Entering his second season as Miami Hurricanes head coach, Mark Richt addressed the media at the ACC Media Days in Charlotte. The expectations are high as the team won five games in a row to close out the season, including their first bowl win in a decade against West Virginia.
Richt, begins by explaining the difference between his first year and his second year:
Well, it is different for sure. Last summer was so critical. We are allowed to meet with our players a couple hours a week, and it was just crucial that we spend a lot of time just installing our offense, installing our defense, with the entire football team. A year later, we’re still going through the installation, but it’s just not as crazy as it was a year ago. There wasn’t that big of a learning curve across the board. Now we have — we have a few guys that weren’t there in the spring, and they’re the ones that really are trying to figure out what’s going on. But when you’ve got 80, 90 percent of your team already knowing and understanding what you’re trying to get accomplished, it’s just a different feeling.
You can tell the comfort level already, which is a great sign for Hurricanes fans. If you paid attention last season, you saw the difference in coaching staffs from the Al Golden regime. After that four game losing streak threatened to make Richt’s inaugural season a nightmare, he and his staff made some serious adjustments and closed out with five straight wins. Now he’s in a much stronger place in year two.
Obviously the biggest question mark surrounding the team is the QB position. In fact the entire conference has seen quite a bit of attrition at QB. Richt talks about replacing Brad Kaaya:
The big thing for me is to — I just need a guy that I know is going to have a great respect for the football. They all have arm talent. They all can move. They all are going to know what to do or they wouldn’t be in the game. But what are you going to do when the protection breaks down? Are you going to throw it up for grabs? Are you going to start running wild and get the ball stripped and they scoop and score? When the drive is over, I want a punt, I want a field goal, or I want an extra point. If you end up in a turnover, it’s usually the quarterback that made a decision that caused that turnover or maybe he didn’t handle the snap right or maybe he didn’t hand the ball off well to the back. Most turnovers are attributed to the quarterback position, and turnovers are deadly to a championship run.
Pretty standard coach speak from Richt. The program has made it clear that the position is an open competition in Fall camp. He did talk about the QBs in competition and mentioned not only N’Kosi Perry but also Cade Weldon who’s also a freshman.
Outside of the QB position, Richt also showed some concern at the TE position. With David Njoku leaving for the NFL, the team lost a major offensive piece. Richt addressed the TE situation:
Well, Chris Herndon, I’ve got a lot of faith in. I think he’s one of the better tight ends I’ve been around. Very physical at the point of attack, good route runner, good ball skills, probably runs a 4.6, at 255 pounds. He’s very smart, and he of all of our players has to adjust more than anybody we have. We’ll call certain plays and formations, and he’s got to know — he’s the guy that moves the most and has to understand where to be because if we want to go at the temp that we want to go at, we don`t want to have to tell him exactly where to line up. He’s got to understand the play. When he hears the play, he’s got to know where to go after he hears the play, and we put a lot of burden on the tight end position to do that, and he does it extremely well. Behind him, we’re young. We’re inexperienced, and I don’t know if we’re ready to play championship football. There’s some time between now and then, where Michael Irvin, Jr. can get there and Polendey is a young freshman coming in. But I’d be very concerned if something happened to Chris, I can tell you that.
Throughout his time on the podium, Richt kept talking about “Championship Football.” Clearly he’s trying to get the players in the mindset that they have a chance to win a conference championship. In order to get there the players will have to be able to play at a certain level. At the TE position, clearly it’s lacking behind Chris Herndon. He simply doesn’t see anyone ready to be worthy of getting playing time. That’s a very interesting dynamic to admit and it will be intriguing to see who if anyone else emerges to give the Canes so depth.
In the end it’s safe to say that Mark Richt is cautiously optimistic about the team this season. Open competition at pretty much every position in Fall camp will be critical in seeing the strengths and weaknesses of this team.
Former Canes coach Golden apparently ready for trial against school
Former Miami Hurricanes head coach Al Golden is apparently about to have his day in court, while trying to recoup what he says is multi-millions of dollars that the University still owes him from firing him 5 years ago.
Miami Herald writer and columnist Barry Jackson had more on Monday evening that there apparently will not be a settlement by the school with the man that coached them for parts of five seasons in the 2010s.
UM schedule change, another new hire, Golden trial, why Ray Lewis says hiring Ed Reed is a ‘genius move,’ and Kosar weighs in. And more: https://t.co/MvTx7WxJND
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) February 4, 2020
Golden is seeking in excess of $3 million for what he says is compensation per his contract that he was owed when Miami terminated him in October of 2015 after a humiliating 58 – 0 lost to Clemson. The University says that Golden has been paid what the contract required.
As Jackson reported, there have already been depositions on both sides, including with Miami athletic director Blake James. And both James and Golden will be testifying in the civil suit about what went wrong and how it has not been rectified for almost three years, since the dispute started.
Golden came to Miami after having turned around the Temple football program, but only went 32 – 25 in his four plus seasons. He contends in a chain of emails that were obtained by the media recently, that the University mislead him about the Nevin Shapiro payment scandal and the punishments that Miami was going to receive for scholarship losses and a bowl ban.
He further contends that he asked for tough opponents like Wisconsin and Michigan State to be pushed back on the Canes schedule early in his tenure, while they were in the middle of the sanctions. However, that James would not relent, thereby, making it much tougher for Miami to compete and win.
The University has had no comment on the possible suit going to trial. Golden’s lawyer told the media recently that they are anxious to have their day in front of a judge and jury.
Golden has been a position coach in the NFL with the Detroit Lions the last two years. Meanwhile, Miami is still trying to find their footing with coach Manny Diaz coming off a dismal 6-7 season where they lost their last three games. That included a humiliating 14-0 shutout loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.
Hurricanes name College Hall of Famer Ed Reed Chief of Staff
The Miami Hurricanes are hoping to reestablish their winning ways, and coach Manny Diaz is starting 2020 by reaching back to a prominent member of their recent past to help them.
Diaz and the school announced Thursday afternoon that former All-American, National Champion and College and NFL Hall of Fame safety, Ed Reed, will be coming aboard as a newly-created “Chief of Staff” position for Hurricanes football:
Visits and vacations are nice, but there is no place like home.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 30, 2020
As the school’s release said, Reed “will be responsible in advisory role of all aspects of the football program including strategic planning, quality control, operations, player evaluation and player Development among other duties.
“We are thrilled to welcome Ed back to Coral Gables,” Diaz said. “He is not only one of the most decorated players in Miami football history but also a devoted Cane who cares deeply about this program. All of our players, coaches and staff will be fortunate to tap into his experience, knowledge and passion on a regular basis.”
This hire comes on the heels of Miami apparently botching the hiring in a similar role of former star RB from the 80’s Alonzo Highsmith earlier this month. Highsmith negotiated with Diaz and AD Blake James about looking to come back to Coral Gables after having been in a similar role with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL this past year. Alas, they could not agree. Highsmith has since been fired after the Browns fired GM John Dorsey and shook up their front office.
As for the “Chief of Staff” position, numerous college programs, including Clemson Alabama and Georgia have a similar positions to aid and assist the head coach with the day-to-day administration of program.
You cannot find a more decorated Cane willing to help, as Reed was arguably the best safety in college football in the 2000s. Miami posted a 23 – 1 record over his final two seasons (’00-’01) and he was part of the 2001 BCS Championship team that finished 11-1 and destroyed Nebraska in the Rose Bowl.
Reed with a consensus First-team All-American in 2000 and 2001 and set the Hurricanes record for interceptions with 21 before leaving Coral Gables.
Reed was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2018 for his accomplishments.
Reed was later a first-round pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2002, playing at 11 sasons with them before playing his final year with the Texans and the Jets. He is a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-Pro six times. Reed was just inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame year ago.
Read was not quoted in the release by the Hurricanes on Thursday afternoon.
However, he did participate earlier during Super Bowl week in Miami with former Hurricanes legendary coach Jimmy Johnson in a special program from Fox Sports with other famous Hurricane alumni like Michael Irvin.
"This is a moment in time that needed to be done and it couldn't have been done in a greater place." #TheReUnion, hosted by @FOXSports, made for great stories and honest discussion about the brotherhood formed only at The U. https://t.co/6bdlY8IQkV
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 30, 2020
The program called “The ReUnion” dealt with Miami trying to regain the winning ways and dominance of the 80s and 90s.
Miami stumbled to a 6-6 finish and then was embarrassed to end Diaz’s first season with a 14-0 shutout loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl.