The American flutist Herbie Mann once said, “Being stubborn has helped, being selfish is not a bad thing.” While that quote may apply for certain individuals, it cannot be said for the Miami Hurricanes and especially head coach Mark Richt.
On Twitter, I like to think of myself as sort of a positive reinforcement to an otherwise bleak and negative fan base (don’t get mad, you know it’s true), most recently throughout this past season for the Hurricanes. Although lately, the past several weeks, my patience and excuses I've been making in protection of coach Richt’s decisions has been dwindling.
When Richt was hired as the next Miami coach following the 2015 season, I'd say most people, including myself, thought of this move as a home run for the program, and fully expected the Hurricanes to be contending for national championships once again.
2016 showed potential, and then 2017 was a magic-carpet ride for most of the season, with flashes of what the Canes could be.
Then, 2018 happened. To say that this year has been a train-wreck would be like calling the ‘86 Fiesta Bowl just “a tough loss.” From starting the season ranked eighth in the country, and now praying for an 8-5 end to the year, almost nothing has gone right for Richt’s team. There’s been off-the-field issues, players transferring (or nearly transferring), and most recently losing highly-touted recruits.
Frankly put, Richt’s control of the team, program and fan base, is hanging on by a single-thread.
This being said, I firmly believe that he can still be that guy we all thought him to be when he was hired three years ago. A coach who won over 70% of his games during a 15-year stint at Georgia, an SEC school, surely can lead the Hurricanes to winning at least division titles in the nearly-laughable ACC Coastal.
So, do I think he needs to be fired? No. However, do I think that 2019 could possibly be his last season at Miami if things don’t improve? Absolutely.
The one thing that must happen, needs to happen, is Richt swallowing his pride, simple as that. The fact that he won’t even explore the option of bringing in a new offensive coordinator or play-caller is almost insulting to those who support UM. There’s an old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don't fix it.” Well guess what coach Richt, your offense is broke, fixing is what needs to happen. When you have future NFL talent on offense, and yet you’re ranked 97th in the nation on that side of the ball, and no changes are made, then there are larger problems at hand than just the inconsistency of Malik Rosier.
All the while, Richt had an opportunity to hire a new coach once Manny Diaz left for Temple and Ephraim Banda and Jonathan Patke were promoted to co-defensive-coordinators. The opportunity was there, with a chance to go after an offensive coach, and yet Richt said he plans to hire another defensive coach. Miami scored 20 or less points in four games this season, defense is not the Hurricanes problem. Plain old stubbornness.
Mark Richt will use his 10th coach opening for a defensive staff member.— Josh White (@_JoshRWhite) December 18, 2018
The most glaring issue was the handling of the quarterback situation, with Rosier and N’Kosi Perry. Though he stuck with Rosier’s inaccuracy and struggles for far too long, Richt was quick to pull the trigger on Perry against Virginia in the first-half. In the Duke game alone, Richt started Rosier, then went to Perry, back to Rosier and finally ended the game with Perry.
Finally, there’s this recruiting class. Don’t get me wrong, the Hurricanes have incredible players that they have signed to the 2019 class, but they also have the 41st ranked recruiting class in the country. This is the University of Miami, our five national championships stare at you everyday, the NFL is lined with formers Canes, and you can’t out-recruit schools like Oklahoma State or Indiana?
Once upon a time, the University of Miami was a hotbed for five-star recruits and top-ten classes. Currently, the Hurricanes have zero five-star commits.
The game is changing, and Richt isn’t adapting, not accepting the fact that his playbook from the 1980’s won’t work against a defense in 2018.
Alabama is gearing towards winning their fifth national championship under Nick Saban, who has been coaching the Crimson Tide since 2007. The reason they’re able to sustain success? Saban is humble enough to change his ways. He allows his offense and defense to evolve, with the constant changing of schemes in the game of football. “It’s unbelievable how much the game has changed, and it’s really hard to coach defense now. But hey, it’s on me -- regardless of the way I think football should be played -- if I don’t change with it,” Saban told ESPN in 2017.
There are many ideas as to why the madness and stubbornness of Richt continues. Maybe it’s because he believes that since he was a UM player back in the 80’s, that he ultimately knows what’s best for the team going forward, who knows.
The 2019 season will be significant for several reasons. One, because in my honest opinion, this upcoming off-season will one of the most important in Miami history. Second, after this year, all of the Al Golden players will be gone, so it’ll be Richt seeing his first class through to senior year. Though one thing is for absolute certain, something needs to change, and quick.