University of Miami

Time for Canes and fans to be thankful — especially if assistant coaches stay put

UM offensive coordinator Thomas Brown talks Canes before Pitt

Hurricanes offensive coordinator Thomas Brown talks to media about the game against Pittsburgh.
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Hurricanes offensive coordinator Thomas Brown talks to media about the game against Pittsburgh.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I started this while I was sitting in Washington-Dulles Airport awaiting my second flight en route to Pittsburgh, where the No. 2 Canes (10-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) will face Pitt (4-7, 2-5) at noon Friday — about the time you guys will be digging into your leftovers.

Win this game, then beat Clemson (10-1, 7-1) and the Canes get into the College Football Playoff for a chance to battle for their sixth national title.

I, for one, have lots to be thankful for, and hopefully you do, too.

I know ‘The U’ does, for sure.

Coach Mark Richt started the day with an early-morning “Happy Thanksgiving’’ tweet.

And even Sebastian the Ibis tweeted his sentiments about the Hurricanes fans.

▪ Richt has said it all season, but he reiterated Wednesday how thankful he is for the UM fan support this season.

“It was awesome,’’ he said. “I think the greatest compliment we’ve got was [Drue Tranquill] from Notre Dame after the game said it was the loudest stadium he has ever been in his career. He was a senior, I think. He had been to Ohio State, he had been to Michigan. He had been to probably Penn State, Michigan State, Southern Cal, wherever Notre Dame goes. He has been there his whole career. For him to say that’s the loudest he has ever heard a stadium in his entire college career, that was a great compliment to our fans.

“It’s a winning town,’ the coach continued. “We all know there are a bunch of wonderful things to do. Look at us out here, in - what are we in - November? It’s almost Thanksgiving Day and the palm trees are swaying and it’s probably what, 80 degrees and a nice breeze? Palm trees are flowing. It’s a great place to be. I’m just glad I’m here.”

So, it seems, are the other coaches. But with this stellar staff, we expect that schools are undoubtedly going to come calling and wooing.

So does Mark Richt, who said Wednesday that he’s “waiting to see what happens with everything.”

“Staffs can change. I don’t want it to change. I want everybody to stay. I think we’ve got a great thing going. I’m hoping everybody wants to stick around. If I knew 100-percent that everybody would stay, I would have a better idea of what I might do. Not knowing that, it may totally change the dynamic of what I need to bring in.”

Richt knows from experience that coaches, especially great coaches, sometimes leave. “I’m not trying to cause a firestorm,’’ he said. “It’s just coaching. Sometimes coaches move on. Sometimes they stay. When I was at Florida State, that staff stayed together I don’t know how many years. It might have been 12 years in a row when nobody budged, and we had unprecedented success. I think we have that type of staff here right now.”

One of those great coaches, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award that goes to the top assistant coach of the year.

“We have each other’s backs,’’ Diaz said. “Our feeling is any attention any of us gets is attention for all of us. Any accolade any one of us gets is an accolade for all of us. So, when Jaquan wins DB of the week, that also goes to Kendrick Norton for hurrying the throw on that pick-six. We’re blessed with an unbelievable coaching staff, down to our quality control and [graduate assistants], and we play a lot of guys. To be able to share the wealth is one of the tenets to playing unselfish great defense, which in turn is unselfish team ball.”

In closing, shout-out to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, who, when asked this week if he ever checks what the College Football Playoff selection committee says and how they justify their ranking decisions, said this:

“I’m a weirdo, so I don’t watch TV much at all. When I come home I’m with my wife and my three boys. I might read something every now and then. We might turn a movie on. I don’t even watch ESPN most of the time. I just focus on other things that are more important than just football. I obviously take my job very seriously but there are more important jobs I have in being a husband and a father that I take very seriously. When I get home I’m focused on that solely.”

Again: Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Good luck rooting for your team Friday.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Mark Richt speaks to the media after the University of Miami Hurricanes defeated the Virginia Cavaliers at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017.

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