With less than 72 before the official arrival of incoming freshmen at the University of Miami, I have to admit -- much like the natives -- I'm getting a bit restless.
I'm tired of gathering interviews over the phone and traveling to far off places to sit in on media days. I want to see some helmets, some hitting, something. With that said, I plan to fill in the rest of this week with as much as I can gather without actually being at a place where a UM player or coach is. How do I do that? With a little R&R (Rumors and Reasoning), the newest segment I plan to do every now and then when it's needed.
I'll begin with what is currently making the natives on green and orange message boards everywhere a bit restless -- the hot rumor former disgruntled USC linebacker Joshua Tatum could be transferring to the University of Miami. And since this is a blog and not our actual newspaper (they don't allow us to use sources anymore in the paper), I'll report on what I've heard from my sources. First though, let's explain who Tatum is. Tatum (listed at 6-2, 220 with 4.5-speed in the 40 as a senior) was one of the nation's most highly sought-after linebacker recruits in 2005 out of Oakland McClymonds High in California. He picked USC early and signed with them, but said Miami was a close second. In a Scout.com article, he said he might have picked the Canes if not for Miami being so far from home.
Monday, on message boards painted green and orange everywhere, the rumor began spreading Tatum was on UM's campus. In an effort to solve the mystery, I spoke to one player who said he did indeed run into Tatum on campus. "Josh told me all he has to do is work out some paperwork and he'll be officially in by tomorrow," the player told me. "He was in the lockerroom today, bringing his stuff in."
But then, later, I spoke to another source who said coach Randy Shannon stance at the monent is to not take transfers. I've never heard Shannon take such a chance publicly. But Saturday at the Florida Sports Writers Association meetings, Shannon said he had four scholarships that went unused on national signing day this past February. If there's a position that honestly could use some late additions, its linebacker.
Shannon apparently has already added one linebacker -- albeit a preferred walk-on -- in Patrick Smith, according to Canesport.com. Smith is an undersized standout who played at Concord De La Salle and for Ken Dorsey's old coach who is now at Solano Community College in California. Getting two LBs isn't far-fetched, even with the list of four current linebacker commitments for 2008. Plus, I find it hard to believe, Tatum, who is from Oakland, would fly across the country to be told "no." If he had a good relationship with UM coaches during his recruitment, then I got to believe Shannon might still have a soft spot for him and take him even if he supposedly doesn't want transfers.
My other R&R subject related to basketball coach Frank Haith comes on the heels of the tragic death of Wake Forest basketball coach Skip Prosser who died last Thursday from a massive heart attack. I haven't spoken to Haith since Prosser passed, but I'm sure like most of college basketball's brass was stunned and saddened.
But this R&R isn't about Skip. It's about Haith and the new opening at Wake Forest, a place where Haith spent four years (1997-2001) as an assistant and still has plenty of family close by. I'm not trying to spread a rumor that Haith is leaving. Like I said, I haven't spoken to him about it yet. And there haven't been any published reports about possible replacements just yet. In fact, I think he'll stay at Miami. But there's definitely reason to think the Demon Deacons could be interested in Haith. For Haith, a real basketball man, the selling points are simple. Its closer to home and in real basketball country. For Wake, the reasons to take Haith are endless. He's been successful there before as an assistant. Before Prosser arrived, Haith was instrumental in taking Wake to four consecutive postseason appearences and recruiting several top 10 classes. He's young, experienced and talented and thirsty to build a winner.
Haith, though, also has plenty of reasons to stay at Miami. For starters, he's told me on several occassions how he loves Miami and believes the program can be successful because of its location. There's also pride. For the first time as coach, this year's team will truly be filled by all of his recruits. Plus, there's no question that this season Miami will have its most talented team in the four years he's been coach. And while I know Haith feels strongly his team has a great chance to reach the NCAA tournament, the fact remains Wake Forest is still a step up in the basketball world compared to the Canes.
There's no question the loss of a pair of potential recruits this summer has to have stung a bit. The Canes thought they had Devin Ebanks, a national top 10 recruit, then lost him to Indiana late. Then, earlier this month, talented California power forward Tyreese Breshers committed to Miami and then rescinded and said he was staying closer to home and going to Washington. Haith has stayed positive through all of it and told me just last week he has full confidence Miami is going to be successful in recruiting. But could this be the job that pries him away from Miami?
Thoughts to ponder...