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A day later, cooler heads have prevailed at Booker T.; Matthew Thomas still in play for Canes

Sometimes you just need to talk things out. 

In the case of Booker T. Washington offensive lineman Denver Kirkland, coach Tim "Ice" Harris and the University of Miami it appears better communication between the parties involved could have prevented some hurt feelings and an ugly situation. But a day later, after a night to sleep on things, I can tell you UM hasn't poisoned itself in Overtown or burned any bridges permanently. There are grown ups involved here. Lessons have been learned.

For starters I spent about 30 minutes this afternoon chatting up Ice Harris and his son, offensive coordinator Tim Harris Jr., to get the real story of what might have gone wrong here. Ice told me afterward he didn't want to be quoted other than to say "I don't want to beat a dead horse." But without knowing UM's side of the story here -- coaches aren't allowed to discuss recruits publicly -- here is what I gathered from the situation:

Kirkland, a 6-5, 333-pound All-American offensive lineman, obviously wasn't the big fish UM was hoping to catch at Booker T. All-American linebacker Matthew Thomas, a consensus five-star recruit, has always been the guy Miami has gone after at Booker T. first and foremost. When Al Golden visited Booker T. on Thursday afternoon with a couple of his assistants he spent an hour and a half with Thomas and 10 minutes with Kirkland. 

Don't mistake for a second Booker T. coaches aren't aware Thomas is the guy everybody in the country wants or that Kirkland isn't "a shade below" Thomas in terms of being in the same league. Kirkland, Harris Jr. told me, didn't get a Miami offer until this past summer, after he had attended UM's camp.

But this is where the communication break down begins. In the eyes of Booker T.'s coaches, who spend every day with their players, there was no difference between Kirkland and Thomas. Once they got an offer from a school, they assumed schools were willing to go the distance with them -- all the way up until Signing Day -- to wait for a commitment. 

Ice Harris, having spent three years on Randy Shannon's staff at UM, is well aware of the recruiting game. He understands schools can pull scholarship offers and go in another direction if things change. Recruiting is a fluid game that changes from second to second. Ice Harris knows offers aren't guaranteed. He just never imagined in his wildest dreams -- not after Al Golden visited Booker T. Washington and spent time with both players Thursday -- that Miami was considering pulling Kirkland's scholarship. Why? Because there was no talk of a deadline according to them. 

"They might have told him it was getting a little tight for them or he needed to give them an assurance, but he wasn't ready to do that," Harris Jr. said. "But we told them -- told assistant Micheal Barrow -- we felt strongly he was going to go there. He just had to go through the process and make sure he was going to go there."

Why did Kirkland need more time? Because according to Booker T.'s staff, other college coaches were still coming in to talk to Kirkland. After Golden and his staff walked out the door Thursday, Harris said Jimbo Fisher and FSU was waiting to talk to Kirkland. Like it or not, it's a process. And now we know why. Because at any moment a school can decide to change directions -- the same way athletes can. Recruiting is fluid. 

Harris and Booker T.'s players just never expected to be jolted like that, especially not when they were telling Barrow it looked better for UM that they would land Kirkland than it did as far as netting Thomas. And maybe in the end, that wasn't good enough for Miami.

Maybe, Canes coaches thought Kirkland wasn't going to Miami (maybe new offensive coordinator James Coley had some better insight into the situation). Or, it really was a numbers crunch and UM knows it has other top tier recruits as silent commitments. Maybe the Canes just don't have room for an All-American offensive lineman because they've got six or seven other blue-chip talents in the bag. 

Still, it's just odd the way all this went down. For six months Miami wanted Denver Kirkland. Then six days before National Signing Day they decided they didn't want him anymore. I guess if you have six or seven better players you know for sure you are getting it makes sense to make room, toss out the trash.

But if you don't know that for sure then why do this? Why surprise a two-time state championship winning coach by yanking a scholarship away from one of his best players after you've told him for six months you want him and he's told you that you are likely to get him?

And that's where the confusion lies on Booker T.'s side. Ice Harris trusted his word to Barrow was good enough, that it was infiltrating the offices at UM and that the offer Kirkland had wasn't going to vanish. He still trusts Barrow, insisting he's " a great guy and the way he recruited his players is the right way." Ice Harris said his conversation with Barrow Friday morning "went well" and both sides are "trying to smooth things over."

It's the guys making the decisions down in Coral Gables, inside the offices, Ice Harris isn't sure about. After all, if Golden was already at Booker T. Thursday morning why not tell Kirkland yourself the bad news? Why send Barrow back to do it after a championship parade?

"I don't think the relationship as a whole between Miami and Booker T. is ruined," said Tim Harris Jr., a UM grad and former track star. "You have to look at every situation differently. I think everybody here can all agree this situation was handled bad and us being a pipeline here in the backyard of UM it shouldn't have come to this. But all of us here are professionals and I don't think anyone here wants to give the idea we would steer kids away from the University of Miami. If anything, we're just going to have to ask more questions. When they come in and say you have an offer we're going to ask 'Is there a deadline?' That goes for all schools. At the end of the day, UM is my school, it always will be. But I'm a coach here at Booker T. and we're here to protect the kids and keep them away from having something like this happen to them. So we will be smarter. We've learned a lesson."

And now, maybe, Miami will learn a lesson, too.

Star linebacker Matthew Thomas is still very much in play for the Canes. Harris assured me of that. UM coaches were with him last night in his home -- after they broke his teammate's heart. Thomas was shocked to hear what happened with Kirkland, Harris said. But he hasn't ruled the Canes out -- at least not as of noon Friday.

Then again, UM has never been the program at the top of Thomas' list. The way Harris Jr. explained it to me, Thomas didn't really care about Miami, didn't want to go there for most of the season. When Barrow or UM coaches would call him, Harris Jr. said, he wouldn't answer. It wasn't until Harris and his assistants urged him to open his ears and at least hear what UM had to offer that Thomas really began to listen. Florida State, they say, had always been Thomas' quiet leader. Now, USC is involved "and making a strong late push." Alabama has been in the mix, too.

Does UM really have a chance to get Thomas?

"Yeah they've got a chance," Harris Jr. said. "But it's not like Denver. We honestly don't know where he wants to go. It was FSU for a long time and now it's anybody's guess. I think we all feel like we're going to be surprised on Wednesday."

For Miami's sake, let's hope that surprise isn't like the one Kirkland got Thursday afternoon. That one stung.

Comments

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This is kinda stupid. If Miami pulls a scholarship move on and go to one of the other schools. I guess Harris and his staff think they should get special treatment from Miami and allow their athletes to use Miami as a "safety net" if things fall through with other schools.

They're shocked Miami doesn't appreciate being used as a backstop!

That's great, except there are quotes from both Kirkland and his father saying they would let schools know by Feb 1st to not leave them hanging. There was very obviously a deadline.

Agree. I think Golden is sending a message that UM won't stand to be jerked around. At the end of the day, we want kids that are passionate about playing for us whether they're 5-star or not. This class is relatively small. Therefore, Golden has a right to be selective. Also, character really matters. Keep weeding coach!

I'm sure will get a NR (not ranked) player to take his place and help solidify our 6oth ranked spot in the recruiting standings come NSD. This will assuredly help our cause later on down the road in S. Flo. as we are trying to corral all the local talent. Al preaches don't turn the ball over, well we fumbled this one. We pull his ship and we have Ira Denison on campus this weekend. Hell let FSU have all the talent down here, since we don't seem to want it. Thomas is on the fence, Coley is on the fence, Bryant is on the other side of the fence, Bostwick is on the fence and so is Collins. If we want to ascend back into the holey grail, which is the nations elite, we don't need to be sitting around here pondering whether we are going to be sunk, on signing day, or swimming like hell. We should have 90% of this class tag & bagged and would only be waiting on 2 or 3 hedgers, not 8 or 9, as is the case now!

Again - there's more going on here than we can see b/c we don't know who any of the silent commits are. Gee - we'll just have to wait.

You do realizing that pulling Kirkland's offer to give to someone already committed is doing exactly what you're asking for, right?

Manny: I appreciate the work you put in, but I've got an issue with the tone of this entry. How can you on the one hand concede that you don't know UM's side of the story here, and on the other make inferences and draw conclusions based on Booker T's account?

Where is the journalistic balance in that? Shouldn't you at least present what may have been UM's side of the story, i.e., they felt Kirkland wasn't being honest, they gave him a deadline he refused to abide by, they thought he was playing them, etc?

Dumb comment. You need to look at average ranking per recruit. Miami's average of 3.33 ranks higher than Oklahoma at #12.

I'll bet our new OC had some insight into Kirklands plans and that is why they did what they did in pulling the scilly...If Thomas is the prize then Kirkland was perhaps just bait...just saying!

Manny trashing Miami when the school can't do anything to defend itself.

nothing earth breaking here.

How can the kid's heart be "broken" if he was not willing to commit? That only makes sense if he had committed earlier and now the U yanked his offer because a better player wanted his spot. I think this is more about the HS coaches finding out they are not the gods they thought they were. Randy pissed off many HS coaches but these guys were part of his "guys" and they do not like the level playing field.

'' I guess if you have six or seven better players you know for sure you are getting it makes sense to make room, toss out the trash.''

Manny, no need of BS like that! Show a little class for once...... Nobody got thrown out like a piece of trash, they asked the kid to commit he chose not too. Why do you hate Miami so much?

Miami is ranked #24 on espn w.o all these top pending players. Good post Kinetic. Rivals just adds up points, espn bases it on quality. We have 4 of our 12 as espn 150 players, 1/3 of the roster list not counting all these pending kids. ITS A GOOD CLASS< if we get thomas and 2 more of those, its a great class considerin its that small

Fact is that Booker T hasn't produced a lot of talent since at least 2006. Harris n Clements r the only ones to do something at Miami. Let's be honest, Harris wasn't the elite talent everyone said he was n Clements has had minimal impact at RB. Kids should commit when they know the school n stop the waiting game. Tired of hearing these people talk about giving the kids their time in the light. That's BS. Look at Duke Johnson. Committed when he got an offer n he only cared about producing on the field. These kids r going to be on tv at Miami every week. Stop playing games until the last minute because u want 15 seconds on tv. CaneSport did the best article.

Manny- that article was blantantly biased against UM. Poor Denver Kirkland was " heartbroken " after his scholarship was pulled after UM waited 9 months for him to commit. Doesn't Al Golden have the right to make some decisions on his recruiting class 6 days before signing day or did they have to wait for Kirkland to line up 6 hats next Wednesday and then scramble. How about several kids in Broward who committed to schools and then the school pulled their scholarship months later.Obviously you dont see the other side.

Agree. Has Miami ever pulled a scholarship offer from a kid that verbally committed?

I've read 3rd grade English papers written better than this. "So will be smarter. We've learned a lesson." LOL

Golden knows the type of player we want. He said awhile back we want KIDS WHO WANT TO BE AT THE U. Obviously thomas is worth waiting for as a top 10 player in nation, but we want kids that want to be here.
If Denver told barrow that I am coming, but im not announcin till wednesday, then all is well.

The good news is , 1 hr and a half with thomas, then at home at his house. GOLDEN WANTS THOMAS AND I THINK WE GOT HIM

Come on all Kirkland had to do was tell Barrow he was a silent. Miami does not have enough scholarships to play games and it's also possible they could give back some to the NCAA so they are all very precious. Kirkland obviously was mixed in his feelings as to where to go to school and Miami needed the scholarship for someone who did want it.

As for Thomas I'm sure Tim Sr. and Jr. have advised him not to go to Miami and I doubt those bridges can be rebuilt after next weeks recruiting.

Why couldn't he just commit? I don't blame Golden at all. He's not heartbroken because he wasn't going to come to UM.

That's right be satisfied with crumbs when you could have a full course meal. That's the problem with our mentallity now, hey we got 2 of those 8 guys, so that will make our class great. We need defensive help now, not yesteryear. We got three chances to get one DT, Bryant is basically bagged to FSU, Bostwick is a his first love Flo. this weekend and that leaves a Jucco kid from Tex. whose deciding from nat'l powers Baylor & K. ST. We could be shut out at that position. We need LB help. Thomas ain't coming here, so that leaves Grace and that's if the Ville hasn't changed his mind. I'm sure, though, Al has a couple silents but it does show worry on his part, when he's making a last ditch effort to try and fit in visits, this weekend because something isn't right! May the flips begin!

Terribly one-sided piece by Manny Navarro ... easily his worst reporting to date.

Miami recruited Kirkland for 6 months (although I believe it was longer). If Miami's class was getting full, and they had limited scholarships left, then isn't it better to tell a kid before signing day (so he has a chance to go to another school), rather than wait until after signing day and ask him to greyshirt ... or, worse, take his scholarship away altogether? Do you really think Miami's staff is dumb enough to simply yank away a scholarship without first talking to the recruit to gauge what he was going to do? They asked Kirkland whether he would be committing and to give them more assurance. If Kirkland wanted to play the recruiting game or was unsure, then Miami had to do what it needed to make sure its class was full of recruits that had made up their mind and were committed. Instead of looking at it as Miami pulled the scholarship with six days left (although technically, Feb 6 is the first day students can sign and this could have gone on longer), think of it as Kirkland had 6 months to take this decision seriously, find his school, and commit. He wanted his 15 minutes ... and now he got them. Albeit, probably not in the light he would have preferred.

Why send Barrow back? Simple ... they received the call of another silent commitment. At that point, the class was getting too full to keep Kirkland's offer open without some kind of assurance that he would accept it. The Miami staff probably felt that one of the signing day announcers was going to overload their class ... rather than oversign or cut him loose after the recruit announced, they wanted to give him a fair shot to find another home. It's unfortunate, but this is clearly Kirkland's fault for not committing sooner and Harris's fault for not guiding him to commit if he wanted Miami as much as it is the Miami staff's fault. Harris's mistake was assuming that there isn't a deadline; there is always a deadline. Miami yanked Bryce Brown's offer ... of course it would do it for Kirkland. At some point, you have to roll with what you got, and that's what Miami's staff did here. If Harris truly knew the recruiting game, he would have advised Kirkland not to play around and to at least give a silent committment to Miami. Harris also seems to insinuate that "his word" should have been good enough, but then acknowledges that other schools were showing interest and Kirkland was unsure. Which is it? Instead of focusing on the recruiting drama and "signing day", recruits and their coaches need to start focusing on the college, the right decision for the next 4 years (and for their life) ... once that decision is made, it's time to commit. Miami's scholarship is worth roughly $250,000 ... it's good to see the staff starting to act like it.

Sorry to Kirkland and to Harris (and to the Miami staff) ... sad situation for all. But it's reality, and hopefully, everyone learns a lesson here ... Harris most of all.

What's your point?

ICE one of the most respected HC in all Sports in Florida is 1 biggest mistake for AL Golden

http://twitpic.com/c03tke LOL

I think Al handled it perfectly. They gave him the option to commit now or else. He choose or else. He choose poorly.

5shipsago, what's your point???

Manny, why Can't you ever write something positive about Miami like this!

http://miami.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1467010

I know all my fellow U fans want to believe in Golden but he isnt the right man for the job.

Luther R Campbell, there are 614 high school football programs in Florida but only 7 division 1 college football programs and just 3 from power conferences. I think "ICE" needs UM more than UM needs "ICE".

Why on earth if you know where you want to play or you are convinced which school is best for you, why don't you just say so and end the fiasco? Seems to me you would get tired of coaches from other schools bothering you when you've made a decision. I love the kids that comitt to their school of choice soon after HS season is over. 98% know where they are going long before NSD. I can imagine how coaches feel about begging and promising a kid the world when they know only 70% of any class will ever make a difference.

Why are they upset? He had an option to commit or lose the offer. It sounds like the kid was getting bad advice.. For future reference kids, when the U offers - you take it.

If Miami was Kirkland's dream school, then we did he not commit? He could have given them a silent commitment so he can play the "hat game" on Wednesday, (man is that growing old) but did not because he was playing Miami.

I bet the Canes got word that he was going to either FSU or Arkansas as a package deal. (to hook up with Harris's buddy Shannon). If the Canes really was his dream school, he commits the moment he gets an offer.

Ice Harris has a sense of entitlement since he coached at Miami with his buddy Randy Shannon. He got that job when he delivered his son who was a 5 star recruit. However, truth be told, Harris Jr. never lived up to expectations and was burned by the Notre Dame receivers over & over during the bowl game in Texas. He left early for the NFL, and 2 years later cannot get off the practice squad.

Harris needs to be more supportive of Miami, not only did he coach there, but 2 of his sons graduated from there. Have some loyalty man.

I'm with Al on this, I trust his recruiting. There are times you find out something that makes you pull a scholarship. It doesn't matter why he did it, he is the head coach and his recruiting prowess has been proven already.

The fan reaction is horrible for those who criticizes Al and the staff. Offers are pulled all the time by every program, and Al will do what's best for the program. Wish Kirkland the best and support Al to get a good replacement for him

Kirkland might go on to be a future NFL star but he no longer fits in the plans at the U. We can't have all recruits, but some will fail and some will go on to be big stars. Get over it people trust your coach, and let the 18 go to school where he wants and the best to him, its just not the U.

Malice2wardnone, we are extremely fortunate to have Golden at the helm. Witness two excellent recent coaching hires who have completely bought in to Golden's vision of what this program will become.

Kinetic Cane,
Big deal with the average number. Show me the the beef at the DT spot, show me some overall quality. You act like if we didn't sign another player this class puts us over the top. We have 6 players that I rate as great gets; Carter, Dobbard, Sandlin, Olsen, Mohammed & Burns. Our biggest problems, is we can't stop the run and we can't get no pressure on the QB. Where is that help at. We're hoping and that's it, that we get a DT, that can play right away. Same with Lb, We need some help right away and Thomas is ready, Grace isn't.

Manny, Don't you think you could have chosen a better word then 'trash' when referring to an 18 year old kid?

These kids are hilarious...they have a chance to have their college education paid for in return for playing football and they put that at risk for the opportunity to do some hat game on ESPN U. Do they realize how stupid they look?

Spot on, Canesjunkie.

As none of us knows the real story here (except for Manny's biased reporting), I have to believe Golden did the right thing long term for the school. Yes, commitment is a two way street (or should be), and when you're in a pinch you can't afford to play games, as some of these players want to be stars before the first snap.

Could the issue had been handled differently? Maybe. But was it the right decision? Most probable. We'll know in a few days, won't we. For now, trolls have at it. As for Manny, he just can't help himself.

Sounds like Kirkland was ambivalent about UM. And Thomas coming to UM is a long shot. We can only hope that Golden has other silent commits lined up that are top players.

Even though signing day is the official announcement day, you would think a program has to do some planning in terms of where to put their efforts in the final days. Kirkland sounds like he was iffy, and UM wanted clarity. So, it is an unfortunate situation, especially if Kirkland REALLY planned on coming to UM.

With all due respect to Coach Harris, a Shannon coaching alum AND a stellar high school coach, UM must take care of its overall program needs. And for UM, strong relationships with area coaches is essential...

5shipsago,
Rivals indicates UM has 12 offers outstanding to DT, DE and LB prospects that indicate either a medium or high interest in UM and are currently uncommitted. To suggest that Golden isn't addressing his needs is dumb. Also, Kirkland wasn't going to fill this need anyway. Maybe Golden decided to free up an offer for a "need" position. You need to start using facts to support your argument. Also, "we can't get no pressure on the QB..." is a double negative.

"Why didn't Golden pull it when he was here? Why did he send Barrow back?" How about this. ICE told Golden DK was a "silent commit". He sent Barrow to confirm with the player, face to face. DK said "Your in my top 3, thats the best I can do" Barrow said "CYA" I also think Coley knew what he said to FSU, and told AG he was a likely Nole.

Get your story right Manny. ICE has an agenda. Luther, "You kidding me?" Best Coach? Yea right.

Why can't every kid handle this like Duke?!?! That kid made his decision, let everyone know, and stuck with it.

Go to every school that invites you and pick one. It's an important decision, do you really want to leave it up to the last moment?

Where are the parents in this whole thing?!?!

Why do they do it Manny? Because its a business. Wake the flip up and stop being a negative nancy from FIU.

I wonder if Kirkland did not understand the meaning of "deadline" and Miami does? If this is the case, lesson learned.

I am glad to hear!

Great points all the way around. Ice Harris is backpedaling faster than his son can run. I think he did DK wrong and got called on it. He probably told DK don't worry about UM, they got you. I told them so. You can have your 15 minutes of fame on NSD. Then DK says when asked directly, you're in my top three. I love it. I love the fact that UM asked him point blank to his face- man to man, then hit the road. I completely understand AG's situation. He has limited scollies and needs to know asap. Makes perfect sense to me. Good luck Denver, tough lesson for an 18 year old. Shame on Coach Harris if he was stirring the pot and burned the young man.

Wow! An entire post without those 2 IDIOTS Gallo or Canetrash commenting!!

DID HELL FREEZE OVER?

Its been frustrating being a Canes fan for the past 5 years but the most frustrating thing is our fans holding Golden up like some kind of deity. The only coach worth a salary was Coach Fisch. Its going to be a long year. Hopefully when the "Golden Era" is over we can get back Butch. Golden isnt the answer

This is just bad for business. At this point of the game we can't afford bad publicity when it comes to the football program. There is no way we should have pulled the offer to Kirkland not this close to NSD, and especially if they are trying to get his close friend and prime target in Thomas. Why take his scholarship away? So we can sign some junior college player from Nigeria! It just doesn't make sense. This on top of the bad news conscerning how Bostwick was treated on his visit! Very sloppy Golden, you given us self inflicted wounds.

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