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Bizarre’ Saturday saw Mark Richt back around Canes program

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

It was already odd enough at the Miami Hurricanes were choosing to play their Spring football game in Orlando. Well, if a four-hour drive to the north in the middle of the state, instead of playing on campus or Hard Rock Stadium etc. raised an eyebrow, then, who “popped in” on his old team did a lot more than that.

That’s, because former coach Mark Richt made a surprise sudden appearance at Camping World Stadium.

It turns out that Richt was there, as part of being announced as a new analyst for the soon-to-debut ACC Television network that ESPN is putting together:

The network is obviously trying to gain credibility and traction with having “name” individuals talk about teams and the conference.

Bu,t it could not have been a more awkward deal to have Richt in the Press Box with the same Hurricanes media members that had been covering him and in some cases harpooning him, over the past three years.

And, this would include Richt’s handling of his quarterbacks with  “yo-yo games” between senior Malik Rosier and redshirt freshman N’kosi Perry to the point that it almost became comical. Then, speaking of comedy, it was something out of a “Saturday Night Live” skit, when Richt asked a group of the media out loud “who do you all think should be the starting QB?”

Seriously. That happened.

Obviously, Miami still has Perry and also now, Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, who looked good at times in the Spring game Saturday.

But the larger question is: will the Cannes under new coach and last year’s defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz, take big steps if not this year? And, soon to be back in National Championship contention this season or by next?

To be fair, Rich had them on the verge at the end of the 2017 season after Miami upset Virginia Tech and Notre Dame to rise to the top 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings in late November. 

But, Miami fell apart with a losses to an awful Pittsburgh team in the regular season finale’. Then, Miami was stomped byy Clemson in the ACC title game and, eventually, beaten by Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.

And that collapse carried over as a dark cloud into 2018 and as the Canes floundered and lost games, the outcry against the head coach intensified.

Eventually, it became obvious, the Richt was on shaky ground and when Diaz, left to take the Temple head coaching, many began to  publicly wonder on the airwaves and the internet, if that was a final blow to recruiting and with the defense that would be fatal to Richt’s tenure.

Next came the Pinstripe Bowl in New York, and Miami was a mess from beginning to end a blowout loss, again to Wisconsin. And in short order Rick had “retired:” and Diaz was suddenly back, as Miami’s head coach.

Give Richt credit, he said the right things in the press box in his new analyst role about the Cane’s program improving for the future with Diaz now in charge.

And, anyone that has covered or been around Richt, knows that he’s as genuine and loving of his players staff and everyone with his programs, as any coach you will find.

Still, it was weird to have him back around Miami, so soon after the crazy events of last December. And to further know,  know that he’ll be giving running commentary this fall on the ACC Network, as Miami succeeds or fails.

We got our first taste Saturday.

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