Football’s brand-new, old-school head coach already on the recruiting trail, basketball bouncing back (while preparing to host a rival) and a bowl game announcement for the Miami Hurricanes—it’s been a busy week in Coral Gables. The latest at “The U”…
What was dubbed a “dumpster fire” type job weeks back by lazy journalists, ended with the Hurricanes nabbing a first-class guy. All the what-ifs surrounding Richt—can he go next-level at UM, who will he hire, what’s in the tank, etc.—don’t outweigh the magnitude of the hire and the message it sends to the nation.
The University of Miami cares about fielding a winner. Whether one’s allegiance was with Richt or another candidate; the Hurricanes’ administration proved that football matters in Coral Gables. That is a monumental victory.
Miami will compete immediately and finally enter an era of college football where it hasn’t had the horses or the leadership this past decade.
Moving forward, the focus has to on the road to becoming a contender again. Not the six-week, politically-fueled, coaching search experience.
To that last point, Richt was hot on the recruiting trail a day after his introductory press conference. While in Orlando, Richt attended the Florida Class 4A state championship game—checking up on talent, shaking hands, posing for pictures and receiving a warm welcome from the community.
The showdown featured Booker T. Washington—the former school of Tim “Ice” Harris, who was in attendance with Richt—taking on Jacksonville Raines, where Canes’ linebacker commit Michael Pinckney was in action. Pinckney finished with seven tackles (four solo / three for loss), an interception, a forced fumble, pass break-up and quarterback hurry in the 42-23 loss.
At the game, Richt was seated next to another Miami linebacker commitment; Shaquille Quarterman—the 4-star inside linebacker out of Oakleaf High in Orange Park.
A day later, social media was abuzz with images of Richt on his first in-home, with linebacker Zach McCloud—a former Miami commitment who backed off his verbal pledge. Current staff members Hurlie Brown and interim head coach Larry Scott were also in attendance.
The visit was solid, mom and dad are on board and McCloud plans to recommit when at UM after an official visit this coming weekend. On Monday, Richt’s focus will turn back towards Pinckney, where an in-home visit is schedules.
With National Signing Day just under two months out, Richt’s efforts this weekend are welcomed positivity—going after recent decommitts and winning them back, keeping the current verbal commitments happy and trying to recruit some of those Georgia commits a few hours south.
The little details are also making their way to the forefront; including a story of Richt requesting two years worth of game tape on all current recruits last Wednesday when Miami came by private jet to pick him up.
Whether all this is completely factual or has a little orange and green fairy dust spread on it, it doesn’t really matter. Positivity is surrounding Hurricanes football for the first time in a long time—and that in itself is reason to enjoy the ride.
Bowl game were announced on Sunday, with Miami getting a bit of a weenie-shot as an 8-4 team; third in the Coastal Division and fifth overall in the ACC standings. UM is headed back to El Paso for the Sun Bowl—where it was routed by Notre Dame in 2010, weeks after head coach Randy Shannon was fired.
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland was the one-game interim guy, while Golden spoke from the booth during the game and discussed the changes the Canes could expect in the coming years.
Back to El Paso on the heels of another head coach getting dismissed, a new coach being named—Richt dropping by the broadcast booth this time to lay out his strategy for “The U”.
Miami was hoping for a Pinstripe Bowl berth; where it’d have taken on the Big Ten’s Indiana Hoosiers at Yankee Stadium on December 26th. Duke wound up in that spot, instead.
Another option was the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, where Miami would’ve faced off against Dan Mullen and the SEC’s Mississippi State Bulldogs on December 30th. The Canes could’ve also been a fit for the Music City Bowl in Nashville, taking on Kevin Sumlin and the SEC’s Texas A&M Aggies, also on December 30th.
Instead, it’s Mike Leach and Pac-12 surprise Washington State—also 8-4, coming off a loss to rival Washington, but knocking off Arizona State, Oregon, Arizona and UCLA this season.
The Cougars will air it out five dozen times, testing the Canes’ secondary and coming the defense all day. The result? Nothing more than pointless arguments about The Pirate’s skills and whether or not he’d have been a fit at Miami.
In the end, all that will be remembered is 9-4 and the Canes’ first bowl win in a decade, or 8-5 and another season ending with a loss. Where the game is played and who’s on the other sideline—a mere formality.
Here’s hoping Miami can rally around an interim head coach and staff who will arguably be coaching their last game in Hurricanes garb.
Having just rolled heads in Puerto Rico—knocking off Mississippi State, Utah and Butler, the Canes were vocal about guarding against the letdown, but came out flat against the Wildcats; giving up a game-winner at the buzzer.
Even more frustrating; Miami led 70-63 with 4:23 remaining—outscored 15-7 from that point on.
Four days later, the Canes survived the Huskers in Nebraska, pulling ahead, 77-72 in overtime. Devon Reed hit a clutch three-pointer in the extra period and the Canes knocked down a few clutch free throws to seal it. Reed had missed all eight of his shots in regulation before drilling his three with 2:36 left in overtime.
Miami shot a season-low 41-percent, but made 23-of-28 free throws and outscored Nebraska by 14 points at the charity stripe. The ACC / Big Ten showdown featured 10 ties and 14 lead changes.
This Saturday, an exhibition-like home showdown against Charlotte, where Miami rolled, 88-60 in a rout where seven reserved combined for 35 points.
The biggest knock on the game; attendance. While the announced crowd was 6,735—a large part of the student body had better things going on a weather-challenged Saturday afternoon than to watch Miami bat around a Conference USA team with one lone win.
It was announced weeks back that the Hurricanes had sold out their allotment of season tickets for the first time in the program’s history. While this was welcomed news, seems no one took into consideration that Miami’s student body doesn’t yet grasp the concept of full-throttled fandom and next-level support.
It’s understandable that there are better things to do in South Florida on a Saturday afternoon than take in a college basketball game against a lower-tiered foe.
Up in Durham the Cameron Crazies will pack the house for games against Buffalo and Georgia Southern—Blue Devils basketball being the biggest show in town by a landslide. Understatement alert; the BUC doesn’t yet have that type of tradition.
While the Hurricanes look to continue their success on the hardwood, Miami’s athletic department needs to figure out a way to get tickets in the hands of those who will put them to use; be it a buy-back program for lesser games, or getting students to trade in unused tickets for … something. Discounts on apparel. Free food. Whatever.
There’s no doubt that the house will be packed this Tuesday night when the hated Florida Gators head to town—but what about next Saturday’s home showdown against the Charleston Cougars?
The Canes deserve a home court advantage.Here’s hoping any unused tickets wind up in good hands from this point forward.