Miami Hurricanes chatter continues, despite the college football season being in the rear-view and National Signing Day a few weeks out.
Lots of hype continues surrounding new head coach Mark Richt, the moves he’s making and what that could mean for “The U” as early as this coming fall.
The way-too-early preseason polls have been dangled out there, as well as speculation regarding the Canes’ soon-to-be official recruiting class. Miami recently welcomed some early enrollees—as well as new football coaches, while bidding adieu to the final staff members under former coach Al Golden.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes basketball rolls on and is taking care of conference business while baseball earned a solid preseason ranking and is gearing up for another year under Jim Morris.
Lots shaking down in Coral Gables right now, so we bring you “The Latest At The U”:
Despite what appeared to be a lengthy figuring-out process, the two final pieces of Golden’s puzzle will not remain on Richt’s staff; wide receivers coach Kevin Beard and tight ends coach / interim head coach Larry Scott.
Beard has been replaced by former Florida State and NFL wide receiver Ron Dugans—who spent the past few seasons at South Florida. Prior to that, Dugans coached under Charlie Strong at Louisville and at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 2005-2006 while Bobby Bowden was still at the helm. There was also a short stint at Georgia Southern post-Tallahassee.
Dugans played for the Seminoles in the late nineties, where he won a national championship in 1999 and Richt was his offensive coordinator. Outside of coaching up wide receivers at Miami, Dugans will also play a role of passing game coordinator under Richt.
Regarding Scott, reports state that he was offered his original position of coaching up tight ends, as well as another undisclosed role, but that both sides parted mutually—with Scott taking the same position at the University of Tennessee. Miami’s new special teams coordinator Todd Hartley will take over tight ends, as well.
While there are mixed feelings about two solid coaches not being retained, the moves make sense. Beard is certainly and up-and-comer, but experience-wise Dugans has accomplished more. There’s also the past ties to Richt—which let’s face it—is the biggest factor in the coaching business; connections.
Regarding Scott, a bit trickier due to his six-game stint as the Canes’ head coach. How would that “demotion” have played out and would there have been any messy allegiance issues with a new staff and one holdover guy from the old one that was once in a position of power?
Thankfully that’s a question the Canes won’t have to deal with, though it hurts to lose a leader like Scott—who proved his worth in his ability to rally a broken Miami team, finishing the regular season 4-1 before falling to Washington State in the Sun Bowl.
The addition of Dugans complete’s Richt’s staff. Miami’s new head coach will assume play-calling duties on offense, with the new receivers’ coach assisting in the game planning.
Thomas Brown is the Canes’ co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach, Stacy Searelstakes over the offensive line and Hartley will coach up tight ends, as well as special teams. Jon Richt—son of the head coach—has been named quarterbacks coach.
Defensively it’s Manny Diaz at coordinator and coaching the linebackers, Craig Kuligowski will take over the defensive line, Mike Rumph will handle cornerbacks and Ephraim Banda coaching the safeties.
Wide receiver Stacy Coley, defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad and cornerback Corn Elderwill all return in 2016—leaving cornerback Artie Burns as the lone Hurricane foregoing his final year of eligibility.
Coley and Muhammad both went social media low-key in announcing their return; the defensive end posting a video of him training, with a mention of no days off and one more year with the Canes, while Coley shared an image of him scoring against Florida State and a standard quip about furthering his education and football career.
Miami will also return running back Gus Edwards, who missed all of 2015 with a preseason foot injury. The bigger-bodied Edwards was sorely missed as the Canes relied on two smaller backs in Joe Yearby and true freshman Mark Walton all season.
Regarding those way-too-early predictions for 2016, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd leads the pack, ranking the Canes No. 13 and praising the hiring of Richt.
USA Today’s Paul Myberg and FOX Sports’ Stewart Mandel have Miami ranked 21st and 25th, respectively—both citing Richt, junior quarterback Brad Kaaya and a one-year-older offensive line and selling points for believing in the Canes.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach didn’t have “The U” in his Top 25, but colleague Travis Haney is calling for a Miami / Clemson ACC title game, with the Canes falling to the Tigers.
On the recruiting front, Miami currently has 16 commits in the self-dubbed, “Swag16″ class and it ranks just inside the Top 20. Every recruit is from the Sunshine State and the Canes will look to close more in the coming weeks; National Signing Day officially 21 days out.
There are countless sites out there who geek-out on the whole recruiting process.
Rumors, sources, inside scoop and the blah-blah-blah. One has their “crystal ball” predictions, which are worth checking out if one is in to that sort of thing—and thankfully, those folks aren’t charging $99-per-year for “premium content” and consistently stirring the pot.
The general underbelly to the recruiting game; promoting a culture where fans waste too much time worrying which way a recruit will pick, or focusing on the ones who got away instead of those who are on board.
To that last point, the Canes welcomed five early enrollees this week—quality kids who deserve praise and hype for getting their shit together, skipping the whole three-card-monte hat trick event and focusing on starting classes so they can get a leg up on the competition.
Jack Allison (quarterback), Pat Bethel (defensive end), Zach McCloud (linebacker), Mike Pickney (linebacker) and Shaq Quarterman (linebacker) are Miami’s newest Hurricanes and hopefully send a message to future recruits.
Save the “game playing” for Saturdays in fall. Get on board, go all in and be part of the solution, instead of adding to the drama. Nothing wrong with kids enjoying the recruiting process—but no reason that can’t end a month before NSD, with the focus shifting towards the bigger picture; showing one’s value and worth to the program.
Welcome, gentlemen and thank you for cutting out all the nonsense.
IN OTHER NEWS: Miami basketball has climbed to No. 8 in the newest AP poll after a weekend blowout of Florida State. The 13-1 Hurricanes will test that ranking on Tuesday night in Charlottesville, taking on a Virginia squad coming off back-to-back road losses, but riding a 26-game home-win streak.
More to say about Jim Larranaga and this Miami squad come Wednesday morning, win or lose. It’s a monster (almost) mid-season challenge for the Hurricanes and here’s hoping they up to it—in front of a national television audience (ESPN U, 7:00 p.m. ET.)
Lastly, D1 Baseball has Miami ranked No. 6 in it’s preseason poll—on the heels of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper ranking the Canes fourth weeks back.
Miami returns 18 letter-winners from an ACC championship squad that reached the College World Series in Omaha as a five seed.
The Hurricanes kick off their season at Mark Light Field on Friday February 19th—the first of a three-game home-stand against Rutgers. The following weekend the top-ranked Florida Gators head south for the most-anticipated series of the season.