The hiring of Basketball Hall of Fame member and disgraced Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas by crosstown rival FIU has certainly grabbed headlines in the sports world. Plenty of jokes can be made about the situation, but it certainly is a roll of the dice that could turn out well for the school.
But the high-profile hiring is a good time to take a look at how UM hires their coaches. Perhaps you can remember back to the winter of 2006 when former football coach Larry Coker was relieved of his duties. Miami fans demanded a big splash hire. Steve Spurrier, the dreaded Florida alum, was bandied about like some type of savior. The athletic department went in the opposite direction, promoting from within and hiring Randy Shannon. He has recruited strongly and has Miami poised for a return to power, while The Old Ball Coach languishes at South Carolina.
The same story goes with greats like Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson and with current coaches like Jim Morris and Frank Haith. There’s often a perception among fans that Miami’s athletic department can be cheap at best and miserly at worst. But the truth is that more often that not the decisions that have come out of Hecht Athletic Center have been the right ones.
So FIU’s pick may turn out to work for them. He’s giving his first year of salary to the school, so that’s money saved right there. But the next time a coaching vacancy opens up at The U, keep in mind the humble names that have made the school what it is, not the flashy names that the masses might clamor for.