These are tough days for the University of Miami football program. After beginning the season ranked in the top ten and supposedly ready to compete again for the national title, the Hurricanes ended with a disappointing 7-5 record that included the third four-game losing streak of head coach Mark Richt’s tenure. It seems last year’s magical ten-win season was a fluke.
Off the field, there are more signs of turmoil. Richt recently dismissed the team’s best offensive player, wide receiver Jeff Thomas. And the coach’s nephew, Max Johnson, a four-star high-school quarterback, recently declared he was going to Louisiana State University. You know the problems are serious when your own relative doesn’t want to play for you.
Richt is one of the best college football coaches and recruiters, but he seemingly refuses to acknowledge he can’t run a successful offense alone. He appears just as stubborn as the guy he replaced, Al Golden, whose unwillingness to fire his best friend, Mark D’Onofrio, as defensive coordinator led to Golden’s dismissal.
The offense regressed this season. And Richt has done a terrible job of developing quarterbacks wearing orange and green, including Brad Kaaya, the Canes all-time passer who skipped his senior year at the U to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The coach’s son Jon must be replaced as quarterbacks coach.
If Mark Richt refuses to bring in an offensive guru, it could also affect the defense. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz Jr. has made the Canes’ D one of the most ferocious in the nation. Diaz, a smart, savvy guy just like his father, former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, is not gonna stick around for Richt to screw up another promising season. If there is no new offensive coordinator, Diaz should start looking for a head-coaching job. More losing seasons will hurt his professional prospects.
Richt needs to make a bold move so the assistant coaches, returning players, and recruits believe he’s committed to making the U great on both sides of the ball. He should steal University of Houston offensive coordinator/associate head coach Kendal Briles and Florida Atlantic University quarterbacks coach Chris Perkins, who is South Florida’s best.
Briles turned the Cougars into an offensive powerhouse during his first year on the job. Houston was ranked fourth in scoring and seventh in total offense in the nation. In one year, Briles helped Houston reach its conference championship game. He did the same during the one year he was at FAU. Sources say he would take the U job in a heartbeat.
If not, Richt might just end up losing his job to Lane Kiffin, the young, brash FAU head coach who’s hungry to run an elite college program. Kiffin would even take a pay cut.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.