Coker looks like a beaten man
He’ll never say this, but Larry Coker may be more relieved than anything when official word finally comes.
Win or lose in Thursday night’s finale against Boston College, Coker should get word within days, if not hours, after that game that he has been fired as Miami’s coach. Or maybe the official word will be he resigned. Whatever the wording, there’s no way Coker returns to coach the Hurricanes next season.
If you needed any more of a hint that Coker won’t be back, one big-name coach has already taken his name out of the running for the job. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier said he still had work to do in Columbia. The truth is, he probably has less work to do with the Gamecocks than he would with the ‘Canes.
The Miami players seem to have already given up on the season. While not advocating quitting, it’s hard to blame them.
“It’s been tough,” Coker said of the season following Saturday’s 17-7 loss at Virginia. “It’s been draining on everybody. I think it maybe culminated today because we didn’t play with a lot of energy today. I don’t want to use that as an excuse, but we didn’t. It’s has been, it’s been very tough.”
Coker was talking about events both on and off the field. His team has now lost four games in a row – the first time in nine seasons that has happened in Miami - and is 2-5 in the ACC. That’s not something that is supposed to happen at Miami, and, still, it almost pales by comparison to two other events that have taken place this season.
On Oct. 14 Miami was involved in an ugly on-field brawl with players from Florida International. The fight was a national topic of conversation in the sports world for a week or so after it happened. Some say it proved Coker has lost control of his team.
And then, less than two weeks before the Virginia game, Miami player Bryan Pata was shot and killed at his apartment in Miami. The team attended funeral services for their teammate days before they came to Charlottesville.
“It affects different people in different ways,” Coker said of everything surrounding the death of Pata. “Obviously it was a very draining week with the services on Tuesday and Wednesday. But the bottom line is sometimes when you make plays you develop energy, and we just didn’t generate enough plays to feed off of one another. I don’t want to use the excuse that the drain of the week cost us the game.”
Coker looks like a beaten man. He was in and out of his postgame press conference before Virginia’s Al Groh even began his. Groh is a coach who was on the hot seat early in the season, but has somehow managed to turn the tide with a redshirt freshman quarterback leading the way. Coker has been unable to do the same thing.
That will, ultimately, be his downfall.
- Patrick Hite