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Monday Musings: Richt extension; Rising programs; Unsportsmanlike conduct

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NCAA Football: Miami at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, folks. On with the tomfoolery………….

1. Mark Richt extension was what this program has needed for a long time. After the Clemson game in 2015 and Al Golden’s dismissal, I wondered who the Canes could possibly bring in that could stop the bleeding of a once-proud program sprawled out at rock bottom, take advantage of the most fertile recruiting ground in the country, and restore a prideful identity to the brand that has been the U. I thought, well, after this, how are we going to get a top coach with no ties to the program to come in here? Could we get another former player in here after the Randy Shannon failure?

And then the miracle parting of Richt and Georgia suddenly thrust Richt to the top of the wish lists for ADs needing a coach. Fortunately, Richt and his wife returned to their roots – South Florida. The press conference was a mutual love fest. Cane fans were excited with what Richt – a proven winner with a strong recruiting record – could do in South Florida. Even before a snap was played, it felt like Blake James had hit a home run.

2 years and 19 wins later, James made another wise move, locking up Richt through 2023. Since the Lou Saban and Howard Schnellenberger days, Miami has not had stability in the head coaching position like it has right now. Howard won the title in year 5. Left for the USFL, in probably the worst decision in school history. Jimmy Johnson came in from Oklahoma State. Made a name for himself. Left for the NFL. Dennis Erickson came in, won two titles, left for the NFL. Butch Davis brought a program withered by probation back to the premier program in the country. Left for the NFL. Miami had become a minor-league program almost for future NFL coaching vacancies. Coaches came and went. And the following three head coaches, with the exception of Golden, had zero head coaching experience coming in. All three were in far over their heads.

And now…. finally, Miami has a guy who not only knows what it takes to win here, not only has achieved success in the college game, but also wants to be here. And the latter, as we’ve seen in recent Miami history, is not something to be taken lightly. He came home. He put his money, $1 million of it, where his mouth is in support of the new indoor practice facility. He took a huge step to bringing Miami back to where it wants to be and should be last year.

Now Richt can cement his legacy where he started it all. And Canes fans of this generation might finally have their guy.

2. Next marquee program on the rise? With 19 wins in his first 2 seasons, it’s safe to say that the Canes are a program on the rise. And with new coaches at a number of schools that have tasted varying amounts of success in the past, it’s interesting to speculate on who’s next. To me, Nebraska, Tennessee, and UCLA are in position to take that first step back towards respectability. All are in probably the better of the divisions of their conferences. All have the facilities and fan support to win, although Nebraska and Tennessee are probably more die-hard than the Bruins.

If I was to pick one of those three to rise the quickest, I’d say probably Nebraska. I mean, first of all…….fans had to go on Stub Hub to find tickets for the spring game??? Are you freaking kidding me?! I know there’s probably not much to do in Lincoln, but that’s one hell of a turnout. And that’s a fan base that was spoiled on success, then deprived of it for over 15 years. Sound familiar? Scott Frost is a young, innovative coach who will pluck the best players from the Midwest states and pull in enough athleticism to make the Big Ten west a two-team race between Nebraska and Wisconsin for years to come.

3. Speaking of Scott Frost, he’s apparently not on board the UCF-is-the-national-champion train. Per, he said “I kind of wish my ring just said ‘Undefeated Season’ and ‘Peach Bowl Champion.’” Do you think he would’ve said that if he was still in Orlando? Me neither.

4. Hockey players lick, apparently….or at least one does. What’s the most unsportsmanlike thing you’ve seen in a college football game? Watching Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand lick the face of Tampa Bay forward Ryan Callahan during a dust up on Friday night, it made me wonder……..where does that level of filth rank in the pantheon of cheap shot/disgusting/unsportsmanlike moves in the sports world? It’s not Nancy-Kerrigan’s-knee dirty, but it’s one of the more disgusting things I could ever realistically imagine a player doing to another player. Probably would result in me embedding my stick in his head, but fortunately these players have more self-control than I do.

What does college football have by way of awful conduct? Well, we have fumble pileups, where – according to former players – cheap shots happen aplenty. Eye pokes, groin shots, leg twists, etc. It has its fair share. Darnell Dockett twisting Earnest Graham’s knee back in 2001 comes to my mind as one. Woody Hayes losing his mind – and his job – after punching Clemson defender Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl. LeGarrette Blount dropping spit-talking Boise State Bronco Byron Hout onto the blue turf post-game with one swing back in 2009. Or, y’know, our guys and FIU’s team getting into an all-out donnybrook in the Orange Bowl back in 2006, complete with helmet swings, kicks, and everything short of Anchorman-style weaponry.

And yes, Miami – if you want to get technical about it – has a history of unsportsmanlike play during the 80s and 90s heydays. Most of it was look-at-me celebratory, not trying to actually hurt another player. Big difference, IMHO.

That being said, what irks me the most is not just what Clemson’s Christian Wilkins did by grabbing Curtis Samuel’s package from behind as he lay there on the ground during the 2017 Fiesta Bowl, but rather how his teammates and coach Dabo Swinney backed it by acting like it was no big deal, with Dabo describing him as a “guy who can be a little silly at times”. If by silly, you mean sick, inappropriate, and more worthy of an ejection than for targeting, then I would 100% agree.

5. Tweeting recruits is lame, yet incredibly prevalent. Be better. If you head over to the Twitter feed of any given top-notch recruit, you’ll likely see a tweet/reply from a person with a picture of him or her wearing his or her school’s gear, encouraging said player to come to his or her school. It happens all over social media, and has become a regular and seemingly uncontrollable trend. Or at least one that’s hard to keep tabs on because there are so many recruits, all have Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts, there are millions of fans with accounts, and many of said fans know where to find them.

If you happen to feel the urge to tweet at a recruit, regardless if you’re a Cane, Gator, Nole, Dawg, Trojan, Wolverine, Longhorn, etc etc etc fan that is reading this, it’s simple. DON’T. I mean….how utterly desperate do you look as an adult begging a minor that you’ve never met in your life to please come to your school? You look like a desperate fool, and a public one at that, so hopefully that’s enough to keep you from engaging in such stupid behavior. If not, maybe the fact that people like myself and others laughing at you for being a schmuck will be secondary reinforcement not to be a doofus. Be better.

6. Old Canes game I’m watching this week: 1991 Cotton Bowl – Miami vs. Texas, January 1, 1991. Speaking of unsportsmanlike conduct, I’ve got a hankering to watch old school Canes hijinks at its 100% finest. Name me a more fitting game than this. I dare you.