Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s Monday.......which means it’s time to slap on an orange-and-green speedo and land a triple somersault with two and a half twists in my Canes-related pool of thought. And boy, that water is warm today...
1) First thing’s first: I’m VERY excited about Mario Cristobal being hired at the University of Miami. The man is the most through-and-through Cane you could ever imagine. National champion. South Floridian. He is what Miami football is all about. And lordy, can the man recruit. He produced consistent top 10 classes at Oregon, and he’s coming to the most fertile recruiting ground in the country. That’s setting up for a perfect storm of recruiting success. He’s the guy that can keep those 5-star studs from bolting for Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Norman, etc. The players you see celebrating in the college football playoff. That can finally be the type of player that can consistently be on Miami’s roster. That tone has already been set with players like James Williams and Leonard Taylor staying home. Mario is just the man to keep that needle moving upwards.
2) But...I’m still curious to see the translation of all this on the field. Success is never, EVER guaranteed. That said, I think the ingredients are DEFINITELY there to succeed. A coach who has had success at a high level (i.e., winning a conference title and the Rose Bowl is a very high-level achievement in my book). A man who is passionate about the area and the school. A great recruiter. A recruiting base that basically serves as a potential shopping spree for said great recruiter. An administration that is suddenly in lockstep with the fanbase about having a desire to win. A spike in financial resources from boosters (and acceptance thereof by the school admins) to help draw a quality staff. There’s so, so much to like here. And I do! I love it! But nothing is guaranteed, and while I’m optimistic...I’m not going to act like this is a slam-dunk, 100% guaranteed success.
3) And....it’s definitely worth noting that, given the seemingly-high number of donors willing to contribute to help turn the program around, you just have to believe it’s been there the whole time, available to help this program win. Blake James....what the hell were you doing, man?!?! I was a little skeptical previously of a prior article about James not willing to take on Alonzo Highsmith while being fully paid by a booster, but now, heck, maybe that really was true. I can’t begin to describe my elation at Blake James not being in charge of athletics anymore.
4) Manny Diaz - thank you for your time and contributions to the program. I hate that it went down the way it did (especially in the public eye), but...as they say, them’s the breaks in this field. The bottom line is that he ultimately wasn’t qualified to lead the Miami Hurricanes, and that showed on the field over his three years. It was time.
5) Manny will also be fine. He has millions upon millions of reasons to be. But it’s the assistant coaches and their families that I honestly feel the most sorry for. Many won’t be retained, and they don’t have the nest egg to fall back on that Manny does. My sympathies to them, and I thank them for their commitment to the U and hope they land on their feet somewhere.
6) The way the national media has trashed Miami is....well....maybe the most unsurprising thing in the history of the world. They LOVE to hate us, and the school admins handed them a reason to on a silver platter with the ham-handed way they handled the coaching hire publicly. And still, I don’t give a crap what they think. Screw them all. They’re just afraid of Miami being good again. Let’s show them that their fears are justified.
7) I was all but doing backflips in my living room when it was reported by multiple outlets that the Miami brass was pursuing Clemson AD Dan Radakavich for their vacant AD position. I was absolutely shocked, until I saw he was a Miami grad...and that they are trying to money whip the absolute hell out of him. Hopefully the Miami brass closes this deal in short order. Radakavich saw the Tigers grow into a national football power on his watch. The basketball team hasn’t been much to write home about, while the baseball team has made regionals every year from 2009 until missing the tournament last year. Modest but consistent success. It’ll be curious to see his handling of Gino DiMare and the baseball program, given its national pedigree and following.
So what do you all think? Thrilled? Cautiously optimistic? Let’s hear it.