Commentary

Hurricanes send warning signals

Originally Published: January 7, 2009
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

Congratulations to Seminole High School safety Ray Ray Armstrong and defensive end Dyron Dye.

A few days ago, at the Under Armour High School All-America Game, they announced they are going to the University of Miami. That's great -- just as long as they never want to transfer from Miami. If they do, they should be prepared for the Robert Marve treatment.

[+] EnlargeRobert Marve
Marc Serota/Getty ImagesQB Robert Marve's search for a new school has some strings attached.
If they haven't heard about Marve -- and Miami officials probably are hoping they haven't -- he's the redshirt freshman quarterback who recently asked for a release from his UM scholarship. He got it, but with more strings attached than a harp.

Marve, who broke assorted single-season Florida state high school records set by Tim Tebow, wanted out for all sorts of reasons, beginning with his nonrelationship with Miami coach Randy Shannon. "I just decided that I can't play for coach Shannon," he recently told The Associated Press.

Shannon's UM-issued statement: "I have respect for Robert and wish him nothing but success in the future."

Sure he does, just as long as that success isn't at any of the 11 other ACC schools, or SEC members LSU, Florida and Tennessee, or any other program in the state of Florida. And this is the softened Miami blackball list. Initially, UM said Marve couldn't transfer to any SEC program.

Respect, eh?

The official Miami stance is that the Marve family and/or representatives were in contact with the three SEC schools during the 2008 season. Marve's father denied any wrongdoing and will appeal UM's restrictions.

Of course, the appeal isn't made to the NCAA, but is heard by a UM committee of non-athletic department personnel. When I asked an NCAA official whether that tilted the playing field toward Miami, she simply reread the rule to me.

Just so you know, Marve had his issues. He started 11 games but was suspended twice during the season and was left behind when the Hurricanes played in the Emerald Bowl. A football divorce was imminent. Irreconcilable differences.

Two years ago, when Marve committed to Miami, it was a hugfest.

[+] EnlargeRandy Shannon
Gary Rothstein/Icon SMIRandy Shannon and his fellow FBS coaches don't have the same restrictions when they bolt.
"Coach Shannon is such a great guy," Marve said during his 2007 announcement. "He's a guy you want to battle for, fight for."

"We feel that Robert Marve was the best [quarterback] we had on the board that we can win championships with," Shannon told reporters at the time.

Things change. It happens. But rather than shake Marve's hand and wish him well -- or simply wish him good riddance -- the Hurricanes decided to pile on the punishment. The message: Don't mess with us.

Compare that to what happens when a player wants to transfer from Oklahoma or Florida -- the two teams playing in Thursday night's BCS National Championship Game. OU coach Bob Stoops said he couldn't recall any restrictions placed on a player.

"I don't much care where they go," he said.

Florida's Urban Meyer said his general policy, which can change based on family circumstances (illness, etc.), restricts schools on UF's schedule from receiving permission to speak with a potential transfer.

So I called UM to speak with athletic director Kirby Hocutt. Sorry, Hocutt didn't want to talk. Instead, I was referred to the school statement issued Friday.

I asked whether Shannon's contract included any restrictions were he to want to leave and coach at, say, Florida, LSU or Tennessee, or another ACC program, or another in-state school.

Sorry, a UM spokesperson said. But as a private institution, UM doesn't disclose that sort of contract information.

Interesting. Miami can disclose Marve's information and suggest that the Marve family was shopping its son around, but it can't say a peep about Shannon's deal?

Coaches bolt programs all the time. They leave players and promises behind. Bobby Petrino has made a career of it.

That's why it's so refreshing to see Boston College AD Gene DiFilippo tell Eagles coach (for now) Jeff Jagodzinski to get lost if he interviews with the New York Jets. At last, accountability.

But the BC situation isn't the norm. Instead, coaches usually position themselves for the next best job, the next best paycheck. Loyalty is optional.

Meanwhile, Marve can have his future dictated by Miami.

In the end, it doesn't matter whether Marve is a good kid or a bad kid. Or whether his family did or didn't contact those three SEC schools. The point is, if Shannon could leave tomorrow without penalty, why can't Marve? Or any Miami player?

And that's another thing. If Shannon left for another program, he wouldn't have to sit out a season. Marve will, with or without Miami's blessings.

And, yes, the NCAA official said, a student-athlete could transfer to one of the restricted schools, but he would have to miss a season and pay his own way. Some deal.

So enjoy Miami, Ray Ray and Dyron. But remember, be careful about transferring. At UM, it's more about The U than you.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn3.com.

Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter

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