- Associated Press - Sunday, November 28, 2010

CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - Miami fired coach Randy Shannon on Saturday night, hours after the Hurricanes finished a 7-5 regular season that began with championship expectations.

Athletic director Kirby Hocutt made the call.

“We have made a decision to seek new leadership for our football program,” Hocutt said in a release. “Our expectations are to compete for championships and return to the top of the college football world.”

Shannon received a four-year extension just before the start of the 2010 season. He was 28-22 in four seasons at Miami.

The fate of all members of Shannon’s staff has not been determined. Some will remain for Miami’s bowl game, but one assistant coach told The Associated Press that “everybody, all the coaches, weight room, the training room guys, secretaries, we all think we’re gone.” The coach spoke on condition of anonymity because he had not been told about his own job.

Shannon had considered firing both offensive coordinator Mark Whipple and defensive coordinator John Lovett in recent days, along with some _ but not all _ of his other assistants.

Hocutt was scheduled to meet with reporters at 1 p.m. Sunday, and players were told a team meeting would be held beforehand.

Hocutt made the decision shortly after Miami lost to South Florida 23-20 in overtime on Saturday afternoon, in a game where only about 27,000 people filled the 73,000 seats at Sun Life Stadium. A plane circled the stadium before kickoff calling for a coaching change, and players left fearing that it would be the last time they played for Shannon.

“Put it on us as players,” wide receiver Leonard Hankerson said.

The sentiment may have been noted, but in the end Shannon was responsible.

Shannon is expected to receive a buyout of around $1.5 million. Miami _ a private school that doesn’t have the deepest of pockets when it comes to paying coaches _ has had a fundraising drive to support athletics for several years and believes it will be able to put together enough money to lure a top-notch staff.

It’s expected that one of the offensive coaches, likely line coach Jeff Stoutland, will coach the bowl game, though as of 11 p.m. Saturday, there was still some uncertainty about the Hurricanes’ short-term plans. The Hurricanes expect to be selected for the Sun Bowl, although that still’s far from a done deal.

Hocutt said he would begin a nationwide search, and there’ll be no shortage of names on his list. The Hurricanes decided to promote from within when they hired Shannon after talking to Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, a former Miami assistant, and then-Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, among others.

This time, promoting from within almost certainly won’t be an option. Leach, who has a residence in Key West, may be a candidate again, and speculation has been rampant for weeks that if Shannon was dismissed, Tommy Tuberville and Mark Richt would be among the Miami targets. Countless more will surely emerge in the coming days.

“Sorry to hear about Coach Shannon. Great coach and person,” Houston Texans lineman and former Miami standout Eric Winston wrote on Twitter late Saturday. “Things didn’t work out for him as (head coach) but I will choose to remember him as an outstanding (defensive coordinator) and player. He is a ‘Cane through and through and I hope everyone respects everything he has done for The U!”

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