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Q&A with Clint Hurtt (Part II)

I filtered through Part I yesterday with my new favorite interview among coaches at The U. Here's is Part 2 with defensive line coach Clint Hurtt. Enjoy

Q: Can you talk about Bryan Pata and how much the guys are still thinking about him?
A: I think that it’s something that because guys are so close. We always promote Clint_hurttunity around here and so to have the idea, the concept, it’s going to be easier for guys to move on is a little far-fetched. I think they understand they have to move on in life. And that’s something I speak to them about too. But that’s been a tough deal for me. I can’t say I’ve moved on from it. So, how can I expect an 18, 19-year old guy to say he’s moved on from it. I don’t grieve. But do I think about him? Yes, everyday. Do those guys think about him everyday? There is no doubt about it. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. I tell those kids all the time if they come speak to me about it.

There is nothing wrong with him being on your mind, the love and respect you have for him as a person. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if play harder because the Patapicthoughts of him, so be it. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. I tell guys all the time, do not let. The one thing Bryan was never going to do was sulk. He was always going to push. I’ll always remember, he was going to push through it as he matured and became a man that’s what I was so proud of. He was always going to push through the tough times. And that’s what I talk to Eric and I talk to those guys about and we end up getting into that conversation about Bryan. You know, continue to push. Put the team before yourself. As much as we preach now, Bryan Pata put the team before himself. He made a move going into his senior year.

And I talked to Vegas Franklin about that. He may have to spend more time at tackle this year, maybe than he does end. But you got to put the team before yourself and there’s lessons to learn from that and there’s nothing wrong with it. I just tell guys, you got to move on and move past it. That’s what I’m trying to do now. There’s times you still get caught up. If I turn on film from last season and I see that 95, it’s an extremely hard thing to do. It’s tough. But you know, it’s just something that as you get older, you don’t ever forget about people, but you got to allow yourself to move on. You got to allow yourself to work on and push on and move yourself through the positive of that person. And that’s what I tell them about Bryan.

Q: Do they still spend a lot of time talking to the family? Do you?
A: Yes. I still talk to Jeannette and Bryan Pata’s mom. My mom has been very sick lately. I spoke to Jeannette about two weeks ago and I spoke to Edwin before they had the function at Gwen Cherry Park for Pata. So, yes, I still keep in touch with them. Everything was over because we had a two-a-day that day so nobody was able to make it. But I don’t want anybody to ever get the idea that we as people here at the University of Miami are separating ourselves from the Pata family. They are still very much a part of us.

Q: As recruiting director, the text messaging, how much of a pain in the [rear] was that for you guys? Do you like it? Is it beneficial? Would you like to see it back?
A: I like having it because here’s the thing people got to understand. First and foremost, we’re not like the NFL. We can’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to do background checks on kids. And just as much as kids know us, we want to get to know the kid. What do you bring to the tape? I want to know this about the coach. What type of person is he? Is he true to his word? Things of that nature. For us. We that’s what we want to know about the kid. How much is he concerned about the game? Things like that. That’s what we’re big on. The more and more we can have connections with those kids… it’s not real conversation. Because let me tell you something, coaches and kids will eventually get tired of text messaging. After about 2 or 3 exchanges that will be about it. So, there’s nothing wrong with it. I hope the NCAA changes the rule. If they don’t, you’re going to find more kids making decisions they wish they didn’t make and more universities wishing they knew more about the kids than when they actually went and signed them.

Q: But what do you honestly get out of a text message? You can’t deliver a big message in a text message? What for you as a recruiting director, what does [text messaging] tell you?
A: “You can see how interested the kid is. If a kid doesn’t reply to your text messages, you pretty much know. It’s either two things. Either the kid doesn’t like a lot of attention. Just like Allen Bailey last Allen_bailey year. Allen Bailey, if anybody was watching us recruit him, you would have thought he hated the University of Miami. But Allen Bailey is a very reserved to himself kid. He does not like a lot of attention. I fully understand that. When it comes to being a recruiter, you better know the kid first before you just ‘I’m going to go get him, go get him, go get him.’ You got to know the kid you are dealing with. Allen is not a kid that required a lot of attention. He just didn’t like it. So, when he didn’t reply to text messages. I didn’t take it personal. When I got to opportunities to go see him, I realized it wasn’t that. The kid just didn’t like all that [attention]. So you know, I knew he would get to know us, feel everything out. So we gave him some space and treated him like a human being. Sometimes in recruiting, kids act like they’ve won the Heisman and are four-time All-American. Some of these kids, you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Q: What’s been your secret to success then? I mean 17 commitments in August. That's sick.
A: The biggest thing we emphasize here is us being us. We don’t go and make a kid feel like we’re going to change the complexity of the University of Miami just because he’s here. That ain’t going to Jacory_harris happen. We’ve have some of the best football players that have put on a helmet come through this program and we haven’t done that for any of them and we’re not going to do that for anybody. What we are going to do is show you that we’re good people. We’re going to treat your son with respect and we’re going to make them understand discipline and character comes first. He’s going to get a great education. We’re not going to lie to them. We’re going to tell them exactly how things are. Period. Point blank. And if you don’t like it, the University of Miami ain’t the place for you. Point blank. If you feel this is where you want to be, we’d love to have you. But we’ll leave it clean cut like that and I know for a lot of people ‘Well, that’s not enough.’ Or ‘That may sound good, but that don’t work.’ It’s worked for us. There’s a reason we’ve had success with this football program. There’s a reason we’ve had a lot of players we’ve signed move onto the NFL.

Sometimes, the kids that you have to give all attention to or attention everyday or write them everyday or when there’s unlimited calls and you got to call the kid, three or four times a day, those kids usually don’t turn out to be very good. They don’t. Because they’re all about themselves. You can’t be complacent and be all about yourself and be a good football player. It’s all about the team. That’s when great players emerge.

Q: How much have you come across the Bryan Pata issue in recruiting? I know there has been some misconception when ESPN first reported the Pata story that he was shot on campus. Some parents think Miami is a dangerous school. Have you come across that? A: Yes. It happens a lot. Especially since I coach the defensive line. People automatically ask the question when it comes up. A lot of people are misinformed about it as far as the details if it happened on or off campus. The question comes up, Bryan_pata but the thing is, people got kids. And they want to know where my kid is going to be living. I mean, I don’t care if I’m living up north or in Fort Lauderdale. I need to know where my kid staying because no matter what one of your football players was murdered and I want to know where my son is going to be living. Where’s he going to be laying his head? So, obviously that comes up. Obviously, you answer it honestly. Tell them how kids are going to be living on campus for the first two years and only if he has a GPA above 2.5, then they’ll be allowed to move on. But there’s also only certain areas now where you are allowed to stay. You can’t stay anywhere you want. We know where they’re at. And they have to get an OK as far as where they’ll be staying before they sign a lease. We need to know where they are going to be at.

Q: Have you lost any kids in recruiting because of the Pata situation?
A: Sure. For some parents that was an issue. [They flat out said] I don’t feel safe with my son being there. As a coach, you can’t get upset with that. That’s their choice. That’s absolutely their choice and we’re not going to sit back and get upset because listen I don’t have kids. But everybody else on our staff has kids and we’re not fake people. We understand that people have concerns and if that’s their concern, we’ll sit down and explain it to you and let you know what we’re trying to do to change things. If you’re still not convinced that’s enough, and you’re not going to be comfortable. That’s fine. We’re not going to be upset with you because ultimately it has to be what’s best for that child and the parents.

Q: Is it hard knowing how good your offensive line might be when you got a guy like Calais and Eric Moncur?
A: No. I don’t agree with that now. Coach Stoutland has done an unbelievable job with that group and Jeff_stoutlanddon’t believe we’re out here everyday kicking tail. There’s days we may get the better of them. There’s days they may get the better of us. It hasn’t been how its been the last couple of years where we were kind of getting the better of the offense running. It has not been like that at all. It’s been back and forth. But that’s good. That’s how thing we’re in the past when were doing really good. It basically comes like this, whatever group comes out here with intensity and focus and doesn’t feel sorry for themselves because your in the dog days of camp. That’s usually the group that ends up winning. That’s normally how it goes for me and coach Stoutland. We start to get on each others groups. But they are vastly improved, vastly improved.

Q: What is it in that offensive line that is better?
A: Obviously as each year grows, they’re going to be stronger. But they seem more technical. More technically sound and they’re pushing each other. They’re closer than they’ve ever been. Those things are showing right now, through practice. The cohesiveness, the communication. They’re unbelievable. And the thing is, I know they’re going to be one of the best offensive lines we see. I can honestly say that. When we do have some struggles and go through some tough times, we got good players out there. It ain’t like everyday that Calais and Eric are kicking tail. They got some offensive lineman.

Q: So, they’ve been pancaked?
A: I wouldn’t say they’ve been caked. But they’ve been blocked. Just because you don’t get caked doesn’t mean you didn’t get your butt kicked. If you get blocked, you got your [butt kicked].


LATE NOTICE: I know this is kind of late notice, but defensive end Calais Campbell will be available on Hurricanesports.com for a live chat at 1 p.m. today. Check it out here.

HELP ME HELP YOU: I'm trying to come up with new ideas of stuff you guys might want to see in the blog this year. I've obviously got some staples -- Q&A, In Their Own Words, The Hot Stove, Live Q&As with me, Rumors and Reasoning and Reading Between The Lines. Anything else you'd like? Maybe a guest blogger every now and then? Let me know.