Larry Coker

Last updated

Larry Coker
Biographical details
Born (1948-06-23) June 23, 1948 (age 71)
Okemah, Oklahoma
Playing career
1966–1969 Northeastern State
Position(s) Defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1971–1976Fairfax HS (OK)
1977–1978 Claremore HS (OK)
1979 Tulsa (RB/QB)
1980–1982 Tulsa (OC)
1983–1989 Oklahoma State (OC)
1990–1992 Oklahoma (OC)
1993–1994 Ohio State (DB)
1995–2000 Miami (FL) (OC)
2001–2006 Miami (FL)
2011–2015 UTSA
Head coaching record
Overall86–47
Bowls4–2
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
1 National (2001)
3 Big East (2001–2003)
Awards
AFCA Coach of the Year (2001)
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award (2001)
Big East Coach of the Year (2001–2002)

Larry Edward Coker (born June 23, 1948) is an American football coach and former player. From 2001 to 2006, he served as the head coach at the University of Miami. His 2001 Miami team was named the consensus national champion after an undefeated season that culminated with a victory in the Rose Bowl over Nebraska. In the process of winning the championship, Coker became the second head coach since 1948 to win the national championship in his first season. (Bennie Oosterbaan from the University of Michigan and Dennis Erickson of Miami were the last two head coaches to accomplish this feat.) Coker was fired by Miami on November 24, 2006 following his sixth loss that season. After a stint as a television analyst for ESPNU, he was announced as the head coach for UTSA, whose Roadrunners football team began play in 2011. He resigned as UTSA coach on January 5, 2016.

Contents

Coaching career

Coker has served as an assistant at several universities, including Ohio State University, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University. He was Miami's offensive coordinator from 1995 to 2000 before taking over as head coach following the departure of Butch Davis to the Cleveland Browns of the NFL.

Coker had several successful seasons as offensive coordinator over nearly a decade from 1983 to 1993. He is most known for coaching RBs Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders at Oklahoma State, and Jeremy Shockey, Andre Johnson, Bryant McKinnie, and Edgerrin James at Miami. All went on to become Pro-Bowlers in the NFL.

Miami

2001 season

After Butch Davis was hired by the NFL's Cleveland Browns, Coker, previously the offensive coordinator, was promoted to head coach. Options for a new head coach were limited because Davis announced his decision to leave when it was nearly February and the Miami administration's first 2 choices for coach, Dave Wannstedt and Barry Alvarez, turned the job down. In addition, many Hurricane players, especially Ed Reed lobbying for Coker's promotion. They believed that not changing the team's system would be the key to winning the title that had evaded them in 2000. [1] The Hurricanes had been edged out of the BCS Championship Game the year before despite being ranked #2 in both the final AP Poll and the Coaches' Poll and having defeated BCS #2 Florida State.

Coker had immediate success as head coach, guiding the Hurricanes to a 12–0 record and the national championship in his first season after dominating a Frank Solich-led Nebraska Cornhuskers team in the Rose Bowl. For his efforts, Coker was given numerous honors, including the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award and the AFCA Coach of the Year.

2002 season

The Hurricanes won their first 12 games in 2002, pushing a winning streak that dated back to the 2000 season to 34 games and giving Coker an unblemished 24–0 record heading into the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, which served as the BCS National Championship Game. Even at the time, some people doubted how much credit Coker deserved for his start, believing that other coaches might have been able to accomplish the same thing with the talent he inherited. [2]

The 11½-point underdog Ohio State Buckeyes stunningly lead the Hurricanes 17-7 heading into the 4th quarter. After Miami cut the lead to 17-14, star Miami tailback Willis McGahee suffered a leg injury that ended his college career, harming the Hurricanes' chances of winning. Coker decided not to bring in Frank Gore to replace McGahee because he didn't want to burn Gore's redshirt, a move that would not end up doing the Hurricanes any good because Gore left for the NFL early.

Late in the quarter, with the Hurricanes still down 17-14, Ohio State faced a 3rd and 8 deep on their own side of the field. Buckeyes receiver Chris Gamble caught a pass that would have gotten the Buckeyes a key first down, but officials ruled he was out of bounds. Many people felt Gamble had made the catch in bounds, especially after seeing the replay. The Buckeyes were forced to punt, and the Hurricanes returned the punt all the way to the Buckeyes 25. The Ohio State defense shut down the Miami offense, forcing the Canes to kick a FG that brought the game into overtime. [3]

After the Hurricanes scored a touchdown in the first possession of overtime to take a 24-17 lead, Ohio State faced a 4th and 3 on the Miami 6 that they needed to convert to keep the game alive. Ohio State's quarterback Craig Krenzel's again threw a pass to Chris Gamble. This pass fell to the ground, and Coker and the Miami coaching staff went on to the field, celebrating what they believed was their 2nd straight national championship. Instead, after about a 4 second delay, official Terry Porter took out a flag and called Miami defender Glenn Sharpe for pass interference. As it turned out, Ohio State tied the game, and then won in the 2nd OT, 31-24. [4]

The pass interference call remains controversial to this day. Miami fans argue that the flag should not have been called, especially at the end of a national title game and especially after a 4 second delay. Ohio State fans argue that the pass interference call was legitimate, and further argue that the Buckeyes would have won in regulation if Gamble had been called in bounds on his previous catch. [5] [6] Years later, Coker would admit he was still bitter about the call and wondered if he would have gotten fired if he had 2 national titles rather than 1. [7] [8] .

2003 season

In 2003, things took a different turn when a pair of late season losses kept Miami out of the BCS National Championship Game for the first time during Coker's tenure, already showing some signs of decay as the Coker tenure went on. Nevertheless, the Hurricanes won the Big East Conference and defeated their arch-rivals, the Florida State Seminoles, for the second time that season in the Orange Bowl. Miami finished the campaign with an 11–2 record and a #5 ranking in both major polls. The Hurricanes also had beaten both Florida and Florida State in the regular season, giving them a 3-0 record against in state rivals for the year.

2004 season

Miami joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004 and the team finished with a somewhat disappointing 9–3 record and #11 ranking in the final polls. The Hurricanes lost in their regular season finale to Va Tech in the de facto ACC championship game. The Hurricanes ended the season on a happy note by defeating instate rival Florida Gators, 27–10, in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

2005 season

In late September 2005, Coker agreed to a five-year contract extension with the university. The new contract would have paid Coker in the neighborhood of $2 million per season, making him one of the highest-paid coaches in college football.

In the season opener, Coker lost to FSU for the first time when the Hurricanes blew a snap of a potential game tying field goal. This was ironic after Miami had previously won many games in previous years on missed FSU field goals. [9] The Hurricanes defeated Clemson in OT in their 2nd game, barely avoiding their first 0-2 start in over 25 years. [10] .

Things got much better in the next seven games, all of which the Hurricanes won by at least 18 points. The highlight was a 27-7 win on the road against undefeated no.3 Virginia Tech. [11] . The Hurricanes entered a late November contest against Georgia Tech with an 8-1 record and #3 national ranking.

It was this game where the Coker tenure took a permanent turn downward. The 18 point underdog Yellow Jacket beat the Hurricanes 14-10. [12] . After beating Virginia by 8 points in the next game, the Hurricanes finished the regular season 9-2 and were invited to the Peach Bowl.

The Hurricanes lost 40–3 to the LSU. This was the worst bowl defeat in school history, and included a post-game fight in the tunnel leaving the stadium. In the wake of this loss, Coker fired four longtime Miami assistants. The team finished with a 9–3 record for the second consecutive season.

Coker was reported to be on the hot seat entering the 2006 season, with many speculating that he would need to at least take the team to a BCS bowl in order to keep his job. Although many outsiders thought it was ridiculous that Coker was on the hot seat despite a 53-9 record, many Miami fans believed Coker had brought the program on the downswing after winning for his first 2 or 3 years with the recruits of predecessor Butch Davis. [13]

2006 season

Miami began the 2006 season with a 1–2 record, with losses to Florida State and a 31-7 defeat to Louisville, leaving the team unranked in the AP Poll for the first time since 1999. The Louisville loss led to rumors that Coker's firing was imminent, but Miami Director of Athletics Paul Dee gave Coker a vote of confidence, stating that he would coach at least through the end of the season.

After the team's October 14 win against FIU was marred by a bench-clearing brawl, questions were raised in the media as to whether Coker would resign or be fired, but he was again given a vote of confidence by the school administration. The next week, with 13 players suspended by the ACC, Miami defeated winless Duke only 20–15. All but one of the players returned the next week, as Miami jumped out to a 10–0 lead over Georgia Tech, but struggled in the fourth quarter, losing the game by a score of 30–23. This left the team at 5–3, further encouraging speculation that Coker would be dismissed by season's end.

The following week, the Hurricanes lost to Virginia Tech, 17–10, as ESPN College Football analysts questioned Coker's management of the clock in the game's final minutes. This was the first time Miami had been an underdog at home in Coker's six seasons as coach. The team fell to 5–4 and 2–3 in the ACC, suffering its first four-loss season since 1999.

Firing

Miami defeated a ranked Boston College team on Thanksgiving to finish the regular season with a 6–6 record. Revealing an apparent lack of communication between Coker and UM President Donna Shalala, Coker predicted after the victory that he would be back as head coach in 2007. The following day, however, he was fired.

On December 8, 2006, the University of Miami announced Coker's successor to be Randy Shannon, who had been Miami's defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2006 under Coker. Coker was allowed to coach the team in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl on December 31, 2006. [14] in which Miami defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack, 21–20. Coker finished his time at Miami with a 60-15 record, but had declined every year and was not popular at the time of his firing. In 2018, showing that he had possibly become more popular after Miami football struggled for years after his firing, Coker was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame. [15]

In January 2007, Coker interviewed for the head coaching position at Rice University. According to several media sources, he was one of two finalists for the position. However, Rice selected David Bailiff, formerly head coach at Texas State University, and Coker was not affiliated with any team at the beginning of the 2007 season.

UTSA

In February 2009, Coker applied for the first head coach position for the University of Texas at San Antonio's new football team. On March 5, it was reported that he would be the head coach for the school's inaugural season. [16] Coker compiled a 26–32 record in five seasons as the Roadrunners' coach before resigning on January 5, 2016.

Head coaching record

College

YearTeamOverallConferenceStandingBowl/playoffsCoaches#AP°
Miami Hurricanes (Big East Conference)(2001–2003)
2001 Miami 12–07–01stW Rose 11
2002 Miami 12–17–01stL Fiesta 22
2003 Miami 11–26–11stW Orange 55
Miami Hurricanes (Atlantic Coast Conference)(2004–2006)
2004 Miami 9–35–3T–3rdW Peach 1111
2005 Miami 9–36–22nd (Coastal)L Peach 1817
2006 Miami 7–63–54th (Coastal)W MPC Computers
Miami:60–1534–11
UTSA Roadrunners (NCAA Division I FCS independent)(2011)
2011 UTSA 4–6
UTSA Roadrunners (Western Athletic Conference)(2012)
2012 UTSA 8–43–34th
UTSA Roadrunners (Conference USA)(2013–present)
2013 UTSA 7–56–2T–2nd (West)
2014 UTSA 4–83–54th (West)
2015 UTSA 3–93–5T–3rd (West)
UTSA:26–3215–15
Total:86–47
      National championship        Conference title        Conference division title or championship game berth

Coaching tree

Assistants under Coker who became college or NFL head coaches:

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References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/27/sports/college-football-a-coach-finds-a-home-at-miami.html
  2. https://www.theintelligencer.com/news/article/Canes-Say-Coker-Deserves-More-Credit-10552980.php
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hE2ocF8jJeA
  4. https://nypost.com/2003/01/04/fiesta-for-ohio-st-underdogs-stun-miami-to-capture-national-title/
  5. https://www.landgrantholyland.com/2018/1/3/16838212/ohio-state-football-national-championship-miami-2003-pass-interference
  6. https://thebiglead.com/2010/09/11/revisiting-the-ohio-state-vs-miami-pass-interference-call/
  7. http://caneswatch.blog.mypalmbeachpost.com/2018/04/19/miami-hurricanes-memories-shared-as-greats-reunite-at-hof-ceremony/
  8. http://caneswatch.blog.mypalmbeachpost.com/2018/04/19/miami-hurricanes-memories-shared-as-greats-reunite-at-hof-ceremony
  9. http://www.espn.com/college-football/game?gameId=252480052
  10. http://www.espn.com/college-football/game?gameId=252480052
  11. http://www.espn.com/college-football/game?gameId=253090259
  12. http://www.espn.com/college-football/game?gameId=253232390
  13. http://www.theledger.com/news/20060901/hot-seat-tough-to-cool-off
  14. ESPN - Coker fired by Miami after .500 season - College Football
  15. http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/college/acc/university-of-miami/article209246464.html
  16. Flores, David (March 5, 2009). "Coker to be named UTSA football coach". mysanantonio.com. San Antonio Express-News. Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2009.