For somebody who spent the bulk of his career — and life — in South Florida, Randy Shannon has lived plenty of lives over the past decade. After spending two years out of the Sunshine State, coaching linebackers at both TCU and Arkansas, Shannon returned home, compiling a resume that included interim head coaching responsibilities at two other major college football programs in the state.
It’s a journey that’s led him to Tallahassee, where after a year off-the-field, he finds himself again jumping in to coach the position that’s been the catalyst to the success in his life.
Shannon says, outside of a familiarity with defensive line coach Odell Haggins after years of going head-to-head on the field and for recruits, he didn’t have a connection to Mike Norvell’s staff — which has made the respectful, but competitive environment that Norvell has established all the more impressive to him.
“If you don’t want to be a part of a family, don’t come to Florida State — I’m just being flat-out honest,” he said during a Zoom interview this week. “Everybody’s gonna be on the same page, we’re gonna push the young men to be great, we’re not just going to let them be mediocre on and off the field.”
His year off the field allowed him to sit back and soak in football (“Most of the time, if you’re just sitting down watching stuff, you can see a lot — [things] when you’re coaching and working, you don’t see”), from planning out game strategy to self-scouting, but now, he’s able to get back to what has been the most important aspect of coaching for him: establishing relationships and encouraging the progress of his athletes.
“We’re going to be there for them when they really need us, and that’s the biggest thing we do here.”
“I tell each and every one of them every day, that when you step on the field, it’s your opportunity to get better. If you give somebody else a chance to take that opportunity away from you, you made the mistake.”
“That’s one thing that you do as a coach — you got to enjoy what you do, but give the emotion and enjoyment to the players. Let them have some fun, let them know that they made mistakes.”
He cites a story of coaching NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, in which he challenged Lewis to break his collegiate records set at Miami. He also mentions Jared Davis, who he coached at Florida, who rang him up in the offseason saying that Shannon was the only one who could help him get back to playing right.
“That’s the thing that makes you feel good as a coach, that somebody’s been out of college football six years that’s still looking for help from somebody that got them to a position. That’s what I am, a helper.”
As the team heads into spring football, the chance is there for the multitude of FSU’s linebackers to take a step forward, and the Seminoles’ defense as a whole.
“Expect improvement from last year...a lot more excitement, a lot of emotions and you’re going to see a lot of names that are going to pop up, that are going to continue to grow, and look for that Florida State tradition to get back.”