The University of Miami announced major changes to its coaching staff Friday, just four days before fall football camp opens Tuesday.
Longtime Hurricanes linebacker coach and former Miami linebacker great Micheal Barrow left the program, UM said in a written release.
Taking his place: current UM running backs coach Hurlie Brown.
Moving into Brown’s spot as the new running backs coach: current assistant director of football operations Tim Harris Sr.
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The Hurricanes hired former UM wide receiver and current Davie University High School receivers coach Kevin Beard to replace Harris as the assistant director of football operations.
Barrow, who coached linebackers at UM for seven seasons and was a national star at the position for UM from 1989 to 1992, termed his departure as a sabbatical.
Multiple sources told the Miami Herald that Barrow has an ailing mother to whom he will devote his full attention.
Coaches were informed of the news in a meeting Thursday evening, a source told the Miami Herald.
“As a proud University of Miami graduate, former football player and coach, it is with a heavy heart that I announce I’m taking a sabbatical from coaching this season,” Barrow said in a written statement. “This was an extremely tough decision to leave my dream job. However, I have a very important family obligation that requires my full attention, and I would not have had enough time to effectively fulfill my coaching duties.
“With the 2014 football season starting soon, please know that I am truly sorry if my decision brings the organization any inconveniences. I would like to thank President Shalala, Blake James, Al Golden, the coaching staff, UM football players and the entire UM family for seven great years. …’’
UM athletic director Blake James was asked during a phone call Friday if there was a plan in place for Barrow to return, or if there would be a spot open for him should he want it.
“The plan now is for Micheal to take care of the issues that he needs to take care of,” James said. “Once he takes care of those issues, then you start looking at what’s next. Right now the only thing we’re focused on is giving Micheal the support he needs to take care of his issues.”
As for Harris, he rejoined the UM staff in March after a similar stint in his newly departed role from 2008 to 2010 with former coach Randy Shannon. He had most recently been serving as the primary liaison to high school coaches and assisting with UM community-service events, which Beard will now do.
Harris, the former Booker T. Washington High coach with a 99-10 record in eight seasons, won three state championships with the Tornadoes, including in 2013. He said in March that he was working toward his bachelor’s degree, expected in 2015.
James told the Miami Herald on Friday that it is not an NCAA requirement to have a college degree in order to coach, but that Harris “has started down that path and that’s a commitment he is going to move forward with, and one I’m confident he will accomplish.”
Said Harris in March, just after he took the assistant director of football operations position: “I’m a coach “That’s what I do for my life. That’s my passion. That’s my niche in this whole deal, to be a position coach one day. Because I’m a developer. I love developing young people.”
Harris’ new position affords him the opportunity to recruit fully for the Canes, a huge plus for the program, as he has close football connections that reach deep into South Florida and beyond.
Beard, Harris’ successor who won a national title with the Canes in 2001, said in a written statement: “To come back to my alma mater, a place that has shaped me to be the man that I am today is truly a blessing.”
And this, from Brown, who just finished his first season as UM running backs coach and will go back to the defense, where he played as a UM safety from 1988 to ’91: “Words cannot explain how fired up I am …’’
UM coach Al Golden, who is scheduled Monday for a pre-camp news conference, praised each coach involved in the changes.
“Coach Barrow has always put faith and family first in his life, and this is clearly a time in his life where family needs him,” Golden said. “Micheal Barrow is the very definition of a Miami Hurricane — having given 11 years of class, service and leadership to the university and our community.”
Barrow’s last Twitter post on July 22: “Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”