Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
- John Wooden
With the way this season is grinding on towards the finish line for the Canes, it can be hard to really know what to write anymore. What else can we cover? We know the defense has no depth and we’ve discussed that the last four weeks. We know the offensive line is abysmal and we’ve beaten that to a bloody pulp. Honestly, I guess the next step we can look towards is staff changes.
Each year in college football there is turnover amongst the assistant coaching ranks. For each team, it’s almost a guarantee at least one change occurs. One of the main reasons (if not the outright number one reason) is that position coaches, not coordinators, are on one year deals. Hence when you look back at many position coaches you’ll see that many who have been in the college coaching industry for more than 10 or 15 years can often times have been at five, seven or even more different coaching stops.
Now, the reason for all those different changes can be for any number of reasons. The person could have gotten fired from their previous position. Maybe the person got a pay raise from another institution. Heck, sometimes coaches prefer to teach different positions than what they currently are so they decide to make the change. The point is, change from year to year is almost a guarantee on each staff in college football and even at the pro level.
With Miami though, this could be really tricky and a really sensitive subject because what I’m proposing may be the last things on the list of things Mark Richt will want to do.
Along the defense I don’t want to see any changes. The only worry I have, which I’ve voiced a few times, is that I’m concerned Manny Diaz will leave for a possible low level head coaching position (think FIU possibly). His stock has to be at an all-time high right now. Yes, I know Miami’s defensive ranks are precipitously dropping each week but the reason for that is that the players are running out of gas. There are a lot of young freshmen and sophomore players that are getting their first prolonged action in college football this season and their extended playing time is causing wear on their tires.
The Notre Dame game is a perfect example. Miami gave up a few drives in the first quarter to fall behind but then the defense was able to go the entire second, third and almost all of the fourth quarter without surrendering any points. On the final drive of the fourth quarter for Notre Dame the Miami defense needed to batten down and they simply couldn’t. All of a sudden miss tackles started happening that weren’t seen in previous weeks and the Irish were able to score the go ahead points. This wasn’t failure in scheme or even Notre Dame doing anything different to outwit the defense. This was just players being exhausted (and rightfully so) and not being able to execute to the same high standards from the first quarter through the fourth.
Where I see the changes taking place on this staff, or at least what I would do as an outside observer anyways, would be on the offensive side of the ball.
First off, I’d like to say I thought the Mark Richt hiring was a home run when it was announced. I also like what he’s doing in the local community with his public speaking around the area elementary school level football programs. It goes without saying he’s also a very affable person. However, the makeup of his offensive unit coaching staff always made me pause because it bred slight nepotism as well as egotism at least to me.
Thomas Brown was named the Co-Offensive Coordinator as well as running backs coach shortly after Mark Richt was named the head coach. Brown has been known as an up and coming position coach who has had great players develop from his tutelage as well as Brown is also known as a great recruiter. However, he’s only been coaching for the past 5 seasons which includes a stint in the lower division ranks (UT Chattanooga) and he was brought in by Richt to be the Offensive Coordinator. It seemed odd to me at the time and then when he was interviewed (see below) you can tell what this was: a title in name only. From what I understand (maybe I’m off base but I don’t believe so) Brown assists in overseeing the running backs and the odd jobs for the overall offensive unit that Richt needs to divvy out.
Quarterbacks Coach Jon Richt has been and will continue to be a wonderment to me. Watch this video from the beginning of the spring workouts:
Do you know what I get from the video above? This:
If you didn’t watch or listen to either of the clips, here’s the jist: Mark Richt is the Offensive Coordinator, Head Coach and Quarterbacks Coach. Jon Richt, the son of Mark Richt, is the Quarterbacks Coach. The reporters during the spring asked Jon Richt how it is to work with his father on the same coaching staff, how do players treat him as the coach’s son and other niceties. They then sprinkled in the obvious question (literally right at the beginning of the interview so catch it quick!): what is it do you do? He went on to answer that he does the odds and ends his Dad doesn’t work on and that he’s in the film room with the quarterbacks during the week.
My reaction, of course, was the cult classic scene in Office Space where management asks an employee what he “does” throughout the day and he responds that he “liaisons” between the client and the technical team. Of course the interviewers then ask: why doesn’t the technical team talk to the client directly? The interviewee responds because he does it and it’s a valuable position for the company.
You can probably see where I’m going with this so I’ll get to the point. First, Thomas Brown should just be “assigned” the role of position coach. After the unmitigated disaster that we’re seeing in Brad Kaaya’s progression as a quarterback (or lack thereof) I would then either move the younger Richt to be a grad assistant or let him go outright. For Miami to regain the “QBU” mantra, in my opinion, they need a bonafide, credentialed, quarterbacks coach. Lastly, Richt needs to bring in one full time offensive coordinator. Does that mean Richt gives up the play calling duties? I wouldn’t say that has to be part of the changes in 2017 but I think that side of the ball needs an injection of a new voice, that’s for sure.
The players have the right mentality, they’re trying hard and we all see it. I think the overall program building process is churning in the right direction when it comes to overall player mentality and effort but the coaching philosophy on the offensive side of the field needs to be tweaked and I think that has to come at the highest level.
What do you all think? Any more changes or ideas? Should things stay the same? Let us know below!