After spending the last decade as a part of NFL front offices, another Miami Hurricane great is returning to his alma mater. Alonzo Highsmith, one of the most important players in program history, has been hired as the general manager of football operations.
Highsmith also brings a ton of experience from the NFL. He has been an executive with the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, and Seattle Seahawks since 2012. There aren’t many college football programs that can bring in a former player with this amount of experience at an extra position.
If two men could have the Miami football program looking and sounding more like the version of the program from the ’80s and ’90s, it is Mario Cristobal and Alonzo Highsmith.
Since the end of the 2021 football season, the entire athletic department has been reshaped, but much of that change has been seen in the football program.
The important positions throughout the program have been filled with big names that would have been out of reach in recent history. But the ability to bring in widely respected people proves the change in how serious the university is taking athletics now.
The hiring of Highsmith is the latest domino to fall. The restructuring of the athletic department began with the hiring of Cristobal as the head coach of the football program. A few days later, Dan Radakovich was hired as the athletic director. Both were hired from large Power Five programs, Oregon and Clemson, and seemed like long shots.
Per multiple sources, UM gave Cristobal a 10 year contract. Averages $8 M per year.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) December 6, 2021
It was clear there was a change in financial seriousness when these two were hired. Giving Cristobal a contract worth $8 million shows they were serious about getting their guy. But the willingness to also spend money on assistants is also a new approach to trying to find success on the field.
Cristobal kept the ball rolling by hiring high-profile assistants in Josh Gattis and Kevin Steele at the coordinator positions. The reigning Broyles Award winner as the nation’s top assistant coach, Gattis was hired from Michigan as the offensive coordinator. Steele has been coaching defenses in the SEC since 2013 and was the defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2016 to 2020. He was also the interim head coach for the Tigers in 2020 as well as at Tennessee in 2021.
The change in how much effort the University of Miami is putting into athletics has changed in the last six months. Completely retooling the entire department, but specifically, the football program has been clear, but expensive. But they have brought in people who not only know how to build a college football program but THIS program.
Both Cristobal and Highsmith have won championships as Hurricanes and know the standard for winning in Miami.
When you combine all of these hires with the NIL deals, the Miami Hurricanes athletic department is obviously on the rise and becoming a serious force in the landscape of college athletics again.