Miami Hurricanes

Mark Richt discusses the disruption Hurricane Irma caused

(Photo by Richard C. Lewis/Icon Sportswire)


This has by no means been a typical start of the season for the Miami Hurricanes. By the time they kick the ball off against Toledo on Saturday, it would have already been 21 days since they would have played a single football game. As the rest of the country gets set for Week 4, Miami and several of the other Florida schools will be hitting the reset button. For Miami head coach Mark Richt however, this has been a particularly disruptive storm.

The Canes haven’t even been in south Florida for pretty much this entire time. On September 7th, Richt and about 1/4 of the football team took a bus to Orlando. By this past Friday the rest of the team joined them. This is such an abnormal process as the team had been off from practice for a while, and now they are practicing in Orlando and not Coral Gables.

Coach Richt and deputy AD Jennifer Strawley recently spoke to the media about this whole Irma ordeal (via Miami Herald):

“Once we knew campus was evacuating we gave all our student-athletes in every sport the opportunity to get on the bus and go to Orlando,’’ Strawley said. “We left with about 35 student-athletes in a variety of sports. We ended up with over 80 who came through Orlando at some point between Thursday and Friday. And then obviously, the entire football team came in on Friday…

We had football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, swimming, golf, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, track, all who were here in Orlando at some point; coaches, staff…”

Richt talks about the process of making this decision: 

“When we decided to break camp,’’ Richt said, “we wanted everyone to have time to get with their family and make decisions on what’s best for them. The same thing with coaches, the staff – we waned our coaches to be with their families and help batten down the hatches and make decisions on what they wanted to do…

Some kids did stay in South Florida. Some went all over the place – whether it was home or maybe [with] their family up north somewhere. There was one that went to Puerto Rico, one or two went to California and Mississippi. They were all over the place…

Our number one goal was safety of everybody. That’s why we made the decision early not to play the game. Could we have snuck out just in time to play that game [against Arkansas State]? We could have, logistically, but in the meantime, if you’re a coach and you’re putting in 12-hour days and the time that it takes to prepare for a game like that, to show the respect that you need to show to that game, then who’s helping your wife get things done?

The thing that was kind of the deciding factor for me was, I didn’t want to have a team in Memphis or Arkansas while all heck is breaking loose with everybody’s family. I didn’t want my players to look at me like, ‘Coach, why are we here?’ What are we doing here?’ Or even my staff saying, ‘What are we doing?’

It’s now pretty clear that Richt and the Miami athletic program were looking at the human aspect of this storm. This was a very difficult situation to handle and it seems Miami did the best they could do. Now we are going to have to see what kind of effect this will have on the team when they finally do get to play Toledo on Saturday. At this point this was all of out Miami’s control and they are just going to have to deal with the adjustments. At least it’s finally game week again!

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