Sorry for the gap between entries, but it's the holiday season -- you all should be in a giving mood (as in willing to cut me some slack).
Obviously, the biggest news of late surrounds the loss of offensive line coach/recruiting Jedi master Mario Cristobal (READ THE STORY). Here's the bottom line on what Cristobal's departure really means on recruiting: It will hurt this year's class, but not really too much. What exactly does that mean? Sure, in the long run it will hurt Miami not to have Cristobal around, but the impact will only be felt slightly as far as this year is concerned.
As good a recruiter as Cristobal is, his biggest tie-ins to the upcoming class were really only the Belle Glade Glades Central kids (WR Deonte Thompson, WR Taurus McKinley and S Damien Berry), OL Harland Gunn (from Nebraska) and DT Chris Perry (a soft commitment anyway) and a few other potential offensive lineman. I know what your thinking -- that's pretty significant.
But McKinley and Berry have both said they are solid commitments to UM anyway. Coach Randy Shannon saved himself the headache of possibly losing both of them when he went out to Belle Glade last week and solidified the commitments. Both have since said Cristobal's departure really isn't that big of a deal. As for Thompson, the nation's sixth-rated receiver according to Rivals, according to one of the assistants I know well he really wasn't going to base his decision on Cristobal being there or not anyway. My source said Thompson wants a big city atmosphere and if he doesn't pick USC, he think he'll follow his friends to UM. Gunn, who has basically shut himself off to the world since before Coker was fired, is still expected to attend UM regardless. And Perry in all seriousness was likely 50-50 to begin with.
Now, where I think Cristobal's loss will impact is where he had his his hand on other potential OL targets (Kevin Bryant, Matt Romine). But if Shannon, receivers coach Marquis Mosely and a few others can chip in and help out the situation UM might be able to get those guys anyway. The good news for UM is the holiday break is basically a no-contact period, which gives Shannon and company time to regroup.
One guy UM won't have to worry about at all is receiver Kayne Farquharson (READ THE STORY). I don't like to give ringing endorsements for kids I've never seen play beyond a highlight reel on YouTube but after meeting him and his family in the past couple of days I just got to say he seems like a great kid who will do great things at The U. For starters, he's a real Cane die-hard fan and sort of a throwback. He loves the history. He loves to win. And he has a huge swagger about him. Don't believe me check out the video interview (SEE VIDEO). Here's also a link to his YouTube highlight reel (SEE VIDEO). Hopefully for UM, though, that all translates on the field. The fact Kayne has already played two years of college football at the highest level of JUCO ball and come out a title game MVP tells you he's got real skill. And with the lack of playmakers on offense, getting a kid that can produce big plays is a huge get for the Hurricanes.
As for other future huge gets. Look for North Miami Beach receiver/cornerback Doug Wiggins (5-11, 180) to make his decision on Friday at his high school banquet. Wiggins, an early graduate, has been tripping of late. He's been to Michigan, Western Michigan and North Carolina in the past 10 days. According to the peeps we speak with close to the situation, it's really down to Michigan, North Carolina or Miami. Butch Davis has apparently made a real strong push in the last couple of days to get him. But my hunch is he'll still pick UM. Shannon has been on him for a long time and if he picks UM he'll likely end up being the best local talent the program picks up this year.
As for potential assistant coaches, I'd be silly not to report the fact Northwestern coach Roland Smith and Homestead assistant Michael Barrow have been seen regularly at UM practices of late. Barrow more than Smith, who was dressed a white suit and looked like he wanted to be seen. We know for sure both are good friends with Shannon and could potentially end up being among the assistants hired. Barrow could fill in perfectly for Shannon at linebackers and Smith, a former UM defensive back, could replace Tim Walton assuming Walton replaces Shannon as defensive coordinator. Those are just my thoughts.
As for the basketball team... tonight's game against Binghamton should just be a formality before improving to 8-4 and heading off to a big showdown with Louisville. Got to say I have mixed emotions so far as to how good this team really is.
The fact they are without Anthony King at center to begin with makes things so much tougher. I spoke with Haith for about 10 minutes yesterday and asked him what he expected for the first half of the season and what he expects for the second half. To listen to the interview (HAITH AUDIO). He basically told me he's hoping to surpass a 9-win total before conference play begins. After Binghamton, UM is at Louisville (5-4), home for Nebraska (6-2) and on the road at a really tough UMass team (9-2) before conference play resumes at home against Wake Forest.
A few things that came out of yesterday's practice: Look for Ray Hicks to continue to come off the bench the rest of the season. Haith believes Hicks can become the scorer they are looking for off the bench the rest of the season. Hicks said he just sees the floor better when he's not on the floor to start. Eventually, though, expect Jimmy Graham to get back in the starting lineup ahead of Fabio Nass at least until King returns. Once King returns (barring surgery on his wrist), the lineup will probably look like this: Clemente at the point, McClinton at the two, Asbury at the three, Collins at the four and King at the five. Also, there's a chance Adrian Thomas (abdominal strain) could return this season after all. Haith told us Thomas was out for the year earlier, but if he doesn't need surgery Haith thinks he might be able down the stretch. That's huge because Brian Asbury really doesn't have a solid backup at the three.
Anyway, I'm done. I'm sure this will be it until after Christmas. So, Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all of you. Feel free to chime in on whatever you like.