The man who kept dozens of Hurricanes returning to the University of Miami to work out and stay in shape during their NFL careers – and beyond – was relieved of his duties Thursday.
Head strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey, a native Miamian who just completed his 15th season at UM – 18 seasons if you count his previous stints at UM – was told by athletic director Blake James that he would not be retained by new coach Mark Richt.
“I’ve been there a long time,’’ a saddened Swasey, 44, told the Miami Herald by phone on Friday. “My heart is there. I’ve done everything with my heart and soul. If I had done something wrong, then I’d understand.
“I talked to Mark after I met with Blake in person. He wasn’t rude. He said there was nothing I did wrong. My job is to develop young men and help them become better people and that’s what I tried to live.’’
Former Hurricanes were upset by Swasey’s dismissal, and have been calling him since he first learned the news. “Oh man, it’s been constant,’’ Swasey said. “Andre Johnson, Ed Reed, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, D.J. Williams, Jon Vilma, Phillip Dorsett, Denzel Perryman, Santana Moss, Antrel Rolle, Olivier Vernon, Jimmy Graham… It hasn’t stopped.’’
Moss, 36, a former Jets and Redskins receiver, said he heard the news from Edgerrin James. “EJ gave me a holler and that gave me a little low blow,’’ Moss said. “I understand the business, but when it comes down to what he meant to that program, it’s a tough loss for a lot of us. I’m for change when it’s needed, but we’ve all been sitting on pins and needles just hoping he’d stay. We hope whoever comes in knows the tradition and what we’re all about – coming back and showing love to the school that basically made us.’’
Added Moss: “If it wasn’t for Swasey, our teams would have been way worse than they’ve been the past few years.’’
Moss’s younger brother Sinorice, another former UM and NFL receiver who now lives in Los Angeles, said Friday that he was “still trying to wrap my head around this situation.
“We understand the business and the politics behind it, but it’s a sad time because of all the things Swasey has done for this program. And not just for football, but baseball, track and down the line. The energy he brought – he bled for that school. Everything he did, he did for the University of Miami. We came back for Swasey.’’
UM has not announced its new strength and conditioning staff.
“Coach Richt wanted to bring in his own guy, which is understandable,’’ Swasey said. “He didn’t know me. It’s just all of a sudden. I’m trying to gather it all in and see my options.’’
Swasey, a Carol City High graduate who earned his bachelor’s degree from Baylor, said he will sit with his family and explore his options. He has four children, including son Andrew, who played at UM and is now a firefighter in Orlando. His wife Monica is a personal trainer who trains MLB players such as Jon Jay and Yonder Alonzo.
“It’s been a good ride,’’ Swasey said. “Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to go somewhere to do what I love.’’
Despite their dismay about Swasey’s departure, the Moss brothers said they like the Richt hire very much and will not stop working out at UM.
“We’ll be part of UM forever,’’ Sinorice said. “But Andreu Swasey will be truly missed.’’