Things have gotten ugly in a hurry in South Florida for third-year hurricanes coach Mark Richt. Remember that it was just 52 weeks ago, that his team had upset #3 Notre Dame in a Saturday night blowout at Hard Rock Stadium to improve 9 – 0 and move into the top five of the college football playoff rankings, themselves..
Then, this weekend a year ago, they defeated Virginia at home in come from behind fashion to improve to 10 – 0 and appear to be in prime position to make the four team playoff.
However, six days after that win over the Cavaliers, Miami came crashing down against a four win Pittsburgh team on Black Friday. And in losing 24 – 14, not only did the Canes hopes of the College Football Playoff go away, but it began a downward spiral that has Richt in serious jeopardy of being fired.
The Hurricanes went on to lose badly to Clemson, although that was not unexpected, in the ACC Championship Game. However, with a month to prepare, they were then beaten by Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin decisively in the Orange Bowl to finish the year 10-3 after being 10-0.
The three game losing streak two left a bad taste in a lot of Hurricane fans and alumni mouths. Still, there was hope that the 2018 team would be much improved, get off to a fast start and erase what happened at the end of Richt’s second season.
That didn’t happen.
LSU hammered Miami in the opening weekend match-up at AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas, 33 – 17. And, that immediately brought the naysayers out that Richt and his staff were overmatched at “the U.”
Yes, Miami got it rolling against Savannah State and Toledo out of the MAC. And, they even defeated Crosstown rival Florida International for a three game win streak.
Then, the Hurricanes opened ACC play on a Thursday night with North Carolina and a 47 – 10 blowout included 6 times that “the turnover chain” was brought out. By the time Miami had roared back from a 20-point deficit against rival Florida State to squeak by 28 – 27, the Canes had won five straight games.
And, everybody was feeling good again about the rest of the ACC slate.
Then, Miami had to play the rest of that slate and they have not registered a single victory.
Losses at Virginia and BC, followed by a humbling defeat at home against Duke and then, a game that they stumbled through in Atlanta with Georgia Tech last week finished 27 – 21. A four game slide that has definitely made 10-0 a year ago a distant memory.
So, Miami goes into their final two ACC games at Virginia Tech Saturday and next Saturday at home with Pitt again, having to try to salvage something.
And the yelling on South Florida sportsradio, and the internet has intensified. More importantly, the disgruntled prominent Miami Hurricane former players and big time boosters have got lots of ammunition, if they’re wanting to see Richt gone.
If you weren’t totaling all of that up above, since losing that Black Friday last year, Richt and his Hurricanes have only won 2 out of 10 games against Power 5 Conference teams. And, those two wins are against North Carolina and Florida State, who are both awful this season.
We are hearing at F.F.I. that the prominent alumni former players of the Hurricanes (of which there are dozens and dozens) are growing louder and louder with wanting to see changes made. You’ve seen some of them popping off on social media over the course of the last month.
Earlier this week, former Canes wide receiver Randal Hill took to Miami sports radio station WQAM and made a vague, bizarre threat to expose things he knew about Mark Richt, if the coach did not make changes in his coaching staff after this season.
Hill was specifically talking about Richt relinquishing the play calling duties to a real offensive coordinator.
Former Miami All-American defensive tackle and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Warren Sapp, didn’t hold back either, after the Duke loss:
— Warren Sapp (@WarrenSapp) November 4, 2018
There is apparently also a contingent a prominent Miami boosters that are dissatisfied with what they’ve seen at the end of last season and in the middle of this year. And when the people with the big bucks aren’t happy…….
So, that brings us to Saturday afternoon in Blacksburg Virginia against the Hokies. Miami had better be sharp, whether it is redshirt freshman N’kosi Perry back at quarterback or the fifth-year senior, Malik Rosier, the Canes have to have a good performance and a win.
If not, there will be an uprising headed into the final game at home with Pitt and you will hear more and more about how Mark Richt potentially losing the final six games of this season will cause him to be fired. Fired, just one year after being undefeated late and in the playoff picture.
And, the critics are pointing to the losing stats above, where the breaks haven’t been going Miami’s way, and Richt can’t figure out how to stop turnovers, bad penalties, missed tackles and more losing.
Now, If you’re wondering about Richt’s contract, he originally signed a 6-year deal in 2015, but the Canes actually extended that contract earlier this year through the year 2023. Although Miami is a private university and does not have to disclose coaching salary and contract terms, it is believed that Richt is making over $4 million a year. And, the University would have to pay him most or all of what remains on his deal.
That should be in the neighborhood of $20 million dollars, unless something else could be negotiated or there’s an unknown “out clause.”
Would that kind of financial buyout looming be enough to keep Richt around for another season, despite losing out in the final six games of 2018?
Unfortunately for Hurricane fans, we may be about to find out.
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