University of Miami

UM coach Mark Richt keeps getting asked the same question, but he isn’t budging — yet

Mark Richt comments on losing to Duke

Mark Richt comments on losing to Duke
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Mark Richt comments on losing to Duke

University of Miami coach Mark Richt, whose Hurricanes are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and still haven’t qualified for a bowl game, has been asked the same question in various ways the past few weeks.

But the gist of the answer — more or less, “No,’’ — has not changed.

Has Richt considered hiring an offense coordinator to call the plays?

Or, has Richt considered letting current offensive coordinator Thomas Brown call plays to see how he does?

Or, on Monday, it was posed another way by WQAM radio host Joe Rose, who mentioned that former Canes coach Jimmy Johnson said on Rose’s show last week how difficult it is to call plays and adequately handle all the responsibilities of being a head coach.

“Is it hard to do both?’’ Rose asked Richt. “Are you able to do both? How do you look at it right now when you hear that and people talk about that?”

Richt’s answer: “If you look across the county, people do it both ways. Sometimes the head coaches are making the calls, sometimes they’re not. It’s what that coach decides is the best thing to do. You’ve seen head coaches that have coordinators that have great success and head coaches that have coordinators that don’t have great success.”

“You’ve got head coaches that are calling them and things are ripping and roaring and some that they’re not going quite so good. It’s not like it’s never been done and it can’t be done. That’s not the case.

“We’re certainly not hitting on all cylinders right now. I know this: whoever is calling the plays, whether it’s the head coach or not, he’s the guy who is going to get most of the criticism because that’s what people can see and point to — just like at quarterback and the play-caller, those are the guys that end up getting most of the… they’re at center stage, so to speak.”

Said Rose: We have a lot of people that want to help you out with calls. ‘We wanna see more motion in your offense and some different sets.’ You’ve heard it all, right?

“Oh yeah. I appreciate all their help.’’

Richt was hired by Miami in December 2015 and his original six-year contract was extended this past May to run through 2023. Richt relinquished the play-calling duties at his former school, Georgia, permanently to Mike Bobo in 2007 until Brian Schottenheimer took over Richt’s final season there in 2015. And Richt has indicated repeatedly since taking the Miami job that one of his great joys has been calling plays again.

The Canes (5-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), have lost to Virginia, Boston College, Duke and Georgia Tech the past four games, and are now 84th nationally in total offense — 50th in rushing and 101st in passing.

Not much seems to work, and when it occasionally does, penalties or fumbles have hampered the effort. The Canes coughed up the ball three times in Saturday’s 27-21 loss at Georgia Tech.

Whether Richt will change his mind and let someone else experiment with the play-calling, for example, like he let Bobo do in late 2006, remains to be seen. But pressure from the outside, and likely inside, will not lessen until the situation drastically turns around. And with only two regular-season games left, and three if the Canes can beat Virginia Tech (4-5, 3-3) on the road Saturday or Pittsburgh in the Nov. 24 home finale, that seems improbable.

Here’s another question Rose asked that also has been thoroughly discussed among Canes fans and the media:

“Is the talent what you thought about when you recruited it or just not developing fast enough, or has it just been a slow process? What do you see?”

Said Richt: “I see that there are a lot of young players and they’re playing for sure. True freshmen are growing as they go. Just like, we throw a swing pass out there and the corner comes hard and we get a young guy [Mark Pope] that decides to cut [block] the guy. You can’t cut the guy. You just gotta man up and block him. We know that. He knows that.

“He made that freshman mistake [that cost the Canes 15 yards and negated a Brevin Jordan catch] ... So, you get things like that here and there, little mistakes that seem little, but they add up. I think these guys are developing, but it does takes some time.

“You want everything to happen right away. Everybody wants instant success. The freshmen want it. The coaches want it. The fans want it. But it doesn’t always happen overnight.

“Some of the greatest players will look back on their freshman year and say they usually laugh at the tape and say, ‘You know, I though I was doing it but I really didn’t get it.’ So, it takes time and no one wants to give anybody time. But that’s the reality of it.”

The ACC announced Monday that UM’s final regular-season game on Nov. 24 will kick off at 3:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium and broadcast by ESPN or ESPN2.

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