The Miami Hurricanes’ coaching search is barreling down the highway six weeks in. Former players have been asked to get involved, an official committee was formed and a search firm’s services retained.
There’s also been chatter about the type of money UM is is prepared to dole out; proving on some level that it is committed to relevancy and a winning football program.
On the surface, it seems like no stone has been left unturned—but make no mistake; the decision Miami makes at this crucial juncture in the history of this program will ultimately confirm if perception was indeed reality.
Former Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt—fired by Georgia on Sunday morning and seemingly the Canes’ first choice a short 48 hours later—is rumored to be named Miami’s guy sometime on Wednesday. (Yet there’s also chatter of an interview at Virginia. As the rumor mill churns…)
Other names being tossed around as finalist-types; former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano and current Mississippi State leader Dan Mullen—neither that home run-type hire that will invigorate a stagnant fan base or justify the assembling of a committee or spending a quarter of a million dollars with a search firm.
Equally as frustrating; a source at the University of Miami telling Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that the official Butch Davis interview “had to be done” to appease the masses calling for the former Canes’ head coach to come home. Another official stated that the issue with Davis is that “he has a lot of baggage”.
It was also reported that current Alabama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal won’t even land an interview and isn’t being considered; one high-level UM trustee making it clear that, “We don’t want a guy who was fired by FIU.” Jackson punctuated this sentiment by explain the trustee scoffed at Cristobal’s 27-47 record with the Golden Panthers.
And with all that, another U-fueled head coaching search looks like the circus-act and amateur-hour type situation many of the logical, long-time supporters of this program feared would take place.
A lack of leadership, coupled with too many bloated egos and an air of superiority is seeping into what is the most-important football hire in University of Miami history. Too many cooks in the kitchen, nobody on the same page, axes to grind, personal agendas being pushed—truth be told, this process is anything but, “all about The U” and way too caught up in who’s who.
However this plays out, it’s hard to escape the notion that Miami wants to play with the big boys, but continues acting in a contradictory manner.
OTHER PROGRAMS MAKING BIG TIME MOVES; CANES STAGNANT
In the wake of Georgia severing ties with Richt, the Bulldogs appear on the verge of hiring Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Smart was a defensive back for UGA in the mid-nineties and is returning home to a dream-type gig.
Not only did Georgia make the tough decision to part with a long-time, successful head coach who they felt was no longer a fit; they appear to already have their new guy locked up 72 hours later. No search firm. No nonsense. No committee the size of a scout team.
Someone in charge simply put their balls on the line, made a big time decision and the Bulldogs will power forward without missing a beat.
Frank Beamer coached his last game for Virginia Tech last Saturday, was given a hero’s farewell the past few weeks and a day later officially hired one of the hottest names in the game; Justin Fuente of Memphis.
By the Hokies not messing around and getting things done, Fuente can get busy recruiting—taking advantage of that early-December window where coaches can reach out to recruits before having to go silent again. Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock explained his university’s aggressiveness to the Washington Post.
“When I saw the market, the way it was shaping up, probably to be the biggest year in history and over 30-some jobs, I just thought, you know what, if we can get in, get our guy and get out, that’s great,” Babcock said after the Fuente news conference.
“Because the longer it goes, schools are signing their guys back, other people are hiring, I thought just then that we could get pressured into a quick decision or overpay or something like that.”
What a novel concept, Whit.
Southern Cal may not have dazzled when the Trojans promoted interim head coach Todd Helton and removing that interim title—but to USC’s credit, a decision was made and a trigger pulled. They have their guy and will fight on.
Or the Trojans are simply bowing out of this busy off-season with way too many openings; giving Helton a one-year shot and fully prepared to go big this time next year when there is less competition and chaos.
Meanwhile, Miami bickers internally as a portion of the committee remains butt-hurt as to Davis’ departure 15 years back—ignoring that fact he’s the most-qualified option, is the hungriest for the gig, remains a fan favorite, is a turnkey option marketing-wise and checks off more boxes than any other current candidate.
To quote filmmaker Billy Corben; the University of Miami never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
FIRE AND DESIRE NEED TO OUTWEIGH PROTOCOL AND PROCESS
On paper, Richt is a logical candidate that deserves an interview and consideration. Good coach and an even better man. He succeeded in the SEC, knows how to recruit and would be a great ambassador for the University of Miami.
All that said, he lacks the fire this program needs to a proper rebuild and won’t put a boot up the ass of what has become a soft, fragile and overemotional program the past half decade.
Richt checks off the type of boxes that the bean counters care about. Squeaky-clean, family first and strong in his faith—Richt would be a great friend, co-worker or neighbor; but he’s not the answer for the Hurricanes’ football program entering 2016.
That said, because of the state of this search, what appears to be a bias against the fan-favorite and an inability to reel in any bigger-named candidates—Richt appears to be Miami’s best option, if choosing from a talent pool that includes a Schiano or a Mullen, while stonewalling Davis.
The fact that Davis’ intangibles don’t outweigh the circumstances of an early 2001 departure, or being cleared of any wrongdoing with a North Carolina program that was dirty decades before his arrival—it’s petty and a black-eye on the Hurricanes’ decision-makers.
Where others have already played the thanks-but-no-thanks game and Richt needs some time to think and is said to be interviewing for other opportunities—Davis is ready to walk through fire for Miami.
A decade-and-a-half of misguided cattiness hasn’t swayed him. Nor has the current state of the program, the negativity he encountered his first few years in, his getting blindsided by a mini-death penalty and 31 scholarships lost over five years. Davis was there when this program bottomed out, he rebuilt things the right way, he has the support of former players and the majority of the fan base—yet he’s still a pariah to some.
Honestly, Davis should throw double middle fingers up at UM and take the next available ACC Coastal opening—using the final years of his career to smack Miami around like he did three of four tries when coaching at North Carolina.
Prove to the Canes and any pointlessly-jaded board of trustees members that they completely missed the obvious when it was staring them squarely in the face.
None of this is to say that Davis doesn’t have his flaws, nor is he the be all, end all candidate for Miami—but based on the names currently being thrown around as legitimate options, no one trumps him—not even the steady Richt.
The Canes don’t need steady; Miami needs someone to shake things up, to make some noise and to disrupt. The notion and sales pitch that Richt was successful in the SEC, so he should be able to dominate the ACC—it’s still a loser’s mentality and lowered expectations for a program that used to set the bar at winning national titles.
Georgia ended their runs with Richt because getting close, but never getting over the hump isn’t good enough. Championships are the goal; not occasionally winning divisional titles—even if it is the might Southeastern Conference.
Does Miami want a championship-caliber program again? If the answer is yes, then go out and get a coach who knows how to build a true contender.
Davis didn’t stick around to collect his ring last time around—but the debt was cleared on that untimely departure by setting the Hurricanes up for a 34-game win-streak, back-to-back title game appearances, a national championship, four consecutive BCS games and 20 first round NFL Draft picks over a five-year span. If Davis can repeat even a fraction of that success, the University of Miami will be light years past anything it’s accomplished with it’s last three botched hires.
Folks in power still want to focus on the hazy circumstance of the Davis departure, opposed to the results delivered?
If so, get used to mediocrity, Miami as the stage remains set for a swing-and-miss and underwhelming hire when this dragged-out, mucked-up process finally ends.
As it stand, the only thing those who ‘get it’ can hope for at this point; that the Canes fall backwards into success, opposed to kicking down the door and making a big time statement that “The U” wants to become a dominant force once again.