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Miami Hurricanes

Mark Richt and Jim Larranaga are cut from the same cloth

Ari Russell

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(USA Today - Steve Mitchell)

Spring practices aren’t here quite yet for the football team so we can get to the QB competition when the time comes. Right now we can officially call it March Madness as conference tournament play is officially underway. For the Miami Hurricanes basketball team, they are currently in New York City getting ready for the ACC Tournament which is being played in the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn.

The Canes come in as the #3 seed as they await their opponent for Thursday night. The success of the hoops team and the resurgence this past season of the football program have taken place because both Mark Richt and Jim Larranaga are cut from the same cloth.

I remember back in 2011 when Missouri saved our basketball program by hiring away Frank Haith opening up the head coaching position. I was excited because though Haith was always very nice to me personally I didn’t think he was a great fit, and his lack of results proved it.

When I heard that Miami had hired Jim Larranaga from George Mason, I was absolutely ecstatic. I was familiar with him being a DC native and watched from press row when he took GMU to the final four at the Verizon Center (Think it was still MCI Center back then) with their win over UCONN.

Basically I knew that our basketball program would turn around fast and boy did it ever. Not only is Larranaga a great recruiter but he also is one of the best developers of talent in all of college hoops and we are seeing the results. After several successful years the hoops program sold out their season tickets for back to back season.

Larranaga is known to personally go around campus promoting the team talking to students to hype them up. Everyone at this point is familiar with his positive pre game and half time speeches and his post game dances.

Down a few offices is head football coach Mark Richt. In his second season he was able to finally have Miami win the coastal division in the ACC for the first time since joining the conference in 2004. There are high hopes for Miami to contend for a conference title again this season as they bring in a top 10 recruiting class.

Between the turnover chain and the improvement from one year to the next, Miami home games are once again exciting to go to. People who were at Miami’s blowout win over Notre Dame at Hard Rock Stadium said that the noise reminded them of when Miami used to dominate foes at the Orange Bowl.

Miami athletics now have two head coaches that understand the landscape of their respective sports and have had tremendous track records. I’m actually a firm believer that Jim Larranaga’s success with the basketball program helped Richt with the football program.

When you have a high tide in one sport, it certainly can raise the ship in another sport. Though Richt had come in with his previous success at Georgia, it certainly helps to have an enthusiastic coach in another sport going around campus hyping students about athletics.

Richt is also extra enthusiastic because he gets to do all of this at the school he has a degree from and where he played his college ball. Larranaga is just enthusiastic in general, but he’s older in his twilight, so what is there not to be excited about.

As a Miami Hurricane apologist I have to say I’m excited to see what the hoops squad can do in Brooklyn and beyond in the NCAA tournament. I have no doubt a deep tournament run can only help the football program. And a successful football team can only help the hoops squad. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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Miami Hurricanes

Former Canes and Bucs TE Kellen Winslow II will stand trial for felony rape

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The horrifying allegations against for Hurricanes and Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow in San Diego, CA, have led to the judge in his case ruling at his preliminary hearing that there is sufficient evidence for a trial.

As USAToday.com’s Josh Peter reported from the courtroom, San Diego County Judge Harry Elias made his ruling late Thursday morning. And, he agreed with prosecutors that there is enough for the case to move forward later this year on two charges of felony rape, two counts of kidnapping with the intent to commit rape, and forcible sodomy on one of the accusers.

There had been some belief that the charges might be greatly reduced or thrown out all together, when two of the women who testified earlier this week at the preliminary hearing could not identify Winslow II at the defense table.

However as this photo shows, his lawyers used a typical defense tactic of changing Winslow’s appearance by having him shave, put on glasses and allowing his hair to grow out the last four weeks that he’s been incarcerated:

Prosecutors countered by using arrest photos of Winslow unshaven, without glasses and with a shaved head to better identify him.

As we wrote previously when Winslow was taken into custody, the bizarre allegations brought by multiple women in the San Diego area are enough to turn your stomach.

Winslow is alleged to have raped separate middle aged women, 54 and 58 years old, one in March and again, in May. Prosecutors detailed on June 15th in court that the women were both allegedly picked up, as hitchhikers or transients by Winslow and then, allegedly raped. They further said, Winslow threatened to kill both women, if they went to the police.

And now, prosecutors believe Winslow apparently was attempting to rape a 71 year old and an 86 year old earlier in June at the Park Encinitas Mobile Home Park.

Further from the complaint, that’s what prosecutors now believe Winslow was attempting to do on June 7th, when a neighbor in the mobile home park spotted him going into a mobile home and confronted him.

Winslow left in a black SUV, but was found by authorities a short time later, and arrested after a traffic stop.

At that time he was only charged with one count of burglary of the residence, which carried a $50,000 bond, and he was released.

Winslow is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, and played for the Hurricanes from 2001 through 2003. He earned All-American honors and the John Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end in his final season.

Winslow was the sixth overall pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2004 draft, where he reunited with the coach that recruited him and coached him originally at Miami, Butch Davis.

After his rookie season Winslow suffered a horrific knee and leg injuries in a motorcycle accident in a Cleveland suburb mall parking lot. He was unable to play in the 2005 season, because of the injuries.

Winslow played three more seasons for the Browns before being traded in the 2009 offseason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In exchange for a second and fifth round picks, the Bucs acquired Winslow and gave him at that time the largest contract for a tight end in NFL history at $36 million over six seasons.

In his first season in Tampa Bay he set the Bucs single season tight end receiving record with 77 catches and 884 yards. He led the team in receptions again in 2010, as the Bucs finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. In his final Buccaneers season of 2011 Winslow finished with 75 receptions in a dismal 4-12 year.

Winslow was traded in the offseason of 2012 to the Seattle Seahawks, but they released him months later, when he refused to reduce his salary.

He bounced after that to the New England Patriots and the New York Jets with his final season being 2013. With the Jets, he only started three games, and was also suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the League’s substance-abuse policy.

Winslow’s side was granted a victory of sorts Thursday, as for the first time since he was taken into custody the second time, he was granted $2 million bail.

According to USA Today, Winslow’s mother could be seen weeping outside the courtroom, while Kellen Sr. was more upbeat.

There is not a trial date set as of yet for the case.

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Miami Hurricanes

Former Hurricanes-Bucs Star TE Kellen Winslow II arrested for felony rape

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former Miami Hurricanes All-American and Buccaneers NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II is in bigger legal trouble in San Diego, California, than what we knew last week.

This, after authorities there filed multiple felony charges, including rape, sodomy, and kidnapping in connection with an incident last week.

TMZ had the details first earlier Thursday night.

We originally did not write about the trespassing /burglary charge from last week, but now the numerous serious felony charges have obviously changed the importance.

Winslow was booked in the Vista Detention Center in San Diego Thursday afternoon, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning where more details will be given on the charges.

Winslow is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, and played for the Hurricanes from 2001 through 2003. He earned All-American honors and the John Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end in his final season.

Winslow was the sixth overall pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2004 draft, where he reunited with the coach that recruited him and coached him originally at Miami, Butch Davis.

After his rookie season Winslow suffered a horrific knee and leg injuries in a motorcycle accident in a Cleveland suburb mall parking lot. He was unable to play in the 2005 season, because of the injuries.

Winslow played three more seasons for the Browns before being traded in the 2009 offseason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In exchange for a second and fifth round picks, the Bucs acquired Winslow and gave him at that time the largest contract for a tight end in NFL history at $36 million over six seasons.

In his first season in Tampa Bay he set the Bucs single season tight end receiving record with 77 catches and 884 yards. He led the team in receptions again in 2010, as the Bucs finished 10-6 and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker. In his final Buccaneers season of 2011 Winslow finished with 75 receptions in a dismal 4-12 year.

Winslow was traded in the offseason of 2012 to the Seattle Seahawks, but they released him months later, when he refused to reduce his salary.

He bounced after that to the New England Patriots and the New York Jets with his final season being 2013. With the Jets, he only started three games, and was also suspended for four games by the NFL for violating the League’s substance-abuse policy.

This is not his first trouble with the law since his career ended, as Winslow was arrested for possession of synthetic marijuana in January of 2014.

It is believed that authorities will elaborate on why Winslow was only charged with felony first-degree burglary last week at the mobile home park in Southern California, and had been released on $50,000 Bond.

There is clearly large new evidence of much more serious charges in that case.

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Miami Hurricanes

Miami rewards Mark Richt’s early success with new deal

Florida Football Insiders

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Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The Miami Hurricanes have decided to reward coach Mark Richt after just two seasons with a new contract. Richt, who has led the Canes to a 19-7 record in his two seasons in Coral Gables, is now signed through 2023. Terms of the deal were not immediately known.
Miami is a private institution and not obligated to release coaching salaries, however, at the time of his December 2015 hire, he was believed to have been given $4 million per season.
A year ago, Miami surprised many by playing their way into the College Football Playoff conversation late in the year. This was after the Hurricanes got off to an unbeaten start and late in the season won critical ACC games over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame at home, who were both rank in the top 15 at the time. The Notre Dame blowout was an eye opener on national television that put Miami in position to make the four team post season semi-finals.
Unfortunately for the Canes, the story didn’t end well. In fact, it crashed, when they lost on the Friday after Thanksgiving to a Pittsburgh team with a losing record. A week later they were blown out by ACC Champion Clemson in the Championship Game in Charlotte.
Then, Wisconsin beat Miami essentially in a home game in the Capital One Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes record finishing out at 10 and 3.
There is no doubt that Richt is one of the true gentleman of college coaching, and he has turned Miami back into a contender quicker than what predecessors Randy Shannon or Al Golden ever could.
Miami has also been scoring big with recruits over the last couple of seasons as well. This year’s signing class was ranked in the top 10 of every major high school football/college recruiting service or website.
So, the future is bright for the Canes and their fans.
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