University of Miami coach Mark Richt and Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst sat on a stage poolside at the Seminole Hard rock Hotel in Hollywood, Wednesday’s late afternoon sun casting a glow on the Capital One Orange Bowl trophy filled with fresh oranges.
The coaches, whose teams will battle at 8 p.m. Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium, said all the right things, and seemed to be having a nice enough time. But they might have had recruiting on their minds — especially since one of those coaches, Richt, got a major commitment Wednesday from U.S. Army All-American Jarren Williams, one of the top high school quarterbacks in the country.
“Are you getting a sense that the success the team had this year is helping you get your message across?’’ Richt was asked regarding recruiting. “And I believe you just had a commitment from a pretty top quarterback. Can you comment on that?’’
Richt, in his slow, laid back manner, replied, “Riiight, which I’m not allowed to talk about at this point.” He paused and smiled. “But I heard something good happened.’’
Another reporter asked, “Would you expect a quarterback you’re recruiting who may have committed today to be a mid-year enrollee or would he be a later guy?’’
Richt paused again and reflected on his answer.
“We plan on having a bunch of mid-year enrollees,’’ he said. “There’s a possibility of that. I just don’t want to overstep any bounds.’’
After being somewhat shellshocked in their 38-3 loss to Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game, the No. 10 Hurricanes (10-2) are spending this week and next week resting, studying for finals, doing some lifting and getting their minds, bodies and spirits right, Richt said, before they start preparing for Wisconsin (12-1), No. 6 in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
“Now that we’ve lost two in a row we don’t want to feel that way again,’’ Richt said. “One of the most fun things in college football is the celebration with the team after a great victory. And one of the hardest things is being able to look everybody in the eye when it’s over and realize we couldn’t get it done. But the one thing about our team is we’ve done it all together. We’ve got great staff unity. We’ve got great player unity. And there’s a great trust factor with everybody.
“…They did an awesome job of putting things into perspective. And now it’s time to turn the page and get after a really good team.’’
Chryst arrived in South Florida from Atlanta, and was heading to Brooklyn, N.Y. to do some recruiting of his own. Madison, Wisconsin, home of the Badgers, was set for a 16-degree low and 31-degree high Wednesday.
“I look at it as it’s the last time this team will be together,’’ Chryst said of the Orange Bowl. “Certainly there’s a competitive part of everyone that plays and coaches that you want to win it. It’s the end of this season and I’m awfully thankful for what this team has done throughout the course of the year. It’s all about this year. Certainly there’s momentum in anything you do positively. But to me it’s all about this year.
“…Our kids were excited about this opportunity, and we want to maximize it.’’
More from Richt on Wednesday:
▪ On if the quarterback competition, led by redshirt junior starter Malik Rosier this season, will be open this spring: “We’re not there yet. We’ve got another game to play. But we compete at every position every spring. I think everybody in America does that. Every position. And every kid knows it.’’
▪ On bowl preparation philosophy: “Not this weekend but after next weekend, which is a monster recruiting weekend for us, then there’s a dead period in recruiting and that’s the time we’ll focus mostly on our bowl practices. A lot of people have different philosophies on bowl practice. For us, everything is geared toward trying to win the game. There are a lot of teams that try to turn it into spring ball a little bit, but we quite frankly don’t have enough guys to have spring ball anyway. Most of our young guys are playing and getting some work in. Even though we’re allowed to have more, we only have I think about 71 on scholarship right now.”
▪ On if it’s a disadvantage to be playing where they live: “I don’t know if there’s a disadvantage. We are going to pack up and move. We’re going to be at a beautiful hotel [the Diplomat Resort in Hollywood] on the beach. I don’t think any of our guys live on the beach, so I think they’ll like that. I know I’m going to like it. Our coaches and our wives are going to enjoy it... It will feel like a bowl.”