9 a.m.: New information on Bosh/Heat conflict; Hurricane Club event with Richt ends in odd fashion; Richt addresses Walton, roster issues, UM's detailed recruiting plan; UM-UF news; Heat-Raptors
9 a.m. Bosh update: Ethan and I first reported here recently that there is a disagreement between the Heat and Chris Bosh about the handling of his medical condition (blood clots in his calf that dissipated weeks ago) and that Bosh wants to play during this postseason and does not want to retire. As we reported here last month (by someone with direct knowledge), Bosh had found a doctor who was receptive to potentially clearing him to play, while several others were opposed.
ESPN's Dan Le Batard, closer to the Heat than anyone nationally, shed more light on this on his show yesterday, saying Bosh is considering going to the union to allow him to play. Here's what Le Batard said to say:
"It's a super unusual situation. I can't think of a lot of instances where a sports organization is acting in what appears to be the best interest of the player over their own interests and against the will of the player. From the people I'm talking to, Chris Bosh wants back on the court and now, and the Heat on medical advice are saying absolutely not.... They badly want to get to an Eastern Conference Finals against LeBron and they are telling him, 'No, you cannot work.'...
"The Miami Heat and Chris Bosh are at a crossroads. There is a conflict here that promises to get a little bit messier. Now I'm hearing the Boshs want so badly on the court that they're trying to get the union involved. They found a doctor who might be willing to clear him.... For some reason, he thinks he's good to go and I think it's because he's not showing the symptoms he showed the first time.
"He doesn't feel physically bad, even as doctors are telling him, 'Hey, a recurrence of blood clots can be catastrophic.' You could have a Hank Gathers situation, a die on the basketball court situation, that no waiver is protecting the league from or protecting the Miami Heat from....
“The [Heat] have consulted the foremost authorities in the world on this. And they are being told no. The risk is too large. No when you start talking about waivers and liabilities, those things don't protect you if the catastrophic happens.
"[Bosh] scoured the globe trying to find the doctor who will clear them and they’ve got someone that they feel comfortable about, but that does not pair against the number of other opinions on the other side. They’ve got someone that they feel comfortable with who’s willing to allow him to take the risk, but getting one guy… The people around this story I've spoken to is he's in a super precarious position.
“One of the things is, he’s not feeling symptoms now. He felt symptoms the first time. So he’s looking at this and saying, ‘Why am I not out there? I I feel fine. I’m good.’ They’ve got one (doctor) telling them the thing they want to hear…
"This is complicated and confusing and fascinating. They were wearing the #BringBoshBack shirts at the game (Sunday). They are putting private pressure on the Heat. They are putting public pressure on the Heat.
“I don’t know exactly what to believe here, OK, but I do trust the organization and I trust the people in the organization who tell me things because I’ve never been lied to by them about much of anything. They’re telling me that they’re protecting him from him, but he doesn’t feel any symptoms."
Here is what Luol Deng had to say about Bosh over the weekend.
RICHT'S FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE
Mark Richt’s first Hurricanes Club speaking appearance as UM's football coach ended in peculiar fashion on Monday night when a woman took issue with Richt’s interpretation of the words swagger or swag.
UM took questions from several fans in attendance at The Casino of Dania Beach, and Richt – when asked about swagger/swag earlier in the evening – told the audience: "Here's the deal with swag. I'll say this: If you want to dance, go to the club. I'm about moving somebody's butt on the other side of the ball. That's what swag is. Swag is not how you dress or how you dance or how you try to talk to somebody [on the other team], all that. That's a bunch of bull to me. Swag is doing your job, doing it well and whipping the guy across the ball.”
In the late stages of the event, the unidentified woman took the microphone intended for fans' questions and instead counseled Richt, gently admonishing him, about the history of swagger at UM, making clear she didn’t agree with his comment about dancing.
Richt, a cool customer, handled the situation well and the woman was not openly disrespectful.
[Quick aside: I agree with Richt on this. Show me how good you are; don't tell me. And the way the NCAA is trying to reel in showboating, there's little room for elaborate celebrations.]
Still, it was an awkward end to a good night, one in which several hundred fans sat and listened to Richt, athletic director Blake James and women’s basketball coach Katie Meier field questions. Men's basketball coach Jim Larranaga was ill and did not attend.
Richt, in his opening remarks, said “it’s an honor to be back at my alma mater… This is the last stop for me. No other place I’d rather be.”
Richt addressed several issues with five reporters afterward:
• Asked directly if suspended Mark Walton will miss any regular season games, Richt said: “I’ll tell you all that whenever I know what to do, decide what to do. We’ll let you know when there is something to report.”
Walton remains on indefinite suspension after a DUI arrest.
• Richt said previously that he would like to add immediately-eligible players at receiver, cornerback and fullback. But he said he has not eyeballed any specific players that UM is targeting.
“Not yet,” he said. “There’s time between now and when we can make that decision. We still have a little bit more time here. I don’t know for sure. Right now, we have at least one [transfer] and we may have more before it’s over with. I’d like to have a better idea of how much [roster room] I’ve got before making that decision.”
UM previously announced the addition of two transfers: receiver Dayall Harris and Texas safety Adrian Colbert. Both are eligible immediately.
• Richt said he has received no indication that any more players are unhappy with playing time and plan to transfer.
“I didn’t hear anything,” he said. “Usually, you hear some kind of rumor by now. If a guy is going, he probably would have been gone by now. I have not heard any of that.”
• UM already has 15 oral commitments for 2017 and “by the time we get there, I would be surprised if we didn’t get over 20,” he said, adding that he couldn’t predict the exact number of scholarships UM will have available because of unknown variables, such as players turning pro after next season.
• On stage and in his private session with reporters afterward, Richt gave some insight into how he’s handling recruiting.
His assistants are out recruiting Monday through Thursday this month, then reconvene on Fridays at UM to evaluate talent.
Players are rated on a scale, with a “1” assigned to blue-chip “no brainers,” “2” to a player worthy of an offer, “3” to a player close to being worthy of an offer, “4” to someone UM won’t take and another category --- “5, I guess,” Richt said --- to players who would be quality walk-ons.
Richt is already recruiting in Georgia, where he’s highly respected, and said there will be a “bunch” of other states that UM coaches will hit.
“All the way down the coast," he said. "There are kids we’ve seen video on that have interest. If we think the interest is sincere, we’ll go. I’m sure we’ll end up in California, all around the country. The Southeast region is where we’re going to be spending most of the time, and right down here in South Florida.”
On recruiting in South Florida and elsewhere, Richt said: “Everybody’s got to establish relationships in areas they’re assigned to. Recruiting is about relationships with the players, but it’s also about relationships with the high school coaches and the people in the communities.
"Everybody is going to be feeling their way around a little bit, creating new friendships, new relationships that will help us recruit their players. It works both ways. Those coaches get excited about their young men getting opportunities to play college ball. We obviously need those kids to help us have success. It’s a good relationship if you do it right. The big thing is we are up front and honest about everything and all the decisions we make. When you build trust, you have a chance to recruit down here."
"We got plenty of 1s, 2s and 3s on the board from all over the state, all over the country. There’s more than we can take, that’s for sure.
“Guys are being very thorough, doing a good job of bringing back the information, creating the relationship with the coaches. We want to be in our state right away. Our original plan was to go out of state to start this past week, but there were so many [South Florida spring football practice sessions] starting on the 24th that once practice started, we wanted to be there [in South Florida]. You’re actually allowed to be on campus twice. You gather information, cross-check with other position coaches and then decide on the second time around who’s going to go to a certain school on the second visit. A lot of them we'll save for the jamborees or the spring game.
“We like to come off the road one day a week to talk about players and make sure we’re going strategically to the right schools and not doing more than we should, by rule.”
Recruiting is more demanding than ever, with Richt telling the crowd that “the wisdom of the NCAA now is we can text them 24 hours a day, so that’s fun.”
Richt told us afterward that: “I’m already real busy with [texting]. It’s just part of it. We were doing the direct messaging on Twitter, but the difference was, the kids didn’t have to receive it. They don’t have to follow you. If they don’t follow you, they don’t have to worry about you. Now, they can’t block anybody from texting them because everybody knows their numbers or they get them pretty easily. It’s going to be tougher on them than on us.
"If I am in church, I will shut my phone off. There aren’t many times [I shut it off]. Like my wife’s graduation [from nursing school] the other night, my phone was off. But most of the time you’ve got to have it on, and quite frankly, if there’s a number I don’t recognize it, I’m usually answering it because it could be a recruit and I can’t call [the person] back, especially if they’re younger. If they’re 2017 class, you might be able to text them, [say] call me back. If they’re younger, if you don’t answer the phone, you can’t even text them to say, ‘Hey, I missed your call. Call me back.’ A lot of those younger kids, you pick up the phone.”
• As we reported last week, UM athletic director Blake James confirmed he is exploring a contingency plan should the stadium formerly known as Sun Life not be ready for the Sept. 3 opener against Florida A&M. Marlins Park and FIU are the local stadiums available that weekend of Sept. 3.
"The Dolphins are fully committed to having the stadium done by the opening game," James said. "They have two preseason games before that. With that said, you recognize things happen with construction projects and there are things you can’t control. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to get a contingency plan in place. That’s something, if needed, we’ll have to roll out and put in place for our program and fans."
Is there a chance the stadium might not be ready? "You would have to ask them…. But my job is to take the necessary steps just in case it’s not ready. From [Dolphins president Tom Garfinkel's] perspective, the project is progressing the way it’s needed."
• James said UM and UF will each get 50 percent of the tickets for the 2019 football opener in Orlando.
• On raising money for an indoor football practice facility, James said: "We’re working on that. That’s something I’m confident we’ll make happen in the near future."
For our preview of the Heat-Raptors series, please click here.