January 31, 2011

Art Kehoe press conference (audio/transcript)

Here is the audio and transcript from today's press conference with offensive line coach Art Kehoe. 


Opening statement: "I can't tell you how great it is to be back. It's unbelievable. My wife Diona and Madison and Jake, they’re so jacked up about being back. Coming home, and coming back to Miami, it’s a great thing. I'm just pumped up. My friend told me, a good friend of mine said, `Just tell them that you had a long haggling contract dispute with coach (Al) Golden and we finally agreed to another 27-year contract.' All right? How does that sound?

"This whole deal came through, and I started talking to Coach Golden and we kept it quiet for a while. Miami is a wonderful thing. And he just kept talking about his vision, and he kept talking about his plan for the University of Miami. It didn’t matter whether it was off season, recruiting, the way they practice, the way they go about their business. He got me so pumped up. That’s the whole deal. Coach Golden is a leader and the staff, I kept reading about them, and kept looking them up on the website, is a bunch of terrific guys. They have what it takes and we're going to win. I love Miami, I love the University of Miami and I wanted to come back, but Al Golden's vision, Al Golden’s plan for what we’re going to do here at Miami has got me over the top. And I want to thank Kirby Hocutt and Paul DiMare and Bernie Kosar – the people that picked this guy -- because you’ve got a winner. It all starts at the top, and he has a great plan.

"And I was born and raised in Philadelphia and I saw Temple football. Temple is a great school. But to say it mildly, they’ve struggled in football. And what he accomplished there, is just amazing. You’re going to find out, I think the best way to put it, is to say that the only variable between the University of Miami going back to the top is time. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but it is going to get done under Al Golden.

"I’m excited. Jed Fisch, and our whole offensive staff, I love these guys. I love what we’re going to do. I love the organization. Before we’ve even completed our recruiting for this year, we’re already, and I just got in so I couldn’t help very much. Coach Golden told me not to screw any of the guys up. Just don’t try to mess up any recruiting. I think it’s great what’s going on in every facet for next year, for recruiting over the long haul. We’ll already on a bunch of projects, the plan he has is great.

"That’s all we talked about. I kept telling Diona – I said, Dee, I gotta get back on board. And I didn’t know really whether I was going to get the job. So I kind of unleashed Hurricane nation. I went out and called every coach I worked for, every coach I coached with, every player I played with, every player that I coached. I called every alumni, board of trustee, every person that was close to me in this whole environment at the University of Miami. And I think he got the message because the next day he called me and said, `Whoa, Art, stop it. It's a blitzkrieg,'

"So we have a good relationship and like I said, I don’t know how else to explain it if you’re not involved with what we’re doing, whether it concerns recruiting, off the field weightlifting, our classroom, the competitive atmosphere we’re going to have. I don’t know what our schedule is for next year, but someone was saying it could be early on a little slice of Virginia Tech and Florida State and Ohio State and Kansas State. And I say let’s get it on baby, because we’ve got to get ready.

"Other than that, I just want to tell you from my heart and soul, to be back in Miami is a wonderful thing. My family, my son is now 6-year-old Jake, and he asked Diona the other day, ‘Mom, could he play basketball and football for the first time. He says, ‘Do they have football and basketball down there in Miami.’ And she said, ‘no jake, they don’t have it.’

"He’s all gunned up, Madison is all gunned up. and the Kehoe family is very, very grateful to a lot of people. I am so grateful to a lot of people I have to talk to. I have to write a lot of letters as soon as I can catch a breath here, gotta make a lot of phone calls. They’re switching me over from my old cell phone to my new cell phone, computer to another computer. Nowadays you get a new job and you’ve got to be ITT involved and I’m way, way behind right now.

"It’s been kind of interesting because I think I had 85 text messages and 69 voicemails and I’m trying to get to them but it’s hard. The Cane Nation came forward for for Art Kehoe and I appreciate it."

Q: Anybody remotely associated with this place knows what this place meant to you for 27 years. Does this place mean as much to you know. Did the five years away wither that feeling at all?

"I always consider myself like a soldier, like a sergeant, a guy that’s in the trenches. But then I always considered myself very lucky to be under the coaches and the players we had. So many good teams and players and coaches. You get spoiled. But it never left me and it will never leave me. It was tough to deal with but coming back – I see Bobby Revilla in the equipment room and Andreu Swasey in the weightroom and Scott in the training room, and you know there's still remnants of what was [left behind]. But Coach Golden has brought in a nice staff, whether it’s operations or the coaches themselves and I know we have good academic support.

"These guys that just.. we were talking about it. I’m playing catch-up; I just got in this week and we have the National Signing Day on Wednesday and a lot of these guys, I’m looking at quick shots of film on them and trying to play catch-up and put it together and make calls so.. if you haven’t met their parents; if you haven’t been with their coaches, you know, you’re a little bit behind. And they’ve done a good job of playing catch-up. And for me, I’m just listening and learning about some of their theories. They have some great ideas on recruiting, too. I just like what’s going on. We’re actively going to seek out, whether it’s having junior days, having walk-on days, it’s things that, Miami being such a good private school and it’s so expensive, you wouldn’t think that would be a good approach for walk-ons, but until you put it in front of them you never know what kind of package can be worked on financially or whether they can handle it themselves.

"And there’s people out there and he was doing this because he was at Temple and he fought like crazy to get it over the top and now you put it at a place like this, and he knows.. you know this guy is fiercely competitive. I read that both him and Mark D’Onofrio were captains of their team at Penn State and they talked about a couple games we played against each other and man, they were great those Penn State games, and just to know what that’s about. I was captain here with jim burt helped me out with this job, and clem barbarino and don bailey helped me out. There are so many people that helped me. you talk about what it meant to me. I don’t know how 27 years playing and coaching and being a graduate assistant, and winning as much as we did, that you could possibly ever get it out of your system. And trust me it never left."

Talk about the process of how this job came about?

“As soon as coach Stoutland – and he’s done a good job. Everybody I’ve talked to around here talks about what a great job Jeff has done acquiring talent and coaching these kids. Everybody, in all areas. Because I’m trying to find out about my O-linemen. Ana gave me like playing cards so I write notes on the back because we’re limited with our meeting time and stuff. I’m getting to meet everybody but anyway, I met him because I heard that coach Stoutland was leaving. We got in touch with each other early and we kept it a secret which is hard to do nowadays and I was glad. I check that Footballscoop and everything. Nowadays with the social networking, it’s hard to keep any secrets.

"The first time I met him, I talked to him on the phone for 45 minutes the first time and I just hung the phone up and I look at Deiona (wife) and I said, ‘Wow. This guy, he’s got it.’ He wanted to grasp the tradition. That’s what his big thing was, ‘Art, man, oh my goodness. Five national titles. You guys played for about 11 of them and you guys had so many good players and so many good coaches come through here.’ He said, I’m so jacked about it. We have to get this and this and this. He just kept talking. I just said, ‘D, I have to get back on board that thing. We got to do whatever it takes.’ And that’s what we did.

"It’s funny. I got this little gash on my face here the night before we met in Greenwood, Miss. Paul Williams was recruiting a kid out there. I’m sorry I’m not allowed to…I’m sorry. Anyway, there was a guy in Greenwood that we were recruiting and he went and met with me there. The night before, I was playing some tag with my son Jake and he picked up like a heavy bottle and threw it at me and the bottle hit my cheek here. So I spent about nine hours in the emergency ward. Then I had to drive about 2 1/2 hours and I had this big band-aid gash on my face. I said, ‘C’mon coach, let’s get in on.’ He looked at me right in the eyes and said, ‘You know, I remember playing against you up in Charlottesville when I was the D-coordinator and he said we had a bunch of good players, guys that went to the NFL and he said my guys told me that you’re O-line got after them. It was by far the most physical line they had.' And I said, well that’s a good thing. And then we started talking. It was relentless.

"We were having lunch and it was just constant talking about Miami. What they’ve done, what they’ve accomplished, what we can do. What’s the plan. How we’re going to get this done. Boom. He has it and he’s going to get it done. I believe this is going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t even know what’s out there on the practice field. It doesn’t matter. We’ve got a leader and he’s got the goods and we’re going to win. And we have a heckuva staff and we’re going to find a way to win. I know what’s out there is probably Florida tough and ready. The combination of what he’s going to do and what his plan is and the people he has behind him is going to get this done.”

Have you seen Seantrel Henderson yet?


Do you have a sense of how physical this line can be?

“I’ve talked to the strength coaches because they have such a tight relationship. Victor and Andreu and they think the world of this bunch. Coach Golden said when I first met him that the offensive line was the strength of the team. And I said, well that’s good. It’s nice to come into a cupboard. I haven’t met them all individually. We had a little sit-down and I tried to tell them how we’re going to go about our business. I don’t know that they know yet. Not just me, but there’s a new sheriff in town and you better get on board because I know this guy is going to put it down and they better be ready to bite the apple. And if you’re not, you’re going to be left behind. I just believe that and I know that. That’s why I’m here. I’m so pumped up about it. Guys I’m working with, this whole offensive staff is terrific, man. They have great resumes.

"One thing he kept talking about was the continuity of the staff and I said, ‘Look, I’ve read about all these guys on the Internet. I went on a website and I brought them all up and they’re such a talented array of guys. I said the beautiful thing about football is it’s a constant learning environment. I don’t want to think of myself as old because I think I’m young. I might be the oldest guy on this staff but I want to learn from all these guys because they have so much to bring to the table. Jedd’s been around Dom Capers and Billick and Shanahan and, of course, Pete Carroll. And Brennan, man, he’s a young guy he has a wealthy of knowledge and experience and how can you do anything but learn. George McDonald and Terry Richardson, they’re unbelievable. They have unbelievable ties here. They worked for good people all over. It’s a good situation and we’re having a lot of fun already so I can tell we’re going to grind and it’s going to be a lot of hours but we’re going to have fun and we’re going to find a way to win and we’re going to get it across to our kids.”

Did you watch Miami play much over the last few years?

“Every chance I got but it’s hard sometimes to see them. Like those Thursday night games on ESPN. Sometimes you’re at the end of you’re work week and usually you’re working on tip sheets and scouting reports and reminders and stuff. But I couldn’t help it. I had to get a little touch of the ‘Canes.”

How much has the game changed on the o-line since you were here or is everything the same?

“For me, I got really confused. I don’t want to sound like a dummy or anything. In five months I went from Ole Miss to Lambeth University, an NAIA school, and then a guy got sick at Louisiana Tech, Petey Perot, and I went to Lousiana Tech. And then I was in the UFL. Every system is different. It’s like going from French to Italian to Spanish. The verbage is different for formations, for motions, for shifts, for fronts, for blitzes. I would be confused and going, ‘No, that’s that other system.’ Heck, when I went to Lousiana Tech I was already at Lambeth, helping out there line coach for Hugh Freeze. When I got to Louisiana Tech they handed me a picture of all their O-linemen and thank god I had a good graduate assistant that did a great job for me because they’re all sitting right there and they just handed me a playbook and in the middle of two-a-days you got to start coaching them. It’s a great experience. It’s good.

"But that part of it causes you a some confusion getting in different systems. All these guys are from different systems. We’re going to use Jedd’s system I’m sure and coach Golden’s with their mix. I’m anxious to find out. As soon as this recruiting breaks, we’re going to go into deep, hard think tanks and try to get this all resolved. It only matters what you can teach your players. We’re all teachers. So no matter how involved you get with formations and personnel groupings, you want to be able to teach each other the system and learn from each other and incorporate that into your system of teaching. Heck when I got to the UFL with coach Green under Mike Kryzcek that was a tough, West Coast…we didn’t have the resources and we were putting together a nice playbook…you just have to find a way to simplify constantly, condense and reduce and get it across to them so they can play aggressively.

"When we were talking, Jedd and I, I think that might have gotten this thing over the hump when I talked to Jedd. People that helped me were like Rob Chudzinski, who knew Jedd, and Mike McDaniel, whose like a young guru. He was a running backs coach with me. He was with the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos as a quality control guy. He graduated from Yale and we were in the same system together. Those guys all called Jedd and Jedd had working relationships. Tony Wise, who was my mentor, also had a good working relationship with Jedd. When they called him up, they said…Here’s what I know. I might not know all about football and recruiting or be the best at either one of those, but to me it’s all about trust. And someway in this short time with coach Golden and coach Fisch, we had to develop some trust. And it helps with a guy like Rob Chudzinski and McDaniel and Tony Wise call Jedd. We just hit it off right away. He said, you know Art I have been in some systems too. And I have a lot of knowledge but what I’ve learned as a young coordinator is that throwing it all in their ain’t the way to do it. The way to do it is get your staff working together and put in a concise gameplan in their and eliminate as you go down so you can focus against a bunch of different looks on a few plays rather than a lot of plays. I like the way he’s going to package it with formations and motions. Like tony Wise said, blocking is blocking and tackling is tackling. Some of the drills I learned from him I still use. A lot of the teaching methods I use to.”

Did you say you talked to Jeff Stoutland?

"I have talked to Jeff. He's super busy. Coach Saban is probably a little bit busy. He called me back. I called him and I've known Jeff for a long time and wanted to talk to him about you know. It's going to come down to me working with my own players and developing my own ideas. But I want to have as much input as I can have going into that and learn about these guys. Evidently, from what I'm listening to, he's done a terrific job recruiting and acquiring talent and they're young. They're kind of fun. Vic and Andrew are saying they're awesome to work with in the weight room. And that's a big part of it. We're trying to change the mentality. It's going to be Al Golden's mentality. It's going to be his vision and his plan. All of us have to be on board. Some of the players I know that were here before or that were here, but some that I know through recruiting or whatever, touched base with them during different meals during recruiting I kind of pulled them off to the side and I go 'Hey, get everybody in on this. Don't miss the boat, don't try and rock the boat. Just get on board, understand the schedule, be early, work hard, do all the Cane kingdom was about.' It's about team, competing, whether its the classroom, whether its the weight room, whether its the film room. I want to create that same type of environment that Coach Golden is talking about in my room. That offensive line better know it's all about competition. The depth chart is etched in sand. Just because you earn a job you better keep that job. I can't tell you how happy I am to be here and how excited I am because I know we're going to win. I know it. Let's get there and we'll see it happen."

How valuable is that you have the institutional knowledge of what it's like when you go into Tallahassee? How valuable do you think that part of is going to be to this new staff?

"I think it will be invaluable and I think that's part of the reason he brought me back. Just from the other guys that I played with, that I coached, that came back here and wanted to meet coach Golden, they all feel the same way. This isn't something like Art's got a good relationship with the guy, everything is hunky-dory. This is a lot of people talking to Al Golden and he's bringing the same message over and over. Is it inputed yet? There's no way. It's not there. You're dealing with 17, 18, 19, 20-year old guys. They're gonna have to figure it out. And they will. Because this is a great place. It has a tradition of winning. They know. Micheal Barrow, there's other people here, and the whole athletic department is going to contribute to this. To win, you have to win as a team. To win the recruiting battles, it takes the whole university. To win on the field, it's a lot more than just the guys on that field. It takes everybody in this building. That's the other good thing. The guys coming in here saying 'God, we're geeked. We're at Miami.' We're coming from Temple and we're going to Miami and 'Wow.' He wants to learn and he wants to bring the old back. He's already talked to Melvin Bratton, Alonzo Highsmith and Michael Irvin about coming back and talking to his team. And he understands how this was built. He's definitely a student of the game.

"The first thing he said to me when we sat down. He looked at me. He has those ice blue eyes man you know. I'm going 'Wooh.' He looked me right in the eye and said 'Art, I'm walking down the field and I see you working in your individual period. What am I going to see?' I thought that was a heck of a question. I told him, 'First of all your going to see a prepared bunch of guys. We're in our meeting, we're going to discuss what we're covering that day. We're going to cover it with film. We're going to know every place, the where the why and when on that football field. We're in whatever area we're in. So they're going to be hustling and I"m going to be hustling to that next drill. And they're going to be sweating when they get to team periods. And they're going to be working and we're going to consume ourselves with effort on the field and preparation.' I said, 'That's what you're going to get from me.' I know he expects that out of everybody. We probably got a lot of things to work at here. What I've been hearing, what I've been seeing, what I've been listening to -- I like."

Have u allowed yourself to daydream what will be like going back to FSU this fall after u never thought u’d go back there again?

"I haven’t gotten to that point. I've been thinking about a lot of stuff but -- you know what’s funny? When we were let go in 2005, that night, I never talked to Florida State guys. I’ve seen them in high schools my whole life, Coach Bowden. I respect them immensely. I think we played them 28 times during my tenure and we were 17-11. And they were the most dynamic crazy football games. The heat -- I remember -- it’s crazy, those games are crazy. We could sit here for days if we’re going to talk about Florida State and Miami.

"I remember one of my last games, it was double 90s in the Orange Bowl – we just pulled it out with a wide right, maybe, I’m not sure – and I’m leaving and I see all the equipment guys with a gigantic push cart of hundreds of pounds of ice. We have 15 guys literally on the floor of the training room with IV bags coming out of their neck, everywhere. They’re in total cramp, total exhaustion. I don’t want to compare it to war, but it looks like a battlefield.

"They were coming back with the ice, and they said ‘you think this is bad? Go over there. they’re spread out all around the locker room. Guys haven’t taken their pants and pads off yet and it’s 35 minutes after the game. I’ve already showered.

"I think we could play them on the beach down here in Key Biscayne and get a couple hundred thousand (fans) for the game."

"But I remember the night we were let go, Bobby Bowden and Odell [Hagans] and Coach Amato all called me at my house. They said, ‘Bro, we just want you to know it a'int going to be the same.’ Odell Hagans, everytime we played them on either field, sometime during the warmup he would find me…and he would point at me like, ‘It’s on baby, get ready. Yes, it’ll be beautiful, it’ll be awesome. And they’re recruiting good and that’s another thing about coach Golden. He said, ‘Hey Art, I don’t like guys that are just going to go, ‘Well, he’s going to Florida State or he’s going to Florida.’ I said, ‘You won’t have that problem with me, man. I’m going to fight to the end.’” I can tell these guys are good at that, too. They’re scrambling because they got into it late, but they’re doing fine."

Before you started talking to Al, in the last 5 years or so, did you think this was a real possibility u’d be back at UM or just fantasy?

"Never. I never thought it would happen -- you get to come home. That’s what he said when he called. It’s a funny thing. I live in Taylor, Miss. Which is about six miles from the {Ole Miss] campus. And you’re really like in Mars. I get no bars on my phone. So I’ve been trying to chase jobs, and my office is the Subway at Walmart up in Oxford. And he called me and said, ‘Are you ready to come back to the family?’ And I screamed, I screamed. And I said, ‘Are you serious?’ He said, ‘I’m dead serious.’ And I screamed out my window. It was raining, cold, about 27 degrees. And I’m thinking this is awesome. I told him, I’m going to go home, kiss the kids and my wife and pack up and I’m going to drive. I’ll see tomorrow about 5 o’clock."

You drove?

"Yeah, I wanted to bring my stuff so I wouldn’t have to make a trip back and waste any time. I did it on no sleep, too, which is fun. But it was worth it. I was excited. He made it fun.

"And I can tell already – the first staff meeting, there’s a lot of preparation, a lot of grinding going on, but he makes it fun, too. We’re going to be around each other for 14, 15, 16 hours a day. U’re going to get tired of each other. So we have to have some fun. That’s a big part of it."

A lot of coaches move around every three, four years, you fortunate to been at UM almost three decades. How tough was the instability last five years on you and your family?

"Actually, we’ve been staying. I was the one that was moving. Dee probably liked that actually. We’ve been in Taylor, Miss. And it’s been really tough. I miss them, man. You go away for 5 months or 6 months and u miss a lot of their lives. Right now we’re probably going to have to go another 7 or 8 or 9 months. I’ll try to sneak up there a couple of times. But I’m anxious to get us all back together. It’s a terrific thing to come back to Miami and bring all of our family home."

Do you see similar traits between Golden and some of the great coaches at UM in the past?

"That’s a great question. It’s a weird combination of maybe Howard and Jimmy. I see some of that in there. I see some Butch in there. We were fortunate all of those coaches were really good. But I see maybe Howard and Jimmy in him. Howard always used to tell us about ‘This is the vision. This is where we’re going to be.’ [laughs] and it happened man. And it happened at a place where nothing like that ever happened before. He talked about it all the time in that strong monotone, very deliberate, never get excited, you’re out on the field, you’re sweating and he’s just pounding on you. Then he calls everybody up and he’d start talking about these visions. You start to listen and it just seeps in there. He gets into your head. And Jimmy was a mind-game guy, too. With Howard, it was always about where we’re going to be and how we’re going to get there. And with Jimmy, it was always about what he put on the wall in the weight room – positive mental attitude plus effort equals performance. And he talked about it all the time. He took each section of that and broke it down to little lectures. I could see a lot of that stuff in Al Golden. I’m really really looking forward to working for him and these coaches because I think we have a good bunch."

January 28, 2011

UM's strength program under new Golden rules

Strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey has seen a lot of change at the University of Miami over the last 11 years. The Hurricanes have gone from being a national championship-caliber team under Butch Davis and Larry Coker to last season's 7-6 mess under Randy Shannon.

UM strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey So what has Swasey seen in the early stages from his new boss, Al Golden? A lot of what he saw when he first got back to UM in 2000.

"Right now, I would compare him to Butch -- just on discipline, structure and what he's demanding," Swasey said. "The thing I know coach is stressing, that he wants, is mentally tough guys. He wants to find out when guys are going to crack and when they aren't going to crack."

Golden has asked Swasey to implement some new rules in the team's off-season workouts programs. Among the new additions and changes:

> The addition of "The Fifth Quarter."

"It's something at the end of the workout to target intensity," Swasey said. "It starts at five minutes, but can last longer. The kids love it. It's exciting. It's a post workout. It's high intensity. It could be forearm plate raises. It can be core [training] stuff. We could be outside flipping tires, doing a hammer hit, pushing sled, pulling sleds, doing a lot of different stuff. It's something that will challenge them after they're fatigued and tired. You just did a full workout, but now we're challenging you at the end of the workout."

> The addition of "Creative Excellence." After workouts, Swasey said, players are required to work on individual position drills by themselves or with their teammates. It's a mandatory 20 minutes -- at the very least.

"The first week they were throwing up right and left," Swasey said. "I think it's a great addition. He wants guys working on their craft each day, even if they worked out early and are dead tired. He wants them working on their actual individual position drills. The thing I love he said about it was, 'Painter's paint, singers sing, you're a football player you have to work on that too.' You have to lift weights, but at the end of the day you have to be a better football player. You have to go and work on your art after the weight room."

> Also a new Golden rule according to Swasey: Breakfast is mandatory.

Before Golden, Swasey said, there was no monitoring of what players ate before coming to him. And some, he said, would skip breakfast. "They have to come check in or we check on them to make sure they ate," Swasey said. "The good thing about that is they are getting 1200 to 1500 calories prior to starting. Some kids wouldn't eat until lunch before."

> Swasey said he loves the fact Golden has pushed the start of spring practice back to March 5th. Under Shannon, the team would start spring practice in mid-February. Swasey said adding a few more weeks in the weight room "will definitely help guys get bigger and stronger."

> Another new addition Swasey likes -- what players do in the weight room will actually count toward where they start out on the depth chart in spring ball.

"He told guys `You can start, can come out of spring ball a starter depending on how you rank in the weight room, your work ethic," Swasey said. "We want tough guys, guys that will fight, guys doing everything they're supposed to do, which makes you a champion."

Swasey said he feels blessed to still be with the program. When Shannon was fired, he wasn't sure if Golden would keep him on the staff. Swasey and Micheal Barrow are the only remaining holdovers from Shannon's staff.

"I think when I got back from the bowl game [is when I found out I was going to stay]," Swasey said. "He told me to write down somethings so we can get ready for spring, some ideas. He gave me some pointers on what he wanted to target and focus on. When I heard that, I was overly excited about it.

"But the bottomline is that we were 7-6. It is what it is. Whatever happened, can't happen anymore. Whatever's going on, we have to get better. I look at everything as a whole. No matter how we got to those six losses, we came up with them. The approach coach Golden has -- and that's what I love about him -- is that whatever we did last year wasn't good enough. That's a great approach. Right now, that's the approach we're pushing and have in the weight room."

Swasey said the team, which began lifting four days a week with him (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) for an hour and a half a week ago, will not do any strength tests until a week or two before the start of spring ball. But Golden has already been handed stat sheets with players weights, strength and speed numbers -- and he's expecting improvements.

"Right now we don't have a choice but to be better than 7-6," Swasey said. "I do believe we will be. One [reason] is because of Coach Golden's plan of attack and how he's doing it. Just the cohesiveness he's building. Two, I think he has a hell of a staff. We just have to keep working. Time will tell. But we're definitely ready to be a much better football team. We have to be a lot better than 7-6."


> Defensive end Olsen Pierre became the second early enrollee Friday. He will start classes Monday. Pierre (6-4, 240) was a three-star recruiting according to ESPN out of Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy. 

> UM had its first baseball practice of the spring Friday. I'll have some more news and notes from coach Jim Morris and several of his players. The Canes are ranked 18th in two preseason polls and were picked to finish third in the ACC Coastal Division.

January 26, 2011

Fisch wants fresh start for QBs, cut down INTs

University of Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch went on Joe Rose's radio show this morning on WQAM. Here is a transcript of most of their conversation:

Jedd Fisch > Fisch started by addressing the initial ESPN reports the Seahawks may have been interested in bringing him back as offensive coordinator: "No I wasn't close to going back. It was one of those deals the last couple weeks were obviously hectic and crazy. The reason I took the job at The U is because I wanted to come to The U. It wasn't about other options or other offers I was going to have in the National Football League whether to stay with Seattle in a coordinator role or with a couple other teams. It was an opportunity to come down here, to go with coach Golden.

"I think it just happened to be more of a set of circumstances that the logical maybe progression was to ask me to stay or not to stay or whether to have that conversation. But really, as soon as I met with, as I soon as spoke with Coach Golden, as soon as met with Coach Carroll a week prior to our playoff game against Chicago I was totally 100 percent committed to coming to The U and that never wavered."

> Fisch said the fact he didn't meet Golden before he was offered the job -- and spoke to him only a week prior -- isn't as strange as it sounds. Fisch said he hadn't met Pete Carroll before landing in Seattle to take the quarterbacks coaching job a year ago.

"With our profession in coaching, at least in the circumstances I've been in, sometimes you don't have time," Fisch said. "We were in the middle of a season We were in a playoff run. I sensed that not many teams expected us. We were 6-9 going into our last game of the season. So I think coach Golden felt pretty good about talking to me and flying me in to interview me and then we beat St. Louis to win the first game and then we're beating the world champions. So, I think he probably felt pretty good at that point -- that he'd be able to fly in after that game and then when we won that game he had to start moving a little quicker in terms of having to fill his staff. So he called me that Sunday and we had a long conversation. Throughout the week we were able to talk in the morning and then in the evening each day to make sure we were philosophically on the same page.

"I know he probably did a lot of research, talking to a lot of head coaches that I've worked with and players that I've coached. As well as I did my research, talking to a bunch of people that have crossed his path. And we thought it was a great marriage. And that's what it needs to be when it comes to this profession and the role I have for him."

> Fisch said he spent a couple days researching Golden before taking the job.

"The first thing I found out was he's extremely organized, extremely detailed and one of the top coaches in the nation," Fisch said. "And I heard that from three or four coaches that I respect at the highest level. They felt that what he did at Temple -- and I know what he did at Temple. I'm from New Jersey and I know the non-rich tradition of Temple football -- and from 1979 to until Al Golden got there they did not have a winning season and when he was able to get there and go 9-4 and 8-4 in back-to-back seasons, I knew there was something special with Al Golden and the staff he put together at Temple.

"And as I continued to do my research, Matt Hasselbeck, who was on my team, was on a team with Al at Boston College. He spoke extremely highly of him. Along with other guys I spoke with. Everybody felt the same way, organized, detailed, a great football coach, a great communicator and a great person. And he emphasized both family and football. I think those are the two most important things."

> Fisch said the key to his offense at UM will be getting the ball in his playmakers hands. The role of the quarterback, he says, is to be a point guard.

"They have to be the Magic Johnson, the John Stockton, a guy that distributes the football as well as anybody that we can ever hope for and he has to distribute it to the best playmakers he can possibly distribute it to," Fisch said.

> So how does he feel about the Canes' two current point guards, who along with two other backups helped the Hurricanes lead the country in interceptions? Fisch said he wants to give them each a clean slate

"I saw we threw 27 interceptions this past season and obviously that's not a number we're looking for," Fisch said. "We'd obviously like to cut that in half at the most. Sometimes, interceptions are a fluke. I know Tom Brady threw 325 passes without a pick. But I saw nine that could have been. Sometimes you wonder what happens if guys catch balls instead of dropping them. The other thing is we have to do a great job explaining whether its Jacory [Harris], Stephen [Morris] or whoever plays quarterback at The U that they have to know where everybody is on the field. There's no need to force a ball. First of all, punting is fine. Second of all, checking the ball down to our backs is a huge advantage for us. I would guess that our running backs against most linebackers in the nation, I'll take our matchup. So we have to encourage our guys to say it's not just about throw it to this and just throw it to that guy. We have to understand how to go through a progression and most importantly we have to know how to check the football down. And be smart. We understand winning and losing games comes from turnover ratio."

> Fisch, who has been out recruiting and speaking to some of UM's top quarterback targets, said when the dead period starts on Monday he will begin breaking down film to see where and how he can help Harris and Morris.

"I think the first thing for Jacory is we're at a clean slate right now," Fisch said. "I don't have any history with Jacory. As a matter of fact, the games I’ve seen Jacory play were really in 2009 and he had an outstanding year the games that I saw. I know he won a bunch of games without even throwing an interception. He had some real early success. That's kind of the last time I've seen him play.

"What he needs to know is I have all the confidence in him -- as well as Stephen. Because I don't know any better right now. I'm not going to stare at a sheet of paper and see what a statistic told me or a report told me about a guy. I want to see it in person. And what he has to understand -- and what they both do -- we're going to coach swagger, confidence, intelligence, knowledge of the game and passion. We're going to evaluate them on on all of it. And if he has what we’re looking for at the quarterback position, Jacory can have a great year, and Stephen the same way. They both have an opportunity to do something special. What I can't wait for is to be a part of that with them, to help them along, not hold anything back and not hold anything against them for what they’ve done in the past. And really start fresh and start new."

Kiper likes Hankerson, says Bailey has slipped

Mel Kiper, ESPN’s NFL Draft guru, spoke to reporters this morning via conference call. We got in a few questions about where several draft-eligible Canes stand in his mind:

Brandon Harris > At the moment, Kiper feels cornerback Brandon Harris will be the only first round pick. He has him going to the Ravens with the 26th overall pick. “That’s a need area for the Ravens," Kiper said. "I think if Harris doesn’t go there, I think [he’ll be drafted] late in the first round. There’s a couple of other teams that certainly could look at cornerback – Chicago being one and Pittsburgh another."

> After Harris, Kiper has defensive lineman Allen Bailey going next. Bailey, who has received a lot of praise at the Senior Bowl this week for his 'Adonis body', has also been ripped this week by a few pundits. Kiper thinks Bailey will be a second round pick.

"You look at him as a 3-4 end, a 4-3 defensive tackle that I think he would fit the bill," Kiper said. "I think the ball location this year was a little lacking. There were times where it looked like he didn't have that awareness, getting in the backfield and making the play some other defensive ends had. Maybe, he felt that wasn't a position that could maximize his ability, that he feels comfortable at that spot when he was kicked out. I think inside maybe he'll feel comfortable as a 3-4 end. I think he can hold stout against the run and hold double teams. I think he's strong enough to do that. I just think his stock dropped from where it was. I thought he would be a first round pick potentially, now he's more of a second."

> If anybody has really shined or improved their stock, its receiver Leonard Hankerson. Kiper believes Hankerson is the best senior receiver in this draft class.

"Hankerson I've liked all year," Kiper said. "I've never put him in the first round. I've never had him in my Top 25. But as a senior receiver I thought he was the best out there. With his size, he runs good routes, I like the pacing of his routes. I think he's a little underrated in terms of the quickness out of his cuts. His hands are very good. He'd have a drop or two, which was very uncharacteristic -- it was more of a concentration issue, not a hands issue. He's not going to be a vertical stretch guy on a regular basis. But he runs well enough. I think he could come in and be a good complimentary good number two guy and be worthy of being a second or third round pick."

> Kiper on a few other Canes:

“In terms of the other players from Miami, offensive tackle Orlando Franklin has some versatility that he provides. I don’t think he played to the level of his talent in games that I saw. He’s going to have to define where he fits best into an NFL blocking scheme. He could be in that early Day 3 area, maybe late Day 2.

“For linebacker Colin McCarthy, probably Day 3 for him which isn’t bad. Day 3 starts with the fourth round.

“I think cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke Day 3 as well. [Kicker Matt] Bosher free agent.

“You also have [running back] Graig Cooper who needs another year to come completely back from that [knee] injury. He came on a little late the year. He was [projected as] a second-round pick before the injury. You might be able to get him on Day 3. Remember James Starks was a guy was a guy that had an injury and fell to the sixth round and has a heck of a finish to the season for the Packers. I think Cooper could be in the fifth, sixth, seventh round and be a nice pickup for somebody once he gets back to where he was a few years ago.”

January 24, 2011

Kehoe's return 'makes everything feel right again at UM'

Art Kehoe, who won five national championships as a UM assistant coach, was finally named the Hurricanes offensive line coach Monday -- about a week after rumors began to surface he might have a chance to return home.

Art Kehoe Kehoe, 52, spent the past two seasons as the offensive line coach for the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. He played two seasons for UM as a junior-college transfer and served as an assistant UM coach for 25 years before he was fired Jan. 2, 2006, by former coach Larry Coker.

New coach Al Golden interviewed Kehoe last Thursday in Mississippi. Kehoe accepted the job Sunday and the announcement was formally made late Monday afternoon. 

"Everybody who has ever been coached by that guy has a pretty significant and everlasting bond with Coach Kehoe," said former Hurricane offensive lineman KC Jones, who is now a financial advisor who lives in West Palm Beach.

"He was a big reason I came to the University of Miami. His attitude and his passion is unmatched by any player or individual I've been around. You can't help but increase your tempo, your level of excitement just being around the guy. He's a guy that comes over and changes a program, the outlook, the excitement level of anybody involved."

Jones said he'll never forget what Kehoe told him when he was being recruited by UM, Oklahoma, Rice and Duke.

"I was pretty wide-eyed when I got to the University of Miami on my recruiting trip," said Jones, who from Midland, Texas. "I remember him asking me what other schools were recruiting me and when I listed the schools, he said, 'That's great. That sounds great. You can go to those other schools. But just know we're going to end up kicking your ass.

"The attitude he has is what the University of Miami is all about. He embodied that spirit. Bringing Coach Kehoe back makes everything feel right at the University of Miami again."

January 20, 2011

Former Cane Hurlie Brown joins UM staff

Former Hurricanes defensive back Hurlie Brown, who played on two national championship teams in 1989 and 1991, was hired Thursday as a special assistant at the University of Miami. 

Hurlie Brown Brown coached the secondary at FIU from from 2001 through the 2006 season and spent the last few years at Louisiana-Lafayette coaching defensive backs there.

Brown replaces Tim "Ice" Harris Sr., the father of former Hurricanes cornerback Brandon Harris, who spent three years as a special assistant to former coach Randy Shannon. Harris Sr. left the program earlier this week according to UM and will likely be named the head coach at Miami Booker T. Washington High as early as next Monday.

Harris helped coordinate the football team's community relations projects and assisted in other day-to-day operations of the football program when he was at UM. He won state championships in football and track at Booker T. in and was named USA Today's Coach of the Year in 2007. He sent three players -- including his son -- to UM in 2008.

After his son declared he would enter the draft earlier this month, Harris Sr. said he would remain at UM but was looking to get back into coaching.

> In other news, Miami Central cornerback Thomas Finnie was accepted into UM on Thursday morning and is set to begin taking classes according to UM's sports information office. Finnie is the first of three possible early entrants to begin taking classes in the spring semester.

> Spoke with former longtime UM assistant Don Soldinger who is crossing his fingers for Art Kehoe to land the Canes' vacant offensive line job. As our Susan Miller Degnan is reporting, Kehoe is meeting with Golden today for the first time

"I think Art could really help 'em," Soldinger said. "He's been there for everything. He's a Miami guy. Always has been. It doesn't make sense what happened with both of us. We just dedicated ourselves to winning games at Miami."

January 14, 2011

Meet UM offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

New University of Miami offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch spoke with reporters Friday afternoon. Here is what he had to say:

Fisch Opening statement: "I want to say how excited I am about joining The U. While it's been a crazy time here in Seattle preparing for the second round of the playoffs, the opportunity to join the U football program, coach [Al] Golden, is really exciting. I can't wait to be down there, but hopefully it won't come for a few more weeks as we're hoping to continue on our Super Bowl quest. It's a great moment for me, my family. My wife can't wait to get down there as well as my two kids."

Why did you decide to make the move to college now?
"That's a great question. The first reason is I realized how much I missed the game of college football, the pageantry that college football brings, the youth, excitement, energy of the players you have the opportunity to coach. The second reason was I wasn't planning on going back to college football this year. It wasn't something I was looking into at all. I was thrilled to death to be in the job I have, but when a program like the University of Miami calls and you have that opportunity, it was a dream come true. I grew up in northern New Jersey, my brother went to law school at the University of Miami. I couldn't believe it, was so thrilled to take it."

When will you be able to start recruiting?
"Depending how we move forward in Seattle. Assuming we win on Sunday [in Chicago], then I will continue in my role as the quarterbacks coach of the Seahawks and the program will recruit knowing that I will be there when the season ends. I hope the athletes Miami is recruiting, there will be some visibility because then we will be in the NFC Championship Game and from there the Super Bowl. Recruiting would be going on without me making the direct hit, hopefully the indirect hit of being part of a championship program [would be beneficial]."

Are you allowed to recruit while you are still coaching the Seahawks?
"From what I understand about the compliance, until I take the NCAA recruiting exam, which is administered at the university, there would be no contact with potential student-athletes."

Can you at least evaluate the QB's Miami is currently recruiting, watch film of them to figure out who you want?
"That will have to wait. Brennan Carroll who is the national recruiting coordinator has been evaluating some top-notch quarterbacks. He's looking at them and coach Golden is looking at them, George McDonald, the wide receivers coach, is looking at them. They know what direction we're going in on offense. What I appreciate most about coach Golden is, `You take care of your business, winning this week and beating the Chicago Bears, and whatever happens after that we'll revisit it.' Right now we're about winning, taking care of the Seahawks business."

Can you talk about your offensive philosophy?
"I know a lot of people use the term pro style offense. We'll be multiple and balanced. That's the key to a pro style offense. We'll use personnel groupings to our advantage. We're going to try to find our best matchups whether that be through the air, on the ground, getting the ball to our running backs in space, more of a downhill running attack, taking one-on-one matchups with our wide receivers. We're going to evaluate all of that. We'll be under center and shotgun, and we're going to attack. The one thing I really believe in is taking advantage of the defense with your personnel and being able to make explosive plays when the opportunity presents itself. If you take care of the football and make explosive plays you'll win a lot of football games."

What did you learn in your time as offensive coordinator at the University of Minnesota (2009)?
"You can never underestimate the value of experience. It was a phenomenal learning curve for me, both the good and bad. What you learn is what the players can handle, the 20 hour rule versus an NFL work week, how it really feels, what you can ask your players to do, really do a better job of evaluating your own talent. I think the key thing in college football vs. pro football - you better really know what you have. You better know what you can ask your guys to do. The thing about coming to the U is we have the ability and opportunity to have the best players in the country. To be able to figure out what they do best, put them in position to do that, will give us our best chance."

Having coached at the pro level, what do you think can you bring to a college team?
"I believe a lot. Pro football -- it's football all the time, and you're around the best of the best in terms of the athletes you're coaching and you get a great feel of what can be done and can't be done, what's too much and what's not too much. When you're around the pro athletes scheme is so important, the amount of time you can study film, get ideas, learn from different coaches in what people are doing to attack defenses. It's really good. To be able to take that experience and the resources you have in the NFL in terms of offensive line coaches, quarterback coaches, wide receiver coaches, coordinators - talking to those guys and asking those guy questions you build such great relationships that they never die. What I'm looking forward to is coming in and taking the experiences of what we did in the NFL, and we did a lot of good things in the nine years I coached in the NFL, and the things we did at Minnesota - we did some good things there - and put those together and put [forth] the best possible plan for the University of Miami to put the U offense back on top, which is where it belongs."

What is the history of your relationship with Al Golden?
"It's a very short history. It goes about five days. I never met coach Golden prior to our phone conversations. I will tell you I can't be more impressed. Obviously it's not an easy decision to make when you're in the middle of a playoff run with a very young team and a first-year head coach. The reason I left is two-fold: one, Al Golden, two the tradition at the U. The times I spoke to coach golden on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, every time that we talked prior to the offer and the acceptance of the position has been great conversation. We're on the same page not only philosophically but schematically. We bring a similar passion and energy to coaching. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work for him."

So you've never met coach Golden?

So how did the connection form between you and coach Golden?
"I never specifically asked him that question. I don't know the answer. The relationship, we'll build that over time. The relationship will thrive; I can tell that from the conversations we've had.

When did he first make contact with you?
"He made contact with me on Sunday evening, spoke with coach [Pete] Carroll and then he spoke with me. It was more of a brief introduction at first, talked about my history, the people I've coached, coached with, the philosophy I have. We moved forward from there."

Can you talk about working with Mike Shanahan, coach [Pete] Carroll and Brian Billick, coaches like that?
"Those coaches have won three national championships, have competed in five national championships, and they are coaches that have won three Super Bowls - it's about as good as it gets in that regard. Obviously each guy brings something else to the table. Each guy has a special quality. But all of them universally have the No. 1 quality of being great competitors. The No. 1 thing I've taken from those guys is the motivation to compete every time. I hope I can take all of their characteristics and mold them into the coach that I'll continue to be."

UM's quarterbacks have thrown a lot of interceptions the last couple of years. How do you work with quarterbacks to make better decisions?
"Interceptions are the craziest things. You watch Tom Brady, it's in the 330 range of throwing without an interceptions. You can watch ones tipped, dropped interceptions. Sometimes it just works out that way. Other times it works out that they weren't clear on the read. Sometimes it's experience in the offense. What we need to do is make sure with the quarterback that the first thing you teach them is where everybody is on the field. Until they realize where their receivers are they stick the ball in tight places when they don't need to. The other thing is you have to teach quarterbacks to take care of the football - punting is okay, it's okay to throw it away. When you don't, sometimes momentum swings. We have to teach our quarterbacks to be extremely disciplined. They have to have a great work ethic so they understand what we're asking them to do."

You never played football, even at the high school level. How unlikely is it for you to be where you are now at age 34?
"There's a lot of circumstances that go around a lot of things. The one thing I know is when you work extremely hard, if you give it everything you have usually good things happen. One thing I chose to do growing up is I was going to be a football coach and a football coach at the highest level. That opportunity presented itself every time I turned around."

Your offense struggled at Minnesota (2009). What went wrong?
"They were in their third year [under the same head coach], had run spread, had no experience with the quarterback under center, from an I formation. I tried to go and put in an offense thinking they had more experience in that type of system than they actually did. I might have been quick to assume they were able to get it right away. We just have to always continue to evaluate, how to get better and make sure that at Miami if there's something that I'm going to make sure I keep a close eye on, it's what our players can handle mentally and physically."

How familiar are you with the guys you're coaching with and will you have any input on the offensive line coach hiring?
"I know George McDonald, spent three weeks prior to him departing for Cleveland - he was at Minnesota when they hired me. I think highly of him. In terms of Brennan [Carroll]] - Brennan and I met a couple of times, have always had great conversations. I'm looking forward to meeting with everyone on the staff. Coach Golden and I have been speaking about the line coach and we'll continue to have that communication. Obviously it's a critical hire for the program, for me to make sure we're on the same page with)the philosophy of running the football and pass protection."

January 07, 2011

Al Golden's press conference transcript

Here is the audio and transcript from Al Golden's press conference Friday. It's 44 minutes long and covers a lot of recruiting, his Sun Bowl thoughts and much, much more: 



Opening statement: "Thank you for coming out today. We really appreciate it. And obviously we appreciate your coverage of Miami football. It’s been a crazy three weeks for us, clearly with the  dead periods, the bowl game, shortened contact week this week and then obviously going into another dead period. We’ve been able to get a lot accomplished in a short period of time. I’m excited about our new staff additions. I’m excited about the staff members that have stayed on to continue with us – Micheal Barrow and Jeff Stoutland.

"We’re moving forward and I hope to have the whole staff completed by Tuesday morning at the latest – which, of course, we’re going into another dead period Sunday. We’ll be in the office all next week. We’ll use that time to finish this recruiting class and then also evaluate the next class. With that, that would just give you a quick overview of where we’re at as a football program and then I’ll open it up to the many questions you have forthcoming."

How difficult has recruiting been in the sense, negative recruiting about Miami, how difficult to both sell and battle back from what people are saying?
"I don’t know what they’re saying but I can tell you what we’re selling -- an incredible product. We’re selling the team with the most national championships in the last 30 years, the most first-round picks in the last 18 years, the No. 1 university in the state of Florida, a top-50 university in the country; an intimate setting which most power Division I programs don’t have in a 15,000-person campus. We are very much blessed to have kind of an insulated campus, if you will, a beautiful, picturesque campus but yet have access to the world right outside our doors; have access to a world-class city. There’s no shortage in what we have to sell here. What we have to get back to is communicating and building trust in our relationships with the high school community and our peers in all the high schools in South Florida, and as I said the night I was hired, supplement that with not only some of our roots up in the Northeast but also with Brennan [Carroll] and Jethro [Franklin] in both Texas and California; and we’ll do that. But our primary recruiting base is going to be here.

"In terms of what people are saying about us, they’re always going to say -- that’s recruiting. We choose to be a staff that doesn’t negative recruit. And that should be a show of strength, a sign of strength, a sign that you really believe in your product and you believe in what you’re going to do with obviously the opportunity that we have here in Miami."

How tough is it to get back the trust? Can you do it instantly? Does it take a while?
"I think, No. 1, your reputation with the student-athletes precedes you. So no matter where you’ve been you have a resume. And your resume with the student-athletes is by far the most important thing for both parents and coaches. And we’ve hired a staff that believes in developing relationships with the student athletes, with treating them fairly, with communicating with them on a daily basis and that’s what we built  a program on. That’s what we’re obviously going to build this program [on], and that’s how we’re going to change the culture here."

"I feel I’m fortunate to be at Miami at this time, because this is not like taking over some of the programs where there’s a transition where it’s two or three or four wins or five wins. This is a program that obviously won seven games but really had a chance to win two others in south florida and Virginia, so we could be, obviously, with the right kids in the right places, moving forward in this recruiting class and getting the team on all the same page. This doesn’t need to take a couple years to get this thing going. We want to get working on this on Jan. 18th."

What were your impressions of the Sun bowl? Did you leave there thinking there was a lot of work to do?
"Here’s how I left there: I left here thinking that the things we need to do are fixable.  We need to be a smarter, tougher, more disciplined and better conditioned team, and I didn’t see that. I didn’t see a team that executed with a high football IQ. I see a lot of  talent. I see kids with want-to. I saw a team that didn’t quit to be quite honest with you. had a goal-line stand and then finished the game, which means there’s a lot of pride in there and we’ve got to get it out.

"I discussed at the site that I’m not going to apologize for how we played, but at the same time I do want everybody to know that transitions are very difficult. And certainly that was a difficult transition because it was one of Miami’s own and just because of the circumstances of which I took over and Jeff was the interim head coach. So there were a lot of things going on.  But if you have those kinds of penalties in the game – especially the personal fouls – and you turn the ball over, you don’t have a chance to win.We’re going to create value in that game by not burying it in 2010, but rather by showing it to our players as a kind of a paradigm if you will of what we need to do and what needs to be fixed, because talent alone is not going to get it done.

"But there is talent here, so from that standpoint I’m excited. But we’ve got to be a far more disciplined team, we’ve got to be a better conditioned team and we’ve got to get back to our roots here a little bit, which means we’ve got to get hungry. To be quite honest with you, we’ve got to get back to being hungry, and I think that’s what we’re doing right now in the recruiting trail.

"And again, this is my assessment: we’ve kind of become a clam in the recruiting trail, which means we open up and let all the food rush in. We’re going to go back to being an eagle. We’re going to go back to being hunters, and knowing that we have a good product and knowing that we have a tremendous legacy, and knowing that we have the most players in the NFL and knowing we have something that no one else, including anybody in this state, can sell And that is a program that has the opportunity to win a national title in football, produce NFL players and have both a campus and world-class city at its disposal, which is very unique. And it’s obviously something that kids are looking to do in this day. In this wired age, kids are looking to be connected. We have no shortage of positive responses out there I can tell you right now.

"What has been a little bit difficult, and it’s more of a psychological factor I believe, is that the kids that were committed and then decommitted and then looked – those kids are really struggling with the fact that they committed to a former staff and they can’t get by that. But all the kids that are either a commitment at Michigan or a Stanford kid or a kid that’s not committed or even some of the juniors that we’re getting responses from, the brand is strong, and we’re excited about that. You can understand how it’s like you see your prom date five years after the prom and you think it’s going to be the way it is. It’s never going to be that way again. Some of those kids, it was in their mind that it was going to be a certain way, and it’s changed. And if they could ever get by that, that there was a staff change and really defend their decision to be part of this university and be part of this alumni and be part of this community, they would come here. But that’s part of the negative recruiting that some of you alluded to. People keep saying you committed to this coach or that coach. Well, it’s over, it’s 2010, so we’ll get by it."

As far as BCS schools, you have a coach at FSU in second year and same thing at USF, does that present any sort of opportunities?
"Sure it does. I don’t think there’s any question it does. But just understand one thing. They can’t survive without South Florida. Those schools that you mentioned, I’m not going to mention them but they can’t survive without South Florida. We’re very fortunate where we’re located and the type of football that is played down here. We’re not going to get them all. There are probably going to be 100 kids from down here alone. So we’ve got to make sure we get the right15 to 20 kids every year that match our core values, that understand what this tradition is all about, that want to get an education. That’s the one thing that amazes me. As you go around the country, most people don’t understand how good Randy and his staff and the commitment they made, and Kirby and his staff and the commitment that they’ve made from an academic standpoint – a 100-percent graduation rate a year ago, No. 7 overall in the APR, so there are a lot of things in terms of a foundation that are in place that we can build upon and we will do that."

Do you have a plan for the weight room?
"I’ve evaluated that and I’m sticking with the current staff. I really feel good about Coach Swasey and what he has down there right now. Obviously he has been here for a long time and we’re excited about him. [Associate SID] Chris [Freet] had made me aware that there were some rumblings about changes down there and everything. And like everything else in this organization, I evaluated and I will continue to evaluate but I’m very excited about the staff that is down there and the commitment they have toward student-athletes. I’m also excited about the interaction that I see between the student-athletes and them, and that shows me something. And again our approach is going to be different. Coach Swasey gets his marching orders from the head coach. Our approach is going to be different. And as I said multiple times, we’re going to get back to butch davis, Jimmy Johnson, the off season is not going to be badminton."

You said it's been a whirlwind the past three weeks with recruiting, but how have you dealt with team issues here? Guys leaving early for the NFL and possible transfers?
"You’ve got to do it all at once. Our team is going to be back the following weekend. We’ll have a team meeting prior to the start of school, and I’ll have a chance to sit down with every one of them. I’ve spoken to many of them. Many of them have come in after the bowl game to sit down with me, which was great. Many others have phoned. Even some parents Ive been able to stay in touch with. It’s been a little awkward in terms of not being able to just sit down and have a week where I can meet every player on the team and give him the time I want to, but we’ll do that. We’ve made a commitment for a long time of being a staff that communicates and makes sure that every kid has no gray area in their life and that they know where they stand. I do that three times a year with every player no matter how long I’ve been coaching. I sit down with every player three times a year. We’ll continue to make that commitment. It has been a challenge. I’m not going to say it hasn’t."

Can you talk about Brandon Harris' decision to leave early?
"Brandon Harris irrespective of what anybody in here thinks of his decision, you cannot fault somebody that makes a man decision, that doesn’t have to makie a decision because he did something illegal with an agent or anything like that. You’re talking about a guy who sat down with his family, got the information, made a decision, prayed on it, woke up the next day and came and saw me. That should give you an idea what kind of person he is. Brandon has a chance to just be an internship shy. He has agreed to stay here and finish his coursework and work out and get ready for the NFL, which I think is a great idea, and he just has an internship left. He’s a fine young man. We’re going to miss him, but he’ll always be part of our family. I tell them all, you go to The U or to college to get an education and to get a job. Congratulations you got a job."

There were rumors about Sean Spence and Marcus Forston possibly transferring or leaving early. Can you address those concerns?
"I don’t deal in the rumor business and I mean that respectfully. I’ve talked to Marcus, and Sean has talked to Coach D’Onofrio. If that’s something they choose to do, we’ll certainly evaluate it and make sure they get the information they need. We’re not going to prvent anybody from exploring that or making that decision."

How many scholarships do you expect to have -- 15?
"I think it’s going to be a little more. I don’t have a definitive number. We’re working thru that. Brandon puts that number up one more. There’s going ot be probably more than that when it’s all said and done. Honestly, it’s not as cut and dry as you think.We haven’t had kids coming in saying they want to transfer. I want to make sure we put that to bed. We have a lot of kids right now in this program that are excited about the direction, the energy and the organization moving forward."

Ryan Hill made a comment after the Sun Bowl about the players here being little boys, says u’ve got to weed out certain guys. How do you feel about that comment?
"I have a lot of respect for Ryan Hill and I don’t like to comment on something I wasn’t a part of. That would be tough for me to comment on. I will say this to you: I’ll challenge anybody that’s either an outgoing senior or senior or an upperclassman to make sure we handle that in house first. So if you're not prepared to go up in front of your peers and talk about that – and he may have, so that’s why I’m answer ing it the way I’m answering it. Certainly Ryan is one of our better players. He may have been a leader – I only saw three practices and then the game. But if that is an issue, I’m going to get to the bottom of it. Certainly, there’s going to be a price to pay in terms of wearing that U and putting on that uniform again moving forward. There has to be a greater commitment on the part of everybody and as coaches we have to lead by example."

Did you try to convince [defensive coordinator Mark] D’Onofrio to come here or leave it up to him solely to turn down Temple?
"When it comes our families and business, we really draw the line there. We talked briefly about the temple job and gave him the information he would need to make the decision. And that’s it. I gave him a hug and said ‘I’m going. This is a great opportunity for me and my family.’ And I said, ‘Mark, you know I would love to have you down there, but if u

want to be a head coach here I understand that and that’s not going to change our relationship. A little bit surprised [he came to MIA] but honored. And I understand it. Last night I got home at 3:30 and I was in here at 6:30 with a meeting. We all feel like if u’re going to be that passionate and work that hard, then we want to be at a school that feels the same way. And for all of you people to come in here and ask me questions about recruiting, that gives me a good idea that I’m in the right place, that the expectations are high. You want to be around a place that the expectations and challenge is to win championships. I think that’s what Mark saw. He saw that if he could take his intellect, his scheme, recruit the kids in south Florida and cultivate the kids that are here, I think he believes he can have one of the best defenses in the country."

You wanted former players to get more involved. Have they? And how do you see former players being involved move forward?
"First of all, it’s been overwhelming already, the number of former players who have reached out or dropped by. But really what we need them to do – we’re going to have an alumni function this spring – is to come back and fill up these rooms and be a part of our family. Some of them we would love to have them talk to our current players to make sure they understand…it’s such a microwave generation where everything is instant and they see ray lewis, ed reed or andre Johnson on a little soundbite or 20 second clip, but they don’t really see the work ethic those guys have and had when they were here, how much Ed Reed studies film. I’m a football fan and a coach so I’ve talked to many peers who have coached here and have been around those guys. Some of their workouts are legendary. Michael Irvin’s workouts are legendary. People want to choose to focus on ‘The playmaker’ and all that. That guy worked hard to be the kind of player he was. We have to get back to that. So I want to make sure the former players talk to our current players and that there’s a connection. I would love to have them come out to practice so our players understand the tempo we need to get. It’s been great. Just to see guys like Tony Fitzpatrick, who I watched growing up. He came up and said coach we’re behind you and support you. Or Dan Sileo. Any of these guys that have reached out to support the program. It feels good and there’s a sense of family there."

Who is your recruiting coordinator now that Aubrey Hill is gone?
"During that first two weeks, Mark [D'Onofrio] was spearheading it because I was doing so many other things organizationally from a staffing standpoint and human resources. Mark was spearheading that even when Aubrey was here. But Terry Richardson will be our Florida recruiting coordinator and Brennan Carroll will be our national recruiting coordinator. So we’ll have two. We’re looking to focus all of our energy here in South Florida. If we go out of state, it’s going to be for the best of the best and Brennan had done that in a similar capacity at SC. Now we’re fortunate to have him here."

[UM national recruiting coordinator] Brennan Carroll talked about this yesterday. How do you feel about recruiting kids who’re already committed elsewhere?
"I’m not real excited about doing that, to be honest with u. I don’t want to be sitting here a year from now having to do that. But there’s obviously a shakeup in some programs. There’s probably one or two kids on the Maryland or Pitt lists that we’re looking at, there’s more on the Michigan list and a couple of more even on the Stanford list – we don’t know how that’s going to shake out. Many of them, if not all of them, have agreed to take visits. And there are a lot of kids around the country still that are taking visits. It’s been incredible. We have 45 visits scheduled this month. The last couple of years, I don’t even think they got out of the 30s in terms of total visits. So there’s been a great response. We’ve got to make sure we get the right ones. We’ve got to get to know them as people. I’ve been fortunate to have been thru this a couple of times, going to BC after that scandal, going to Virginia after George Welsh was replaced by Al Groh, taking over Temple. I understand that sometimes the bloggers and the fans and the websites, they worry about every single guy that goes somewhere else. I’ve learned A. to not pay attention to any of them and B. most importantly, make sure the ones you get can play for you. Don’t worry about the herd effect of just recruiting guys because they have an offer from an SEC team or one of the big three in the state of Florida. It’s far more important to get somebody who matches your values, that wants to get an education, wants to be a part of your program, comes from a good family and can help you in your system. From that standpoint, we have a lot of poise right now. We’re not trying to make anybody’s Rivals list or anything like that. We want to make sure the 15, 16, 17 guys we get can play for us and that we don’t have any mistakes when we wake up on Aug. 8 and we’re doing training camp."

When will you start spring practice?
“What I’m going to try to do is, does anybody know when spring break is? March 10? I was going to try to get in three practices that week and then break for spring break then go basically on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday schedule. And then the spring game is going to be that Saturday which I think is around (April) 15, 16. Right in there. A little bit later. Moving forward I want to make sure both coordinators and staff have a chance to get their systems in place including special teams. And I also want to insure that we have a real good 7-, 8-week period here where the guys can lift, get stronger and then go out there and get back to doing circuits and everything the way the Miami Hurricanes used to do.”

How much is doing that going to help you know what you have?
“It’s important that the first time we install a play is not the first day of spring ball. We’ll start to get a couple of hours a week prior to that we have a chance to meet with the kids and develop them from a football standpoint. So we want to make sure we do that. I’m sure there will be some position changes, I’m sure there will be some depth changes as we implement our systems. My philosophy has always been that the person who prepares and practices the hardest starts the game and the person that plays the best, finishes the game. It’s always been that way. The first phase of building a team is the offseason program and that starts Jan. 19. From Jan. 19 to the first day of spring ball, they will be evaluated on a daily basis. Whoever performs the best in that off season program is going to be a starter going into the spring. It’s up to them to hold onto that job. That’s going to create a lot of competition right there and that’s the only standard that we have – you’lll be measured on performance as we all are.”

Are you solid on that spring game date?
“Chris says absolutely not. I think we’re going to have everything in place by next week in terms of our staff.  I’ll actually be in here for the next 6 or 7 days which will feel weird, but I’ll be able to get you all those dates."

How difficult or easy has it been to attract assistant coaches?
“It’s easy. It’s easy. Wonderful place to live, climate, the tradition and the same thing we’re feeling now as we go on the road,  you get a sense as a coach that you want to be a part of that as well. Again, from that standpoint, it’s not hard. We’ve got some work to do. But that’s why we’re here.  I wouldn’t have had this opportunity if everything was perfect. There’s things we can fix, there’s things that are fixable and that’s what drives me every day. The fact that I’m at a place that you don’t have to worry about anything else. You don’t have to worry any jobs, any anything on the outside other than chasing a championship. Which is great. That’s what drives coaches to pick up the phone and say, ‘Coach, whatever position you have available, I want to be a part of it.”

How much has the recent moves among NFL staffs impacted your search?
“It has. It has.”

Have their been names that might have seemed unlikely that now seem more likely because they’re available?
“Correct. Is that tentative enough. There’s guys under contract, there’s guys in the playoffs, there’s all kinds of guys and really, we’re just trying to do it the right way. We’re going to do everything here the right way and we’re not going to cut corners and putting rumors out there and all those other things."

Do you envision the offensive coordinator being the quarterbacks coach?
“I do. That’s safe to say.”

You talked about the former commits struggling with a new staff and not being able to get that. Do you commit to a staff or a program?
"Here’s what I do believe; I believe that one of the biggest mistakes student-athleties make in the recruiting process is identifying with only one of the three aspects that you’ll encounter, that you’re seeking in a college football program – either football, academic or social. If only one of those is present, you’re in a lot of trouble. For instance, if you’re a great studen-athlete and you pick a school solely because of a stadium or because they promised you a jersey number or they promised you to start right away, the first time you turn your knee and you go back to the dorm and you don’t have anything in common with that place and then you go to class and you really don’t like the school as you wlak arouund the facility or campus, that’s when things can go south quickly.That’s when you see all those stories of guys leaving campuses, returning home and those types of things. You better evaluate academically, socially and athletically because you’re only in that stadium seven times a year and the other 359 days you better like where you’re at, you better like the school that you’re going to. The way I’m answering your question is, that people are important, I really believe that, but I’m a conduit to something that’s bigger than all of us. That’s the University of Miami and our football program. We just believe we have a way of communicating and recruiting from a culture and organization standpoint that’s going to help us get back to that.”

Are you recruiting more junior college players because of getting into the recruiting process late?
“A couple. Most particularly on defense because of the depth issues there. I would say that we’re looking at more than we normally would.”

How do you see the quarterback situation?
“I see it as 2011 and both young men I’ve already spoken with and both know it’s performance based now. I’m not saying it wasn’t prior to that. All I’m saying is that everyday they’re going to compete. I think Jacory maybe arguably his best season was the year he was competing with Marve. I think he knows now there’s going to be a competition but that’s not just isolated to the quarterback position. There’s going to be competition at every position. Those jerseys and those numbers are owned by the University of Miami and the former players that built this program and they better understand when they put on those numbers, what that represents and they better be ready to compete every day. Certainly that applies to the quarterback position as well. I’m excited to have two guys who are experienced at the quarterback position. I’m scared to depth as I go to sleep every night that we just don’t have the depth at cornerback that you need to get through a season. That’s something obviously that we’re trying to fix in the recruiting process right now.”

Is Spencer Whipple not coming back?
“No, I have every intention that Spencer Whipple is coming back. I was focusing on the two that played in the game.  Certainly Spencer is coming back as far as I know and we’re looking to add two quarterbacks in this recruiting cycle.”

Has your family settled in South Florida yet?
“You mean I’m a father and a husband too? We hope that everybody will be down here by Friday the 14th which is wonderful that they’ll be able to start school here, that we’ll have everybody together. They’re excited.. My wife’s excited. Hopefully from that standpoint, I don’t have to worry about that aspect of it. I’ll worry about these 105 here but not my three at home.”

Have there been any surprises you've encountered with this job being in South Florida?
“The one thing I can tell you – I know you guys sometimes live in the doom-and-gloom part of it – but you go out in the road now, it’s exciting. I mean kids are excited about the University of Miami football program and the opportunity to come here when it is a transition whether that means you’re part of this class of the next class, you have a chance to be on the ground floor. Obviously, everybody knows what the ceiling is here. The ceiling is the best that you can be. That’s the ceiling here. There’s a lot of kids that are looking at it as an opportunity. I know the negative recruiting and sometimes you guys have to write about the negative things, but the positivity when you go out to those high schools about kids who want to have an opportunity to come in and play during a transition where there usually is a little bit of attrition, where maybe the numbers are down, there’s going to be great opportunities both in this class and the following class to stake your claim to a position that might have been four or five-deep four years ago or four years from now, once we get it back to where we want to get it.”

Is being more of a celebrity something you have to get used to?
"It's a little new. My Burger King stop at midnight last night was a little unique. But again, it speaks to the power of the brand and the power of this university. Really, how respected how the university and the football program is. I want to make one point perfectly clear to everybody. A bad year or a couple years that fell short of our expectations is not going to erase the last 30 years. It's not going to do it and we won't let it do it. And we've made commitment to make sure we get this place back to where it needs to be. Certainly, that's a little unique from that standpoint. I'm living right, so I don't have anything to worry about."

What happened in Burger King?
"Nothing. The guy recognized me and I was flipping fries before you knew it [Laughter]"

Have you had a chance to watch all the games on tape and is that something you plan to do?
"No. We're looking forward to doing that. I don't even know if we'll be able to do it this week to be quite honest. We're really recruiting two classes right now. But we'll be real aggressive in the spring with our junior days and evaluating those young people. We'll have five camp dates that we'll get out to you here. There will be a little different approach to our camp, which obviously we think will be a good feeder for us and a good public service so to speak for the high school kids and youth kids in South Florida. But I probably won't even get to looking at that until February 3rd, 4th in that range."

From a talent standpoint is there a position group that stood out to you during the bowl practices?
"Yes. Offensive line. I think the offensive line looks the way a Miami offensive line should look. Again, I don't think we're satisfied anywhere with our depth.That's a position I think looks good. The running back situation obviously looks good and there are some other positions that look good. But there's not the depth we need on the second and third team and we need to create that with competition. We'll do that with recruiting with how we place the athletes here in the spring moving forward.

Do you have a special teams coordinator already?
"Yes. We're going to announce all this. But I'm going to announce it right now. Micheal Barrow is going to be our special teams coordinator. I'll assist him with that. Micheal has done a great job. He's approached me about it. I know he's excited about it. So, I'll assist in that aspect of the game as well. Cuz that's always been something that's fun for me. I get a chance to touch everybody on the team because everybody is a part of special teams."

You mentioned quarterback, but do you see kicker/punter and specialists as needs in recruiting?
"Can you wait until after my wife moves in to bring all that up? My goodness. I can't speak to specific prospects. But you guys can put it together. We feel like we're going to have a really good punter joining us. We have place kickers on our team right now that are looking to compete. But I'm also looking to add a kicker or a kicker/punter or field goal guy to that mix and really create the competition there to find somebody that is going to help us win some games. It's going to be like every position. Whether you're a walk-on or scholarship player, it's immaterial to me when we go on the practice field. Whoever practices the best is going to start. They'll be competition. So to answer your question, I am looking for a scholarship punter and kicker. We have a commitment from a punter right now. And I'm looking to get a commitment from a kicker."

With the Heat, Dolphins, South Beach, do you have a sense of what football means in South Florida?
"I think you know. When you get this rolling and back to where we need to be, I think the evidence has shown it can be pretty special. Again, you guys sound like the recruiters sometimes from Gainesville or Tallahassee, but I'm going to remind you: ' What did you just say? I can go to a Heat game. I can go to a beach? I can go to South Beach? I can do all that?' Well, so can the student athletes. That's the greatest selling point of this place. We can have a self-contained campus that is on the doorstep of one of the greatest cities in American. And again, that's something we have that's special."

Do you consider the 30-for-30 film (The U) a sales film for recruiting?
"Which part? [Laughter] I think if I slice it up, it will be good. It's like anything else. If they did a documentary on what we were doing in college, too, it wouldn't be pretty all the time either. All you guys that are laughing right now, you know what I'm talking about. The reality of it is, they had a passion for each other. They had an us versus the world mentality. They worked really hard. That's one of the things that's legendary. All the scouts that used to come through here and all the coaches that used to be here said the same thing: it's an incredible practice. And we have to get back to doing that. And they created that. There was a bond there we have to get back that we don't really have. There was a unity there, a cohesion, a commonality that maybe is not present right now that we're going to work on fixing. We'll get back to that. We'll get back to that. Maybe not all of it. We got kids that are graduating now and doing a great job in the community, but there are a lot of those elements we want to get back to."

Recruits have opened up their options, taking visits, high school All-Star games make it tougher as a coach?
"No. We're not one of the teams that's hiding kids out. I think if you recruit at a certain level. I've recruited at all different levels. Virginia. Temple. Penn State. Boston College. I've recruited at all different levels. If you're at one of those next level programs and you're recruiting a kid hoping that somebody doesn't come in and scoop somebody up in the last couple weeks, your worried about that. But for us, really, we just want to make sure we get the right guy. We have great guys visiting. We have national kids visiting. If kids were maybe involved with a Michigan or something like that, or kids that made it at these All-Star games. That's not really a worry for us."

Will Mark D'Onofrio be the associate head coach at UM like he was at Temple?
"I haven't made a decision on the rest of that right now. But certainly, he's capable of doing that. I just want to make sure once this whole thing is finished here we'll be able to release that early next week."

What have you been looking at in terms of the offensive coordinator?
"Just like I've been saying: we want a pro style offense, so I'm looking for a quarterback that fits that. Again, just watching Stanford the other night we want to get back to that, that kind of quarterback here at Miami. Certainly we feel like we have two coming back that can do those type of things. We're looking for a coordinator that believes first and foremost being a tough, physical football team. I think if you get to know me and my philosophy evolves here, I don't believe you can do anything without being tough and disciplined. So, we have to start eliminating the things that cause you to lose before we can start to win -- the penalties, the sacks, the turnovers, those type of things. So, we want to be a physical football team, we want to be a dynamic, shock team, playaction team. And obviously we want a guy that can stand in there with the offensive line we have and throw a three-step in a drop back setting. Obviously, we're asking the quarterback to do a lot but we want to go back to having year after year after year guys that fit the pro system, that want to be pro system quarterbacks and come in here and learn that as an apprentice as they move forward. That was a staple here for decades and we have to get back to that."

What was your reaction to Andrew Luck's decision to stay in school?
"I don't really know. God bless the kid. I think he made the decision for all the right reasons and he and his family and his education. Whatever he wanted to do. Better to see that than when we see a bunch of kids leave early and not go in the first or second round, which is not advisable either. I wish there was a little bit better way to do this. I don't know if the basketball motto isn't a little bit better, which I think if you don't get picked up, you can go back in. I don't know precisely. Maybe you guys know it better. It's tough. A lot of the NFL teams really aren't done with all the evaluations. And we're asking the kids to decide in the middle of January which is a little bit tricky."

What is your feeling [about leaving early for the NFL Draft] -- first or second round?
"Oh yeah. And again, we just had one at Temple that left and we thought he would. He'll start off as a second rounder, Muhammed Wilkerson. He declared I believe. He's a second rounder to start. In the defensive line, you have a chance to move up with a good combine and everything. If your not a first or second rounder, it's not worth coming out."

January 06, 2011

Meet Brennan Carroll, UM recruiting coordinator

Here is a transcript from Carroll's teleconference Thursday:

Brennan Carroll Do you see similarities between UM and USC and how do you think you will help Miami get back to where it needs to be?
"I think there's quite a few similarities. One, the great home recruiting bases. South Florida is very similar to Southern California -- great talent, great kids. I also believe both private schools bring huge benefits for recruiting, and for these kids to get a private education. It's almost $55,000 a year. It's the same at USC. It's a really and impressive education, world class, all that stuff. In terms of helping the program get better, hopefully, I'll be able to help in recruiting and coach the tight ends up, get this offense going."

When you look at the roster, what are the biggest areas, immediate needs that need to be met through recruiting in 2011?
"I really haven't gotten a long look at our depth chart. I haven't been able to evaluate our own guys. I know obviously we lost our big receiver, so that's going to be an area of need. We only have two quarterbacks on scholarship. So, obviously, we're going to have to go and get some depth there.

What is your background in recruiting? What did you do at USC?
"I did both. I did California recruiting, recruited Orange County, the city, North Carroll and also went out of state. I recruited Midwest, East Coast, New York, Arkansas, Michigan, a little bit of Florida. I've been kind of everywhere. Wherever the top guys have been, that's where I went."

Have you had a chance to watch any film on this team?
"I really have not. I got into Miami the 1st, flew out right after New Year's Eve. It's been non-stop recruiting. The coaches have done a good job keeping me up to date, kind of what our needs are for recruiting. And I just kind of just gone off that. That's the one thing I wish I could do and I will do next week when we have our dead period, really evaluate our team. I just don't have the time. I can't do it right now. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I'll be all over it. I'm really excited to get into that."

On coming into recruiting game late with new staff...
"It's always tough. When you have a new staff, there's always questions, concerns. Most of these guys have been getting recruited for 12 months by other staffs. We've been at it for a week -- a week or two. Obviously, it's difficult. But we're trying to bring a new energy, a new passion to Miami and hopefully some of these guys feel that."

Recruits have been changing minds on coming to UM. Do you ignore it and move on? What do you do?
"I haven't stayed up to date on who is supposed to come in and who is all that right now. Some of these guys were scheduled before we were hired. We just want to get all the guys that want to be Hurricanes. If a kid doesn't want to be a Miami Hurricane, he's not the kid for us, to be recruited. So, we'll find a way to get there."

How do you know Coach Golden and what was the decision making progress to come to UM?
"I knew him just a little bit, through the coaching circles. My decision process was: it was Miami. How could I turn it down? Tight end U. Tight ends coach. I had to come check it out. It wasn't very hard. The only thing I had to really make sure was that it was good for my family and that the kids could make the transition. I talked it over with the wife. She was great about it. We're in a new area now. But you're in Miami."

How do you plan to restore UM tradition at tight end?
"We've got to work with the guys we have here, get those guys coached up, to maximize their potential. And then obviously we're going to go out and recruit, and find some prospects to keep going in the future."

With quarterbacks, you watch the Top 100 guys, most of them are committed somewhere. How tough is it to get on a top quarterback at this point?
"There's a ton of kids. The rankings are great, they're great to look at, especially if at the end you have one of the top classes. But really, there's a lot of great quarterbacks out there that aren't always on everybody's radar. We've identified a couple of them. We still think we can get guys we think are great quarterbacks. It doesn't always have to be who everybody thinks is the best. We just have to get the best for our system, the best fit for what we're trying to do and guys who want to be winners and great leaders, great kids and guys who love Miami."

Brennan Carroll Miami hasn't signed many JUCO players in the past. Seems like you guys are going after a good number now. What is the benefit of getting a JC player versus a high school kid?
"Well, obviously, the JC guys have played against guys that are older than high school. They've played against 19, 20, 21 year olds, so they've played at a higher level of competition. They've played in college technically. So, if there's a need we're trying to fill -- obviously, Harris, our corner, is going into the league, going to the combine and tear it up there. So, there's a possibility we may have to go get a junior college guy to replace a starter we may lost to that spot. At USC and Miami they have very strict relations on getting JUCO kids in. So, there's a lot of kids we won't even be able to touch in recruiting because of the rules and such. We're trying to work it out, we're trying to find any means we can to make this team better as fast as we can."

The state has become a lot more competitive with UCF, USF on the rise. How tough does it make it to recruit in state?
"I haven't been here long enough to really get into what the kids are feeling about those schools. But I think it really goes back to how much talent there is down there. You can really have different programs and they can all be successful. They can all go to bowl games. If I'm not wrong, four out of five won their bowl games. That just goes to show you how much talent the state has."

What is the biggest lesson you've learned regarding football from your dad?
"Just be a great competitor. Just find a way to compete, whether it be in coaching or recruiting. Just find a way to get better. Usually things will work out as long as you compete."

Getting into recruiting so late, are you guys selling your vision or are you finding your dealing with negative recruiting?
“Our core is just to talk about us. Our motto is, it’s all about the U. That’s what we stand for. You can go down that route of negative recruiting but it just reflects on your overall program. It’s hard to find negative things about Miami University. With a great education, private school, top school in Florida in terms of education, great location Miami, South Beach, Coral Gables all that and we always have a great talent pool to recruit from. So we don’t find anything to talk about because we have all positives to talk about. We don’t have to cover anything up. We’ll let everybody see what we got.”

Do you find that people still use negative recruiting?
“Oh yeah. Sure they do. I think they need to and when they do, it’s a backwards way of respecting us because they know they just can’t talk about their program..."

You guys are going after a lot of players that are committed to other schools?
“That we can’t really consider kids committed to other programs. -- that term holds so little value nowadays anyway. We’re going to recruit everybody. We’re a new staff. Just because somebody says something to somebody  they’re going to do this or go to that school or whatever that doesn’t deter us at all initially, Some of these kids are truly committed and want to go to whatever school they want to go to. That’s just how it’s going to be. We wish them well. It goes back to we want guys that want to be at Miami. That’s what it’s all about. There’s some kids who always wanted to be at Miami and for some reason didn’t get recruited….if we can find those guys who have been to other schools but always wanted to be at the U, we’ll try to find a way to get them here.”

Some local coaches felt that relations with the previous staff had deteriorated. Has that been a focus of your efforts to mend those relationships?
“I can’t really comment too much about the last staff because I don’t know too much about them. The only coaches I’m familiar with are coach Barrow and coach Stoutland, but our goals are always going to be to get to every school in Florida and let every coach know that Miami is the top school in Florida and we’re going to be recruiting their kids, we’re going to do our research, do a very good job at it and involve them in the process and let the coaches know what we’re all about.”

What was so enticing about this job for you?
“The chance to win national championships. When we were at USC, our goal was to win all our games and whatever happens, happens. We can do that here. We have a great recruiting base, with everything the university has to offer, we really don’t have an excuse why we shouldn’t be competing with the top teams in the country real soon. The chance to win, that’s really why we do things. We want to win for our program and win for our kids and get our kids degrees and all that. They’ve done a great job with graduation rates here, they’re through the roof right now which is a testament to the previous staff and the academic facilities. You put all that with a chance to win, play on a huge stage, that’s what I’m all about. That’s what I want to be involved with.”

Can you talk about the parellels of when you father took over USC and taking over this program?
“I agree. I feel coach Golden and coach Carroll got started at the same time in recruiting, it was late and were trying to make a push and make a splash. They felt like they needed a ton of guys and they really had a ton of talent. Coach Carroll inherited Troy Polamalu and Carson Palmer. Just talking to coaches, there’s a ton of talent in this program. There’s a great offensive line, a great defensive line. That’s the core of everything so in terms of recruiting there’s a lot of similarities. They’re both city schools. USC is south of downtown and Miami is a little south of the city and South Beach. That’s one of the things that attracted me to it.”

But the stages of the programs, USC was a sleeping giant waiting to get awoke again and Miami seems to be in the same situation?
“If we get anywhere near what we did at USC, I think we’re doing pretty good. Miami went to a bowl game this past year so they’re doing a little better than USC when that change was made. But we’ll see. Hopefully we can get going right away. USC’s first year, coach’s first year there at USC went 6-5, went to a bowl game. I think we can do better than that, but we’ll see. There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of hours to put in. Hopefully, we’ll get a lot better and there will be a lot of similarities. Hopefully.”

Will you get a chance to see the playoff game this weekend?
“I hope so. Somehow I have to work it out that I’m on a home visit and that family likes to watch the Seahawks. That would be great. I wish those guys all the best. They have a tough task ahead of him.”

What did your dad tell you about taking this job?
“He was fired up. He was excited for me to come down here and get started. We’ve always been talking about if I left USC what could be my value and what could I get done..."

Were you out of football last year?
“I was out of ball and working on some family projects. When the shot came up, everything I was trying to do on the side fell off. I said let’s go do this. This is what I always felt comfortable doing. When you start coaching football, there’s not many opportunities to do something else. When this opportunity came up, I couldn’t even think twice about it.”

January 03, 2011

For D'onofrio, "it's all about player development"

The South Florida media got to meet and spend a half hour with new UM defensive coordinator Mark D'onofrio Monday. If there is really one thing you can say about D'onofrio it's that he's hungry -- and wants his players to play that way. 

Mark D'onofrio The former Penn State middle linebacker, now 41, had the opportunity to become a head coach at Temple and passed on it to follow his former Nittany Lion co-captain and close friend Al Golden to UM.

Making brash decisions is nothing new for D'onofrio. He had a chance to become the defensive coordinator at Virginia and instead decided to go with Golden to Temple to try and make the nation's 120th ranked defense better. He and Golden started out with only 53 scholarship players in 2006 and eventually made Temple relevant.

His defense his final year improved to 17th nationally in total yardage and 16th in scoring defense -- allowing only 19 points a game. Temple ranked in the Top 25 in 12 defensive categories in 2010 -- including 45th in run defense, much better than UM. Six players from his defenses in 2008 and 2009 who were two star recruits or worse are now in the NFL. He expects to have three more in the league off this last defense.

"It’s all about player development," D'onofrio said Monday. "Whoever we have here we’ll coach and we’ll coach them to be the best they can be. And I’m proud of that, because I think we’ll get our guys to play hard. I think they’ll play disciplined. I think they’ll tackle well. that will be at the core of who we will be. And we’ll put them in the right position to make plays.

"That’s finding the right guys who love the game, who want to learn, who want to work and teaching them the fundamentals. Teaching them how to get off blocks and tackle and learn how to prepare and learn situational football and all those things. I’m confident that now, stepping up and being able to recruit at a higher level will only pay off for us really as we try to go from where, you know, there’s a top-25 defense here and try to move higher."

D'onofrio wasn't in El Paso with Golden when the Hurricanes took a beating of Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl. He was with his parents and two sons up in Jupiter watching the game on TV. But what he saw between commercials turned his stomach as much as it did yours.

"Well, I’ll preface it with I know any transition is hard, and obviously this was a hard transition here," D'onofrio said trying to be nice. "Anytime there are coaches that are going out and players staying on, I think that’s a tough situation. I haven’t been in that one, but I can imagine it being tough. I think the things that stood out to me are really at the core of who we want to be defensively. If you had a pyramid built up of what our goals would be on defense, I think at the very core, it’s going to be that we’re going to play really, really hard. we’re going to finish. We’re going to be physical. We’re going to knock back piles. All 11 guys better be in the frame when we freeze it. that’s where it starts and that has nothing to do with talent. That has nothing to do with talent. We want to play harder than they played the other day.

"I think we want to be disciplined. We can’t have penalties. Obviously a lot of penalties in that game led to touchdowns. Right there we have to eliminate that. and we have to tackle well. we have to tackle better than they tackled in the game. again, those are things that you can talk about. Those can be your philosophy, but if you don’t have a plan to execute those, you’re really not going to be able to get it done. and those are things we work on everyday, those are things we teach, those are things that al makes a big emphasis on as far as penalties go. tackling. We tackle everyday. We tackle every single day. at the end of the day you can’t play defense if you don’t tackle well.

"I think sometimes people get caught up in schemes and all these other things, but at their core they have to be fundamentally sound. So I think that’s where we’re going to start. We’re going to start with that foundation, clean that up with what I saw the other day needs to be cleaned up based on how the season ended and then get into the execution phases of stopping the run and third-down defense and red zone and all those things that we feel we do a good job of teaching."


> Being a Penn State grad, you might believe D'onofrio's heart won't be in coaching The U. But he knows the program well and respects it. "Before I was a college football player and before I was a college football coach I was a fan," D'onofrio said. "I know the history here. I know the players. I was just talking with Micheal Barrow and he was talking about a recruit. I said this guy kind of reminds me of Bill Hawkins, No. 54. He looked at me said 'Yeah, Ok.' I don't know how many guys from Penn State know what number Bill Hawkins was, but I'm one of them."

> D'onofrio said he watched four bowl practices and a few UM games on tape to study the Canes defense. He feels he has a good grasp of what's missing and what is needed in terms of personnel. He said the top needs at the moment are linebacker and cornerback.

"It's really not about the players. It's about playing with passion, playing with energy, playing with discipline, tackling well, playing like you love the game, not faking it out there," D'onofrio said. "Showing passion, enthusiasm and that you really love the fact to wear that Miami jersey and be a part of this tradition. Guys need to respect that. And I think at the end of the day, they need to appreciate that and what they have here and respect that."

> D'onofrio said he likes the defensive staff that has been put together. "Paul Williams has been our secondary coach and been with us for five years at Temple and really instrumental in the success we've had there. There's no question he and I are on the same page. We work really well together and have a good feel for one another as far as game planning goes, adjustments and all those kind of things. I'm definitely fired up to have him," he said.

"Jethro Franklin, our defensive line coach, was only with us for one year. We were fortunate enough to get him last year from USC. He got caught in that whole Pete Carroll change and what not and he was available. I got his resume and said 'I'm going to call this guy up. He probably doesn't want to come.' Sure enough he did. I'm going to give this guy a shot. We were getting all kinds of resumes. Here was a guy with eight years of NFL experience, two years at SC, Fresno, played in the NFL, has an unbelievable resume. Gave him a call. He interviewed. Hired him. And now we're glad he's here.

"And obviously Mike has been tremendous. Mike is a year younger than I am. Mike was playing in that '91 game. He was the middle linebacker on the other side. You want to talk about a guy that bleeds UM. He's excited. We're here right now and we're excited to have him. But he's really bright, a football guy, he's passionate, works really, really hard. Does a great job in recruiting. I think we have a great staff -- guys I'm really excited to be working with. Again two of them I worked with. Adding Mike will make it a smooth transition. Plus, he's a UM guy, so that will be great."

> D'onofrio said he hasn't spoken with cornerback Brandon Harris about his future. Harris could opt to leave early and is currently projected as a borderline first round pick. "I tried not to get involved in that," D'onofrio said. "It’s one of those things where I just casually said hello to some of the players while this whole thing was going on. I didn’t think it was fair to the outgoing staff and those guys involved to really be a distraction. Obviously, those guys got home just the day after the game and will be home on break right now. I’ll be catching up with all the defensive guys here over the next week, trying to get in touch with all of them and talk and do all those things.”

> What's his philosophy on blitzing? "I don’t think you could ever blitz as much as the fans and you guys want," D'onofrio said. "Everybody says, ‘Why don’t you blitz? Why don’t you blitz?. A lot of it depends on personnel, first and foremost. You have to first have the guys that can be able to cover. And you have to be able to have the guys who can get them on the ground if something does pop when you’re aggressive, but we mix it up. I mean, we will pressure a bunch. We’ll mix up coverages. We’ve played a lot of zone coverage , we’ve played man coverage, we’ve had the flexibility to get in and out of an odd front. We’ll drop eight at times or we’ll max pressure and we’ll bring seven.

"I think you just have to mix it up and you have to find spots where it’s the right thing to do. But I don’t think you can be blitz happy. I think one of the things we pride ourselves on is that at the end of the day, scoring defense is the no. 1 statistic. At the end of the day. I mean you don’t want to give up points, so however you do that, whether somebody decides they’re going to blitz 70 times a game or maybe it’s, you know, a third of the game. whatever you can do to get the points down at the end of the day and not give up big plays and do those kinds of things is the way you have to play. But obviously, personnel will dictate that."

January 02, 2011

Golden, UM have talent to build around in '11

Things might be down in Coral Gables as Al Golden takes over the program. But it's not unsalvageable. 

The Miami Hurricanes have holes to fill and quality depth to add through recruiting (linebacker, cornerback, quarterback and receiver). But there is enough talent around at the moment -- assuming we see some better coaching and play calling -- that can have the Canes winning and competing in the ACC relatively soon.

Storm Johnson For me, it all starts with the offensive coordinator and a commitment to running the football. If there is one real strength UM is bringing back next season, it is experienced talent on the offensive line and NFL-caliber talent in the backfield. Leading rusher Damien Berry and his tough, bruising running style is heading out the door. But with speedy redshirt freshman Lamar Miller, sophomore Mike James, Storm Johnson and Eduardo Clements expected back along with bulldozers Seantrel Henderson and Brandon Linder up front on the offensive line, the Hurricanes should and can become a team that consistently runs the football to setup the pass.

In Friday's 33-17 loss to Notre Dame, the Hurricanes ran the ball only 24 times for 103 yards. A 27-3 deficit by halftime obviously forced UM to pretty much abandon the run. But this goes well beyond one bowl game. In UM's seven wins this past season, the Canes ran an average of 42 times for nearly 196 yards and a total of 13 touchdowns. In the Canes' six losses, UM ran an average of 33 times for nearly 170 yards and six touchdowns. Nine carries and 26 yards may not seem like a lot. But it is the commitment to running first instead of throwing the ball that is the difference -- especially since the Canes led all FBS schools with 27 interceptions thrown. 

With leading receiver Leonard Hankerson gone and Stephen Morris expected to take over as starting quarterback heading into his sophomore year, it only makes sense for the Hurricanes to take this run-first approach. While the Hurricanes do have some untapped talent at receiver (it's time to see more from LaRon Byrd, Travis Benjamin, Aldarius Johnson, Kendall Thompkins and Tommy Streeter) and a budding young star at tight end in freshman Asante Cleveland, its going to take Morris (82-153, 1,240 yards, 7 TDs, 9 INTs) and his receivers some time to get adjusted to the playbook of UM's new and yet unnamed offensive coordinator. Feeding the ball to Miller, James, Johnson and Clements at least 42 times a game will only make that transition easier and take some pressure off a defense in 2010 that constantly had to keep coming back onto the field after turnovers.

Speaking of the defense, that is really where Golden has to restock the shelves with talent (we'll talk about linebacker shortly) and get a lot more production. Love him or hate him, leading tackler Colin McCarthy is gone and the linebacker spot is in dire need of not only help, but an upgrade in starting talent and depth. Sean Spence, the most consistent playmaker at linebacker for UM the past three years, needs major assistance heading into his senior year to help a UM run defense which ranked 81st nationally and gave up an average of 173 yards a game on the ground and 20 touchdowns on the season.

Sean Spence Who will Spence get that help from? Ramon Buchanan, who started 10 games on the outside, has had his moments (54 tackles, fifth most on the team). But he needs to take his level of play up a notch or two. Freshman backup middle linebacker Kelvin Cain (12 tackles) had a monster game at Duke in his only start of the season. And as of now, he's third leading tackler at linebacker returning for next season. That's scary. Scarier? The depth. All of it is young and unproven. Kevin Nelson, who was redshirted this season, was said to have the most upside of all the young players UM recruited. He and Cain should fight for playing time at middle linebacker. At outside linebacker, with senior-to-be Jordan Futch moving over to tight end (and maybe even fullback), the guys expected to provide depth are freshmen Tyrone Cornelius (a standout on special teams), James Gaines, and junior-to-be C.J. Holton (12 career tackles). 

Aside from better tackling and improving the run defense, the Canes will have to continue to produce sacks (they finished 10th nationally) and tackles for loss (led country with 8.85 per game) without future first round pick Allen Bailey at defensive end. Bailey may not have made as much noise as Hurricanes fans wanted, but he still led the team in sacks for the second year in a row (7) and ranked third in tackles for loss (11).

The good news for UM? Veteran help returns. For starters, we began to see better play from redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Marcus Forston (a 5-star recruit at Miami Northwestern) as the season went on. He had six tackles in the bowl game including three in the backfield for loss and finished second on the team behind Spence in TFLs. Forston and junior defensive tackle Micanor Regis (42 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks) will be among a ground of veteran defensive linemen, which will also feature defensive ends Olivier Vernon (39 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 4 QBH), a sophomore, junior Marcus Robinson (19 tackles, 5 TFL, 2.5 sacks in 10 games), junior Andrew Smith (12 tackles, 4 TFL, 3 sacks) and senior-to-be Adewale Ojomo (38 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5 sacks).

The pass defense, which ranked second nationally, are where the bigger question marks lie. Sophomore safeties Ray Ray Armstrong, the team's third leading tackler with 79 tackles and 3 INTs, and Vaughn Telemaque, who finished fourth with 58 tackles and 3 INTs, are the veteran returnees. But it is unknown if junior cornerback Brandon Harris (44 tackles, team-leading 10 pass breakups) will be back. Ryan Hill, who had a stellar senior season despite a few bad moments in the Sun Bowl (51 tackles, 8 PBUs), along with Demarcus Van Dyke are gone, leaving UM potentially without its top three cornerbacks from the 2010 season. Sophomore Brandon McGee (15 tackles, 2 PBU in 10 games), former running back Lee Chambers and a cast of redshirt freshmen and potentially true freshmen are what the Hurricanes will have at cornerback next season should Harris decide to enter the NFL Draft early.  

Special teams? Not only will the Hurricanes likely have new coordinator, but also a new kicker, punter and a need for improvement on kickoff and punt returns as well as kick and punt coverage. After their big day at Ohio State where they returned a kickoff and a punt return for a touchdown, UM's return unit went into hibernation. Take away his 79-yard punt return at Ohio State for a touchdown, junior Travis Benjamin had 22 punt returns for a total of 27 yards the rest of the season. When it came to kickoff returns, UM ranked 102nd nationally with an average return of 19.96 yards on 44 returns. Matt Bosher ranked 16th nationally in punting with an average of 44 yards a kick and he made 13 of 17 his field goal attempts. UM's punt return defense ranked 56th and the kickoff coverage unit ranked 69th. 

January 01, 2011

For Canes, time to pull the weeds out

ON A SOUTHWEST AIRLINES FLIGHT HEADED HOME TO SOUTH FLORIDA -- After Notre Dame was done taking the Canes to school Friday afternoon at the Sun Bowl, I spent about 20 minutes behind the stadium watching UM close its chapter on the 2010 season.

One by one, as players and assistant coaches trickled out from the locker room, all I saw were somber, defeated and disappointed faces. This unceremonious finish wasn't the way guys like Damien Berry, Leonard Hankerson and Ryan Hill figured their careers would end after Randy Shannon took over four years ago.

Hankerson tried to hide his disappointment. But he couldn't. In the middle of talking about all the great times he had at UM with his "brothers" and his "family" he broke down, covering his face with a towel so we couldn't see him weep. Berry, who led the Hurricanes in rushing this season, started to tear up as he said good-bye to a few equipment workers and friends who came to watch him play. Hill, who along with the rest of UM's secondary had a rough afternoon trying to chase down Michael Floyd, didn't hide the chip on his shoulder. Now that he knew his ride in Coral Gables was over, he cut loose when I asked him if he thought the next coach could do what Shannon couldn't.

"I think [he'll turn it around], but it will definitely take some time. I don't know how much time," Hill said before unleashing a little displeasure. "But I think the first thing he has to do is weed out the guys who he doesn't think will be beneficial to the program. We have a lot of guys that have to do a lot of maturing, that act like little boys. There are points like this in November, late in the season that it hurts you. We have a lot of growing to do in this program."

I couldn't have said it better myself. What Hill said summed up exactly what we failed to see during Shannon's tenure -- real, sound, player development. For all the praise Shannon got for being a great recruiter (I'll touch on that later), disciplinarian and bringing the school's APR scores up, two things he failed miserably at were hiring the right personnel to make his football team better on the field, and being a well-liked, charismatic ambassador of the program. Like it or not, the last two are probably the most important when it comes to winning and being a successful coach -- with recruiting right in there as well.

If there we one constant under Shannon, really, it was coaching instability. In Shannon's four seasons, UM had two offensive coordinators, two recruiting coordinators, two running backs coaches, two receivers coaches, three defensive line coaches and three defensive coordinators. And then you wondered why guys never seemed to take a step forward. It's kind of hard for players to develop when they have start over with a guy who has new ideas constantly. It's even harder when many of those assistants weren't very good to begin with.

Shannon's personality -- as you well know -- wasn't sparkly either. For as much as his players may have loved him and still do, he never really won the fans or the media over, opting instead to be abrasive and at times combative when he really didn't need to be. Instead of letting people see the good side of his program that might bring people closer to liking it -- like the personality of his players (he shut down Twitter and cut off access to interviews), assistants and even how fired up he would get in the locker room (go back and watch those clips from Hurricane Gameday) -- he shut everybody out, closed the door for privacy. All we saw instead was that stern, disinterested look on the sideline from Shannon and a team that went 28-22 under his rule and did nothing but make people angry and frustrated on most Saturdays.

You want to talk about brand? That's not an image of a successful program, one you can sell to boosters, trustees and more importantly -- the people who buy tickets on Saturdays and the top high school recruits who might have been interested in coming to the program.

I said I was going to get into recruiting: Shannon was hardly great at that. To me, he did what was expected. He got many of the top players locally who wanted to come to UM and a few top-notch pieces from other places (Seantrel Henderson, Storm Johnson to name a few). But he still missed the boat on a lot of good players who wanted to come to Miami and didn't fill key needs (look at linebacker and cornerback). Coming out of high school, you didn't hear a lot about guys like Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard (Hollywood Hills) and West Virginia safety Robert Sands (Carol City). But you will in April during the NFL Draft. Both were in his backyard for the taking and now both will go on the first day of the draft. There are plenty of other examples -- UCF quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey (Maimi Central) is a big one.

I got the sense toward the end of his tenure, Shannon and his staff got a little complacent when it came to recruiting -- thinking they could go in at the last minute and swoop up local guys they wanted. Sound familiar? Ask local coaches like Miami Central's Telly Lockette, who just led the Rockets to the Class 6A state title with a roster loaded with nearly two dozen D-I recruits, and he'll tell you the Hurricanes didn't begin recruiting a single one of his players until Shannon was fired. Southrdige coach Patrick Burrows, who has two legit defensive backs headed to BCS programs, said he sent his top two players down to UM in his truck nearly every day during spring practice when they were juniors.

"They just kept coming back telling me 'Coach, they're just not interested in us,'" Burrows said two weeks ago.

The point here isn't to bash Shannon as his era comes to an end and his players begin walking out the door. There really is no need to pile on here. The point here is to learn from four years worth of mistakes.

There is no reason a talented player like Sam Shields should go through his career at UM as a mediocre player at best only to go to the NFL and start for the Green Bay Packers (where he's learned the basics of playing the cornerback position with flash cards). There is no reason a player like Leonard Hankerson should have to go work with former Dolphins receiver Mark Duper to learn how to become a better receiver. There is no reason a player like Jacory Harris, in his third year at UM, should still be looking like a freshman in his third bowl game.

I'm not saying players don't deserve some blame themselves for underperforming. But how can a football team continue to make the same mistakes game after game after game? How come the Canes looked progressively worse at the end of each and of Shannon's four seasons? UM ranked 114th in penalties this season, led the nation in interceptions thrown and probably was first in missed tackles (nobody counts those).

If you didn't think so before, I hope you know now that Al Golden has a heck of a job in front of him. Not only does he need to mend and solidify the fence that fell down locally in recruiting, he needs to hire a top-notch staff that is going to start making the players here a lot better and put them in situations to be successful. He needs to bring fans back to Sun Life Stadium and a sense of excitement back to the program.

Do you realize that if the Gators win their bowl game today, the Hurricanes will be the only in-state FBS program that didn't win its bowl game? Do you realize Miami's 7-6 record was tied with FIU for the second-worst among the FBS state schools (FAU finished 4-8)? The Golden Panthers won their bowl game. And right now I'm not sure UM could beat the Golden Panthers. UCF, meanwhile, not only won its bowl game, but is going to finish in the Top 25. The Canes lost to USF. And those Seminoles up at Florida State, they won 10 games in Jimbo Fisher's first season and seem primed to start ruling the state again. Sure, the Gators are down. But they've got a new head coach and Charlie Weis is supposed to be the team's next offensive coordinator.

It's time to start realizing how big a hole the Canes are really in.

It's time to start pulling out those weeds in Coral Gables.

It's time to start moving forward.

Good luck, Coach Golden. You've got a nation full of Canes who are praying you get the job done.

December 30, 2010

Canes news, notes day before Sun Bowl

EL PASO -- A couple of quick notes from Thursday's press conference with UM interim coach Jeff Stoutland.

> As expected, Jacory Harris will start at quarterback, but freshman Stephen Morris will be available to play. Stoutland said he was waiting to see what happened with Morris' left ankle, which he injured during practice Tuesday. Either way, consider this a big opportunity for Harris. He needs to play well to have any shot of trying to convince Al Golden to give him a chance to start next year. Stoutland said Harris has been "extremely sharp in practice."

Harris played in nine games this season, starting the first eight before a concussion sidelined him for the better part of a month. On the year, he has completed 144-of-263 attempts for 1,756 yards with 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Morris, who played in five games and started Miami’s last four games, completed 60-of-120 attempts this year for 958 yards, five touchdowns and eight interceptions.

> All-American freshman Seantrel Henderson will not start for the Hurricanes at right tackle; redshirt freshman Jermaine Johnson will. Stoutland said Henderson's conditioning is the key factor. Henderson missed a number of practices while he was out with the flu. Henderson will play, however, Stoutland said.

> Sophomore running back Mike James, whose mother died Dec. 20 in a car accident, is supposed to join the team today at 1:15 p.m. local time. Stoutland said James was on his way in on a flight from Chicago. Stoutland said he's assured James he will play because he practiced with the team everyday before they left South Florida.

> Expect to see more of freshman running back Storm Johnson in Friday's game. Stoutland said Johnson has earned more playing time with the way he's practiced. "Everytime you are ready to turn away, he does something to keep your attention," Stoutland said.

December 22, 2010

Soldinger would love shot to go back to The U

At one point during his coaching tenure at the University of Miami, Don Soldinger had an office full of future NFL running backs fighting to carry the ball in the Hurricanes backfield.

Don Soldinger "I got pictures now that if you saw them, you would just shake your head," said Soldinger, who spent 16 years at UM as a linebackers/tight ends coach from 1984 to 1988 and running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 1995 to 2006.

"At one point or another in my office, I had [James] Jackson, EJ [Edgerrin James], [Clinton] Portis, [Jarrett] Payton, [Najeh] Davenport, [Willis] McGahee and Frank [Gore]. I'd love to start another round like that again."

Soldinger, now 66, has spent the last five years since being let go by Larry Coker working as a strength training and speed development coach. He's spent the last two years serving that role at Miami-Dade Community College, training the national championship winning softball team, Steve Hertz's baseball team and most recently the men's and women's basketball teams. He's also traveled the country working special camps and coaching running backs. The bug inside him for coaching at the University of Miami? That remains as strong as ever.

New Canes coach Al Golden hired his fourth new assistant coach Wednesday when it was announced Brennan Carroll, the 31-year old son of former USC coach Pete Carroll would become the team's new tight end coach and national recruiting coordinator. But the offensive coordinator spot along with running backs coach and special teams coordinator remains open. Soldinger? He's interested in the latter.

"I hope does enough research just to talk to me," Soldinger said Saturday at the Citrus Bowl as he watched Miami Central play Orlando Dr. Phillips in the Class 6A state championship game. "Whether he comes up to me or not, I think I can help him. I know so many people in the state, still have a little bit of coaching left. The way it all ended wasn't good. I had a great career and I like to finish it off on the right note.

"[Golden] seems to want to want to have some sort of tie to the old players and tradition whereas I think Randy [Shannon] kind of made a mistake that way, turning a few people off that way. I love Randy because I coached him. But I think he kind of pushed some guys away.

"We'll see what happens. I've kept my hands in football in case something happens. I actually did a clinic for Butch [Davis] recently, went up to North Carolina, met with their staff for a few hours. I did a high school clinic for them. He really doesn't have anything there yet. But this is the first time I thought about leaving Miami. I haven't wanted to because my wife does real good in real estate. But if something came open I'd certaily like to help out."

Soldinger said the talent he sees in UM's backfield now "is probably the best group they've had since I've been gone."

"It's similar to the guys I had sitting in my room just a few years ago," Soldinger said. "[Mike] James, [Storm] Johnson, [Lamar] Miller, the kid from Booker T. Washington [Eduardo Clements] those guys all have it. They just need to be patient, stay positive and not worry about who is the man. All of the guys I had before were like that. They didn't like it back then. But they like it now. They're all making a ton of money."

December 18, 2010

LIVE! Hurricane Hoops from Sunrise ... Miami (7-2) vs. UCF (9-0) @ BankAtlantic Center, 1 p.m.

Caneshoops George Richards here LIVE! from the BankAtlantic Center in scenic Sunrise.

It's a little chilly in here, but that's what happens sometimes when hockey meets the hardwood.

The Panthers ice is covered up and there's a basketball court. Hopefully some fans will join us. If not, we're here for you.

The first game of this Orange Bowl double-dip features Miami against the upstart UCF Knights. UCF hasn't played too many tough teams, but they did knock off the Gators. The Gator plays Frank Martin's Kansas State squad in the second game.

Anyway, the LIVE! chat is below. Just click on the play button to see the posts. If you have a question or comment, submit it and I'll approve it (as long as it's clean). That process may take a moment or two so be patient.

Let's play two!


December 16, 2010

Four Canes earn All-Freshman honors

Four Hurricanes have been named to the Rivals.com ACC All-Freshman Team -- running back Lamar Miller, tight end Asante Cleveland, offensive lineman Brandon Linder and right tackle Seantrel Henderson, who was also selected as a Sporting News Freshman All-American on offense.

> Henderson (6-8, 330) started the last nine game games of the regular season for UM at right tackle. He was tabbed a third team selection on Phil Steele's All-ACC Team. Henderson helped pave the way for Miami to rank atop the ACC in total offense (422.6 yards per game) and third in rushing offense (190.4 yards per game). Last week, he was named Miami's Newcomer of the Year at the annual UM football awards banquet.

> Miller, a 5-11, 210-pound redshirt freshman out of Miami Killian, finished the regular season second on the team in rushing with 633 yards and a team-leading six touchdowns. Miller has also caught nine catches out of the backfield for 64 yards and returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Ohio State.

> Cleveland (6-5, 245) saw action in seven of the final eight games on the year, picking up a start against North Carolina. Cleveland pulled in seven catches for 95 yards (13.6 per catch) - with his best game coming in a start against the Tar Heels, where he reeled in two passes for 34 yards, and a long of 25, setting up a touchdown on the drive.

> Linder, a 6-6, 300-pound true freshman out of St. Thomas Aquinas, saw action in 10 games for Miami, including five starts - suiting up as a starter in three of the last four contests. Linder combined with Henderson along the front line that paved the way for the `Canes to rank first in the league for total offense. He also helped protect quarterbacks Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris which led to UM ranking second in the league in sacks against. Miami finished the regular season with 19 touchdowns on the ground, adding another 19 through the air.

December 15, 2010

Golden, Canes pounding recruiting trail

Al Golden didn't officially become cleared to begin recruiting until around 5 or 6 p.m. Tuesday. But since he's been given the green light, UM's new football coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill have been pounding the recruiting trail.

> Goal No. 1: Pursue the players who plan to enroll in January and have been strongly considering the Canes -- whether they're uncommitted or have de-comitted.
> Goal No. 2: Phone as many coaches in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties as possible and let them know the Canes are eager to build friendships and get some players.

Marcus Jackson Golden started the day by visiting with Vero Beach offensive linemen Marcus Jackson at his high school, then followed him home to meet with his mother after school. How did it go?

"He said it went well -- and that's pretty much all he said," said Pete LeDuke, assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator at Vero Beach. "I didn't get to talk to Marcus too long because the coach from Georgia Tech was coming in to talk to him tonight. But Coach Golden and Marcus talked, the and mom talked to Coach Golden and pretty much that was it."

Jackson, who is trying to complete an online course while studying for finals, is declining all interview requests. But what Golden set out to do, he achieved. LeDuke said Jackson told him he is planning to go through with visiting UM this weekend. Jackson (6-2, 315) is considered the 13th best guard in the country by Rivals.com. He was committed to UM until two weeks ago when former coach Randy Shannon was fired.

LeDuke said Jackson will make his announcement Jan. 5 at the Under Armour All-American Game in Tampa -- the same place where Monsignor Pace defensive back Jabari Gorman, considered the 10th-best safety in the country by Rivals, plans to announce his decision as well (We'll get to him later).

"Marcus hasn't said where he's leaning to and all that," said LeDuke, who said Jackson visited Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee twice (once unofficially).

"The visit to Miami will be huge. But I think coach Golden did a great job. I was very impressed with him. I thought Miami did a great job hiring him. He's very personable, very easy to talk to. We talked about families. Obviously, he's a family man. So am I. I like what he was talking about. He talked about how we want football players. I liked how he talked. He was very easy to talk to like I've known him forever. He's a former linemen. We had a bond there. I think he had the same bond with Marcus."

Golden's next scheduled stop Wednesday night was Boston where he was set to meet with another Canes de-commitment, cornerback Albert Louis-Jean, rated 12th best at his position by Rivals. No word yet on how that meeting has gone, but Louis-Jean's father told me Monday night his son was coming down this weekend to visit UM.

The big question that remains is if Miami Northwestern quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be joining Jackson and Louis-Jean as the only other guests at UM this coming weekend.

According to a source, Bridgewater, who visited the University of South Florida officially on Tuesday, told UM coaches last night he would be making the trip. But UM is still waiting for a final confirmation.

Bridgewater (6-3, 185) has and continues to be the No. 1 recruiting target for the Hurricanes according to the source and was set to receive an in-home visit from Golden on Tuesday night until it was learned he was in Tampa. The hope now is UM coaches will be able to visit Bridgewater on Thursday night and try to convince the No. 2-ranked dual threat quarterback in the country according to Rivals to jump back on board at UM.

It will definitely take some convincing. His mother, Rose Murphy, wasn't happy with the way UM fans reacted when her son de-committed last week, telling me, "nobody reacted this way when those other boys de-committed. They should be happy he's looking for a great education, be respectful."

OTHERS WAITING FOR A CALL: While some recruits and coaches have received phone calls from Golden and Miami assistants, others are still waiting patiently.

Miami Belen defensive end Nick Menocal (one of four commitments along with Tampa Alonso defensive end Anthony Chickillo, St. Thomas Aquinas receiver Phillip Dorsett and Milford Prep cornerback Jeremy Davis) said Wednesday afternoon he had still not heard from Golden. But Menocal said was he told by defensive line coach Rick Petri on Monday to expect a call from UM's new coach soon. Menocal said he's hoping to be invited to come see the Hurricanes practice for their bowl game.

"I am still committed," Menocal said. "I look forward to seeing what Coach Golden has to tell me and who is going to bring in and hopefully I can go to UM and do big things."

Menocal (6-3, 235) is ranked as the 58th best outside linebacker by Rivals. He said he plans on visiting UM in January, somewhere between visits to Georgia Tech, Virginia and possibly North Carolina, which still hasn't offered Menocal but has been after him harder of late.

Denzel Perryman.56 > Coral Gables High linebacker Denzel Perryman, a longtime target of the Hurricanes rated, met with UM coach Aubrey Hill on Wednesday and spoke to Golden by phone in the morning.

"I talked with him to touch base," Perryman said. "It was a regular conversation. He's going to touch base with all the recruits. I'm looking forward to talking to him in person. Everything is still up in the air. But I still feel good about UM."

Perryman (5-11, 217) rated the 23rd best middle linebacker in the country by Rivals said he has plans to visit Florida State, Florida, USC and LSU in January, but wants to squeeze in an official to UM as he gets to know the new Canes coaches better. He said he planned to be out at practice on Friday.

What could end up being huge for Perryman is if linebackers coach Micheal Barrow sticks around. "I hope he does, I really do," Perryman said. "It's a big factor. We've had a little bond since my freshman year. I don't want to lose that."

> Monsignor Pace defensive back Jabari Gorman (5-11, 170) cut his list down to Ohio State, Miami and Florida earlier this month before Randy Shannon was fired and Urban Meyer stepped down in Gainesville. He said Wednesday night while Ohio State still leads, the Hurricanes and Gators remain in the hunt. Gorman said he plans to announce his choice at the Under Armour All-American Game on Jan. 5.

"I'm sure I'm going to talk to him soon, talk to him this week and have a meeting so I can get a feel for him," Gorman said of Golden. "I'm hearing great news about him. I like the fact of how he turned Temple's program around. That means the coach knows what he's doing. You want to be around a coach like that."

Gorman said even if he picks a school at the UA game, he will still visit UM in mid-January and could end up changing his mind by National Signing Day.

"Nothing is final until signing day," Gorman said. "I've been feeling OSU. But I've been having doubts about it too. You know how Miami is, they come at you hard. Coach Hill has been on me.

"Stephen Morris is recruiting me as hard as the coaches the do. Me and Stephen have always been real close since my ninth grade year. We always talk. Me and him always used to be together as far as doing the right things on the field. I know what he tells me at Miami is no lies. I can trust him."

> While Golden was in the Northeast Wednesday night, Hill was visiting with Oakland Park Northeast defensive end BJ Dubose at his home. Dubose is one of several local players UM plans to make hard efforts to get in the coming weeks.

Others include Perryman, Gorman, Palm Beach Dwyer tight end Nick O'Leary and Miami Southridge defensive back Gerrod Holliman. Golden is expected to also make a push for Brooklyn, N.Y.'s Ishaq Williams (6-6, 220), considered the second best defensive end in the country.

Golden makes impression; CB Harris weighing NFL

New Hurricanes coach Al Golden made quite an impression when he had his 50 minute conversation with players Monday night before his press conference.

Jordan Futch, Marcus Forston, Adewale Ojomo, Jacory Harris and Lamar Miller said they were all impressed with the strong message Golden delivered about winning national championships and taking this program to the next level.

Brandon Harris One player who also enjoyed his meeting with Golden was cornerback Brandon Harris, who unlike the rest of UM's underclassmen is the most likely to bolt early for the NFL. So did Golden's first impression leave Harris feeling better about possibly coming back to UM?

"I can't lie, it definitely did," said Harris, who according to at least one mock NFL draft could go as early as the 15th overall pick next April.

"Leaving the room and after talking to a couple of the upcoming seniors and having a good time with those guys and talking about it and planning things out and where we can get better at, how we can make this team better, I really felt at home. I felt good about it."

So when will he make a real decision on coming back or going pro?

"After the bowl game that's when its really going to set in. Right now it's still kind of all talk. To me, I still can't believe its an opportunity," Harris said. "After the bowl game, the decision will really have to be made. I haven't given much thought to it, fantasizing about it of course because you want to play in the NFL. But serious thought? I never really thought about it. I never thought I would be in this position as a junior to leave early. It's definitely exciting. I know after the bowl game a lot of things are going to pick up, a lot of phone calls will be made. We'll just go from there."

Will he talk to other juniors on the team about it and will their decisions affect him? "We kind of talk about it every now and then," Harris said. "We understand at this level everybody has to make the best decision for themselves. Everybody comes from different situations and different backgrounds. Everybody has different morals on the decisions they're making. Each guy is different. But we do talk about it and do voice our opinions. They'll definitely have a say-so in my opinion and hopefully my opinion matters to them."

Either way, Harris said he will be sending a request into the NFL to see where he could end up going. What will he weigh?

"Ultimately, its going to be about if I feel the opportunity presents itself to be a top NFL pick or coming back, maturing my game a little bit, playing with my teammates for another year. It obviously wouldn't hurt. It would help me," Harris said. "If It's something you can't turn away from, then obviously it's a different situation. Everything is up in the air and in the wind. I definitely want to be here, I want to continue playing here and I don't have a problem with it.

"If your not going to be a guaranteed first round pick, I don't think I would consider leaving at all. I would love to come back and play for another year. If it's not a guarantee, sure thing I wouldn't even think about it. Even if it isn't guaranteed, it's still something I'm going to weigh my options on coming back and maturing myself a little more as a player and as a person. Either way it goes, I'm still going to look into it, weigh the pros and cons of it and talk to a couple guys who have been in the situation and made the decision and see what they say."

Will the future of his father, Tim Harris, who is currently on the staff, affect his decision?

"Not at all. It's a business. We both understand that," Harris said. "By him being here obviously its great having him here. It would be different with him not here. But he's still not my coach at this level. He's not my position coach. Having him around the building is fine. He brings a little relaxation to the whole room and to the team and all that. But that definitely won't have no impact on my decision at all."

December 13, 2010