These are definitely trying, and in some cases, embarrassing times for the first season being completed by Hurricanes coach Manny Diaz. And, now comes another indication of dysfunction to the forefront late this week.
This, as former Canes running back great Alonzo Highsmith was apparently all set to join Diaz and the football program in some type of administrative / “Chief of Staff” type-role.
However, Highsmith, AD Blake James and Diaz apparently could not come to an agreement on his role, responsibilities and probably biggest of all, compensation for it. So, the latest on Thursday is the reunion will not be happening:
Alonzo Highsmith told me this morning that the door is now closed about him taking job at UM. Won't happen, he said.
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) January 9, 2020
Hiring Highsmith to help in such a role is something that is now common over the last few years of college football, to especially relieve some of the day-to-day administrative duties of the head coach and allow him to do more, you know, actual coaching in his program.
Nick Saban has this at Alabama. So, too does Dabo Swinney at Clemson.
And even new USF coach and former Clemson co-offensive coordinator, Jeff Scott will be utilizing his father, Brad (a former FSU offensive coordinator himself) in the same role with the Bulls.
As for Highsmith, he is certainly qualified after having played on Howard Schellenberger’s 1983 title team and then for Jimmy Johnson for two years after. He ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 25 TDS in his career and was put in the Canes Hall of Fame in 1997.
Highsmith played six years in the NFL and after having worked for the Green Bay Packers for almost two decades (above) moving up in their front office, he came to the Cleveland Browns as their Vice President of Football Operations this past year.
However, when Cleveland jettisoned GM John Dorsey earlier this month, that paved the way for Highsmith to potentially come to Miami in a similar role that could help Diaz and the football program try to regain its footing.
Miami ended the regular season horribly, with humiliating losses to FIU and Duke and then, was embarrassingly beaten in a 14 – 0 Independence Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech.
Diaz fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos after just his first season in Coral Gables, and has hired former Auburn and SMU offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee to replace him.
So now, the fact that Highsmith, who has lots of experience with running football operations and obviously a love for the school where he helped win a National Championship, is now not coming, is another bad sign for Diaz at least in the short-term.
Then again, Diaz may have someone else in mind for the role and we may see that announcement soon, but we at F.F.I wouldn’t advise that you hold your breath on that one.
Instead, it’s the latest in a series of missteps around Hurricanes football at a program has spiraled downward over the course of the last 10 – 15 years.
This includes Miami having lost 9 of its last 10 bowl games and no longer being relevant on the national stage year-in and year-out.
Highsmith represented a link to Miami’s great past of the 1980s and not being able to work out for him to help has to discourage those who care the most about the Canes trying to get back.
Hurricanes QB Williams intends to transfer
The only constant for the last two seasons with the Miami Hurricanes quarterback position has been change and with the addition of Houston transfer D’Eriq King earlier this week, it apparently means more changes are on the way for the competition.
Sports Illustrated college football Insider Pat Forde reported Thursday afternoon that the Miami starter for most of the season, freshman Jarren Williams, has entered the NCAA transfer portal:
SI source: Miami QB Jarren Williams is putting his name in the transfer portal. With the arrival of D’Eriq King, his circumstance has obviously changed at The U.
— Pat Forde (@ByPatForde) January 23, 2020
Williams won the starting job for first-year coach Manny Diaz and now-fired former offensive coordinator Dan Enos, during fall practice what had an up-and-down season. He played in all 12 games with a 61% completion percentage and had a 19/7 TD to INT ratio.
However, more importantly the Hurricanes offense as a whole went down the tubes. This was especially in their final three games Williams was at the helm for the stunning loss to Florida International, where he threw three interceptions.
He and the Canes followed that with a road loss at awful Duke, where Williams tallied only 142 yards with a TD. And, worst yet, with rumors swirling everywhere that Enos was about to be fired, a game in Independence Bowl where the QB had just 92 yards and an INT Miami failed to score in a 14 – 0 defeat to Louisiana Tech.
King is the presumptive starter after having a successful two seasons at Houston. His best year was 2018 with nearly 2,900 yards in the air with 36 passing TDs and only 6 INTS.
However, he was benched by new coach Dana Holgorsen earlly this year and is a graduate transfer that is immediately eligible.
Miami also has the part-time starter from the last two years N’kosi Perry, as well as former Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell, who transferred and was immediately eligible this past season. However, Martell couldn’t beat Williams or Perry out for playing time, but he did play briefly at time at wide receiver.
Back to Williams, he still has three years of eligibility remaining but unless he gained some kind of waiver he would have to sit hey transfer year next season.
Not so fast on QB D’Eriq King coming to Hurricanes?
24 hours later it doesn’t look dead certain that Houston transfer quarterback D’Eriq King will end up at the University of Miami after all.
In fact, it may be several days before we know the coveted grad transfer QB decides to do.
This after a report Sunday out of Houston from Fox 26 Sports director Mark Berman ,who got comments from King about his short term plans and visits:
D’Eriq King (@DeriqKing_), who is transferring from @UHCougarFB, says he has yet to make a final decision on where he’s going: “I haven’t committed to anybody yet. I’m still looking at my options. I visited Miami. I liked it, but there are other options I’m still trying see to..” pic.twitter.com/E4kz2xypWR
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 19, 2020
It is interesting that King is considering Maryland in the mix in addition to powerhouse LSU and possibly trying to revitalize Miami.
As our Jamil King wrote on Sunday it looked like the Houston standout quarterback was “e-ticketed” for Coral Gables and to come as a package deal with newly hired offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Lashlee, who has previously been at Auburn and the SMU offensive coordinator the last couple of seasons, was hired two weeks ago to help jump start the Canes disastrous offense from the second half of last year.
Quarterback play plagued the Canes in 2019 with Jarren Williams showing flashes of great play followed by freshman mistakes and inconsistency. N’kosi Perry found his way into some games, but was also inconsistent in his own right. Miami suffered humiliating losses to FIU and at Duke to close the regular season.
Then, the Hurricanes were completely inept in the Independence Bowl, while being shut out 14-0. This, while rumors were swirling everywhere that coach Manny Diaz would be firing his first year offensive coordinator, Dan Enos. Enos, who had been the QB coach at Alabama, was fired the next day.
Back to King, if the Hurricanes are able to land him, they get a player who over his career at the University of Houston threw for 4,925 yards for an average of 8.2 yards per attempt and tossed 50 touchdowns with only ten interceptions.
King also completed almost 62% of his passes with the Cougars, adding another 28 touchdowns on the ground. He promises to bring some explosives, something the Canes desperately needed, if they can land him.
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