Some more info on UM's underclassmen contemplating draft...

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Artie Burns, Corn Elder, Stacy Coley and Al-Quadin Muhammad (pictured above on right, next to linebacker Juwon Young) are the four Miami Hurricane underclassmen contemplating turning pro. Click here for story in today's Miami Herald.

Cornerbacks Artie and Corn and receiver Stacy all talked to us yesterday. 

Outside linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad declined to discuss the subject after UM's win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.

So, last night I checked, used by As I said in my story none of the four Canes are listed among 41 underclassmen listed by

As for individual rankings by position, the site had  Burns rated 19th among junior cornerbacks in the draft class of 2017 (following the 2016 season),  Elder ranked 38th, Coley ranked 14th among wide receivers in that class and Muhammad ranked 18th among projected defensive ends in the 2018 draft class (Unless something bad happens, no way he'll last until 2018 draft).

Not sure how accurate those rankings are, but I do know that Burns is considered the most NFL-ready. And goodness knows you can understand if he declares for the 2016 NFL Draft, considering the recent death of his mom and that he's father to a 1-year-old boy and has two younger brothers still in school.

With Brad Kaaya as quarterback, I think Coley should definitely stay another season and keep improving and increasing his draft stock.He could have huge numbers next season. I most strongly think Muhammad should stay, because he could go from anything but a sure thing to a really dominant player next season (as well as proving he's mature enough not to make bad decisions outside of football). Corn has so much talent, but I feel his stock will increase also. He's just not physically imposing, although he is a phenomenal athlete. Another strong season would help him.

Here's some of what defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said yesterday about Muhammad: 

"Think about some of the great players that have come through here and then count how many starts they had before they left. He’s got seven starts. Who doesn’t need more than seven starts? You need to have in the 30s if you want to be a really truly great player that leaves here with accolades and is able to be in high regard at the next level I think you need to do it for quite a while. He’s done a good job. He’s had a good year and he’s continuing to improve. But I think he understands he’s got quite a ways to go.

"Every part of his game he knows he needs to improve on. He’s a hard worker. He invests hard every week. He studies tape. He does the things that he has to do to go play well. He’s been pretty consistent with that since he had an opportunity to start. To me that’s it. At the end of the day there’s only one way to continue to improve, that’s work hard on the field and study the game off the field. There’s no shortcut."

 That said, the risk of injury is always present. But UM does a good job of taking care of these kids physically, and risk always is present when you play football.

I wish them all the right decision, whatever that may be. This Canes team could be really good if they all return next season, but I'm thinking at least two leave. We'll see.



October 26, 2015

Miami Hurricane recruits react to Al Golden firing

With the firing of Al Golden announced by UM Sunday evening, recruits reacted.

Wellington wide receiver Ahmmon Richards responded in the most extreme way. He decommitted Sunday night with this tweet.

*Three-star cornerback out of Hallandale Deion Jackson said the firing won't affect his commitment, but did say he felt the move was "stupid."

He added: "Golden was a good coach. He had chemistry with the team. He literally used to go on the field and work with the players himself.

"Golden brought a family together. He always used to say, 'This is not just a football program, it's a family.' Half of these college coaches don't care. They don't care. They don't even look some recruits in the eye when they speak to recruits. Golden did and always stayed on top of me with my grades and things like that.

"Other college coaches don't care about building chemistry. If you're good, they want you just to win."

*Jackson's teammate at Hallandale, running back Zack Moss, says the change doesn't affect his commitment.

"I didn't commit to the coaches," he says. "I just look at rosters, mainly my position."

*Lantana Santaluces linebacker Zach McCloud will take a wait-and-see approach. He doesn't have much time as he plans to be an early enrollee in January for the spring semester.

"To be honest, I'm waiting before I make any big decisions. My biggest concern in this process is my future with only three months to decide since I'll be an early enrollee," he says. "I'm not comfortable at the moment, still being patient, though. I want to make an informed decision."

*Four-star St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Sam Bruce, who was in attendance to watch UM's 58-0 debacle against Clemson and has also recently taken an Ohio State visit, when reached said: "No comment."

But Bruce later made his opinion known with the tweets below.

The latter of the two statements, of course, is in reference to UM wide receivers coach Kevin Beard who once coached Bruce at University School. 

*Fellow Aquinas wide receiver and legacy Cane commit Michael Irvin II voiced his displeasure with the decision earlier Sunday.

*Teammate at Aquinas and 2017 linebacker Tyler Dunning had no comment but did post this to Twitter.

*Dionte Mullins' mother posted this on Twitter, noting "#StillCommitted" at the end.

*2017 safety out of Jacksonville Bolles Ahman Ross said, "Committed to UM. I will, of course, evaluate the staff, but I am committed to UM."

*Four-star athlete Tyler Byrd out of Naples posted this.

*Nick Roberts, 2017 defensive back out of Orange Park Oakleaf, expressed similar sentiments in this post.

*Deltona assistant coach David Williams said of senior tight end/defensive end Evan Hinson: "We're staying committed on our end."

*Fort Lauderdale coach Richard Dunbar said of committed defensive end Jaquwan Nelson, "Jaquwan will stay committed to UM but will take all of his visits. Just not sure what the university is thinking at this point. That's very critical for him."

Dunbar is referring to whether the new staff that comes in will continue to recruit his three-star defensive end, which has recorded 66 tackles and 15 sacks on the year.

*The latest UM commit, 2018 wide receiver Daquris Wiggins, said: "I'm still committed."


October 23, 2015

New Unis for UM hoops...

In case you don't follow me on Twitter (shame on you!..just kidding...but you may want to add me to your list if you care about Canes hoops)...

The men's and women's teams had a Medium-Sized Reveal party last night, attended by UM basketball's biggest boosters. It wasn't quite the extravaganza at LIV that the football team got, but it was a nice affair -- with plenty of lovely appetizers.

Here is what the Canes will be wearing this season....


Be on the lookout early next week for my preview stories on the men's and women's teams.

It should be an interesting season with nearly everyone back, the addition of Oklahoma State transfer Kamari Murphy, and a leaner, quicker Ivan Cruz Uceda (he dropped 20 lbs and went from 24 percent body fat to 9 percent..I want to use his trainer!!)

The schedule has lots of big home games -- Dec. 1 vs. Nebraska, Dec. 8 vs. the Florida Gators, Dec. 29 vs. Princeton, Jan. 2 vs. Syracuse, Jan. 9 vs Florida State Seminoles, Jan. 25 vs. Duke, Feb. 3 vs. Notre Dame, Feb. 22 vs. Virginia and Feb. 27 vs. Louisville.

On the women's team, the Hurricanes are very excited (read: giddy) about the addition of "Double Dutch'' freshmen Laura Cornelius and Emese Hof. They are both members of the Netherlands youth national team, played in the U19 World Championship, and word is they are picking things up really quickly and poised to make an instant impact.

See you at the BUC!

---Michelle Kaufman

March 12, 2015

Pre-game scene @ACC Tourney

About 40 minutes 'til tipoff for the ACC Tournament quarterfinal between UM and No. 11 Notre Dame. Canes are the sixth seed, Irish the third.

A few pre-game scenes...

Ran across this super fan in the parking lot!


Her name is B.J. Abolt, a retired auto tag agency owner who drove up with a friend from LaBelle, Fla., near Fort Myers.

They came up in a motor coach for the women’s basketball tournament and stayed for the men’s. Her brother and sister-in-law went to UM, and she adopted their team. She travels all over the country for UM sporting events. The license tag on her car back home is “CANES,’’ and the tag on her motor coach and Jeep is “2 4 U.’’

Why does she love the basketball teams so much?

“I grew up in Indiana with a basketball in my hand,’’ said Abolt. “I’m a big football fan, but now we have such terrific coaches that we’re involved with the basketball programs and it’s fun. This team, if they’re on, they can beat anybody here. Anybody.’’

She went on to rave about UM women's coach Katie Meier and men's coach Jim Larranaga, saying both are great teachers who make their players better.

A little while later, in the arena hallway, the Canes took over the hallway for some pre-game calisthenics.


Good news for us reporters writing on tight deadline tonight...Duke is crushing NC State 77-51 with 2 minutes to go, which means the UM game should start earlier than last night's 9:43 p.m. tipoff.

Enjoy the game -- Michelle Kaufman

January 23, 2015

UM apologizes for fan shoving NC St. player

During Miami's 65-60 win over NC State Thursday night, a UM fan shoved Wolfpack player Anthony Barber. It was captured on video. UM athletic director Blake James released this statement:

After tonight’s game I was made aware of an incident involving one of our fans and a North Carolina State University student-athlete. First I want to apologize to the student-athlete involved, Coach Mark Gottfried and North Carolina State University.  This type of behavior is not representative of the University of Miami or our athletic program, and will not be tolerated. We will review the video and discuss with the ACC the appropriate actions in addressing this issue. 


December 28, 2013

Russell Athletic Bowl live blog: UM vs. Louisville

ORLANDO -- The Hurricanes (9-3) hope to complete their first 10-win season in a decade with a win over 18th-ranked Louisville (11-1) at 6:45 p.m. tonight at The Citrus Bowl.

It won't be easy. Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a former standout at Miami Northwestern and once a UM commitment when Randy Shannon was coach, leads a potent Louisville passing attack.

Las Vegas lists the Cardinals as a 3 1/2 point favorite. With good reason, too. Despite facing a pretty weak schedule, Louisville is sound defensively. 

We'll be here to provide live updates as usual on Twitter and in our live blog. 

November 15, 2013

Counting stars: Why Al Golden is still very much trying to rebuild the Miami Hurricanes

It's easy to argue second-ranked Florida State was a deeper and more talented team than the Hurricanes two weeks ago and ultimately that's as big a reason as any why the Seminoles turned a close game at haftime into a 41-14 rout.

And it clearly was. Go back and read the Counting Stars blog I did before the game it shows you the Seminoles were not only deeper but loaded with more overall blue-chip talent position-by-position.

What's been irking most fans about Miami's loss to Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC) last weekend at home -- aside from the perceived poor coaching by defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio -- is that UM should be on par with the Hokies in terms of overall talent, if not loaded with more.

This Saturday afternoon's game at Duke (7-2, 3-2 ACC) should be a case where the Hurricanes are clearly the more talented and deeper team. But the truth is the talent gap isn't as wide as one might believe.

Duke's starting lineup for instance features six three-star prospects on offense (QB Anthony Boone, RB Josh Snead, WR Jamison Crowder, LT Takoby Cofield, LG Dave Harding, RG Laken Tomlinson) and six on defense (S Jeremy Cash, CB Ross Cockrell, DE Justin Foxx, DE Kenny Anunike, LB Kelby Brown, LB David Helton). There's depth too with another dozen 3-star prospects as backups.

Virginia Tech's offense featured four 4-star prospects in the starting lineup (QB Logan Thomas, TB Trey Edmunds, WR DJ Coles, RT Brent Benedict) and five other 3-star prospects. The defense featured 5-star recruit Kendall Fuller at outside linebacker, four-star safety Kyshoen Jarrett and three-star recruits everywhere else. The only players considered hidden gems: LB Jack Tyler (no stars) and defensive tackle Luther Maddy (2-stars). The Hokies were also loaded with experience (309 career starts on defense and 149 on offense).

The recruiting star-system obviously isn't a perfect science. Some 5-star kids bomb and some two-star kids turn into gems. But what the system does tell you at least pretty clearly is how heavily recruited each player is.

Five-star recruits are blue-chippers with offers from many, if not all of the country's top BCS programs. Four-star recruits aren't far behind, and three-star recruits generally have between five to 10 offers from decent Division I programs. Two-star recruits and below are players considered reaches and usually players with only one or two legit offers to play at the FBS level.

The Hurricanes have had higher-ranked recruiting classes (15th in 2009; 16th in 2010; 36th in 2011; 9th in 2012; 20th in 2013) than Virginia Tech (23rd in 2009; 23rd in 2010; 33rd in 2011; 22nd in 2012; 23rd in 2013) and Duke (51st in 2009; 71st in 2010; 76th in 2011; 52nd in 2012; 67th in 2013) over the last five years according to

But that only explains a small part of the story.

Miami signed 118 players over the last five seasons and 42 that helped make those classes Top 25-worthy ran into trouble at one point or another, cutting their careers at UM short. That's nearly 36 percent.

Some never or haven't made it into school, some transferred, some were forced out because of discipline issues and some had injuries they never recovered from. All the while for the past three years, UM has had to also deal with an NCAA cloud over its head.


A look back at Randy Shannon's last two recruiting classes (2009 and 2010) and Al Golden's first three (2011, 2012, 2013) better illustrate the point below.

> Of the 48 players Randy Shannon signed in his final two recruiting classes, three left early for the draft (Lamar Miller, Brandon Washington, Olivier Vernon all 4-star recruits) and three used up their eligibility (3-star TE Chase Ford, 4-star CB Brandon McGee and 4-star RB Mike James).

> The more eye-opening number? A total of 21 signees from those two classes either transferred or ran into academic or discipline issues. Two were 5-star recruits (defensive backs Ray-Ray Armstrong and Latwan Anderson) and another six were 4-star recruits (defensive tackle Tavadis Glenn, linebacker Travis Williams, offensive lineman Jermaine Johnson, defensive end Dyron Dye, defensive back Jamal Reid and running back Storm Johnson).

> Of the 21 players Shannon recruited still at UM, one is a 5-star recruit (OL Seantrel Henderson), four are 4-star recruits (OL Malcolm Bunche, RB Eduardo Clements, OL Brandon Linder and DT Luther Robinson), a dozen are 3-star recruits (QB Stephen Morris, WR Allen Hurns, OL Jon Feliciano, FB Maurice Hagens, C Shane McDermott, DE Shayon Green, S Kacy Rodgers, LB Tyrone Cornelius among the notables) and four are two-star recruits (TE Clive Walford, TE Asante Cleveland, LB Kelvin Cain, LB Jimmy Gaines).

> UM recruited 24 defensive players between 2009 and 2010. A total of 13 either transferred or ran into academic or discipline issues. Two are in the NFL (Brandon McGee, Olivier Vernon), six are still here serving as starters (Curtis Porter, Shayon Green, Tyrone Cornelius, Kacy Rodgers, Jimmy Gaines, AJ Highsmith) and three are career backups (Luther Robinson, David Perry, Kelvin Cain).


Golden had six weeks after being named UM's coach in December 2010 to wrap up the Hurricanes 2011 signing class, which makes up UM's juniors and redshirt sophomore class. He reeled in 18 recruits including 13 on defense.

Only two were four-star prospects: defensive ends Anthony Chickillo (12.5 sacks in 30 career starts) and Jalen Grimble (transferred to Oregon State this fall).

Of the eight 3-star defensive recruits, one (Dallas Crawford) was switched to running back, five are no longer with the program (CB Thomas Finnie, LB Gionni Paul, DE Ricardo Williams, LB Eddie Johnson, LB Antonio Kinard) and only two start (LB Denzel Perryman, DE Olsen Pierre). The other recruits: defensive tackle Corey King, linebacker Thurston Armrbister and JUCO defensive tackle Darius Smith (graduated) were late additions and nowhere on the recruiting radar.

The other five recruits in the 2011 class were receivers Phillip Dorsett (3-star) and Rashawn Scott (3-star), running back Kevin Grooms (3-star, now at Marshall), JUCO punter Dalton Botts (now gone) and Matt Goudis (2-star, now 7 of 11 on FGs in 2013).


Where Golden has finally begun to catchup is in his last two recruiting classes.

The Hurricanes signed 33 players in 2012 (at least three more than any other program in the country).

Of that group a dozen have made instant impacts either as starters or backups. Those are: five-star prospects RB Duke Johnson and CB Tracy Howard, four-star prospects LT Ereck Flowers, WR Malcolm Lewis, S Deon Bush, DE Jelani Hamilton, LB Raphael Kirby and DE Tyriq McCord and three 3-star additions WR Herb Waters, S Rayshawn Jenkins, CB Antonio Crawford and CB Ladarius Gunter.

Another 11 serve as reserves (all 3-star prospects): DE Dwayne Hoillett, WR D'Mauri Jones, QB Gray Crow, OL Danny Isidora, OL Taylor Gadbois, DE Dwayne Hoillett, DT Earl Moore, LB Jawand Blue, TE Jake O'Donnell, CB Nate Dortch and CB Larry Hope.

But another group of 10 either never got in, aren't here anymore or ended their football careers early. Among those: 4-star WR Angelo Jean-Louis (never got in) and WR Robert Lockhart (transfer) and 3-stars prospects WR Jontavious Carter (transfer), RB Danny Dillard (transfer), QB Preston Dewey (back), QB David Thompson (baseball only), CB Vernon Davis (West Virginia), DT Jacoby Briscoe, DT Dequan Ivery (Northeast Mississippi) and LB Josh Witt (concussions).

> The 2013 class featured 19 recruits including nine four-star recruits. But of that group, only 16 are physically at UM (ATH Ryheem Lockley, WR Derrick Griffin and LB Devante Bond aren't).

A group of seven are already in the two-deep: WR Stacy Coley (4-star), RB Gus Edwards (3-star), FB Walter Tucker (2-star), TE Beau Sandland (4-star), CB Corn Elder (4-star), DE Ufomba Kamalu (2-star), CB Artie Burns (4-star).

Another four play in reserve duty and on special teams: DE Quan Muhammad (4-star), DB Jamal Carter (4-star), LB Jermaine Grace (4-star) and OL Alex Gall (3-star).

And another five appear headed toward a redshirt: TE Standish Dobard (3-star), QB Kevin Olsen (4-star), CB Ray Lewis III (3-star), OL Sunny Odogwu (3-star) and OL Hunter Knighton (3-star).


Even if you believe UM's recent struggles have to do with poor coaching, player development or play-calling, you can't ignore the amount of attrition the Hurricanes have endured the last five years.

Just because UM has had decent recruiting class rankings the last five years doesn't mean the shelves are loaded with enough talent for this program to be "back."

I spoke to three different recruiting analysts Thursday who all said the same thing: Miami is not deep enough anywhere and the overall talent isn't good enough to be a legit contender this year. And it probably won't be for another year or two at least.

Why? In part because Golden was dealing with an NCAA mess and in trying to do so probably took some players early in the recruiting process that normally wouldn't be at UM if they were sanction-free. 

The 2014 class, however, appears to be the start to the road back. The defensive line haul is impressive. Brad Kaaya is considered by many to be UM's best quarterback recruit in some time. The offensive line is also very good.

What talent is here now is young and growing. The older talent? One could argue Golden and his staff tried to squeeze as much out of it as they could.

I spoke with Tony Pauline of Wednesday. Who does he like among Miami's draft-eligible 2014 class of seniors and juniors?

"None of them really," he said. "I liked Morris a lot going into the season. He's shown some ability at times this year, but at other times he just makes passes and you scratch your head and say 'What the [heck] was that all about?' Too much inconsistency.

"Seantrel Henderson. He's the same thing to a much greater degree. Off the field issues. He just hasn't seemed to elevate his game.

"I do like Perryman a lot. The thing with him is going to be size, speed issues. I think Linder is going to be a late day steal. I think Linder in the right system can be a 10-year pro. I think he's going to be a guy drafted somewhere in the later rounds.

"I do like Jimmy Gaines. In the sense he's elevated his game, his head is in the right direction. Gaines you're thinking at best a late round pick or somebody who works his way onto the roster as a free agent. And then Allen Hurns, who is probably a last day guy. That's it."

November 09, 2013

Golden after loss to Virginia Tech: "Whatever I say is an excuse. At the end of the day, we have to fix it."

On the difficulties in fighting uphill after falling behind early...

“Huge. You can’t spot them 21 points like that. At the end of the day, we executed the punt return and kick-off return exactly what we wanted - one was 30 [yards], one was 50 [yards], and we fumbled both of them. Just inexcusable. We had a low snap and gave them a short field there, and now you’re playing uphill the whole time. They’re basically playing keep-away at that moment. We didn’t get off the field well enough on third down. We didn’t convert enough plays on offense. Just really disappointed in those mistakes.”

On lopsided time of possession in the first quarter affecting chances of success...

“There isn’t any question about it. We had two fumbles and basically what amounted to a fumble on the low snap that we were down on. To start out the game like that, I don’t think there’s anybody in this business that would see that coming. There’s just no way that should happen. I’m really disappointed there.”

On the general issues that he sees with his team’s defense...

“We didn’t get off the field enough on third down. We missed too many tackles - too many egregious third downs that they converted. Really against the odds plays for them that they converted, and we didn’t stop them enough in the red zone. Even with the mistakes that we aided them [with] in the half, I think we were still only in the 30’s going into halftime play-wise. Not that that’s great, but it’s not like it was 40 or 50 plays. Again, just really disappointed. We didn’t deserve to win. We didn’t protect the ball, a low snap, three big blunders to start the game, and as I just said to them, don’t let anyone say we weren’t ready, we weren’t focused. If everyone is blocking who they’re supposed to be and we return it 50 yards, we’re ready to play. We fumbled the ball. We had a good scheme and we fumbled the ball. We score early on a screen, we’re ready to play. Just really disappointing. It’s impossible to overcome those odds.”

On how the weather affected his team’s gameplan...

“None. Zero. Don’t let anyone say the rain affected those fumbles. They started to get in traffic, you have to cover that up, and the ball should be higher. Something we work on constantly. The ball was just too low, the point was down. I’m embarrassed by it, to be honest with you.”

On any systemic issues he sees with the defense...

“We need to help them on special teams and on offense. There are a lot of things we need to fix. We had too many guys open, we didn’t tackle well enough, we didn’t get off the field, we didn’t get a red-zone stop, and we didn’t get enough pressure on the quarterback.”

On if the same issues that plagued the defense last week were recurring against Virginia Tech...

“The numbers would say yes. There were too many third-and-longs, too many against-the-odds third downs they converted. It was the function of two things: we blew a coverage – a man got free or cut a guy loose - lost leverage in the zone, or we didn’t tackle real well.”

On the play of the Virginia Tech wide receivers...

“We had some guys running free. We got out-leveraged a couple of times. As I said, we didn’t tackle. There’s no excuse. It has to be better, it wasn’t good enough, and it’s my responsibility to get it fixed.”

On what his team needs to do better offensively...

“We needed to get the ball. Obviously on the two occasions that we fumbled it, those two possessions certainly could help. We’re not good enough right now on third down. We’re not converting enough on third down with enough consistency, and obviously that’s an excellent defense we’re playing [against]. [When] you spot them 21 points, you’re fighting an uphill battle. It gets skewed when you make those kind of mistakes. It’s really tough. We didn’t convert enough of our shots down the field.”

On if he anticipates making any changes to his defensive scheme...

“We have to look at it. It would be premature to say we have to change things when we really had too many unforced errors, to be honest with you.”

On if the cushion for Virginia Tech wide receivers on third down was the product of mental errors...

“I know twice we got rubbed off and didn’t stay on our man, the other one we missed a tackle. We’re playing man [coverage] a couple of times, so it wasn’t like we weren’t being aggressive. We didn’t get it done. There’s no excuse. We’ll examine it, look at it, from top to bottom.”

On the Coastal Division race...

“We’re going to go to work tomorrow, like I just told the team. I’m going to be in there, getting back to work. They have to decide which direction they want to go – there’s a lot of football left. They have to get their minds right and move on. I don’t want to hear anything about last week’s game affecting this week’s game. We were ready to play. We did not take care of the football, and it really was the equivalent of three turnovers early in that game when you look at the two kick plays and the knee down. We didn’t tackle well enough, we didn’t get out of the field well enough, we didn’t get a red zone stop on defense. On offense, we didn’t run the ball well enough, we didn’t convert on third down, we didn’t hit the shots when we had them down the field, and we dropped a few [passes], to be honest with you.”

On the differences he sees from his team’s win against Florida to the loss against Virginia Tech...

“Whatever I say is an excuse. At the end of the day, we have to fix it. We have to go back to work and fix it. I’m not even going to go down that path. We’re all responsible for it, I’m responsible for it, and we’re going to go to work tomorrow on getting it fixed and getting this thing right, and do all the little things right to move forward and move the program forward. That’s what we have to all get going tomorrow.”

September 07, 2013

Gameday blog: Canes vs. Gators

It's the big day. 

We'll be hosting our live chat as usual. Join us in CoverItLive. 

Kickoff is at noon. Gators are a three-point favorite. Game can be seen on ESPN and heard on WQAM (560 AM locally). Make sure to follow me on Twitter @Manny_Navarro. I posted plenty of pregame Vines and photos.

June 04, 2013

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


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

February 19, 2013

Shalala releases statement on NOA


“The University of Miami deeply regrets and takes full responsibility for those NCAA violations that are based on fact and are corroborated by multiple individuals and/or documentation.  We have already self-imposed a bowl ban for an unprecedented two-year period, forfeited the opportunity to participate in an ACC championship game, and withheld student-athletes from competition.

"Over the two and a half years since the University of Miami first contacted the NCAA enforcement staff about allegations of rules violations, the NCAA interviewed dozens of witnesses, including current and former Miami employees and student-athletes, and received thousands of requested documents and emails from the University.  Yet despite our efforts to aid the investigation, the NCAA acknowledged on February 18, 2013 that it violated its own policies and procedures in an attempt to validate the allegations made by a convicted felon.  Many of the allegations included in the Notice of Allegations remain unsubstantiated. 

"Now that the Notice of Allegations has been issued, let me provide some context to the investigation itself:

> Many of the charges brought forth are based on the word of a man who made a fortune by lying. The NCAA enforcement staff acknowledged to the University that if Nevin Shapiro, a convicted con man, said something more than once, it considered the allegation “corroborated”—an argument which is both ludicrous and counter to legal practice.

> Most of the sensationalized media accounts of Shapiro’s claims are found nowhere in the Notice of Allegations.  Despite their efforts over two and a half years, the NCAA enforcement staff could not find evidence of prostitution, expensive cars for players, expensive dinners paid for by boosters, player bounty payments, rampant alcohol and drug use, or the alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts given to student-athletes, as reported in the media.  The fabricated story played well—the facts did not. 

> The NCAA enforcement staff failed, even after repeated requests, to interview many essential witnesses of great integrity who could have provided first-hand testimony, including, unbelievably, Paul Dee, who has since passed away, but who served as Miami Athletic Director during many of the years that violations were alleged to have occurred.  How could a supposedly thorough and fair investigation not even include the Director of Athletics? 

> Finally, we believe the NCAA was responsible for damaging leaks of unsubstantiated allegations over the course of the investigation.   

Let me be clear again: for any rule violation—substantiated and proven with facts—that the University, its employees, or student-athletes committed, we have been and should be held accountable.  We have worked hard to improve our compliance oversight, and we have already self-imposed harsh sanctions.   

We deeply regret any violations, but we have suffered enough. 

The University and counsel will work diligently to prepare our official response to the Notice of Allegations and submit it to the Committee on Infractions within the required 90-day time period. 

We trust that the Committee on Infractions will provide the fairness and integrity missing during the investigative process.”

A timeline of the NCAA's inquiry into UM, Shapiro, his lawyer and the conduct of the enforcement staff

In case you didn't have the time to read all 52 pages of the external review committee's findings into the conduct of the NCAA enforcement committee on Monday, here's a timeline of facts and events as it pertains to the UM investigation.

It might provide a clearer picture for you of who, what, when, where and even why as we move forward in all this. 


> August 2010: Former booster Nevin Shapiro tells our Barry Jackson he's prepared to write a tell-all book that will bring the University of Miami football program down. 

> February 2011: Shapiro sends email to Rich Johanningmeier, Associate Director of Enforcement at the NCAA. Shapiro makes allegations that over nearly a 10-year period he colluded with student-athletes and coaches to provide improper benefits. The NCAA buys Shapiro a disposable cell phone and expends roughly $8,200 to fund communications with Shapiro. At one point they transfer $4,500 to his prison to pay for the communication expenses.

> April 2011: Johanningmeier makes contact for the first time with Shapiro's attorney, Maria Elena Perez, after Shapiro requests she be informed of his cooperation with the NCAA investigation.

> April 21, 2011: NCAA asks for copies of Shapiro's FBI 302 reports. A week later, Perez tells the NCAA she is not able to provide copies of the FBI 302 reports but offers to "extract the information regarding any reported NCAA violations or the like." In a email later, Perez tells the enforcement staff she can prepare summaries of Shapiro's 302 reports at a rate of $575 per hour and provide a retainer for the agreement.

> May 2011: After speaking to Shapiro for months, NCAA enforcement staff members Ameen Najjar, who heads the NCAA's investigation, and Johanningmeier meet with Shapiro in jail twice. Najjar visits alone a third time. In one visit, Shapiro provides the enforcement staff with four boxes of documents related to his allegations.

> Aug. 2011: The enforcement staff briefs NCAA President Mark Emmert for the first time in the investigation. Shortly thereafter, Johanningmeier and Najjar meet with UM President Donna Shalala to present her with a notice of inquiry.

> Aug. 15, 2011: UM equipment manager Sean Allen is interviewed for the first time. He later tells The Miami Herald and other publications he lied through his teeth in the initial interview.

> Aug. 16, 2011: Yahoo! publishes its expose of Shapiro's allegations. A day later, UM coach Al Golden said he was blind-sided by the story and had no idea when he was hired UM was facing an investigation.

> Aug. 25, 2011: UM declares 13 football players ineligible and eight serve suspensions.

> Sept. 28, 2011: Perez proposes the idea of leveraging the subpoena process in Mr. Shapiro's ongoing bankruptcy proceedings to compel certain witnesses to provide the testimony they were seeking. Perez tells Najjar that Shapiro wants to help because it helped the Bankruptcy Trustee and because it would help Shapiro "get revenge on the University of Miami and its student-athletes who had turned their back on him."

Despite the advice of the NCAA's legal staff not to retain Ms. Perez, the enforcement staff proceeds with Perez's idea. The notes from the NCAA investigation case strategy meeting suggest the Bankruptcy Trustee did not intend to depose Shapiro's former bodyguard Mario Sanchez, Allen (UM's equipment manager) or Michael Huyghue, Shapiro's business partner at Axcess Sports Agency. That evening Najjar reports the idea to Julie Roe Lach, the Vice President of Enforcement, and Tom Hosty, the managing director of enforcement.

Lach later tells the outside counsel hired by the NCAA she could not recall Najjar's email had not heard of Shapiro's lawyer before that date. Hosty said he did not know about the UM case until August 2011, but he had been briefed on interviews with Mr. Shapiro and knew of Ms. Perez prior to receiving the September 28, 2011.

> Oct. 4, 2011: Perez provides the NCAA with a written proposal to conduct depositions of nine individuals including Huyghue, Allen and Sanchez and her "expenses and legal fees" are estimated to be at $20,000.

> Oct. 10, 2011: UM's counsel of Judd Goldberg and Michael Glazier knew of Perez's proposal before it is presented to the NCAA supervisors for approval. In a conference call with Najjar and Johanningmeier they raise three concerns: 1. That Perez would leak information because she was not bound by the NCAA's confidentiality policy; 2. Perez was not trustworthy; 3. Perez was not listed as an attorney in Shapiro's bankruptcy and did not have the authority to issue the bankruptcy subpoenas.

In another email, Najjar tells Perez the NCAA only wants to depose Sanchez, Allen, Huyghue and only two other individuals of the nine mentioned in her proposal. Another person not named by Perez, but named by the NCAA is basketball booster David Leshner.

Najjar then sends an email to Lach and Hosty about hiring Perez to conduct depositions of the six individuals he previously listed and informs them it could cost roughly $20,000 for the work. Najjar tells the outside counsel later he sought approval simply for the expenditure and to get the guidance whether the arrangement was permissible under NCAA bylaws.

Hosty replies to Najjar's email that same day saying: "Most intriguing. I don't know what we can afford from costs, but this could be a creative solution for bigger breakthroughs on evidence."

Lach emails Isch to green-light the funding. She then emails Hosty to clear the proposal with Naima Stevenson, a member of the NCAA's legal staff.

> Oct. 13, 2011: Hosty forward's Najjar's email to Stevenson asking her if she saw any legal issues. She promptly reviewed the email and said it raised two concerns: 1. Only the legal staff could hire outside counsel and 2. She saw the arrangement as an effort to circumvent the limits on the NCAA's authority to compel cooperation from third parties. She emailed Najjar and Hosty to touch base so she could receive additional information regarding the proposal.

> Oct. 21, 2011: After consulting with her boss, Donald Remy, Stevenson sends an email to Najjar advising him not to use Perez in the proposed manner and offered several explanations for why she and the legal staff believed it was inappropriate.

She warns Najjar using a criminal attorney to conduct depositions would be inappropriate. "Any information obtained through such a manner for use in the NCAA process would be subject to significant scrutiny to the extent any decisions were based on that information if those decisions were to be subsequently challenged," she wrote. Lach, Hosty and Najjar explained the advice "created a significant impediment to our investigation" and asked for a meeting.

> Oct. 25, 2011: After exchanging emails, Najjar and Stevenson agree to meet to discuss the Perez proposal. Stevenson, Remy and Najjar attended the meeting. Lach participated via phone. Remy spoke during the meeting and reiterated Stevenson's message, saying they could not retain legal counsel to represent the interests of the NCAA, but could attend any public depositions or copy transcripts thereof. They also cited concern Perez's proposal could be an inappropriate circumvention of the NCAA's investigative limits. Lach later couldn't recall the meeting and said she was out of the office that day sick. But Stevenson said Lach did "appear to accept" the legal opinion.

A review of Lach's cell phone records show she received a call from the NCAA and was on the phone during that meeting for 11 minutes. Najjar later said he had no recollection of that meeting, but did recall the email of rejection.

Minutes after that meeting, Najjar sends Perez a text message saying he ran into a legal problem retaining her but "there's a way around it.

> Oct. 27, 2011: Najjar has Perez send him her tax information so she can receive payment. Less than a month later he texts her to assure her "everything was approved." Lach later says it was her understanding from emails through Najjar that her and Hosty were told the legal staff had approved the circumstances under which Perez had been retained.

> November 19, 2011: UM self imposes a bowl ban and then announces it will extend the contract of coach Al Golden through the 2019 season.

> Dec. 7, 2011: Perez provides Najjar a list of seven individuals she is prepared to depose.

> Dec. 13, 2011: Perez contacts Najjar to inform him Allen's deposition had been set for Dec. 19, 2011 and Huyghue's deposition was scheduled for Dec. 28, 2011. She also noted a deposition for Leshner on Dec. 27, 2011 and was in the process of trying to serve a fourth witness, Mario Sanchez.

Najjar and Perez also discuss the preparation of questions for the depositions. She tells Najjar that if he is unable to attend he should send questions. Although, she noted, "I believe Mr. Shapiro has all the questions covered."

> Dec. 18, 2011: Najjar provides Perez with a list of 34 areas they would like for her to "explore" with Allen. It was focused on identifying student-athletes who may have received prohibited entertainment and gifts from Shapiro. Najjar's list of areas to explore included questions such as "When Allen was employed/associated with Axcess Sports, which UM players did he recruit for Axcess and what monetary benefits did he provide or was aware were provided for them?"

UM's counsel of Goldberg and Glazier later say Najjar was reluctant to disclose information about the depositions and noted that Najjar never mentioned to them that Allen's deposition had taken place.

> Dec. 2011 to July 2012: Perez sends four invoices to the NCAA (Dec. 20, 2011; Jan. 3, 2012; Jan. 10, 2012; July 13, 2012) requesting reimbursement for court reporter fees, copying costs and conference room rental for a total of $8,467.

> May 2012: Johanningmeier retires from the NCAA. Najjar is fired. Stephanie Hannah takes over the investigation.

> July 20, 2012: Yahoo! reports links Golden to using Allen to help him recruit local players.

> Aug. 2, 2012: Perez sends nine invoices requesting payment of billatable time spent on the NCAA's investigation from Oct. 11, 2011 to July 31, 2012 at an hourly rate of $350. She requests a total payment of $57,115.

> Aug. 29, 2012: Hannah forwards Perez's email to Lach who says the NCAA agreed to pay far less, roughly $15,000.

> Sept. 18, 2012: The NCAA pays Perez for six invoices of her work, totaling $10,500.

> Sept. 28, 2012: Hannah reviews Pere'z invoices with Stevenson for the propriety of certain charges. Stevenson is surprised to learn that Najjar had retained Perez after she and Remy had told him not to. Stevenson meets with Lach and they agree to discontinue all work with Perez in the bankruptcy proceedings.

> Fall 2012: The Enforcement and Legal staff undertake a series of measures to review what happened and agree to pay Perez a final amount of $18,000. To ensure that the parties at risk of the investigation suffer no prejudice from the use of the NCAA's bankruptcy proceedings, the NCAA's Enforcement and Legal staffs decide to remove any information directly or indirectly derived from the work of Perez.

> Oct. 2012: The Legal Staff, in consultation with the NCAA President and Chief Operating Officer agree to remove evidence derived directly or indirectly from the Perez depositions. Remy explains the decision to exclude information was not based on a particular NCAA administrative Bylaw or policy, but instead inspired by the criminal law concept of excluding illegally obtained evidence and its "tainted fruits" to ensure that investigative targets are not prejudiced by any improper investigative techniques.

The staff determines any statements made by Allen in his voluntary interviews with the NCAA, both those that occurred before and after his sworn deposition, would be excluded as well the 13 subsequent interviews of others. They also determine portions of 12 additional interviews conducted after Allen's deposition would be excluded.

> Late November 2012: UM self imposes another bowl ban and announces it will also skip the ACC championship game in football.

> Jan. 11, 2013: The enforcement staff notifies UM and the subject parties of its conduct involving Perez and its decision to exclude any evidence directly or indirectly derived from them.

> Jan. 22, 2013: NCAA retains Cadwalader to conduct an outside investigation of its NCAA enforcement staff and its conduct with Perez.

> Jan. 23, 2013: The NCAA holds a press conference and issues a press release describing the enforcement staff's missteps in conjunction with Perez.

> Feb 18, 2013: Cadwalaer attorneys release their 52-page finding to the public. Lach is fired from the NCAA.

Based upon the review of over 75 interview transcripts and voluminous other records (including bank accounts, receipts, photographs and other records) it is the opinion of Cadwalaer the NCAA's investigative record on UM is not based on evidence that was improperly derived directly or indirectly from the depositions done by Perez. The outside hired counsel estimates 20 percent of the case against UM has been tossed out.

Emmert says the NCAA will continue with its case against Miami and there will be no settlement. He says the Committee on Infractions will have to determine the validity of the case.

UM President Donna Shalala releases a statement firing back at the NCAA, showing signs for the first time in the 22-month investigation the school may actually be digging in its heels for a fight and taking legal action. Shalala says in her statement she wants a quick resolution to the matter.

February 08, 2013

Blake James sheds interim title, hired as full-time athletic director at Miami

The University of Miami announced Friday that Blake James has shed his title as interim athletic director and been hired for the position full-time. James had been serving as the interim AD since October 2012.

“Blake James has proven that he has the experience, skills, leadership and especially the love for the University that we need in Athletics,” University of Miami President Donna E. Shalala said in a statement released by the school.

James came to UM three years ago as Senior Associate AD after spending seven years the University of Maine, where he served as Senior Associate Athletic Director before serving as Director of Athletics from July 2005 to September 2010. In that role, his primary responsibilities focused on marketing, ticketing, retail operations and athletics development, along with men's and women's track and field, cross country, men's soccer, men's basketball and baseball.

“I’m honored to be named the Director of Athletics here at the University of Miami,” James said. “I want to thank President Shalala and the Board of Trustees for the opportunity as we continue to move forward through these difficult times. We have assembled a great athletics staff with tremendous head coaches and I am grateful to be a Miami Hurricane.”

During his tenure at Maine, athletics experienced tremendous success, including three trips to the Frozen Four for the men's ice hockey program and NCAA playoff berths for football, baseball (two), women's basketball and softball. Additionally, James implemented a comprehensive $17 million facility improvement plan, which included an indoor practice facility and numerous other facility upgrades and renovations. Academically, the program flourished, earning the conference academic cup twice and maintaining better than a 3.0 GPA.

Prior to his stint at James worked in athletics development at Providence College, where he established the "Friars Forever" campaign and the Friar Athletic Fund.

No stranger to South Florida, James began his athletic career with UM, working in ticket sales, corporate sales and athletics development while a graduate student at St. Thomas University.

He graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato with a bachelor's degree in marketing in 1992 and received his master's degree from St. Thomas University in 1994. He and his wife Kelly have two children, Haley and Ryan.

February 07, 2013

UM issues statement regarding its drug testing policy, strength coach Jimmy Goins

"The University of Miami’s comprehensive drug testing policy, enacted in 1995, continues to evolve as the methods and reliability of testing have improved and as more drugs have been introduced into the world of competitive sports.

"The University’s program is monitored by a University committee, which includes medical professionals, and is overseen by a Medical Review Officer --c urrently, a former UM Miller School of Medicine physician -- who ensures the integrity and confidentiality of the drug testing program. An outside third-party firm administers the tests and provides results to the University.

"Since 2005, approximately 3,380 student-athletes have been tested more than 10,000 times by the University, in addition to drug tests administered by the NCAA. During that period, no student-athlete has tested positive for anabolic steroids. The University of Miami, like many of our peer institutions, the NCAA and many professional sports leagues, does not currently test for Human Growth Hormones.

"The University of Miami's drug testing policy is consistent with those at most NCAA Division I programs and provides more stringent penalties -- including game suspensions for first-time positive results -- than many of our peers.

"As stated last week, we have initiated an internal review involving an employee and will continue to monitor developments."

January 23, 2013

Bylaw Blog writer weighs in on UM case after NCAA bombshell drops Wednesday

After Wednesday's bombshell fell from the lips of NCAA President Mark Emmert, I reached out to our friend John Infante, a former compliance officer at NCAA Division I schools who runs the Bylaw Blog.

Infante's expertise has been featured on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and numerous other media outlets. Keep in mind he isn't privy to the information the NCAA has on Miami. He simply is giving his opinion based on what he's read from published reports and heard today.

Here is the transcript of my 20 minute, one-on-one Q&A with him today:

Q: How does this affect Miami? Most people assume here that the NCAA admitting its made mistakes in the investigation will be positive for Miami. Some think they might even just settle.

"It definitely will be positive. But I think people -- when they think positive -- it's significantly reduced sanctions. To me, that remains to be seen. I know President Emmert said in his press conference that this affected only a small portion of the information in the case. They still have to go through and find out exactly which allegations or specific violations [can't be used]. I don't know how much the NCAA follows the fruit of the [poisonous] tree doctrine -- which basically says if you gather information you wouldn't otherwise have gotten without the use of an improper lead, you can't use that new information either. But anything the NCAA cannot corroborate is helpful for Miami. The fewer student-athletes, the fewer former coaches, the less money, the fewer violations involved the better the case will be [for UM]. The question now is if it is going to better enough to result in a significantly different set of penalties."

Q: A lot of the investigative reports -- including Yahoo!'s -- came from the depositions and information through Shapiro's lawyer Maria Elena Perez. How could the NCAA still have much of a case if you have to wipe out whatever Shapiro's lawyer was involved with?

"Again, you have to wonder if the NCAA could have gotten this another way. It could be they look through their reports -- I don't know who makes this determination the law firm or the NCAA -- but they may say, 'We got this through this [improper] deposition, but then here's the other document we obtained properly that has the same information in it.' So I think you balance it with the idea that they wouldn't try to get subpeona power unless what they got was a game changer or real effective. The extreme [position] that the whole case is going to be gone, the NCAA certainly doesn't sound like the whole case is going to be gone. It sounds like something significant is still there... I think there is a big range -- in the middle -- of what exactly the case was going to look like. Frankly, the other problem is we don't know what the case would have looked like before. We know what Yahoo!'s case would have been and other media outlet's cases would have been. But nobody knows exactly, specifically what the NCAA has been able to corroborate given this abusive power. So, it's tough to know what was knocked out when we aren't even sure what's going to be in there in the first place."

Q: Worst day in NCAA history in terms of them policing themselves?

"As President Emmert said they've had better days. It's certainly up there. It's certainly one of the darkest days in NCAA history in terms of its investigative power. The thing to remember is that in these kind of scandals with the NCAA's investigative process that have come out in the last year -- Todd McNair's defamation case; the Shabazz Muhammad case and now this -- the NCAA has been accused of not following its own rules. One of the responses might be that the NCAA just had some bad seeds and 'we're going to clear out the bad apples that spoil the bunch. We're going to clear out the staff and we're going to have more money to bring in professional investigators and move on from there.' I think the real kind of devastating thing [for the NCAA] is if the courts say you followed procedure to a T and we're still ruling that improper. Then, that calls into question the entire way the NCAA does it's business rather than the idea that investigator or that investigator went rogue. The NCAA is dealing with the same sort of problems athletic departments deal with. There is a violation; now we got to find out what it is and fix it. Did the coach go rogue? Did the investigator go rogue? Did we fail to monitor? I know people are making jokes about it. People have asked me: 'Why would something like this happen?' Coaches are expected to deliver results and they cut corner sometimes. I think in a public case like this --- where the public says 'We had all the facts 15 months ago why isn't Miami punished yet?' -- there is that pressure to get your man, to deliver a result. Well, there would be pressure in that case also for an investigator to cut a corner."

Q: Isn't this unprecedented, the NCAA admitting it made a mistake before a notice of allegations isn't even sent?

"Yes. The leak of info with [UCLA basketball player] Shabazz Muhammad, we found out about that after he had been ruled ineligible and while they were appealing. It was kind of mid-process whereas this is kind of right before [the NOA]. In terms of how it helps Miami, I don't know if procedurally it really does [help] because you would hope that if the NOA went out and then the NCAA [did what it did Wednesday the NOA] would be pulled back and the NCAA would be doing exactly what it is doing now, which is pulling back and seeing what information should be in there and then re-doing the notice of allegations with the info it should have. Really, what it does is it delays [the case], but it doesn't delay it as long [as it could have been] because the NCAA would have had to restart its 90-day timeline. It sounds like the NCAA is fairly confident they can turn this around quickly. They're saying this is a delay of weeks rather than months. In terms of the timing of it, I really don't think its helpful for Miami in terms of what the penalties will be. I think it prevents a really long case from being delayed longer than it is now."

Q: Some people are thinking Miami can pounce here legally and say -- you fired these investigators, you went about this the wrong way, whole thing is a sham -- can Miami do anything here to put pressure on the NCAA that would help solve this case faster and lessen the penalties?

"That's tricky for all the parties involved because you are still down by the cooperative principal. You still have to cooperate with the NCAA's investigation. For Miami [to sue or fight it] that's a very high risk maneuver. Everything in this case has suggested that up until now they're not really putting up a fight. They might be exhausting their options to defend themselves, not digging in their heels to fight it every step of the way. I think the more likely scenario is Miami lets this play out and if the sanctions or the findings that come out of the committee on infractions' final report are excessive, I think that's the point Miami picks up on this and uses [Wednesday's announcement] as grounds for a lawsuit. Miami doesn't look like it's going to fight it like that. They're more likely to appeal anything now. But in terms of suing the NCAA that's always a drastic step. Very few schools have done it. It's generally individuals. As far as the individual coaches, a lot of them are still employed and working. If they had been fired or not working I think they would be much more likely to pounce on this and try to get themselves detached and the case thrown out. But since they're working, I think it's going to be more of a wait and see what their penalties are and if it harms their career. I can almost guarantee there will be a couple lawsuits against the NCAA trying to say this whole thing, none of it is proper."

Q: The NCAA is going to a new enforcement system in August. Can they avoid these similar problems from happening again?

"The new system doesn't really address what happens here. The new system is really more about penalties. It doesn't address how cases get to this point. Depending on the outcome of this external review -- and kudos for the NCAA being up front about it, talking about it publicly let's hope this continues -- I think this leads to a whole new initiative. This is not an isolated issue. This is kind of the third incident. Fool me once shame on you; full me twice shame on me. Three times is a trend. I do think it requires a big change. What that change is it's tough to say. I think the NCAA may take a more serious look at what people are calling them to do which is handing off investigations to third parties or creating an internal affairs unit. If this is a result of public pressure and an underfunded, undermanned enforcement staff, I'm not necessarily sure those things will fix the problem long term other than creating the same type of cycle where schools get caught, clean things up, fall off a little bit and break rules again. The NCAA isn't in a position or the public standing to keep things the same way. They have to come up with something to address this problem long term to sort of regain any public trust."

Q: Gut feeling in the end: Does Miami gets off easier?

"At this point I would be shocked about another post-season ban. I also would be surprised to see crippling scholarship penalties. I do think they will be let off a little easier than they would have been. The biggest challenge now for the NCAA is to explain [to other school] in a way that Miami didn't get a break on a technicality. That won't sit well with people either."

January 22, 2013

NCAA Bylaw Blog writer John Infante talks positives, negatives for UM with latest developments

With reports surfacing that former basketball coach Frank Haith and football recruiting coordinators Clint Hurtt and Aubrey Hill are expected to be charged with unethical conduct in the NCAA's investigation into wrongdoing done at the University of Miami, I sought the expertise of NCAA Bylaw Blog writer John Infante Tuesday morning to digest what we are hearing and how it might affect the program.

Infante, a former compliance officer at NCAA Division I schools, has been running the Bylaw Blog for over two years and his expertise has been featured on ESPN, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and numerous other media outlets. Keep in mind he isn't privy to the information the NCAA has on Miami. He simply is giving his opinion based on what he's read from published reports.

Here is the transcript of my 15 minute one-on-one Q&A with him:

Q: There were reports Monday that about four former basketball coaches and at least two former assistant football coaches will be cited for violating bylaw 10.1 "unethical conduct" in the NCAA's investigation. How does that affect Miami positively or negatively?

"Well, it sounds like nearly all the assistants are being charged with unethical conduct and it also sounds like Frank Haith is going to be charged with failing to create an atmosphere of compliance, which generally only head coaches are charged with. It can be helpful [for Miami]. The biggest thing is when you have that many coaches [charged with unethical conduct] and go in front of the Committee on Infractions there's going to be a lot of people in the room to spread blame around. When you talk about the presentations and the answers given in front of the COI, I think generally the feeling is amongst a lot of people who have gone through that process is that coaches tend not to perform as well as the institution does. In the end for Miami, it all kind of depends what kind of charges the school is facing. We kind of expect in addition to the specific violations the NCAA feels it has evidence of it's pretty much a guarantee there is going to be a failure to monitor charge. I would also be surprised if there is not a lack of institutional control charge as well. If Miami's cooperation is considered better and the coaches don't perform well in the hearing that could lead to the COI sort of finding that in spite of institutional failings by Miami this was more the coaches fault and bring the penalties down on the coaches more than on the institution -- especially considering the two post-season bans the [football program] has already imposed."

Q: How much does Miami taking a two-year ban help its case with football?

"You're probably looking at no more than [two years]. Three years of post-season ban is pretty rare -- given the USC case, which is some of the harshest sanctions. Being already two years, I'm not sure you add a third one to a school that has self-imposed two. In terms of scholarships or recruiting restrictions, I don't know if it will have as big of an impact there. I kind of feel like they took care of that post-season penalty. The COI will impose other penalties they see fit and not go into any further post-season bans. If they did that's something Miami would probably appeal."

Q: We've heard UM has done a good job cooperating with the NCAA. How much does that help?

"I forget where I saw it reported but I have seen more than just cooperation, but exceptional cooperation. One of the things fans see is that schools get rewarded for cooperating, but there is a level of cooperation you have to do to meet your obligation and then there's a level you get extra credit for. [Cooperation is] making sure you get to interview everybody you want. Going and suggesting you should interview this guy as well because he may have information too -- that's when you see something like exceptional cooperation. It could be that [the NCAA is] giving [Miami] a little bit of praise publicly just because it wants to. But it could also mean [Miami is] reaching a certain level of cooperation that has significance in the NCAA investigation where they might get a break on a penalty as a result."

Q: Would exceptional cooperation be telling former athletes that if they didn't cooperate they wouldn't be allowed back on the sidelines? We've heard that and our Barry Jackson reported that last week.

"If they were able to get people who normally wouldn't have replied to the NCAA or allowed themselves to be interviewed by the NCAA and Miami helped make that happen -- especially athletes UM has no jurisdiction over -- that's going above and beyond what the NCAA asks on the case. That may lead to a lessening of penalties. But there is already a high bar for cooperation. You have to go above and beyond that to get any sort of relief from penalties in front of the COI. Having the coaches there especially if Miami is going along with it and agreeing to the findings of the NOA and the coaches aren't the ones fighting, in the end you are dealing with people who are making a judgement call. Being the one that's not fighting and the ones who want to raise a fuss about stuff makes the school look better in comparison."

Q: Former coach Randy Shannon has not linked to any of this. In fact, we've heard stories and its been reported he was telling his players and coaches to stay away from Nevin Shapiro. Does that help Miami's football program in this case considering it appears Haith was involved with Shapiro.

"It certainly does. We've seen Shannon not being named in any of the violations and him not facing any unethical conduct or failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance charges. Because he is the head coach, he is supposed to be the one as the direct link to the administration and what they do in terms of monitoring and applying compliance. If he did that well, that helps show there was a chain of command of monitoring and promoting institutional control and thus the blame falls on the assistant coaches. If that's the case then, we may see kind of a smaller failure to monitor or lack of institutional control that could end up more centered on the basketball violations where it looks like the head coach was involved in some manner. While charges like failure to monitor are institution violations it can get to be more specific than that. It can focus on what sport led to that charge."

Q: Will UM's history play a factor? The school was still under probation for baseball violations through the 2005-2006 academic year.

"It will. It certainly will be brought up by the COI. But I think it's more important if [Miami] is considered a repeat violator in this case. I believe a lot of that depends on how far back the NCAA is able to prove the violations. I believe they had a case [in baseball] in the mid 2000s. If they did in that case -- as Yahoo! reported -- they would definitely be under a repeat violator status. The thing is we haven't seen with that repeat violator status -- outside of the USC case -- that there have been significantly harsher penalties as a result. UCF is one example. UCF was under repeat violator status -- kind of a similar violation as Miami in terms of a booster or third party who is providing benefits on a smaller scale. But again we sort of saw them impose sort of a standard penalty the COI has been imposing, losing scholarships, a one-year post-season ban, recruiting restrictions, going after the individuals and sort of move on. I think the Miami case is probably a little too big for that. But again, I do kind of think in some ways the COI is going through the motions until the new enforcement program starts up in August. There is a little bit of a sense of the current process having a lame duck quality to it. That play in Miami's favor as well."

Q: How is the NCAA's new process different and how does the fact Miami doesn't fall under the new rules help?

"The new rules are going to be harsher, it's going to be a different kind of process and involve different people. We just saw there are eight new people appointed. So, I think because of this reset almost, the NCAA sees there are flaws in this process and as of Aug. 1, 2013 were going to fix it. While the current cases are taken seriously, the fact the same penalties have been applied in the last two or three cases sort of suggests they're not going with the same fire and brimstone as they did with USC. That helps Miami."

October 18, 2012

UM Hall of Fame to add seven new members in 2013 including Ken Dorsey

Quarterback Ken Dorsey and center Brett Romberg -- key members of Miami’s 2001 national champion football team -- highlight the seven-member Class of 2013 that will be inducted into the UM Sports Hall of Fame next April.

Other inductees include: Ed Contreras (baseball, 1957-59), Bryan Gillooly (diving, 1994-98), Norm Parsons (administration / coaching, 1972-2012), Don Soldinger (coach, 1984-88 & 1995-2006) and Jay Tessmer (baseball, 1994-95).

With the addition of the seven newest members the Sports Hall of Fame will increase to 274 honorees. The newest class will be inducted April 11 at the 43rd annual UM Sports Hall of Fame Induction Banquet, which will be held at Jungle Island.

> Contreras led the Canes in home runs and RBI in each of his three seasons (19 HR, 67 RBI in 77 games) and also led the team in batting in 1958 (.316) and 1959 (.310). He left Miami as the school’s single-season and career home runs leader and he still holds the UM career slugging percentage record (.615) for under 300 at bats.

> Dorsey quarterbacked the Hurricanes to their fifth national championship in 2001 and was named MVP of the 2002 Rose Bowl. He was a 2002 All-American by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) and the Walter Camp Football Foundation. The 2001 and 2002 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, Dorsey set eight UM career records, including total offense, passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and attempts. He is the winningest quarterback in program history (38-2) and he won the 2001 Maxwell Award as the top player in college football.

> Gillooly was a two-time NCAA diving champion, winning the 10-meter platform title in 1996 and the 3-meter springboard in 1998. He was a 12-time All-American, garnering the honor in the 1- and 3-meter springboards, and the 10-meter platform in each of his four years at Miami (1995-98). He was also named the 1996 NCAA Diver of the Year and was a BIG EAST Academic All-Star in 1996-97. Gillooly was a finalist at the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials.

> Parsons, who served as the women’s golf coach from 1973-78 and men’s golf coach from 1980-88, coached the women’s golf team to the 1977 and 1978 AIAW national championships. He served UM as Director of the Herbert Wellness Center (1996-present), Director of Campus Sports and Recreation (1977-96), and Intramural Director (1972-73) among other positions. He coached current UMSHoF members Cathy Morse, Woody Austin and Nathaniel Crosby.

> Romberg was a consensus All-American and Rimington Award winner as the nation’s best center in 2002. He was a first-team All-BIG EAST selection in 2001 and 2002, while never allowing a sack in his time as the Hurricanes center. Miami went 35-2 in his 37 consecutive starts at center, helping lead the Canes to the 2001 national title and three BIG EAST titles.

> Soldinger was the linebackers and tight ends coach for Jimmy Johnson from 1984-88 and was the running backs and special teams coach under coaches Butch Davis and Larry Coker from 1995-2006. He was on the 1987 and 2001 national championship coaching staffs; he also coached six of the seven Miami running backs that rushed for 1,000 yards in a season (Willis McGahee, Edgerrin James – twice, Clinton Portis, Danyell Ferguson, Frank Gore and James Jackson). In his 16 seasons as a Hurricanes assistant coach, Miami won 158 games.

> Tessmer was a first-team Collegiate Baseball All-American in 1995 after collecting 20 saves – tied for second-most in school history – and posting a 1.31 ERA to lead Jim Morris’ squad to the College World Series. He finished second nationally in Division I with a 1.16 ERA in 1994, while his career 1.24 ERA ranks second in school history. He holds the UM record for fewest walks per 9 innings (1.42 average) and has the second-most appearances by a pitcher in a season (45 in 1995). Tessmer finished his career fifth with 23 saves and played professionally for the New York Yankees.

March 27, 2012

Brandon McGee finally appears to be getting the message, plus news and notes from UM on Tuesday

CORAL GABLES -- Brandon McGee is no longer sitting on the bottom of the Hurricanes depth chart. The cornerback was wearing a black jersey Tuesday -- a sign that he's doing what coaches want and expect of a senior who is supposed to be starting and anchoring his unit.

Brandon McGee“He’s working,” UM coach Al Golden said of McGee, who started 12 games for UM last season, but emerged fifth on the team's depth chart after the completion of the off-season U Tough program.

“I see Brandon a little bit differently than maybe most do. I see a kid that’s very talented, that’s willing, that's working hard and we just have to get enough confidence where he then goes out and makes plays. Not freelance, but go out and finish plays because he has all of the skill set that you want, and now he’s 190 [pounds]."

McGee has always had the physical gifts to be a star at UM in the eyes of coaches. He's 6-feet tall, was 180 pounds last year, and was timed at 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash last summer. "But I don't think he uses all those gifts the way he should," defensive coordinator Mark D'Onoforio said Tuesday.

D'Onofrio and Golden tried to get that message across heading into spring football -- not only by placing McGee fifth on the depth chart, but with frequent text messages throughout the off-season.

"They'd send me texts asking, 'How great do you want to be?'," McGee said. "Even though I went up in my squat from 380 [pounds] to 415, I guess there was a point where in their eyes I had to push the threshold even more. Even though I beat the man next to me [in U Tough], they didn't want me to beat him just by a yard, I should have beaten him by five yards. It's pushing yourself further and further. It's definitely bringing out good qualities in myself now."

In Saturday's scrimmage in Hialeah, the first of the spring, McGee started showing coaches what they've wanted from him all along -- more physicality.

"The one thing about Brandon in Saturday's scrimmage was that he was physical probably for the first time since I’ve been here," Golden said. "He’s in those short-yardage [situations] mixing it up. I think he feels more confident with his body and the physical nature he can play at 190. Now, we have to get him staying in the system, converting and making plays, getting more interceptions, being more of a ball disruptor for us.”

"I don't want him to press to make a play. I want him to trust D'Onofrio and [defensive backs coach Paul] Williams and let that take him to the play."

D'Onofrio echoed those sentiments.

"If you date it back to this time last year, it's night and day the way he's playing physically now," D'Onofrio said.

"I think he saw himself as an athlete who was a cover corner and there is no such cover corner position on our defense. You have to be physical, you have to be tough and I think he's trusted what we're asking him to do. I think he's delivering on it. Now, we're looking for consistency, not 70 percent, 75 percent of the time, all the time. He has to demand it from himself and give his body up for the team."

McGee had 38 tackles last season (eighth most on the team) including 2.5 for loss with a sack and his first career interception. 

But as a unit, UM's secondary had an awful season in 2011, ranking 95th in pass efficiency defense (they were fifth in 2010). UM's defense produced just six interceptions -- 10 fewer than the year before -- and opposing quarterbacks completed 66.35 percent of their passes (sixth worst among 120 FBS schools).

"Last year was really difficult," D'Onofrio said of the team's cornerback play. "I really didn't have anybody experienced to work with. Brandon was the fourth corner [in 2010], but didn't play a lot of snaps because he was behind the three guys who are all in the NFL now. [Transfer] Mike Williams didn't play for a year and them came over here and started 12 games. Thomas Finnie was a freshman. JoJo Nicolas was a safety and then he had to go back and forth because of the issues we had at safety. Lee Chambers was a running back.

"The hard part for us now is I lost most of those guys. The only guys we got back were McGee and Finnie. McGee got a lot of reps. Finnie didn't get a lot of reps in games, but he did get the second team reps during the week, which were a lot. But, it's better than the year before. We've got seven new guys coming in this class. Last year, we had one [Finnie]. At least we have a place to start."

And that place starts with McGee, who is taking charge not only of himself, but his unit as well.

"My phone is always open for those guys," McGee said. "[Early enrollee] Larry Hope, sometimes he'll hit me up and ask me to go watch film. When they make mistakes in practice, I'll pull them off to the side and try to clean up their technique, just telling them what to look for on the field. And I emphasize don't make the same mistake twice. If they hear coaches getting on me for a mistake, I tell them to listen so they don't do the same thing. That's the one thing that makes coaches hot."

McGee said he's been in constant contact with incoming freshmen Deon Bush and Tracy Howard, the nation's No. 1 high school corner. Whenever Howard or Bush visits UM, McGee gets right to work talking scheme and football.

"I've seen him work out. He has good hips, quick feet," McGee said of Howard. "He's a competitor, talks some trash. I like that about him. I'm just excited for him to get here. To see a guy like that work and be able to help him through the process is going to be good.

"It's never easy. No matter how talented you are and what kind of expectations are placed on you, it's never easy to make that transition from high school to college. I'm going to be there to help him along the way and that's something I promised his parents I would do. Him and Deon."


> Both McGee and Finnie said D'Onofrio isn't changing much in the way of coverages or schemes in the playbook. "There's nothing really new added, just perfecting what we did before," McGee said.

Last year, many Canes fans griped that cornerbacks were playing too far off receivers, allowing them to eat up the defense underneath. I've felt all along scheme hasn't been the problem -- it's been personnel. Maybe some continuity in scheme and getting more physical play -- as well as talent -- is the answer.

> As for Finnie, D'Onofrio says toughness isn't his issue. "Finnie's not afraid to throw his face in there at all. He's one of the tougher guys we've got right now. When those guys come around the corner or those tight ends lower the shoulder, he's doing exactly what we want him to do. He's not ducking out of the way," D'Onofrio said.

"What we need out of him is consistency and knowing that on the back end [coverage] you don't get any mulligans like you do in golf. Somebody gets behind you, it's 7-0. You don't get to push the reset button like you do in Madden. That's where we're trying to discipline him. When you're deep, you're deep."

> With Keion Payne now off the team, UM has five cornerbacks in camp. McGee is listed on the first team at field corner with Johnson backing him up. Finnie is the starter at boundary corner with junior college transfer Ladarius Gunter and Hope behind him.

> Of course, there is another part to UM's secondary -- safety. I didn't get D'Onofrio or Golden's thoughts on how seniors Ray-Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque have been performing, but the overriding sentiment this spring has been that both are putting forth the effort required.

"Ray, every play he's out there talking. VT is brining energy," McGee said. "I've been around them for a long time and can see the change in the them. If we come out flat, they get everybody amped up."

> With left guard Jonathan Feliciano going down for the rest of the spring, Jermaine Johnson has stepped in with the starting unit at that spot. The other starters: Malcolm Bunche at left tackle, Shane McDermott at center, Brandon Linder at right guard and Seantrel Henderson at right tackle.

“Jermaine looked really good inside,” Golden said. “Right now he’s one of the best five. We’ll see how it shakes out.”

> Golden said he's pleased with former defensive tackle Jeremy Lewis, who is taking first team reps at times at right and left guard. "He just needs to get in better condition and play at a high level," Golden said.

> Golden said the only way receiver Kendal Thompkins becomes a real contributor is by "eliminating drops." Thompkins had a few in Saturday's scrimmage.

> Golden continued his praise of freshmen Ereck Flowers and Raphael Kirby this spring calling them "difference makers" on Tuesday.

January 26, 2012

Sizing up UM's 2012 recruiting class with Rivals analyst Chris Nee (Part 1)

As of midnight Thursday -- six days before National Signing Day 2012 -- the Miami Hurricanes had eight early enrollees and 23 other commitments expected to sign National Letters of Intent next Wednesday. Outside of a handful of kids who could either be added to the class or leaving it, Al Golden's first full-year worth of recruiting work appears to be over. 

How did he and his staff do with a class Golden himself said they couldn't afford to screw up? By most accounts, pretty good considering the Canes are coming off a 6-6 season and the Canes have been recruiting since August with looming NCAA sanctions hanging over head.

With 24 of the 31 UM recruits having played their high school ball in-state, I figured a good person to talk to about the class Golden has lined up was Rivals analyst Chris Nee. He's covered the state for quite some time and has been to All-Star games, playoff and regular season games, camps, just about everywhere in the state. If Larry Blustein is the Mel Kiper of high school football in Florida, Nee has to be Todd McShay. What I like most about Nee is he keeps it real -- no sugar-coating.

In this installment we cover if UM met its needs, where he thinks Miramar cornerback Tracy Howard will end up and who the Canes could end up losing from this class as well as if Palm Beach Central receiver Angelo Jean-Louis will get into school.

Q: Did UM address all of its needs -- cornerback, receiver, defensive line, linebacker -- in this recruiting class?

Cypress Bay OL Danny Isidora"I think they're on the way to addressing it. They've addressed some issues that they had, but not all. They still need to get a great cornerback. Obviously, Tracy Howard is the big name that's still out there that they're still involved with. And that's a spot where they need to improve. But they did get guys in the secondary that are going to help them get better, led by [Columbus defensive back] Deon Bush. Deon's an excellent player. He can be a corner. He can be a safety. So he can provide some help there. Then you have guys like [Coral Reef's] Vernon Davis, [South Fort Myers'] Nate Dortch. They're kind of a second level have to develop some and have to improve before they can really contribute. But they'll still help with depth, which is something Miami needs.

"Offensively, They did a great job. Obviously, [Norland running back] Duke Johnson is a beast. But they got a great offensive guard in Danny Isidora -- really talented kid. [Norland's] Ereck Flowers is a future NFL offensive tackle in my opinion. He's obviously going to help anchor one side of the line. Then, on the outside offensively they went out and got some really good wide receivers in Malcolm Lewis from Miramar. Excellent player. They did a great job keeping him home and then they plucked [Virginia prep school receiver formerly of West Boca Raton] Robert Lockhart who was a longtime Virginia Tech commitment. So they did a good job improving some things and they've done a good job overall adding some good top level talent and a lot of depth, which is two things they needed."

Q: Is Miramar All-American cornerback Tracy Howard the only non-commitment they're really still in the running for with a week to go?

"They are bringing in a few kids this last weekend to try and help sure up some spots, so they have a Plan B in case somebody changes -- like a Reggie Northrup. It wouldn't shock me if they looked at another linebacker. I know they were looking at Iowa State commitment Darius White. But he's decided to stick with Iowa State. So, it wouldn't shock me if they did bring in a linebacker. But it does seem like the only big fish left on the pond for Miami is really going to be Tracy Howard. They're in the picture with [Palm Beach Gardens offensive tackle] Avery Young, had him on campus last week, but I think he's SEC bound. [Daytona Beach Mainland defensive end] Leonard Williams is a kid they're bringing in this weekend. They'll have a puncher's chance, but I also think he'll end up in the SEC. So the biggest name out there for Canes fans to pay attention to is definitely Tracy."

Q: So what is your take with Tracy Howard? Where does he end up?

"He recently said he was down to the three in-state schools: Florida, Florida State and Miami. For a long time it seemed like Florida State had the upper hand and then in the last couple months it seemed like Florida turned the corner as the top school. At this point, I think Florida is the top school. But it's really a testament to Al Golden and his assistants that they're getting him on campus for a visit. They were persistent, stuck with it. For a long time they seemed like an after thought with the kid, but when he's the best player arguably in the entire area of South Florida there with the Duke Johnson's you have to stick with him. The fact they're getting him on campus for a visit. His best friend is going there in Malcolm Lewis and I mentioned earlier how Miami has a major need at that position -- they have a chance. It wouldn't shock me [that he picks Miami] despite the fact for so long they were the least likely school of any in-state school to land the kid. At the end of the day right now I still think he'll end up at Florida. But I don't think he's put this to bed. I don't think Tracy Howard has made his final decision."

Q: So if you had to make a prediction it's Florida for Howard?

"Yeah, if I had to put a prediction on paper it's Florida for Howard. But I don't think it's done by a long stretch. I don't think Tracy really has sat down and made the final decision of what he's going to announce."

Will the Canes lose Jacksonville First Coast LB Reggie NorthrupQ: Now, there are a couple guys they could end up losing, guys who are taking trips elsewhere. What's the latest on the guys who could possibly stray?

"[Jacksonville First Coast linebacker] Reggie Northrup's dad went on the record [Tuesday] saying they're pretty frustrated by everything, they're kind of tired of the whole process. Word is Florida State made a really good impression on him in the last visit. He may visit Ohio State this weekend. I think what it comes down to in the end is it's between Miami, Florida State and Ohio State. Right now, I personally think he'll stick with the Canes. But Florida State does have a need at linebacker. They have a couple of other targets on the board. It's kind of domino effect. If they miss on some other kids they make one last big push on Reggie and they have a chance. Florida State has had a lot of success at Jacksonville First Coast over the years. But if I had to predict, I think he sticks with the Canes."

Q: What about as far as U.S. Army All-American defensive end/outside linebacker Tyriq McCord from Tampa Jefferson?

"It was quite a surprise when he picked Miami at the All-American Game. South Carolina had been his longtime leader and his family and himself were very high on the Gamecocks. But he decided Miami's proximity was nice. Miami's need for him was nice and he did like Miami in general. He is supposed to visit USC this weekend. As of right now what he told me in a text recently he's probably going to stick with Miami. But both Southern Cal and South Carolina are going to put in nice work. Southern Cal always pulls off one Florida kid. But I don't think it's going to be Tyriq this year."

Q: Anybody else UM really has a chance of losing?

"I don't think so. I'm looking up and down their list. [Louisiana defensive tackle] Jacoby Briscoe, I don't know much about him. But I do know Tennessee is trying to make a move on him. Texas A&M was trying to make a move on him. He's supposed to visit A&M this weekend. But I don't know a great deal about Jacoby."

Q: Under Armour All-American receiver Angelo Jean-Louis from Palm Beach Central is a kid who has loads of talent, but his academics are a concern. What have you heard regarding that and if he'll be able to get into UM?

"I chatted with him at the Under Armour game about the academics. He said he did have some more work to do, but he thought he would be able to make it. I think it's one of those things that's going to play out late into the summer and see if he'll be able to be cleared. Hopefully he does because he's an extremely talented kid. He could play on either side of the ball. He has great hands, great body control. He's a big kid. He can help them stretch the field. But he's one of those guys if you need a tough route, seven yard out, he's going to bump the guy with his hip and make the catch. He does a real good job of stretching out and making the catch. I was honestly surprised. In the system he played in high school he didn't get a whole lot of opportunities to get the ball thrown at him. I was honestly surprised what a well groomed receiver he was at Under Armour. Him and [Miami Beach receiver] Ricardo Louis are bigger type of receivers, good body thickness. They're going to be really tough on those outside routes."

January 21, 2012

Schnellenberger, Bowden saddened by Paterno news

BOCA RATON -- With Joe Paterno's health reportedly taking a turn for the worse Saturday night, two longtime college football colleagues -- Bobby Bowden and Howard Schnellenberger -- shared their concern for the 85-year old former Penn State coach.

Paterno, hospitalized since Jan. 13 for observation of what his family had called minor complications from lung cancer treatments, has experienced further health complications according to a family spokesman and his status is now considered serious.

Bowden and Schnellenberger, coaching in the inaugural Battle of Florida all-star game at FAU Stadium, were surprised and saddened when told of Paterno's condition about an hour before kickoff.

"I'm distraught that this is happening to him," said Schnellenberger, 77, who went 2-1 against Paterno when he coached against him at the University of Miami.

"All of this happened to him so fast. I hope he can pull through it if he has the ability or the chance to improve. The University of Miami's successes are tied real closely to him, the games we played together. We played three times. Everyone of them was a big struggle knowing we were going up against the best coach in America. The last two months have been a terrible thing [for him]."

Paterno, Division I's all-time winningest coach, was diagnosed with cancer in November, days after getting ousted as head coach in the aftermath of the child sex abuse charges against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.

"Oh, I hope not," Bowden, 82, said when he was told Paterno's health had worsened.

"I've known Joe forever. I've known him personally since 1966. The first time I met him was 1962. We've always been very close. We're close to the same age. He's just one of the best coaches ever. I felt like he would go down as probably the best ever, but after this little thing it kind of tainted it. But I'm sorry it happened. I hate it happened. I hate to see something happen to Joe."

Paterno won two national championships and a Division I record 409 games over 46 seasons at Penn State and the family has donated millions of dollars to the school.

This was his second trip to the hospital in a month. He's also recovering from a broken pelvis that required a weeklong stay to make it easier for cancer treatments. Paterno first hurt his pelvis in August when he was accidentally bowled over by a player in preseason practice. The injury forced the Hall of Famer to spend most of the season coaching from the press box - until trustees dismissed him Nov. 9, four days after Sandusky was first charged.

Asked what he will remember most about Paterno, Bowden said: "Just remember the good things. I don't remember the bad things. He didn't have many bad things. I would only remember the good things. He and I spent a lot of time together. We played him 10 times at West Virginia and played him twice when I was at Florida State in bowls. I never beat him in Pennsylvania. He had too many good players."

Said Schnellenberger: "The thing you remember about Joe is that even though he had a lot of good things going for him at that particular school and that particular state and that particular level of football, until they got into the Big Ten, he was always a winner with class. You very seldom found some reason to get upset with him. He was kind of a model citizen as a coach."

November 25, 2011

UM extends Al Golden's contract through 2019 season

The University of Miami and head coach Al Golden have agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension that will run through February 1, 2020.

This pretty much ends any and all speculation he will be leaving for Penn State, his alma mater.

“I look forward to working side-by-side with Coach Golden for many years,” athletic director Shawn Eichorst said in a statement released by the school around 6 p.m. Friday. “Al has done a fantastic job of rebuilding and solidifying the foundation of our football program while fostering success both on and off of the field. He has been a first-class representative of our University and I am confident that with Al leading the way, our future is very bright.”

Golden’s extension adds four years to the initial five-year contract which began in December 2010.

“My family loves it in South Florida, we have embraced the community and we could not be more excited about the future of the Miami Hurricanes football team,” Golden said in the statement. “I can’t thank President Shalala and Shawn Eichorst enough for their support and commitment to our student-athletes and staff. We are ready to hit the recruiting road and begin our preparations for the 2012 season.”

We'll get reaction after the game.