Coker living example of American Dream's survival


Some say the American Dream is dead; That the rungs to the ladder of success are greased with Starbucks coffee; The glass ceiling is polished daily by trust-fund babies.
The American dream has grown weaker by the week, day and minute and a little more with every death of a World War II veteran.
That is until Jan. 3, the day Larry Coker and Miami blew the Cornhuskers away with a hurricane-sized offense, and a whirlwind defense.
It's surprising to see a man like Coker at the helm of the Hurricanes, I mean he works more with his players than the media.
He talks more about his team than himself.
And surprisingly, he seems to be a decent guy.
A strange phenomenon for the school of sin.
No offense to such humanitarians as Jimmy Johnson who's hair, even drenched in victory Gatorade, is television ready.
Or Dennis Ericson, who is renowned for taking the best of the Florida correctional system and molding them into a football team.
No, Coker smells too much like the Oklahoma oil fields that produced him.
He's too honest, modest and grateful about even being chosen to take Miami's reins.
But at the same time, he gives every blue-collar American slob something to aspire for success.
Coker was by no means groomed to be a mega coach for a mega team. He grew up in Okemah, Okla., with his father roughnecking to put food on the table.
For those who don't know what a roughneck is, it's the man in the field who erects and maintains oil platforms. They usually are mistaken for bulldogers (steerwrestlers), because both typically are missing a multitude of fingers both job related, of course.
For all intents and purposes, Coker should be a few fingers short and stinking of crude oil, instead of basking in southern Florida sun and a national championship.
As mandated by the American Dream, he strived to better himself and did so by enrolling in Northeastern Oklahoma state.
Coker lettered three years as a defensive back at Northeastern, and ended up as smart as he was athletic he earned a Master's degree.
After college, he committed himself to coaching, and made the sacrifices for success the same sacrifices mandated by the American Dream.
Out of college, the aspiring coach grabbed the reins of Fairfax High School in, where else, Fairfax Okla.
In his time at Fairfax, Coker won back-to-back state championships, all the while living in a trailer on an Indian Reservation.
Aside from the two titles, he also helped Fairfax compile the incredible record of 61-10 in the five years that Coker was there.
His life went on an upswing after his stints with Fairfax and Claremore High Schools, when he was invited to join the University of Tulsa coaching staff.
Once again he was the traveling man, and always playing a back-up roll the years of high school football marked the last time that he held the reins of any team, and that was all the way back in the 70s.
Once released from Tulsa, Coker made appearances at Oklahoma State and the University of Oklahoma both as offensive coordinator.
Finally, Coker ended up as offensive coordinator at the University of Miami, while Butch Davis ran the show. Once again, quietly the 53-year-old patiently waited his turn.
His turn came in 2001. Davis saw Brown in Cleveland, and a contingency of Hurricanes said they rather play on Sunday than play for anyone else than Coker.
For their loyalty, Coker paid back his team with the undisputed national championship. Only the second time in the history of college football that a rookie coach has captured it not to mention the last time it was done, 1948, Coker was fresh out of the oven.
No, Coker is no Bob Stoops or Rick Neuheisel who conquered the world by age 30. He's not a man who flaunts what he has.
Coker is a man who worked and sacrificed to get where he is, and that's what the American Dream is all about.

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