It takes thick skin to be a football coach, and at the University of Miami, these have been especially stressful times.
“I told my wife the other day, ‘I haven’t had a dream when I go to sleep that didn’t involve football, maybe in the last six months,’ ” Hurricanes offensive coordinator James Coley said recently. “I wake up and there’s always a situation, right?
“The human element of it makes it hard. But what really gives me strength is coming to work every day and coaching Brad [Kaaya] and coaching Malik [Rosier] and coaching Herb Waters and coaching Stacy Coley and coaching Joe Yearby, Kc McDermott, [Nick] Linder …
“What makes things calm for me is knowing that I can walk in the meeting room and see those faces. Regardless of whether it’s a tough day or a great day, you love going in there and coaching these kids.”
For former Hurricanes head coach Al Golden, the tough days came to a head when he was fired Oct. 25, the evening after UM’s worst loss in history: 58-0 to now No. 1 Clemson.
Now, as the Canes (6-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) prepare for a 12:30 p.m. home game Saturday against Georgia Tech (3-7, 1-6), the other Miami coaches say they’re tending to their players first, then thinking about themselves and their uncertain futures.
What’s it like going home to wives and children who are equally unsure?
“It was a family decision when I got into this business,’’ UM interim head coach Larry Scott, 38, the father of two sons and a daughter, said Tuesday. “We’ve kind of been around it and through it and know what it entails. But if you always keep the focus solely on why you got into it, your kids at home understand that dad’s a football coach and dad loves developing and being around young people — and they become a part of it. They become immersed in the culture, so to speak.
“It’s a way of life for football coaches and families. It’s what we do as a family. But … in that, we understand it [and] our wives have to understand it. You get into it for young people and we just understand that sometimes the business part is a big piece as well.”
Scott was asked if he talks to his children about the situation.
“They get it,” he said. “To me, I still try to keep it [that] I’m Dad. You go home, I’m Dad. I’m not ‘Coach.’ Either way it goes, to them I’m going to be Dad, regardless.’’
Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, the father of two young sons, was asked Tuesday what it has been like for him and the other assistants.
“All you can do is focus on doing the best job that you can,” D’Onofrio said. “We made a pact as a team, as coaches — coach to coach, player to player, player to coach — that we were going to stick together, we were going to have unity and we were going to finish the season to the best of our ability.
“You wake up, you go to work, you figure out the best way to teach and the best way to prepare and give them everything you have.”
Is it hard for his family?
“Of course,” D’Onofrio said. “[For] anybody in this situation, I would think it would be hard.”
UM senior cornerback Tracy Howard said Tuesday that the current situation is “probably very tough’’ on his coaches. “… It’s an uncertainty of where they’re going to be at. But a lot of our coaches are very experienced so I’m pretty sure they’re going to get jobs. I’m pretty sure they’re going to move on …
“But it’s the thing with families. That’s what I look at the most, their families. My coaches, they’re men and they’re tough, so I think they can handle anything like that. But when I look at their younger kids and wives, that’s what I think about. It’s hard on them.”
Added linebacker Jermaine Grace: “We always think about the coaches and what’s going on, and that’s what motivates us. We’re all going through a lot. They’re going through a lot.
“I know it’s tough. It’s kind of tough for us, too, because we go home not [trying to think] if they’re going to be here or not. We try to put it to the side, because we still have got games to go.
“Letting that kind of bother us is going to bring us down.”