Before we get to today's UM debacle, a small Heat scoop:
Besides releasing five players today, the Heat also amended the contract of James Ennis, with the understanding that Ennis will be on the opening night roster, according to league sources.
Ennis' contract, which had been altered in July after he struggled during Summer League, had called for his entire $845,059 salary to be guaranteed on opening night of the regular season, Wednesday against Charlotte.
Over the past two days, Ennis agreed to this change: According to his agent, Scott Nichols, about 40 percent of that contract now will be guaranteed opening night, with the rest guaranteed if he's on the team on Jan. 10. The move gives the Heat more time to evaluate Ennis, a potentially slightly smaller luxury tax burden and flexibility with its 15th roster spot.
The Heat also moved up the team option on Ennis' $980,431 contract for 2016-17 from Aug. 1 to before the start of free agency on July 1.
Ennis sustained a dislocated finger on his left hand in Miami's exhibition finale against New Orleans on Friday but the injury is not considered long-term.
The Heat likes Ennis' athleticism and skill set and wasn't ready to give up on him after he showed potential as a rookie last season and had some good moments this preseason.
The Heat got down to the 15-player maximum by releasing Keith Benson, Tre Kelley, John Lucas III, Briante Weber and Greg Whittington. Several of those players will join Miami's D-League affiliate in South Dakota.
Postscripts from today’s 58-0 Canes humiliation:
### Well, at least those who wanted a coaching change very, very likely will get their wish.
The Al Golden era assuredly will end at some point in the next two months, though it will not end today. Blake James has been very firm that he will not make a final evaluation on Golden until the end of the season and today’s loss did not elicit a change of heart (at least for today; who knows about Sunday or Monday?).
Even before today, a high-level Trustee told me Thursday that it would take something “dramatic” for Golden to save his job. Two days later, Golden suffers the most lopsided loss in UM history.
UM president Julio Frenk told Trustees on Thursday that James will determine UM’s fate. James’ question now isn’t whether to fire Golden --- that move is now obvious --- but whether to avoid the temptation to do it during the season. He will avoid that temptation at least today.
Despite the profound embarrassment today --- despite the fact this program hasn’t been nationally relevant in a decade --- let’s be clear:
This is still an attractive job, one that a bunch of quality candidates will covet --- because of the tradition, the inherent recruiting advantage of being based in South Florida, the fact it’s a name school in a power five conference.
I’ve already heard from the agent for one coach who has won 10 games in a season and had considerable success; he conveyed to me his client’s interest. (Sorry, I was asked not to use his name).
We won’t waste everyone’s time by allocating considerable space to the myriad reasons for today’s humiliation. They’re all obvious: utter domination by Clemson’s offensive and defensive lines; a putrid UM running game (29-53); an inability of UM defenders at all levels to unhinge from blocks; UM’s perpetual penchant for undisciplined mistakes (at one point in the third quarter, Miami had nearly as many penalties yards – 78 – as total yards – 85).
Losing Brad Kaaya in the second quarter obviously didn’t help, but Miami was already down big at the time.
A few nauseating numbers: Clemson had 33 first downs, UM 6. Clemson had 567 yards, UM 146…. This was UM’s 14th double-digit loss in 4 ½ seasons under Golden. Miami had 14 double-digit losses between 1980 and 1995…. UM, which entered 98th in penalties (meaning 30th worst) had five personal foul penalties…. Among the many lowlights: Clemson sacking Kaaya on a play in which it rushed two against UM’s five offensive linemen.
### Al Golden, to WQAM: "We had a good week. I thought we were locked in. We practiced really hard. We got beat in every phase you can get beat, including penalties. That's my responsibility, period....
"We didn't do a good enough job [against the run game]. They played with a lead, we couldn't bring any pressure to them and it got lopsided. Physical group up front [for Clemson]; we didn't block them well enough. We've got to do a better job protecting. We got beat up front. We've got to get it corrected quickly.
"Artie Burns is working hard. A lot of those guys are working hard. I didn't see this coming. We helped a good football team. We've got to evaluate everything, assess where we're at, look at schemes and personnel and see what direction we want to go. It starts with me. I've got to watch all three phases tonight.”
"We've got to transition quickly. We've got five division games left.... We've got to do a better job. Some of the long runs [by Clemson], being able to read our key, and be in position on them."
Here was Golden's postgame press conference transcript (courtesy of UM):
On how he explains the result: “We got beat from top to bottom. They outplayed us, they outcoached us. I just told the team, that’s completely my responsibility for not getting them ready to play. They just beat us soundly, in every facet of the game, period.”
On the problems Clemson’s defensive front presented.: “We knew going in how strong they were. We didn’t run the ball effectively, and we didn’t protect well enough –we got one quarterback knocked out, and the other one knocked around. What we thought they were going in the game – deep, strong, physical – and they outplayed us.”
On if he sensed any lack of readiness amongst the players: ““No. Absolutely not. I thought they really invested, I thought they had a great week. They practiced really well. We got beat from the start by a really good football team and we didn’t answer. There was nothing in the week... I check with the staff every day, I check with the leadership. There was none of that. We’re not that kind of team, where we cannot be on edge and focused and compete and ready to go. I thought we had a good week of practice.”
On if the team had the fight he was looking for in the second half.: “I think there are a lot of guys that fought. The biggest thing for our guys, as I just told them, we have a five-game playoff now. They’re all divisional games.We have to move on. This was terrible. We cannot let it beat us tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. We have to move on quickly.”
On the penalty yardage: “It’s my responsibility. We’re still getting the 15-yard variety. Just inexcusable. Intolerable. Most of them are selfish in nature. We helped them. We helped a really good football team today.”
On the status of QB Brad Kaaya for next week’s game against Duke – Kaaya was hurt in the second quarter and did not return: “I don’t know. The good news is, he and Rashawn [Scott] are good, in terms of health and everything. But it’s too early to evaluate where they’re at for next week.”
On if there is any way for his team to ignore the outside pressure next week: “We’ll see how mentally tough we are. We’ll see how close we are. We’ve played one division opponent. There’s a lot of football left in our division, and that’s where our focus needs to be. Our focus doesn’t need to be on the outside. We need to fix the things we need to fix and move forward quickly. That’s my responsibility.”
On if he is worried about his status as head coach at Miami: “I am not. I’m focused on coaching the team, going to work every day and doing the things we need to do to get ready for Duke.”
On if he spoke with Athletics Director Blake James after the game: “I haven’t talked to anybody. I just talked to our team and some staff members, just reflecting on stats and some of those things.”
On if he anticipates any changes being made to his coaching staff: “What we need to do is get ready for Duke. As I’ve said, we’ve played one division game. We need to go out and play well against Duke.”
On how the team needs to improve: “We have to play better. We have to coach better, we have to execute better. We can’t have penalties. We have to get our minds right for Duke quickly. We will. They’re fighters. They’ll stay together. They’ll fight. We’ll go to work tonight on it and get them ready to play a good Duke team on the road.”
### Malik Rosier, who struggled in Kaaya’s absence (7 for 22, 42 yards, 2 picks), told WQAM: “They gave us some coverages they just showed for the first time. I was just learning on the fly. So was Brad. I could do a better job, making better throws. They did a good job of preparing for this game."
### Linebacker Tyriq McCord, on WQAM: ""They came out and played great football. We were trying to strip it. Their quarterback did a great job of selling his reads. That was the biggest thing. When they got their calls in, everything was in fast motion. Everyone had to be ready for it. That took us by surprise. We still have an opportunity to go out as a champion."
EXTERNAL REACTION FROM TWITTER
### Former UM great Joaquin Gonzalez ranted on Twitter all day, imploring James to fire Golden: "I'm so embarrassed! @CanesAllAccess (James). I would take his headset at halftime!! Do not wait until end of season, make a statement dammit!!!!!... I'm done holding my tongue! This guy needs to leave South Florida....I will buy his plane ticket!!! Economy!!!"
### Warren Sapp: “Thank you ABC. #Fire Him.”
### Bryant McKinnie: “Time to head in a new direction as a program, enough is enough & I sat back & have been patient & quiet long enough. Bunch of former players feel the same, so I’m not speaking just for myself… School needs to start with lifting that stupid ban, of not allowing former players on the sideline.”
### Denzel Perryman: “Embarrassing. This is the emptiest I’ve ever seen that parking lot.”
### Leon Searcy: “Al Golden can’t go on [the] bus. Tell that MF to get a Uber.”
### Seantrel Henderson: “Make football fun again for these kids. Smh. We went to Death Valley and dominated Clemson. Now this...come on man.”
### Allen Bailey tweeted a picture of Golden in a dumpster.
### Former Dolphins star: Patrick Surtain: ”I’m at the UM game & this dude playing 2 high safeties down 21-0. SMH. Defense is all about competition..make them compete!!! Blitz somebody.”
### ABC's Kirk Herbstreit, a big Golden advocate, acknowledged that Golden is “in trouble.”
### Carlos Curbelo, who represents District 26 in the U.S. House: “A new low for Canes football --- an absolute embarrassment for what was once a great program. Anybody at the University of Miami care to try to save it?”
### Incidentally, Rivals.com insists these schools recruited comparable talent in recent years --- though it obviously didn’t look that like. From 2012-2014, Rivals.com rated UM’s classes 9th, 20th, and 12th, and Clemson’s classes 14th, 14th and 13th.
Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... Check back tonight for a lot of Dolphins and other stuff.