The only University of Miami coach with all five Hurricanes national championship rings was dismissed from his job Sunday morning.
UM Sports Hall of Famer and Miami offensive line coach Art Kehoe will be replaced by former Virginia Tech OL coach Stacy Searels.
Kehoe, 58, had a three-hour interview on Wednesday with head coach Mark Richt and continued talking with him afterward. But in the end, Richt released Kehoe.
“I love the University of Miami,’’ Kehoe told the Miami Herald by phone Sunday. “I’m so grateful for all the great memories and great coaches and great players I was able to be around.
“I’m always going to be a Hurricane and I’ll always love the Hurricanes. I would have loved to stay, but I’ve got to move on and take care of my family. I wish Coach Richt and his staff much success… I know he’s going to do a terrific job.’’
Richt was a UM quarterback when Kehoe was an offensive lineman for the Hurricanes in 1979 and ‘80.
Kehoe had been with the program as a player or coach for 31 years. All who know him well compare him to the late, legendary Walt Kichefski, a UM football captain in 1939, interim head coach in 1970, longtime assistant and lifetime fan.
“Art epitomizes the Walt Kichefski era -- his love of alma mater, care and concern for UM tradition, enthusiasm for all sports programs and, of course, the hatred of the Gator,’’ Ken Lancaster, former president of the UM Sports Hall of Fame, said when Kehoe was inducted in 2002.
Kehoe told the Miami Herald just before he was inducted that “most of everything that has meant anything to me in my life revolves around UM. UM is so special, it’s ridiculous.’’
Contrary to a report put out previously by another outlet, Kehoe was never offered a fundraising job at UM — or any other job there.
A source close to the situation said that Kehoe had another coaching opportunity and might still have it.
As for Searels, he is a native of Trion, Georgia, a former offensive line coach at Texas, Georgia and LSU, and was an All-American lineman at Auburn. Searels, 50, blocked one season for Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson. He played for the San Diego Chargers for two seasons before going to the Miami Dolphins in 1990 for one season.
Thus, he has ties with Richt, for whom he coached at Georgia from 2007 to 2010. He also has ties with new UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, with whom he coached from 2011 to 2013 at Texas.
Searels’ coaching path has taken him from Auburn (graduate assistant) to Appalachian State to Cincinnati to LSU to Georgia to Texas and to Virginia Tech, where he coached the O-line the past two seasons. During his time at LSU (2003-06), Searels’ Tigers won a national title, SEC title and two SEC West titles.
The Hokies (7-6) this season were ranked 100th nationally in sacks allowed, compared to 35th for Miami.
The team’s rushing offense was ranked 81st (159.2 yards rushing per game), compared to 116th for Miami (119.9) — Miami’s downfall this season (though quarterback Brad Kaaya was sacked four times in the Sun Bowl).
The Hokies’ total offense was ranked 74th (385.1), compared to 67th for Miami (397).
Kehoe has gone to 25 bowl games with UM and has coached several Hurricane greats, such as Leon Searcy, Mike Sullivan, KC Jones, Bryant McKinnie, Joaquin Gonzalez, Brett Romberg and Vernon Carey.
Kehoe was a UM guard in 1979-80 as a junior-college transfer from Laney Community College in Oakland, Calif. He served as a UM graduate assistant from 1982 to ‘84, an assistant offensive line coach for the next eight years, the tight ends coach in ‘93 and ‘94 and became the O-line coach for the first time in 1995. He was even interim head coach for the 19 days preceding the Butch Davis era. He was fired for the first time at UM by former coach Larry Coker after the 2005 season, a year before Coker would be dismissed.
Kehoe went to Ole Miss as the offensive line coach for two seasons after that. He returned to Miami when former coach Al Golden hired him in 2011.
Kehoe said Sunday that he felt he was leaving “an excellent foundation’’ on the offensive line, and said he had heard from many of his past and present linemen. He also thanked athletic director Blake James, and said he appreciated “Coach Golden and his family and the second chance they gave me.’’