UM informed Board of Trustees at a meeting today that it is within a hair of being able to announce a major donor who is significantly contributing to an indoor football practice facility.
One trustee in attendance said the trustees were left with the impression that this project will get done, barring donors backing out at the last minute.
The donor's identity was not disclosed at the meeting.
UM already has architectural drawings of the facility and has shown them to multiple people, including recruits.
UM athletic director Blake James has said the facility will cost more than $20 million. UM believes it's critical to have one because more than 20 practices were delayed or disrupted by weather last season.
"A lot of people are like, ‘Why do you need an indoor [facility]?’" Richt said in March. "You need an indoor because of rain and lightning, there’s so many afternoon thunderstorms around here. I heard you can miss as many as 22 practices in a year.
“It’s for the lightning, but it’s for a lot of other things, too. A lot of people will use the indoor every third or fourth day, when it’s just smokin’ hot, just so the bodies don’t get depleted all the time. There will be a lot of other uses for it, for other sports and everything else. That’s priority No. 1. We must have an indoor facility; there's just no question about it."
UM also could have used an indoor facility at Pro Day, when NFL scouts and executives watched UM players try to impress them in a steady rain.
FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
As the Heat tries to desperately delay its offseason in Game 6 against Toronto on Friday, there’s a tendency among Heat fans and media members (me included), to frame the Heat’s summer salary-cap permutations with this preface: “If Dwyane Wade settles for…”
As in, if the Heat can trade Josh McRoberts this summer, Miami will have $46 million in cap space instead of $40 million. And if Wade settles for $12 million or so, the Heat then would have $34 million to pay Hassan Whiteside and acquire a skilled-shooting small forward (younger than Joe Johnson) to complement Justise Winslow. (Remember: If Miami uses its ample cap space, the Heat must fit everyone under the cap except Tyler Johnson.)
But the way Wade is playing this postseason (21.8 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 9 for 15 on threes), in the wake of improved durability during the regular season, it’s time to stop thinking in terms of Wade making another significant sacrifice.
The Heat might be tempted to ask for one, but it also knows it must approach this with caution after last May’s rare organizational public relations misstep, when Miami initially angered Wade by floating a salary starting in the $12 million range, according to a Wade associate.
After a month of tension, the sides struck an accord and Wade was given one year at $20 million after sacrificing more than $15 million that he could have made (but didn't) if he had pressed for max salaries earlier in his Heat tenure.
Miami eschewed making a big multiyear offer to Wade at the time, because leaving flexibility for a run at Kevin Durant was at that time, and still remains, the highest priority in its 2016 summer planning.
Since his fence-mending June summit (handled deftly by Micky and Nick Arison), Wade has professed his love for the organization and told me in February: “I don't want to be on the market at all [this summer]…. I’m not curious at all. I want to get to it [with the Heat]. I want to be able to sign my deal and move on and not have to deal with any rumors, any free agency…. This is where I want to end my career. So we'll figure it out.”
But keep this in mind: Wade, at 34, can fully justify asking for something closer to $20 million than $10 million next season. He missed far fewer games this season (eight, compared with 20 in 2014-15). And with most teams having more than $20 million in cap space this summer, the market value will rise for nearly every quality free agent.
There is widespread speculation that Charlotte free agent Nic Batum could command a max deal (starting at $25 million) or something close to it this summer. So if never-an-All-Star Batum (14.9 points, 42.6 percent shooting this season) gets that, what does 12-time All Star Wade deserve after averaging 19.0 points on 45.6 percent shooting during the season and again excelling in postseason? The one advantage Batum, 27, has over Wade is age, of course.
Those wanting Wade to take less should keep this mind: Though Dirk Nowitzki is making $8.3 million now, he earned $20.9 million at 34. Kobe Bryant made $27.9 million at 34. And Tim Duncan, making $5 million now, was earning $22.2 million at that age. And that was with a cap far below next season’s projected $92 million.
So here’s the conundrum: If you give Whiteside $22 million and Wade $16 million, that would leave just $2 million (which will get you nothing decent) or $8 million if McRoberts’ contract can be dumped on another team with Miami taking no money back. And $8 million likely wouldn’t be enough to keep Luol Deng or snag one of the better small forwards in this free agent class.
You want to tell Wade to see what he can get on the open market and come back to us later? That’s not the way either party wants to handle negotiations for such a transcendent player.
Perhaps you get Wade to take less if Kevin Durant agrees to come, with the wink-wink understanding that Wade will be taken care of when the cap soars again to a projected $107 million in 2017-18.
But you don’t necessarily convince (or even ask) Wade to take much less for Al Horford (if Whiteside leaves) or Batum or virtually anybody else in this class, with the Heat having learned last summer the messy consequences of angering its franchise player.
• If you haven't heard, Hassan Whiteside is definitely out for Game 6 of the Heat-Raptors series Friday with the sprained MCL in his right knee. Erik Spoelstra said Whiteside will continue with rest and treatment... Luol Deng's MRI revealed no break to his left wrist, just a painful bruise. He is listed as questionable for Game 6 but said last night that he would play if the MRI revealed nothing serious.... Hubie Brown will work Friday's Heat game --- the first game of this series without a Barry brother on the call. ESPN says Dave Pasch will do the game with Brown because NBC-bound Mike Tirico is finished with his NBA duties.
• Here's a video of Wade.
• So far, the newer hitter-friendly dimensions at Marlins Park have resulted in five homers that wouldn’t have been last year: four for the opponent, one for Miami (Giancarlo Stanton), who said the change has made no difference at all…
I asked Stanton, who's cautious about getting excited after years of disappointment, if things are finally headed in the right direction here. He gave a measured response: “We’ve had a good month. We have to have a good first half.”… Incidentally, according to ESPN, only three teams have hit as many 450-foot homers as Stanton has since 2010 (31). Amazing.
• The Marlins, the only team with no lefty in their bullpen, signed veteran Joe Beimel (29-34 career; 2-1, 3.99 for Seattle last season) and assigned him to extended spring training.
• The NFL’s deadline to sign players without it affecting compensatory picks passed Thursday – that was significant for the Dolphins --- and Miami seemingly could use another corner.
Still, defensive coordinator Vance Joseph insists Miami has enough at cornerback, with Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett competing to start opposite Byron Maxwell; Bobby McCain in the slot in nickel and dime packages; seventh-round rookie Jordan Lucas, plus Tyler Patmon (24 NFL games, including 22 for Dallas) and Chimdi Chekwa (31 career games, including four starts for Oakland) and Iko Ekpre-Olomu (still strengthening his knee).
“Most teams have, probably, three capable corners who they can play and trust,” Joseph said. “I think we've got three or four guys - guys that we know can play - and hopefully three or four more that can help us."
The Dolphins internally have discussed unsigned veteran corners Leon Hall and Antonio Cromartie. The only 2015 full-time cornerback starters, below the age of 35, that are still available are Cromartie and Arizona’s Jerraud Powers (Miami has not pursued Powers). [UPDATE: Powers signed with Baltimore on Friday].
Here are the other available cornerbacks who played in the league last season and are affected by the compensatory pick deadline: Former Falcons nickel-back Phillip Adams, Charles Tillman (12 starts for Chicago last season but 35), former Bears backup and ex-Jaguars starter Alan Ball; part-time Detroit starter Josh Wilson (just 5-9, and Miami likes bigger corners); former Oakland starter Tarell Brown (Miami hasn't pursued); former Saints backup Chris Owens; part-time Giants starter Jayron Hosley (Miami hasn't pursued); journeyman Cassius Vaughn; and Tampa Bay part-time starter Mike Jenkins (age 31, and 5-10).
• According to USA Today's Tom Pelissero, Cameron Wake’s new deal includes a 2016 pay cut from $8.4 million to $7.1 million, but the ability to make $2 million if he reaches 15 sacks. Of his $7 million salary for 2017, $3 million is fully guaranteed.
• Adam Gase said on Sirius XM radio that he expects Ndamukong Suh back for OTA practices, which begins May 24th.
“The great thing about Suh, he’s in constant communication, he’s always kind of calling and talking with coaches, he has his iPad,” Gase said. “He calls me every once in a while, just seeing what’s going on. He’s just got his regiment and he’s kinda been doing his deal that way out west for quite a few years now.
“I know this — come training camp and in the season his body’s ready to go. He has a way of preparing and it may be unique but it really works for him. And I feel like when we get going in OTAs, him being here for all those practices, that is a very important time for us. Just getting him around the building for us when he’s ready to go, that’s going to be great.”
Suh likes to train in Oregon during most of the offseason. Suh has missed the past couple of weeks of the offseason program but NFL players aren't required to attend until veteran minicamp in June.
Last year, Suh participated in the OTA practices and the minicamp but did not attend some of the voluntary workout sessions.