called Virginia Tech coach Peter Hughes on Tuesday to offer his condolences.

“They want to try to get everything back to normalcy as soon as possible on campus,” Morris said. “There is more security on campus than the rest of state of Virginia right now.”

Miami’s players aren’t certain what to expect on this trip.

“It could be a down game or they could want to lift up the school and want to play hard,” said Scott Maine, who’s expected to be the Hurricanes’ starting pitcher when the series opens Friday. “Who knows? It is so soon from that event.”

The shootings were especially horrifying for Miami outfielder Jonathan Weislow, a freshman from Vienna, Va., who knows several Virginia Tech students.

“All of my friends from high school went there so I immediately starting thinking if my friends were OK,” Weislow said. “Everyone that I talked to was just panicking and said it was just unreal.”

The Hurricanes will be wearing black armbands in memory of the victims.

A nice gesture by the Hurricanes, but the school and its coach are being stupid and paranoid. Higher security of course will cost the school money and for what? The baseball team is more likely to get killed flying up to Virginia than have an incident at the ballgame. Are we supposed to not travel any more? Use your brains people.

What happened in Blacksburg this week was a terrible tragedy. God bless the families of all those who died.

Hat tip- Rick at Stuck on the Palmetto


No guns, No guns,

University of Miami Football Coach Randy Shannon had a Roberto Duran moment has stated a new policy in regards to player conduct.

Randy Shannon has issued a straightforward warning to his University of Miami football players: Get caught carrying a firearm and your days as a Hurricane are over.

After two shooting incidents involving UM players last year, Shannon plans to enforce a “zero-tolerance” policy regarding weapons.

“You get caught with a firearm, you’re dismissed from the football team,” UM’s coach said Monday.

You would think such a policy wouldn’t need being stated, but that is U of M football for you.

See previously- Miami DL Bryan Pata Murdered After Practice
Forest Gump goes to the University of Miami


If Nick Saban leaves Miami, is it deja vu all over again?

I’m betting that Nick Saban leaves Miami for Alabama. He wouldn’t be the first Saban to pack up and leave town early.

If Dolphins coach Nick Saban announces today that he is leaving, longtime fans of football in South Florida might experience a sense of déjà vu.

Almost exactly 28 years ago, on Jan. 5, 1979, another coach named Saban – Lou Saban, Nick’s cousin – met with the media to explain why he had bolted from the University of Miami.

Lou Saban also was an accomplished coach, having won two AFL titles with the Buffalo Bills in the 1960s. But he was a bit of a vagabond, too, at one point accepting nine jobs in less than three decades.

His decision to leave UM after the 1978 season was particularly baffling. He had a six-year contract and finished 3-8 and 6-5 in his first two rebuilding seasons.

Those were encouraging results for a struggling program, but Lou Saban nevertheless shocked his players and fans by opting to take over at Army.

“I thought I had done all I could do at Miami,” he said at the time.

Saban had been an Army officer, and he said West Point inspired him in a special way.

But he coached at Army just one season, finishing 2-8-1.

Unlike now, there were no rumors swirling or gaggles of sportswriters(and bloggers) talking about whether Lou Saban would leave or stay. I was 18 at the time and in the last year of high school. A local sportswriter wrote about Saban’s departure as if it meant death for the U of M program.

Less than five years later a Howard Schnellenberger led Hurricane squad would win the Orange Bowl and the national championship.

What the above Post article doesn’t delve into much is both Saban’s tendency to move on from job to job.

Take for instance Lou’s travels

1960-1961 Boston Patriots
1962-1965 Buffalo Bills
1967-1971 Denver Broncos
1972-1976 Buffalo Bills

77-78 U of Miami
79- Army
83-84 Central Florida

Before coaching in the NFL, Saban did stints as a head football coach at Northwestern and Western Illinois beginning in 1955.

I used Wikipedia to bring up the above. The online encyclopedia has its limitations. There is no mention of either Saban’s Army stint or his less than three week stay as Atheletic director at the U of Cinncinatti in 1977(Between Buffalo and Miami jobs).

Nick has worked at the following colleges or NFL teams before getting his first head coaching job- Syracuse University, West Virginia University, Ohio State, Navy, Houston Oilers and his alma mater of Kent State University.

Saban then spent one year at the University of Toledo as head football coach. 1990
Four years as a Cleveland Brown asst coach 1991-94, five years at Michigan State 95-99 and five years at LSU 2000-04.

That’s alot of moving around. A Palm Beach Post article says Saban may be feeling insecure about his job in Miami and has had these problems in the past.

A source who has spoken to Saban in recent days said his flirtation with Alabama stems from his fear that Huizenga might not want him for long if the Dolphins, 15-17 in the past two seasons, remain mediocre.

“He really thinks he’s going to get fired if he has another losing season,” the source said. “This was also a problem at Michigan State.”

Considering Alabama’s recent coaching history, will Nick feel all that secure in Tuscaloosa?

I don’t think Saban’s present decision is being driven by money but his preference for college coaching and perhaps worries about his future in Miami. Today looks like the day we’ll discover where Nick Saban will be coaching in 2007.

Cross posted at Poliblog’s Deportes


Dennis Erickson Takes Arizona State Job

The Dennis Erickson road show is taking its act to Arizona State.

Dennis Erickson has accepted the head coaching job at Arizona State, Idaho athletic director Rob Spear said Saturday night.

The 59-year-old Erickson spent one season at Idaho in his second stint at the school, going 4-8. He led Miami to two national titles, also has been a head coach at Wyoming, Washington State and Oregon State and coached Seattle and San Francisco in the NFL.

Erickson has a 149-64-1 record in 18 seasons as a college coach. At Oregon State, he took over a program that had an NCAA Division I-record 28 straight losing seasons. His first team in Corvallis went 7-5 and made an Oahu Bowl appearance. His second Beavers’ team routed Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl to cap an 11-1 season.

Erickson has been an enormously successful college coach, so it’s no surprise that he’s getting a chance to move up the ranks. I’m surprised Miami didn’t make a run at him.


Randy Shannon New Miami Head Coach

Miami went in-house for its next head coach, promoting the defensive coordinator for a team that went 6-6 and got its head coach fired.

Randy Shannon helped the Miami Hurricanes win three national championships. Now he’ll try to reverse their decline.

Shannon, a former Hurricanes linebacker and their defensive coordinator since 2001, was chosen to replace Larry Coker as head coach and introduced at a news conference Friday. Miami fired Coker two weeks ago after the team finished the regular season 6-6, its worst record since 1997.

“Randy brings a tremendous background not only in sport but in life,” Miami athletic director Paul Dee said. “[He's] a person of discipline, a person that will help us in many ways.”

Shannon, 40, will become the sixth black head coach currently at one of the 119 Division I-A schools, joining Mississippi State’s Sylvester Croom, UCLA’s Karl Dorrell, Buffalo’s Turner Gill, Kansas State’s Ron Prince and Washington’s Tyrone Willingham.

“It’s one of my dream jobs,” Shannon said. “Always been.”

You’d think.

It’s odd that the Hurricanes would pick a guy whose name has not been mentioned, so far as I’m aware anyway, for any other head coaching vacancy for such a prominent job. Especially since he played a prominent part in last season’s team that was so good they fired the coach.

Then again, it wasn’t exactly his fault:

Most of the Hurricanes’ struggles in recent years stemmed from inconsistent play on offense — but the defense put together by Shannon continually ranked among the nation’s best, a fact the university obviously took note of during its search for Coker’s replacement.


Shannon’s 2001 defense at Miami led the nation in turnover margin, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense, plus set school records for turnovers forced (45) and interceptions (27). His defenses also led the nation against the pass in 2002 and 2005, plus have always ranked among the national leaders in total defense. Even this season, while the Hurricanes struggled, Shannon’s defense was the fifth stingiest in the country, yielding only 252 yards per game.

I suspect they’ll bring in a new offensive coordinator.


Greg Schiano not interested in University of Miami job

From AP-

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers coach Greg Schiano will stay with the school he led to national prominence this season, rather than return to take over the troubled Miami program.

“This is where I want to be. This is the job I want to have,” Schiano said Monday.

Schiano, who was Miami’s defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000, said he spoke with the Hurricanes’ athletic director Sunday night.

“We’re just scratching the surface here at Rutgers,” Schiano said. “The sky’s the limit. We’re going to do great things here. We haven’t done it yet.”

Schiano has orchestrated No. 16 Rutgers’ rise from one of the nation’s lowliest programs in the past six seasons.

If I were the U of M, I’d hire defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. Something tells me an outside coach will be hired. Much like when Tom Olivadotti was passed over for then obscure Jimmy Johnson in 1984.

Your guess is as good as mine at present.

UPDATE: AP has a few more details.

Schiano has orchestrated No. 16 Rutgers’ rise from one of the nation’s lowliest programs in the past six seasons. At 10-2 (5-2 Big East), the Scarlet Knights are heading to a Texas Bowl matchup against Kansas State. Rutgers narrowly missed the Bowl Championship Series by losing Saturday night in triple overtime at West Virginia. “We’re just scratching the surface here at Rutgers,” Schiano said. “The sky’s the limit. We’re going to do great things here. We haven’t done it yet.”

Last year, Schiano led Rutgers to its first winning season (7-5) since 1992, and its first bowl berth since 1978.

Schiano did not discuss his current contract and declined to say whether he was signing a new one. He made $191,000 last year before athletic director Robert Mulcahy gave him a seven-year extension that will max out at $350,000 — but only if he stays until 2012. The extension raised Schiano’s annual income from private sources from $325,000 to $625,000.

That’s a terrific income by any standards, although a tiny fraction of what he could get at Miami (or Alabama). From a purely professional standpoint, this is an inexplicable move: Coaches are supposed to climb the ladder, always taking an obviously more prominent gig. There’s simply no doubt that Miami–arguably the dominant program of the last generation–is light years ahead of Rutgers, a team that has spent many a year in the I-A cellar.

Still, Miami is a no-win situation while he’s already a minor legend at Rutgers. He could stay at Rutgers for years going 6-6; that’s a firing offense at Miami.


Miami DL Bryan Pata Murdered After Practice

Miami Hurricane Bryan Pata was murdered yesterday shortly after finishing practice.

University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata was fatally shot less than two hours after the Hurricanes finished their afternoon practice Tuesday, the University of Miami and Miami-Dade police said Tuesday night. Pata was shot in the head at an apartment complex south of the university, Miami-Dade police spokesman Roy Rutland told the Associated Press. A Miami-Dade police dispatcher said a call reporting the shooting came at 7:03 p.m. A police spokesman said the incident took place at Pata’s residence and his death was ruled a homicide, Rutland said.

The football team, which is scheduled to play Maryland on Saturday, concluded its practice at around 5:15 p.m., and players, who were provided with catered food, dispersed soon after for their dorms or homes, a sports information official said.

Investigators remained on the scene after 10 p.m., the Miami-Dade dispatcher said. In a statement released at 11 p.m., the university urged anyone with information on the shooting to come forward.

“Tonight the University of Miami tragically lost a member of our football family, Bryan Pata,” the statement read. “Bryan was a fine person and a great competitor. He will be forever missed by his coaches and teammates. We offer our thoughts and prayers to his family. Our players are deeply saddened and are grieving. We ask that their privacy be respected in the coming days.”

Miami, which lost 17-10 to Virginia Tech at the Orange Bowl on Saturday night, is scheduled to face No. 23 Maryland in College Park on Saturday. No announcement was made regarding whether that game will take place as scheduled. ACC Commissioner John Swofford was aware of the shooting, according to the Associated Press, and was working with Miami officials to gather information, conference spokeswoman Amy Yakola said.

Pata, a senior expected to be taken in next spring’s NFL draft, started eight games for the Hurricanes and made 29 tackles. Having made the shift from defensive end to tackle at the beginning of the season, Pata was credited for making Miami’s run defense one of the best in the nation.

Tuesday night’s shooting turned what has been an abysmal season for the Hurricanes into a tragic one. Other off-field incidents and disappointing play on the field have frustrated and embarrassed Miami, which is 5-4 and unranked.

Pata, a criminology major, was the second Miami football player shot this season. In July, safety Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks in his front yard by an assailant after an early-morning workout, but he was not seriously injured. Miami’s Brandon Meriweather, who shared a house with Cooper, returned fire at Cooper’s assailant but apparently missed.


Pata became the second Hurricanes player murdered in the last decade. Linebacker Marlin Barnes was bludgeoned to death and slashed with a knife in his dorm room in April 1996.



Forrest Gump goes to the Univ. of Miami

From the Palm Beach Post

CORAL GABLES — University of Miami football player Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks this morning in South Miami, according to a police spokeswoman.

Cooper was “up and walking around by the time police arrived,” said South Miami police spokeswoman Susan Rothstein.

Police were at the scene investigating the incident this morning, and Rothstein could provide no further details.

Cooper, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound linebacker from St. Augustine, played 12 games for the Hurricanes last season and saw action primarily on special teams.

UM spokesman Rick Korch said school officials were aware of the situation but had no further comment.

Somehow I don’t see Tom Hanks portraying Mr. Cooper.


NFL Draft 2006 – Round 1 #31 – Seattle Seahawks – CB Kelly Jennings

The defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks are on the clock.

Pick: Miami CB Kelly Jennings

Mel Kiper describes him as “technically sound” and a “safe pick.” Rick Gosselin had him at #42, however.


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