“We was about that life.”
If there was ever a school that cherishes the history of its accomplishments, it is the University of Miami. Rarely can a school boast some of the things the Canes Football team has accomplished in such a relatively short period of time. And there is no better ambassador than “Eddy Cane”, Ed Reed. A Hall of Famer and Champion at every level, Reed’s ability to lead, foster change and breed championship mentality may loom as an even larger accomplishment.
Since the news broke that Ed Reed was set to returning home to the University of Miami as Chief of Staff, we had yet to hear from the new COS.
That has changed.
Ed Reed has begun making his voice heard publicly as new COS, first in joining Leon Searcy on the Jax Sports Radio show XL Primetime and following that up speaking to the media on National Signing Day along with the staff this past Wednesday. He has touched on many topics including his role, why he chose to accept the position and what he hopes to change as he returns to the school.
First and foremost to go anywhere and feel as though the opportunity is worth anything is to feel wanted. Reed established, to the surprise of general summation around the position of Chief of Staff, that it was “his good friend” Manny Diaz who reached out to Ed and inquire about the position. After a number of weeks speaking to Coach Diaz, Blake James and Jenn Strawley, Ed decided the opportunity to bring his alma mater back to its previous standard was too good to pass up.
Previously Coach Mark Richt and most recently Coach Diaz made it a point to state that former Canes would be welcome and that a standard would be set and upheld. This firmly confirms both. Reaching out an emotional and historical leader like Reed is the type of action the fans have hope Diaz would take to improve the team. Also from the sounds of things Reed will not be alone, mentioning his phone has been ringing non stop from former players wanting to assist Reed in his return to the program. “Once you become a part of this University you want to do any and everything for it. I received a lot of calls from ex-players who want to be a part of this.”
It is notable that early on in the NSD presser that Reed commented specifically on the duties of the role he is taking: “I’m not in the position people think I’m in.. ya know I’m not hiring, I’m not firing, I’m coming in to help...I‘m a piece of this puzzle as all the coaches are, players are and, lets see how we fit.”
With that said, Reed’s goal with Coach Diaz is to uphold the standard that was here when he arrived and that he helped steward. Equally it is to become a leader and kind of father figure that Reed saw in the coaches he had while a player at Miami. Though his teams were full of players that famously could coach themselves in ways and keep each other accountable, he put a strong onus on the coaches being like father figures to the Canes players.
In what could be seen as an unintentional indictment of certain coaches and staffs prior, Ed stated, “(his Miami teams had) A coaching staff that raised men. We had a bunch of great coaches leading young men. We have to make sure we raise these men to be leaders.” As someone that has access to many greats, such as Emmitt Smith, Mel Blount and Derrick Brooks as well as former Canes, Reed realizes the importance for the coaches to set the example for the players. “We need to set a great example for the U...If we’re not together, as coaches, as a staff, supporting each other, encouraging each other, agree to disagree and keep it moving...we’ll be ok.”
It feels as though more than most other reasons Reed is looking to utilize his gift to guide and reach people with this group of men, inclusive of the coaches. Reed has been a steward for NFL rookies for some time as well as a frequent attendee to Miami camps, eager to get in the ears of developing players to give the help he can. This role with Miami allows him to do just that and with much more access than chance encounters at seminars and camps.
An insightful nugget on what he views his role being was a mention to his former Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome. The former player and Super Bowl winning General Manager A more hands on GM, Newsome was a huge presence with the Ravens during his tenure in Baltimore. He was a regular practice attendee offering insight and coaching to the players on things he saw each day they could improve. He was a vocal leader regularly for coaches and players and it is notable he shared positive relationships with both super bowl coaches, Brian Billick and John Harbaugh.
The biggest reason for Ed’s return in his words is to continue honoring his most impactful leader while at Miami, Al Blades, whom Reed credits for stoking his fire for the Orange and Green more than anyone. He singled out Al Blades and Al Blades Jr. as feeling strongly obligated to uphold the standard set by Al Sr. and to lead and development Al Jr. and players like them.
The one reason Reed is definitely NOT here is for any financial gain that would be had. “I Don’t need this money. I’m not coaching for money. I don’t need this job. I didn’t come back to Miami for money. It ain’t about fixing it, it’s about having the standard that we had. Former Canes not seeing the standard.”
As fans we hate the notion of having to wait, or not understanding why things don’t click immediately. Ed Reed is sharing the common coaching sentiment that this will not be an overnight fix.
Patience with the players is required because there needs to be a continuous reshuffle of the roster until enough players that are coachable and team first types fill out the majority of the roster. Reed on player mentality: “If they’re not coachable and they don’t want to be a part of the University of Miami team, team first, they need not be here. They can go ahead and get in the transfer portal. Go ahead and go to another school. But I promise you we will coach those other kids up. And they will play their hearts out together. If you aren’t going to display togetherness on and off that field we don’t need you as a Hurricane because that is what we worry about.”
Patience with coaches has us remember that, to an extent, we have to understand what the coaches can and can’t do. “We had a coaching staff that raised men,” Reed said Wednesday. “We had a bunch of great coaches leading young men... it starts with coaches raising young men and you will see it on the field. Coaches put in hours, can’t play the game but have to teach the kids how to play the game, be respectable, handle themselves.” As stated above the coaches are left to what they have. It is on them to continue bring in the right players so that when it gets to a point that the coaches can’t be there or do it for them, off the field situations and hold a block on the field, that they are prepared to show maturity and leadership. But that takes time.
Fans need to be held accountable as well. Reed mentioned that the City of Miami needs to help police the kids. “If you see them let me know. I need the City of Miami to police these kids....Nothing happens good after 12 o'clock.” Reed asked that as fans we realize that we do a lot to encourage bad decisions by showering them with accolades before they have done anything of merit, and put on the red carpet for them when they should be at home taking care of their business.
To that end, “there will be consequences to their choices,” Reed stated on Wednesday. Making sure that the players are in class and participating will become a bigger initiative as stated by Reed. As someone who was the first to graduate from his family with a degree, Reed notes that every player has an opportunity to get to the league, but to be mindful to identify when that is no longer an option and to always complete their studies and graduate with a degree.
Reed even emphasized that his kids wouldn’t receive anything in his in will — no money without the degree. This firm push to take academics seriously can hopefully lead to a better and more intentional culture in the Canes’ program of juniors staying through their senior years to graduate and be a part of the team, as happens at places like Clemson, and Alabama. This change would only positively affect the roster makeup and help maintain the Miami standard by the leaders and exceptional players staying an extra year. It is up to the coaches to, “teach kids to hate money” — focus on the work, not the reward — and understand that their further experience and time in school will ultimately be more important than leaving for the NFL (or a transfer) at the first chance.
“Upstairs is going to be a reflection of what you see downstairs.”
As much as it has been made for the experience Alonzo Highsmith had as an NFL executive, Reed’s personal experience is just as valuable. Known to a lesser extent, Reed has been an analyst for 5 years since retiring, keeping his mind sharp. On the field, Reed doubled as a coach his last year with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets before full timing as coach for the 2016 Buffalo Bills staff. These experiences holds weight in how Reed views the relationship between administration, coaches and players. “Coaching’s in me. Make no mistake, I played football, but I’m a coach so I know what it looks like.”
During his time in Buffalo, it was apparent early to Reed that the organization was struggling because of a lack of direction and stability at the top, which ultimately trickled down to the on field product. “Upstairs is going to be a reflection of what you see downstairs,” Reed said. It was during Minicamp that Reed said to Dennis Thurman, the Defensive Coordinator for the Bills in 2016, “They’re going to fire all of us.” Rex Ryan, the head coach at the time, along with his staff were let go following a 7-9 season.
Multiple mentions of individuals during his tenure at Miami peppered the interview, as people Reed chose to stay away from, even changing rooms because former teammates weren’t doing the right things. Players that didn’t buy into the standards were left out while Reed, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss and the like led the team past the me first mentality and into a future full of championships.
“Eddy Cane” Reed is here for one reason and one reason only, to reestablish Miami as a powerhouse, and become a factory of leaders and men. For too long he has seen a standard set by himself and greats before deteriorate into something resembling nothing of what the History of the program represents. Ed Reed is here to put everyone on notice, the coaches, the team, the fans and the rest of college football, that things are about to change at Miami.