University of Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya fans are in luck this season – that is, the ones who traditionally wear the jerseys of their favorite players to football games.
Next season? Not so much, unless punter Justin Vogel or new quarterback Evan Shirreffs – each No. 16 – is their man.
(Vogel had a great season in 2014 and is on the Ray Guy Award preseason watch list; Shirreffs, of Jefferson High in Georgia, was the last Hurricane to sign a letter of intent and will be a freshman this season)
Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James confirmed to the Miami Herald on Wednesday that UM’s new retail-jersey number policy will be to only produce one jersey with the current year and another with No. 1 – as in “We’re No. 1,’’ James said.
Thus, in 2015, the Hurricanes’ new adidas football jerseys – UM’s 12-year contract with adidas begins Sept. 1 – will offer No. 1 and No. 15, the latter of which happens to be Kaaya’s number, as well as kicker Michael Badgley's.
No. 1 is junior cornerback Artie Burns, another possible standout in 2015.
“This year is odd in that Brad Kaaya, obviously one of our most recognized names and players, is No. 15,’’ James said. “But it’s 15 for 2015 and No. 1 because we’re No. 1. Next year will be 16 and 1, the year after will be 17 and 1. The progression will continue for as far out in the future as you can see.’’
James said he implemented the change “because it makes sense.
To me the right thing to do is not to pick particular numbers of your stars.’’ He went on to say that using certain numbers worn by current players as well as former stars would “complicate the situation.’’
James said UM, which has historically used jersey numbers of higher profile players, such as Duke Johnson’s No. 8 last season, did not change to generic jerseys because of last summer’s landmark antitrust court decision that would allow athletes to be paid for using their likenesses or images.
Known as the Ed O’Bannon case, it was appealed by the NCAA, which made its oral arguments in March. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals still has not issued a ruling on the appeal.
“The NCAA continues to believe that Division I amateurism rules contested in the O’Bannon case are legal and that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will overturn the district court’s order to the contrary,’’ NCAA Board of Governors chair and Kansas State University president Kirk Schulz said June 1.
The Florida Gators have been using the generic No.1 for years, though you can still order Tim Tebow’s No. 15, said UF senior associate athletic director for communications Steve McClain. He said the other UF Nike jersey staples are No. 96, 06 and 08, the years UF won the national title. Over the years, McClain said UF has released other jersey numbers of former stars or some who won national titles and gave permission.
As for UM, retailer Harry Rothwell, general manager of the popular AllCanes near campus, said vendors are happy this year, but likely not so much in 2016.
“I doubt we’ll be selling too many 16s,’’ he said.
The new UM jerseys are expected to go on sale sometime in mid-to-late August, with the new adidas uniforms to be unveiled Saturday night in an invitation-only bash at Club Liv in Miami Beach.
So, what do you think of the new policy?
Just in case you're wondering, No. 17 will not belong to anyone we know of now in 2017, as it is worn by wide receiver D'Mauri Jones, a redshirt junior; and linebacker Tyriq McCord, a senior.
No. 18, though, brings images of a potential star in 6-5, 200-pound freshman wide receiver Lawrence Cager -- that is if he stays all four years.
And that No. 16 you might not be looking forward to, on the positive side, just imagine if the heralded "Swag 16" recruiting class actually stays together. The No. 16 would be pretty cool.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN