When Bret Bielema was hired to lead the Arkansas Razorbacks football team, everyone braced for the major coaching transition. It’s inevitable every time a coach gets fired, and Arkansas proved no different.
The only notable name that was kept on from the previous coaching regime was Taver Johnson, who was assistant head coach last year, his first with the team. But considering Bielema’s lack of recruiting success (historically), he knew his assistant coaches had to be good teachers on the field and even better salesmen off it. Recruiting has never been a major strength of the Razorbacks, except inside state lines. That would have to change to keep pace with Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. Enter Randy Shannon.
Bielema was looking for a linebackers coach, and he was able coax one of the best defensive teachers in all of college football to come to Fayetteville. It doesn’t hurt that Shannon is also known as one of the best recruiters in the country. Not only because he’s a young, charismatic coach with an excellent resume, but because he’s got extensive experience leading a team and graduating players. It also helps that he’s spent nearly his entire career recruiting the south Florida region and has excellent relationships with the high school coaches and the communities there. He’s a familiar face as the long time Miami Hurricanes defensive coordinator and head coach.
This will prove to be as valuable of a hire as Bielema will make at Arkansas. Here’s why…
Shannon is a winner. He won three National Championships as both a player and a coach with the Hurricanes. He was playing and coaching on some of the greatest college football teams ever assembled. In five of his six seasons as the Hurricanes defensive coordinator, his defense was ranked in the top ten nationally. Even when the Hurricanes offense was pathetic, their defense was the fastest and strongest unit in the country.
Even as a head coach, he had a winning record overall, something that’s not easy in college football. However, winning games isn’t enough at a school like Miami, where National Championships are what matters, and he was released.
And now Shannon is re-writing his resume. He knows that if he excels here, he’ll have bigger opportunities open up for him. And make no mistake about it- Shannon wants to be a head coach again, and when he gets an opportunity to move on from Fayetteville for a bigger job, he’ll take it. And no one will blame him when he does. But that’s exactly why this union between Arkansas and Shannon makes so much sense. Arkansas needs a good coach who can also excel in recruiting. And Shannon does both of them perfectly. He wasted no time in using his recruiting talents to nab south Florida standouts like Denver Kirkland (Miami, FL), Alex Collins (Plantation, FL), De’Andre Coley (Miami, FL) and Ke’tyrus Marks (Riviera Beach, FL).
The Arkansas Razorbacks and Randy Shannon will prove to be an excellent union, while it lasts. And hopefully for Hog fans, Bielema continues making solid program additions like this one.
Rick Stavig is a National Recruiting Columnist for RantSports.com. In addition to covering College Football, he also covers the NFL and NFL Draft. Follow him on Twitter @rickstavig or add him to your network on google.