Since the out-of-nowhere acquisition for the University of Miami, a fan base remains divided into three camps; those who wanted someone else, those who just want to win again (and don’t care who’s in charge) and then that next-level fan-boy type, who will spread every bit of Richt hype they come across online.
Those early adopters front and center on The Richt Express; a whole lot of case-building, while others seem content to let things unfold and will come around when the time is right.
Again, when “your guy” gets the nod—makes it infinitely easier to immediately get on board and walk around with a bounce in your step. For those who wanted to see Miami go a different direction—all these off-season fluff and last-minute recruiting efforts aren’t going to have a drastic impact.
It’s all about what Richt rolls out next September and how the Canes look as a program nine months from now.
All that said, Richt’s first two weeks back at “The U” have provided some good moments, whichever side of the fence one is on. For the super-fan, a lot of over-the-top ranting and raving.
For the still-coming-around fan, a simply nod of approval and acknowledgement that things are as good as they could possibly be right now—a new coach playing background, while an interim leader gets his team ready for their final game on his watch.
Miami is searching for it’s first post-season win since 2006 and a 9-4 run in what has been a tumultuous run, dating back to a Thursday night loss in Cincinnati early-October—something nobody could’ve predicted two-plus months back.
Shifting back to Richt, much has been made about his hitting-the-ground-running approach to the new gig.
The Saturday after his hiring, Richt was on Orlando doing that whole shaking-hands-kissing-babies thing; taking in the Florida Class 4A state championship game, where linebacker commit Michael Pinckney (Jacksonville Raines) was in action against Miami’s Booker T. Washington.
Richt posed for crowd pics with another linebacker commit—Shaq Quarterman (Oakleaf High) out of Orange Park and a day later scheduled his first in-home with yet another linebacker; Zach McCloud (Santaluces). A day later, Richt and his makeshift staff stopped in to visit defensive end Patrick Bethel (Vero Beach)—son of former Hurricanes defender, Randy Bethel.
Quarterback commit Jack Allison (Palmetto High) got his in-home a few days later and Richt has been full-throttle, not only looking to save the “Swag16” class, but hopefully adding to it.
McCloud recommitted to Miami the following weekend, on his official visit. Allison was also in Coral Gables that weekend, getting some quality time with starting quarterback Brad Kaaya. Quarterman, Pinckney and Bethel were in the mix, as well—Bethel officially committing to Richt and the Canes days back.
As solid as Richt has been on the official recruiting trail, his resume, style and demeanor have had an impact on members of the Canes’ current coaching staff—most-notably interim head coach Larry Scott and offensive coordinator James Coley.
In recent days, both have made it clear that they would love to remain on Miami’s staff—with Richt the reason why. Coley has even gone on record stating that he would be fine with giving up play-calling duties; which years back was the ultimate reason he left Florida State and headed south to UM—more offensive control.
Still, for a Miami native with head coaching aspirations—Coley appears to be thinking bigger picture here. Spending the next few years on Richt’s staff and embedded in the region where he’s had so much recruiting success; it says a lot about him, as well as the man he wants to work for.
Scott, like Coley, has kept his focus on prepping the Canes for their Sun Bowl showdown against Washington State—neither assistant having a sit-down with Miami’s new leader yet—but the 4-1 interim leader also welcomes the opportunity to stay on.
“Whenever that time comes and have a chance to sit down, you go in with an open mind and just kind of see how things unfold,” Scott told the Palm Beach Post. “I’ll coach defense, too,” Scott stated in an assured manner. “Let’s go.”
Late last week Richt dropped in on Miami’s first bowl practice—with 5-star tight end recruit Isaac Nauta, who was on an unofficial visit. Richt played background at practice, though he did spend some time watching Kaaya and the offense.
The following evening—after hosting recruits on campus—Richt was Athens-bound for some unfinished business; the Bulldogs’ Senior Gala. Richt’s presence was requested by his former players, and timing-wise it was doable, so he trekked back home for one more teary-eyed evening and some closure.
Richt took the stage to a standing ovation—unintentionally stealing the spotlight from his former seniors on their night. No one in attendance minded at all.
Bulldogs players presented Richt with the Governor’s Cup—given to the winner of the annual Georgia versus Georgia Tech showdown; which UGA captured this year. The win was Richt’s final game in Athens and he vowed to his players that the trophy will go in his office the Hecht Athletic Center off San Amaro Drive. A day later, it was there.
Richt’s posed for an hour’s worth of photos with former players. From there, a receiving line formed, where the former Bulldogs’ coach posed some more, shook hands and said goodbye for the final time.
Prior to that, a video tribute to Richt stirred emotions—highlights dating back to his 2000 press conference when taking over Georgia’s program, as well as well-wishes from former players and Bulldogs greats.
With Miami set to take on Mike Leach and Washington State the day after Christmas, safe to say it will be business as usual for Richt—recruiting away, hoping the Canes close strong and avoiding the limelight. Days back it was announced that Richt will not be in El Paso for the Sun Bowl—unlike his predecessor Al Golden, who was in the booth late 2010 as the Hurricanes were getting waxed by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Once this year’s Miami squad makes it 9-4 or slips to 8-5, safe to assume The Richt Era will become much more official, vocal and next-level. Until then, it’s business as usual—for the current Canes, as well as the new-look coach, staff and program that are waiting to kick off the next era of football at “The U”.