Julio Frenk to be UM's next president -- and to inherit a football program in need of resurgence

   Incoming University of Miami President Julio Frenk grew up in Mexico playing soccer and basketball. American football became entrenched in his life when he studied for his doctorate at Michigan – another high-profile program in the world of collegiate football.

   Frenk, 61, assured the audience at his introductory news conference Monday that he “indeed,’’ is “fully aware of the great tradition in athletics and in particular football’’ at Miami, that he is “talking with the community to understand their expectations and dreams for that part of the university,’’ and that he sees “athletics as an integral part of a comprehensive education.’’

    Frenk told The Miami Herald after his address that he went to “many, many football games at Michigan. When I was a student I almost didn’t miss any. I’m looking forward to it here.’’

     With current Miami president Donna Shalala retiring her position June 1 to become president of the Clinton Foundation, her replacement was highly anticipated by UM football fans intent on the program returning to its glory days.

    Frenk, currently the dean of the Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health and Mexico’s former Minister of Health, starts his job at UM on Sept. 1, but he met with head coaches for about 45 minutes Monday.

   “Very nice guy,’’ said UM baseball coach Jim Morris after the meeting. “He’s well rounded, he’s learning and I was told that he would be very positive toward athletics.’’

   UM athletic director Blake James called it “a great day’’ for Miami. Football coach Al Golden, under considerable pressure to win in 2015 after a 6-7 season and 11 losses in his last 19 games, said in a prepared statement that it was “a tremendous day’’ and that he expected Frenk to take the school “to even great heights.’’

   Before Frenk met with the coaches, basketball coach Jim Larranaga praised the hire.

   “He’s got an incredible background academically and in public health,’’ Larranaga said. “As a coach you hope that your administration is going to be very, very supportive of athletics, and from what I understand, he is.’’

   When asked if the direction of the sports program was an important component in the hiring of a new president, Richard Fain, the Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO who headed the presidential search committee, said, “Of course.’’

   “At the U,’’ Fain told The Herald, you can’t not have that be an important dialogue about the future of the university.’’

   Stuart Miller, CEO of the Lennar Corporation and chair of the UM Board of Trustees, said sports was “absolutely one of the priorities’’ in the search. “It’s part of our brand. It’s part of what defines the university across the country.

   “The fact that we’ve brought on a president that has such an open mind, a mind of inclusiveness, and recognizes all parts of the university gives me a great deal of confidence.’’

   Shalala brought UM through a long NCAA investigation and has taken much criticism for the school’s decline in football. She said she believes “UM fans should be excited’’ by Frenk’s hire.

   “First of all,’’ she said, “we have a great group of coaches for our athletics program, we’ve got stability and we’ve got big financial investments in the program.

   “I just think the best is yet to come.’’

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   I talked to 104.3 FM The Ticket executive producer and on-air personality Brian London, and he said during today's "The Eric and Leroy Show,'' he "received dozens of texts regarding the hire.

   "The majority of texts from sports fans were positive,'' London said. "The majority of people we heard from were encouraged by Frenk's educational background and the benefit of expanding the school with research, and in fundraising as well. There were only a small minority of nasty texts. But some fans were concerned about Dr. Frenk's lack of experience wtih American football.''

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 MIAMI HERALD QUESTION TO FRENK:  

Throughout this long process, how much have you acquainted yourself with Miami athletics, and in particular the football program, and what do you foresee your role being with football and athletics at Miami?

FRENK: "Indeed, I am fully aware of the great tradition in athletics and in particular in football here. Again, this will be a central part of my immersion process understanding the culture, understanding what was the process through which the University of Miami, including its athletic program has come to where it is now, and I’m talking with the community to understand their expectations and their dreams for that part of the university. I will say that I see athletics as an integral part of a comprehensive education. To me it is … a part of the educational experience of our students and I value that part of the educational experience of a comprehensive education. 

"But I look forward to understanding better and talking with many of the key players in more than one sense of the word player, and I will be meeting with the coaches later today in this visit and this will be a central part of that process of immersion and my process of learning more about the cultural, the history, the traditions and the expectations and dreams of this university."

 MIAMI HERALD: What sport, if any, do you enjoy most as a fan and perhaps, participant, or have you ever played any sports?

 “As anyone who looks at me can surmise immediately, I’m not the most athletic person. However I did play basketball when I was a younger person and I played soccer football. I was a goalkeeper. That served me greatly in the later stages of my political career, trying to keep goals away from my net.

 “I enjoy football very much, having started at the University of Michigan. I was there five years because I did a Ph.D. so I got moved closer and closer to the 50-yard line… I understand the position of president comes with already a very good position on the field and I look forward [to it]. It is a game I enjoy very much, and again, it’s part of my respect to the university and my conviction that this is a key part of a comprehensive education that I look very much forward to that part of my new job starting on Sept. 1."

  What are your thoughts on the new hire? My first impression is positive. I think he'll be very good for UM in general. As for the athletic program, the jury is obviously still out.

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

    

June 04, 2013

Report: Incoming UM quarterback Kevin Olsen charged in one-car crash

BY SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN, sdegnan@MiamiHerald.com

Kevin OlsenThe University of Miami’s quarterback of the future, Wayne Hills, N.J., High School senior and soon-to-be graduate Kevin Olsen, was charged with “leaving the scene of an accident after he smashed his car into a vehicle in his hometown of Wayne” on May 25, according to court records reported Monday by The Wayne Patch local newspaper. 

Olsen “was additionally charged with failure to report an accident and careless driving” after the incident was witnessed by a bystander who said the quarterback “crashed his car into a tree and drove away,” according to the Wayne Patch. 

After checking out the damage, the report said, Olsen hit another car “parked on the road” in the neighborhood while leaving the scene. 

According to the paper, the police report said Olsen’s face appeared to have blood on it and that he “appeared to be under the influence of something.” 

He is reportedly scheduled to appear in Wayne Municipal Court on June 20. 

Olsen’s older brother Greg was a tight end for the Hurricanes and now plays for the Carolina Panthers in the NFL. Kevin Olsen is scheduled to report to UM to begin his collegiate career this summer.

The university said Tuesday it was unaware of Olsen's legal situation. "We are still trying to gather information about what happened," said Chris Yandle, UM's director of communications for athletics.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Tampa Bay Times, Lara Cerri

March 02, 2013

Day 1 of Hurricanes' spring football: Golden & James Coley, Hurlie Brown, Larry Scott sign in

 

Notes from Day One of UM spring practice at Greentree Field, where it was a brisk morning in the mid 50s and there was lots of loud music, including the Harlem Shake (players started doing the Shake during stretching) that blared from the loudspeakers:

Golden on...

*How the changes in the offensive coaching staff (new OC James Coley, new tight ends coach Larry Scott and new RB coach Hurlie Brown) have changed things: "Very little. Coach Coley and the offensive staff have done a great job of keeping the nomenclature, keeping the terminology, so that it's not a radical change for [the players]. That's very unselfish on their part, putting the players' first.

*Coley: "He brings a lot of energy, a lot of knowledge and passion. He's really done a great job taking over. He's put his ego aside because we really didn't want to mess with the quarterbacks and offense too much in terms of the terminology. He has adapted and learned some new terminology. He's putting his spin on things, which is great. He needs to do that. He needs to own it. We're very pleased with the way things are going.''

*Scott: "Larry is the consummate professional, just really brings a depth of experience to that position. I'm really pleased that we got off as well as we did today on offense, despite all the transition.''

*2013 schedule (which appears to be much easier than last year's): "I don't worry about that. We're going to play them one way or the other.''

*Who impressed him during the UTough off-season strength and conditioning program: WR Herb Waters, "RB Dallas Crawford, FB Maurice Hagens, TEs Clive Walford and Asante Cleveland, OL Sunny Odogwu, OT Seantrel Henderson, G Jon Feliciano, DT Curtis Porter, DT Olsen Pierre, LB Alex Figueroa, LB Raphael Kirby, CB Tracy Howard, CB Ladarius Gunter ("He might have had the best offseason of anybody'') and "Highsmith and Kacy were steady as always.''

 *Here's who we saw on crutches: linebacker Gabe Terry (right foot in boot), defensive end David Perry (he was recently switched from tight end and had his left foot in a boot).

* We knew those two would be missing spring football, but we didn't know Kacy Rodgers II would come into spring football injured. Rodgers, not listed on the two-deep spring depth chart at safety, is recuperating from minor knee surgery, according to Golden. Rodgers was on the sideline and could not bend his left leg, keeping it very stiff when he walked. "That could be a little while longer, but we expect him to return.''

* Safety A.J. Highsmith, atop the depth chart, wore a red jersey Saturday for no contact. Golden said he has a "little hamstring" injury, but had a "tremendous offseason" and should be back when he's healed.

* Golden confirmed that linebacker Eddie Johnson is still suspended, and that he did not take part in the offseason UTough strength and conditioning program. Golden said he is "hopeful'' that Johnson will return, but unfortunately, the talented redshirt sophomore doesn't have a great track record.

   "I'm hopeful. I pray for him everyday that we'll get through this and we'll make it back but it's on him to be honest with you. He has been suspended. He's on campus but he's suspended.'

* Position changes: former DE Tyriq McCord to outside linebacker -- "That's pretty much what he was before. He worked at open-side end or strongside-linebacker for us, and then obviously rushed the passer on third down.'' TE Dyron Dye to DE, where he started his career at UM -- "He had a really good offseason and he's really serious and focused right now.'' TE to DE David Perry -- "Perry is out right now, but he's a welcomed addition to defensive line. We couldn't do that a year ago because we couldn't do that a year ago because we didn't have [former DE and now TE) Jake O'Donnell over there and Beau Sandland and Stan Dobard over at tight end.

 *RB Eduardo Clements: "We're hopeful [he returns]. Everything we understand is that he is healing and he should be able to return to the action, but that's out of my hands.''

*Rashawn Scott (previously suspended): "He did a good job and earned an orange shirt.''

*Stephen Morris: "Tremendous first day. He really must be studying the playbook like crazy. There's a self-assuredness, there's a confidence and there's a poise about him that he probably didn't have at this time last year.''

James Coley, the new offensive coordinator:

* On whether he is resorting back to the playbook they used last year or is incorporating his own plays: "It’s a little dabble of both. Football is football. We brought some new things in on Day One and kept some terminology to make it easier for the transition. But obviously we’ll be doing things the way it’s best for this team. So, as far as scheme, we’re going to use our personnel."

*On QB Stephen Morris: "Phenomenal. Sharp kid, a real good qb, a great leader. Things get taught and then he reteaches them."

*On RB Duke Johnson: "If you don’t use him you’re crazy. He’s a dynamic player. He’s explosive. He’s what you want in a guy with the ball in his hands. He changes the scoreboard."

* On any good natured ribbing from friends because he made the switch from FSU: "You can just imagine. It’s been crazy. But it’s all fun. I don’t take it personal. This is my team now and these guys are my players, our players. This is my family now."

*On being back where he grew up in Miami: "Great. I wish the Orange Bowl was still around. That’s a sentimental deal for me. It’s crazy driving by 95 and not seeing the Orange Bowl, you know what I mean? But it’s been good being back home. My dad came to practice today and that’s something I haven’t experienced in about seven years."

*On what his offensive philosophy might be with the Hurricanes: "I think it’s important, especially here, to create a vertical passing game because you have a big offensive line and you can create a vertical running game so I think they go hand in hand rather than dinking and dunking. I think there’s places for a dink and dunk offense but I think this offense needs to be an explosive offense.’’

Tight Ends coach Larry Scott: 

 *On his lineup of TEs: "They're talented. They do a good job of retaining information. [New junior-college transfer Beau Sandland] "catches the ball well, runs around well and he's focused.'' [Freshman Standish Dobard], as far as raw talent, it's all there. Once he gets it all and continues to learn and develop and mature he's going to be really good.''

Running backs coach Hurlie Brown: 

*On Dallas Crawford: "Dallas is one of the hardest working guys I've been around. He works his butt off, he's extremely smart, he's up for it. He's very competitive and loves the game.''

 *On transitioning from being a former DB coach: "Attention to detail. Coaching is coaching. As long as you're organized, and that's the biggest key, understanding what your role is and allowing those guys to perform. And teach -- I've got to study a lot more because it's new to me, but that's what you do as a coach.''

 SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN (and thanks to correspondent Steph Rogers for plenty of help today!)

 

August 27, 2011

Fisch believes UM has depth it needs on offense to deal with possible suspensions

CORAL GABLES -- UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch spoke to reporters after Saturday's media day and was asked how possible suspensions or player eligibility issues could affect his offense this season.

"I think we'll be able to handle it accordingly," Fisch said. "We've got a lot of very good players. I think when we get our players together and assess who we have at that point in time I feel great about our depth and everything that is going to happen."

Of the 12 football players named in the Yahoo! article citing Nevin Shapiro's allegations that players took improper benefits, only four play offense -- quarterback Jacory Harris, tight end Dyron Dye and receivers Aldarius Johnson and Travis Benjamin.

Jedd Fisch Here's what else Fisch was talking about...

What did you see out of Stephen Morris in camp that you liked?
"I think that all the quarterbacks did a tremendous job performing. The quarterbacks are getting better every day. When it comes to Stephen, he's shown great leadership. He's shown that he can make all the throws, and most importantly that he can command the huddle."

How important was it for the quarterbacks to avoid throwing interceptions in camp?
"It was fun for them. They're excited they can walk away from the last scrimmage and I think go 39 of 52 for 500 yards and no interceptions. If we can have days like that, that's tremendous. But obviously those aren't necessary all the expectations. The expectations are playing smart, and I think their confidence has grown with more knowledge of the offense and what we're trying to get done."

Can you talk about Tommy Streeter? He had a huge camp it seems.
"I think the wide receivers have all had a really good camp. I'm excited to watch them perform when it comes to game time. At practice they've all really gotten better. Tommy Streeter has really stepped up his game. He's made a lot of catches, a lot of big plays. He's an explosive receiver. It's really fun to watch Allen Hurns. It's fun to watch LaRon Byrd and Travis Benjamin and how they all work together. And the young guys too - Phillip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott have done a tremendous job. Coach [George] McDonald has those guys playing at a really high level."

How do you attribute the quarterbacks throwing fewer interceptions in camp?
"I'm hoping that it's their experience. It's one more year of experience for both of them. That's No. 1. No. 2, what we're asking them is to get in and out of bad plays. If we have a negative play or that doesn't look real good, we've given them the ability to audible and check into a play that will work. So I think that has really helped them not to cram a ball into a tight space or force a throw. And also we've really encouraged them to check down, find a running back and go from there."

Can the element of surprise in your offense be really helpful this season?
"I hope it's to our advantage. I said to our guys the whole time that it's our responsibility to keep what we do on offense to ourselves. When it comes down to next Monday night to be able perform at the highest level and hopefully use it to our advantage. There is no film on what we do; there is no examples of what it's going to look like for [Maryland's] defense, and we have to use that to our advantage."

How excited are you about the receivers?
"The one thing I'm most excited about is their knowledge of the game. The quarterbacks and receivers, whole lot of them, all understand the game better. They understand that press coverage equals this, Cover 2 equals this. These are the things that we need to take advantage of. Our ability to audible, get them in better position is really a credit to how hard the players have worked."

Is this team ready for the opener?
"I think that they are. I think they're excited about it. How could you not be? It's a Monday night game. It's at 8 o'clock on national TV on ESPN, it's an opportunity for them to perform. These guys are all big time players, played in big time games before. Stephen's played Maryland before. Stephen came back and brought the team back to a victory, scoring with 35 seconds left last year. Jacory has played in a ton of big games. So these guys have all played in big time games and they'll be fun to watch -- if the quarterbacks, receivers and offensive line do what they need to do."

What will picking the starting quarterback come down to?
"I think when it's time to make that decision and coach (Al) Golden makes that decision it's based on everything we've done, and it's a full assessment of everything that's gone on - training camp, spring practices and everything in terms of their work ethic as well."

What have you seen from your tight ends? Blake Ayles has been out due to injury for a while now.
"The tight ends we have are all playing at a high level. It's exciting to see Asante Cleveland come back from the shoulder situation he had. It's exciting to watch Clive Walford develop, Chase Ford develop. Hopefully Blake will be ready to go. We've got four solid tight ends that are really playing at a good level. We also have fullbacks that are playing both the fullback and tight end position. When you mix in [John] Calhoun and [Maurice] Hagens and those four guys, we've got nice depth at that position."

Were there any down moments during camp?
"We played with really high energy during camp. There was a lot of excitement. There was a lot of newness, and guys are going out there and having fun. We tried to keep it exciting, fun for them. Most importantly I think they were stimulated, because they had to think, always be on top of their game. We made every day a challenge."

How much has the NCAA investigation affected the team's spirits and the coaches decisions on who might start?
"It hasn't affected it at all. They have been outstanding. Our group has been great. We've gone out every single day, had a blast. We have fun in our meeting room, on the practice field, and they're performing at an extremely high level. I don't even know when that all came out, but I know it came out before a scrimmage that our guys played extremely well at. So I'm excited about every way we've practiced. Whatever happens with that happens with that, but we don't talk about that. We just talk about what we can do on offense to get better."

Will Spencer Whipple be ready if he needs to play?
"He had an unbelievable spring, took the first snap in the spring because of how hard he worked in the off-season program. Spencer understands the game, his work ethic is tremendous. He's ready to do whatever is needed to do to play the best we possibly can on offense."

How has Ryan Williams looked?
"He has done a great job of everything we've asked him to do. But his situation is different because he transferred in [and will probably redshirt this season as a transfer]".

How do you perceive the team looking at the coming season?
"A lot of the seniors feel this is their last shot. They want to give it everything they've got. Every play is the most important play, every game is the most important game. for the younger players, they want the seniors to go out on top as we all do.